Tips on staying organized as an analyst

Hey guys,

So I’m an analyst at a fund. I am a generalist and follow 15 companeis in 15 different sectors. This means that there are a lot of different trends that I need to be aware of and communicate to my managers, and sometimes I get a little overwhelmed since this is my second year doing this. Does anyone else do this kind of thing and have any tips on staying organized? Maybe on a weekly basis to stay in touch with analysts and figure out what’s going on or something? I need to stay ahead of the curve with all of these names, and I’m unsure how to manage the knowledge base I have, and have something that is easy to continually update so I am never out of the loop. Any tips would be a ppreciated


I assume you keep a log of events relevant to your 15 companies and update it regularly (perhaps daily)? Sometimes journaling software can help with that.

Good traders, for example, keep a trading diary. Fundamental investors can do something similar.

The trick there is to allocate time to review on at least a biweekly baisis and again when the month changes. Otherwise you can overestimate the importance of the latest data point and forget about what the bigger picture is. If you have 15 companies, you might just schedule to take an hour or two each day to review 3 of them, so that by the end of the week, you’ve gone through each one at least once.

For me, the key to staying organized is to find the handful of news sources I care about monitoring, and among those, I set up filters or RSS feeds to help me find exactly what I am looking for. Staying organized and being time efficient is a critical part of the job.

But beyond that, I think you are following too many disparate names. I often find it better to understand a bunch of stuff within the same sub-sector or value chain to go long or short at various times. By doing what you’re doing, you have to put in a ton more effort to try to gain an edge. You have every right to feel overwhelmed because chances are, the knowledge base you’re developing is going to be inadequate compared to others that are focusing on a specific sub-sector.

Now, I’m not saying there is anything wrong with being a generalist – I am one as well. However, if I have 15 names in the book, then 10 of them will be in one sector, 4 will be in another and 1 might be some one-off name that I happened to know somewhere or somehow.

Even if you are trying to identify the 2-3 key drivers that matter for any given name, it’s hard to stay on top of all the moving parts when the names otherwise have no overlap. If it were me, I would consult with the PM to see if there’s any better way to manage your workflow, or suggest to him that it’s better to search for opportunities within a particular vertical. The mile-deep and inch-wide approach does not seem to be the path of least resistance to outperforming the markets, especially when you are going up against a ton of specialists who have good investment processes AND are closer to the names than you are.

Anyway, not trying to give you cold feet and maybe my opinions go beyond the scope of your original question, but being spread too thin seems like a natural corollary to trying to stay organized and you are rightfully concerned about these issues. The issue you describe is something that many analysts face and most of them do not handle it that effectively. The key is to find the path of least resistance and make their information flow as streamlined as possible, so as to tell the difference between ‘knowledge’ and ‘noise’.

@bchad, @numi, and @crazyman

thank for your advice. bchad your tips have given me some ideas I’m going to implement

numi I have been hesitant to discuss this with my managers but your writing has definitely motivated me to do so in a constructive manner (not hey Im doing too much but hey this vertical is something I should focus on for you)

crazyman, I’ve already bought a copy of your recommended reading but unfortunately it may not be read until after my CFA2 studying is complete

thanks again guys I’m really grateful

I’m in a somewhat similar situation, JSobes, and found chapter five (construct & organize an information hub) of Valentine’s Best Practices especially helpful. It motivated me to start using Evernote (though I’m considering a switch to OneNote) a few months ago. I’ve found it useful for organizing my notes and quickly getting back up to speed on companies I haven’t had a chance to review in awhile.

I second Evernote (or any similar software)… I use it religously for organizing all aspects of my life