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So you want to be an Equities Researcher?

07/04/2016

It’s 9am; you’ve poured over any breaking news that might impact on your companies, listened to the morning research call and drank three lattes. As your day meanders pleasantly and uneventfully along, it’s time to leap into all the long term stuff – topical and initiation reports – as, not for the first time, you consider how far removed your office is from any of those madhouse trading rooms; it’s more like a library with a big sign saying ‘Quiet please, researchers relaxing.’

And it is relaxed
Yes, there are phone calls and email interruptions and clients wanting to get your opinion on a news item’s impact or the risks on a company you cover. And yes, there are follow-ups to company news releases with more reporting to be done. But it’s… relaxed and, most nights you’ll be saying your goodnights and heading for the lift by about six.

That is until Earning Season
Then it’s ‘open season’ for about three weeks every three months. The work gets more intense as each of your companies reports, the nights get later, the weekends go missing.

Or that is until your beta pre-announces earnings two weeks early
All hell breaks loose. You sweat as stock falls. You sweat even more as your boss and clients demand explanations. You leave work at midnight, return at 5am having lain awake all night.

Such is the life of an Equities Researcher
From the humdrum to the helter skelter and back again, that’s basically your lot. While the good days are easy, the bad days will really test your mettle. The best Equities Researchers are calm, quick thinking multi-taskers capable of fast and very detailed financial analysis. They’re also good with words and have a large, versatile vocabulary capable of getting them out of tight spots.

Who do you work for?
That depends on whether you like to splash about in the shallows of a large pool of companies or dive deep into a few. Bulge bracket shops focus on covering lots of companies – the more the merrier, although you will be a sector specialist – while boutique shops tend to lock into smaller companies and research the living daylights out of them. The aim of course is to win the corporate work that accompanies the growth of the market up and comers.

Generally boutique shops pay less, so if your primary motivation is bulging pockets, go with a bulge bracket shop. And if all that research and writing and calm and chaos is not for you long term, your head will be perfectly moulded for a move into an offshore hedge fund or, more locally, buy side asset management.

First published by Meredith Jordan on LinkedIn on 21st March 2016

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