What is equity research?
Sell-side equity research ranges from analyzing company’s fundamentals, gathering data from sources like; financial reports, industry events, earnings calls, interpreting data from market news etc., to making financial models and valuations. All this leads to a research report wherein a recommendation is given by the analyst about the stock of the company the analyst conducted the research on. Recommendation consists of whether to “buy” “hold” or “sell” ratings of the stock.
(Note that the sell-side consists of investment banks, advisory & brokerage firms, and corporations etc. that issue/sell securities to investors).
Buy-side equity research involves analyzing companies in order to make an actual investment to match with their firm’s investment strategy and portfolio. Also, contrary to the sell-side research, buy-side research is not published. Buy-side research is used for a variety of investment “funds”.
(Note that the buy-side consists of asset managers, hedge funds, pension funds, institutional investors and so on).
Skills needed for equity research
Technical skills –
- A bachelor’s degree in the field of commerce, finance or economics.
- An MBA (mandatory for some companies for an entry-level role, given that you don’t have prior work experience).
- Courses like CFA add value substantially.
- Certification courses online from NISM can add to your knowledge.
- Financial modeling, Excel, Word and PowerPoint.
Soft skills –
- Analytical mind.
- Great writing and communication skills.
- Time management with a willingness to work long hours.
- High attention to detail.
- Highly self-motivated.
- Ability to work under pressure.
The hierarchy in sell-side equity research is more or less this.
- Equity research associates usually aspire to move to the “buy side”. They can be portfolio or hedge fund managers. The buy-side is alluring due to a slightly stable work-life balance, higher compensation, opportunities to show expertise and having worked on the sell-side, can have a better understanding of how things work.
- Another common move is to switch to “corporate development” within the same firm or otherwise. This fetches analysts and associates roles in M&A transactions or financial planning and analysis.
The salaries in India based on various sources for an equity research analyst (information more skewed towards the sell-side) are as follows;
(Please note that the salary varies based on the company size, education level, work-experience and location).
Guide for analysts – how to get in?
“Analyst” being the entry-level job role, a lot of factors need to be considered because no two people will have the same background. Points explained below more or less cover some of common scenarios.
- MBA – Candidates who have an MBA from a top tier institute or any other institute can get in equity research through campus placements or external sources. More often than not, candidates having completed an MBA can get in as an analyst without prior work experience.
- Relevant work experience – If the candidate has a relevant work experience, he/she can apply for the role of an analyst without necessarily having a Master’s degree or an MBA.
- No MBA and work experience – In this case, the candidate must opt for the CFA program to qualify as charter holders. Also, options like doing internships and freelancing help immensely.
Entities that hire in equity research
- Financial institutions
- Insurance companies
- Pension funds
- Securities firms
- Brokerage firms
- Portfolio management firms
- Venture Capital /Private Equity companies.
Advantages and drawbacks
- Rewarding career
- Helps you get in deep areas of a business/industry
- Makes you skilled enough for a wide array of roles in finance
- Builds several traits of your personality.
- Long working hours
- Pressure to deliver
- Work goes through many levels of scrutiny by various people in the firm which may lead to a lot of changes in the original piece.
- Other career prospects may seem desirable.
(Note: Inclusive of both, buy and sell side).
Future prospects in India – Amid the emergence of big data, AI, machine learning & algorithmic trading, equity research (analyst) still has a place of its own. The Indian market has not fully opened up avenues for the modern-age tech to take over or replace the role of an analyst. This indicates that equity research with the help of humans is here to stay for many years to come.