How to launch your career in equity research, according to 19 rising star analysts

  • Insider selected 19 research analysts 35 and under for its 2021 rising-stars list.
  • We asked the up-and-comers to give us their best career advice for those just starting out.
  • Here are some of the top insights, straight from the wunderkinds themselves.

Wall Street’s top equity-research analysts do much more than keep a pulse on the stock market and company-specific news to give clients an edge.

The bold calls on whether to buy, sell, or hold a certain stock come from professionals with a natural curiosity for the sectors they cover, an insatiable appetite to learn, and the ability to disseminate that information in a compelling way to their clients.

At least that’s what we learned from some of the top young sell-side equity-research analysts featured on Insider’s rising-stars list.

We spoke with all 19 finalists about what advice they’d give aspiring equity research analysts and what’s helped them find success at a relatively young age.

Take a look at some of the lessons and insights they’ve learned along the way.

Read our full list of the rising stars of equity research

Treat the job as a lifestyle

JPMorgan

“Equity research is all about being on top of things. The earlier you learn that in your role you have to prioritize, while still keeping an eye on the macro and what’s going on in other sectors, that helps you become more well-rounded.

“You have to be really passionate about the role, which is not very easy. It’s kind of like a lifestyle. You have to be passionate about the job, and it’s hard to do it really well if you aren’t treating it like a lifestyle.”

Rajat Gupta, JPMorgan

Bank of AmericaTest and retest your assumptions

“Never allow yourself to get bored, and I think that one is a little bit straightforward in that being a research analyst requires you to be intellectually curious. But the way I approach my job is there’s always another angle to look at things. You can continually test and retest your assumptions.

“The second thing, and this has been really beneficial in my career, is don’t be afraid to overask. And I say that from an operational perspective, whether it’s asking questions to corporate or asking questions to your boss or your team members to better understand your sector or stocks or maybe just the market in general. And then you can extend that into the career side of things, which is asking for more responsibility, more coverage.

“The third one that I would say is having a next month, next year, and next three- to five-year plan. And that is something that I am very disciplined on in terms of being anticipatory and forward-thinking about how I want my career to play out.” 

Aileen Smith, Bank of America

Robert MajekLearn to program

“Don’t be afraid to specialize. Firms are shifting from wanting general to more specialized analysts, so pick a sector and go deep.

“I recommend researchers also learn to program, specifically in Python. Gathering alternate data is becoming a key differentiator, and you’ll stand out if you know Python and can run a script to scrape the web and collect information. I’ve talked to a few other colleagues of mine who cover consumer, retail, and other sectors, and they’ve all said that when hiring new associates, that’s a skill that will make your résumé pop off a bit.”

– Robert Majek, Raymond James

It’s OK to be wrong sometimes

“So you have to be humble. Sometimes, you have to admit when you’re wrong. But if you don’t take risks, and you don’t take chances, you’re ultimately not going to get recognized. You don’t make a name for yourself by being in line with the consensus on everything. 

“For those who are just starting out, I would say: Always, always, ask for more. Be intellectually curious, but make sure you’re really pushing yourself early on.”

– Lauren Schenk, Morgan Stanley

Find your audience

“It’s a nice, virtuous cycle that has a client-service component, and that sets apart the best analysts. You can’t sit in an ivory tower and just think of the most incredible analyses — if you can’t find and create your audience, no one will be able to appreciate the analyses you’ve done.”

– Judah Sokel, JPMorgan

Find your niche

“When I think about how I first made the push to get some kind of lead coverage, I was pushing to cover something that was not a flagship type of product per se. Look for areas where you can have an impact, even if you think that that particular area isn’t so crucial to people, because you can find a way of standing out just because no one else is really looking there.”

– Paul Golding, Macquarie

Don’t hesitate to ask questions

“Even as I’ve progressed, just staying curious and continuing to ask questions because you never know, there might be a bit more of an unexpected answer than you’d expect. And so just never being afraid to ask what may seem seemingly obvious.”

– Emily Chieng, Goldman Sachs

Network, network, network

“There’s so many jobs in finance that I wasn’t even aware of when I was a student that I’d just encourage that vast exploration. Demonstrating that intellectual curiosity is what really shines in equity research.”

– Kristen Owen, Oppenheimer

Take ownership of your work

“In terms of rising within a team, I think it’s simple things that we all know: taking ownership over the work you’re doing. Early on in your career, you’re not going to really be the vocal leader. That’s probably something that at more senior positions is going to be — so it’s arriving early at the office, being the last to leave those. Those simple things, I think, are important when asking for more responsibility.”

– Stephen Glagola, Cowen

Always be willing to learn  

“With that said, it’s also really important, as someone who doesn’t have a science background but covers biotech stocks, to know what I do not know and know when I need to go find an answer. I think you gain the most credibility from your clients and companies if you say ‘I don’t know the answer, but I know I can find the answer for you’ versus making something up that is not correct. That is how you build credibility.

“In this business, your name and your reputation are everything. That is the most valuable thing, so you want to be credible with all the constituents that you interact with.”

Evan Seigerman, Credit Suisse

It’s all about attention to detail

“You have to be willing and ready to take advantage of opportunities that are presented to you, but it’s the hard work that you’ve done before that, the attention to detail that you’ve had, and the level of work you’ve completed before that’s going to allow you to have a chance to take those opportunities.”

– Kyle Voigt, Keefe, Bruyette & Woods

Pick a sector you have an interest in

“Early on, when you’re just starting in equity research, I found I added a lot of value in being super detail-oriented and being proactive in digging for answers to questions I could tell clients had.”

– Taylor McGinnis, UBS

Know your stocks 

“When I talk to someone for an informational interview or even a real job interview, if they have a couple of stocks or a couple of companies that they’ve really followed, and that they’re interested in and passionate about, I think that sends a message.

“If you’re following some companies in your free time already, it strikes people that you’re really passionate because I think the equity-research profession is a little bit of a hobbyist profession. The people who do this stuff love it. They follow markets and stocks and read all the time, so if you can kind of convey that in your own approach, and your attitude aligns with that, I think that’s a strong message.”

– Paul Matteis, Stifel 

Keep an open mind

“One thing our head of Americas equity research always says is that we all have to develop our own brands, and we all have to decide what we’re doing that’s different from everyone else and what we’re going to be the best at.”

– Michael Ng, Goldman Sachs

Be humble and respectful

“Don’t be afraid to speak up if you have something insightful to say, but at the same time, when you’re breaking into the industry, respect the folks you’re working for and try to see if there are things you can learn from them and their processes.

“But don’t be afraid to add your own spin to things and develop your brand, which people are going to come to know you for.”

Tyler Radke, Citi

Communicate and collaborate

“It’s very important to have good communication skills. Work on that to build relationships with investors but also with your own team. … Make sure you’re collaborating with other teams. I think that’s what really elevates you within your department.”

Aga Zmigrodzka, UBS 

Stay curious 

“If you have a passion for the product and a passion for investing, and you also let your curiosity blossom, then it will make you a better stock picker because you want to get the answer right. When you’re genuinely curious, you are going to dig a little bit deeper versus just trying to check the box.”

Ben Chaiken, Credit Suisse 

Learn something every day

“Find your niche, look at the market, and see how you can be differentiated, and really try to focus on that because finding where you are best and how that overlaps with an unmet need in the investment community is perfect.”

Joe Thome, Cowen

Keep your options open when you start out

“You should definitely consider multiple paths in the beginning because not everyone finds their calling initially. And I certainly didn’t. I think it’s always important to kind of keep that open mind.”

– Edison Yu, Deutsche Bank

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