Apart from coming to me for some or the other career advice, many times young people come to me and ask me how to grow quickly within an organization.
Just the other day a young equity research analyst, who had recently got a position as a junior analyst with a reputed equity research firm in Mumbai approached me.
He had done his master’s in business administration and had also done a couple of small independent professional financial courses to hone his financial research and analysis skills. He was working in a swanky office in Mumbai, had a very good starting salary, had a good and understanding boss and he even got to work on the sectors or industries that he liked and understood well.
From the outskirts you would feel that everything was going perfectly well for him and that he should be very happy and satisfied with his current scenario...
...But, believe me, he was very worried.
You know why?
He had joined the top equity research firm along with ten or twelve other junior equity research analysts just like himself.
All of them were from reputed educational institutes, had undertaken various other independent professional financial courses to sharpen their financial research and analysis skills, worked very hard and were constantly competing with our friend.
The biggest fear our friend had was – how to survive this tough competition, and more than that – how to grow quickly within the organization with such tough competition breathing down his neck!
Many times getting into your dream organization is easy, but in today’s highly competitive world where there is cut throat competition, surviving is all together a different challenge.
To sustain yourself in that new alien atmosphere, to thrive in it and then to grow within that organization is a big challenge to most new equity research analysts.
So what can you do to make sure that you not only survive this tough competition, but also come on tops and grow quickly within your organization?
Below are some of the tips that I generally give to my students which have helped them to succeed in their jobs.
Remember that there is no magic wand which will give you instant success. You have to work very hard to succeed.
And believe me the success that you get after really working very hard for it, is the sweetest feeling that you can ever get.
So anyways, below are some tips which, if you follow like a gospel, will definitely help you to not only survive the toughest of competition, but will also help you climb the ladder of success in your organization pretty fast:
Understand Your Role Properly and Clearly
The first and foremost things that you need to do is understand and comprehend your role and job properly.
Be sure what is required form you and by when.
Do not try to do everything at the same time. You will only end up making an entire mess of all the things.
Understand your deliverables, prioritize your work, schedule your day properly, make proper plans and then make sure you follow them.
The basic skill sets that you will need as an equity research analyst are very similar to those skill sets that an investment banking analyst would need to do his job properly but you have to understand that there are going to be certain dissimilarities.
The financial modelling that you will do when you do equity research is usually more comprehensive than what you would do in investment banking.
Here, as an equity research analyst you will become proficient in a set of 3 to 4 companies or 2 to 3 industries, while as an investment banking analyst your work base would be more broad.
Also if you remember, I've always been propagating the theory of ‘low hanging fruits first’.
It means do the easy jobs first and only once you have done them perfectly look towards the tougher part. If you use this technique, what happens is you attack the easy part and do away with it quickly.
Once you are done away with the easy part, now you can fully concentrate on the tougher part and crack it. This way you won’t be tense when you are working on the tougher section as more than half of your work which is the easier section is done and out of the way.
This will make life very easy for you and you will be able to succeed in your job better.
So basically understand your job properly and clearly, plan properly and efficiently and make sure that you deliver to the best of your abilities.
Understand Your Industries Very Well – Be an Expert in Your Industries
Being a jack of all trades but master of none will not really take you anywhere.
Those days are gone.
Today everyone is looking for experts in every field.
In today’s world of Google and the ‘world wide web’, information is very easily available to everyone. If someone wants generic basic information about anything, they can just log on to Google and find it out.
Why would they come to you?
They would come to you for specific and targeted intelligence which can help them take optimal financial investment decisions.
For you to provide them this specific intelligence, you need to really understand your industries or sectors thoroughly as well as the key companies within those industries.
You need to really deep dive and understand everything such as how the industry functions, what is the size of the industry, at what rate it is growing, what are the key drivers and inhibitors for the industry, what are the supply chains and value channels for the industry, how is the distribution, what part of the industry is organized and what part is unorganized, what is the contribution of imports and exports, who are the key players in the industry, what are their market shares, what are their key strategies, at what rate are they growing, who are their key clients, etc.
You should be literally breathing your industries. You should target to become an absolute expert in your industries, like a guru!
The best way to do this is to constantly keep on reading financial newspapers, bulletins magazines etc. such as the Wall Street Journal, Economic times, Financial Express, New York Times, Institutional Investor, Financial times, Business Week, Financial week, the Fortune magazine and other similar financial literature.
When you are reading, study the industry and the players within the industries. You can also contemplate creating a private journal of significant economic and company happenings to keep abreast with what is going on in the industry.
Another important thing to do is talk to as many people in the industries allotted to you as possible.
Secondary published information can give you historical information, but touching base with industry participants will help you understand the pulse of the industry or market. These are the people who work within the industry and understand it better than anyone looking at it from outside.
Also remember it’s not just interacting with them but creating a bond with them which enables you to touch base with them at any point of time to get more information.
Understanding your industries as well as the companies within those industries will definitely help you deliver much more quality reports as well as help you stand out amongst your colleagues.
Be as Unbiased as Possible – Everyone Will Respect You More
In one of my earlier articles, I had impressed up on the fact that being unbiased is of utmost importance for an equity research analyst.
You have to understand the fact that your readers or your clients will be reading your equity research reports and based on that they will be taking their financial investment decisions.
They trust you and your reporting; and you are morally liable to provide them with an unbiased and true opinion.
The more trust you can build with your readers, the more they will come for your reports.
Always Be Open to Feedback – On the Job Training Is Always More Important than What You Will Learn from Books
Another very important thing to remember is to be always open to feedback - be it from your seniors or your peers.
Do not have the feeling that you know everything and whatever you do is right.
There is always a scope for improvement everywhere and with whatever you do.
Always keep an open mind and absorb as much as possible.
I always tell my readers that on the job training is always more important than what you will learn from books.
Constantly Update Your Skills – Learning Is Life, Should Never Stop
Believe me, when I say that life is always about constant learning, discerning new things, and constant improvement.
Successful individuals do not think that they know everything in life. They are always open to fresh ideas. They are forever eager to discover new ways and discover superior answers. That is the reason they are always successful.
So do not think that you understand everything and be open to learning and experiencing different concepts if you want to attain more, and be successful and live the life you want.
Make sure that you register for courses and examinations to prepare yourself in this field, especially financial modelling, financial valuations, financial report analysis, report writing, etc.
You can also register yourself with suitable clubs and groups which will help you hone your financial research and analysis skills.
Meet as many people in the industry as you can, and conduct interviews to further your knowledge.
All this will really help you update and hone your skills and make you a better equity research analyst.
Build Your Brand Equity in the Organization as Well as In the Market
In the equity research industry, it is imperative that you build you brand equity.
By brand equity I mean the recognition factor.
People within your organization as well as in the industry should know that you exist and that you mean business. People should wait for your reports and look up to you.
Brand equity is especially important in the times of promotions and increments. So always make sure that you are visible through your work as well as your personality.
Find a Mentor – S/He Can Change Your Life
It is really important for especially a beginner to look out for a mentor or a guide who will help him and guide him throughout his initial journey.
A good mentor or a guide can make a real difference in an equity research analyst’s career.
Remember that the most important individual in your organization for you is your boss. If you can find your mentor in your boss – nothing like it! Your boss will be guiding your work focus, so it is imperative that you respect him and feel comfortable with him.
Work – Life Balance Is Extremely Important
Another important thing I always tell my readers is that you need to have a good work life balance. Only then will you enjoy your work and be fresh when you report for work the next day.
It’s no use burning out at the age of thirty or thirty five! So enjoy your life as much as you enjoy your work.
Always Help Others – People Will Start to Respect You More
Lastly I would like to say that it is extremely important to help others once you finish your work.
This way other people will understand that you know a lot and will start to respect you much more.
This will definitely help you at the time of promotions or appraisals.
In the end remember what lord Krishna said in the Bhagwad Gita –
"Karm karo fal ki chinta mat karo"
It translates to –‘do your work without bothering about its outcome, as the outcome is not in your hands’.
So do not keep on expecting that quick promotion every time in your job. Do your job to the best of your abilities and believe me the fruits will soon follow.
I hope I have been able to throw some light on as to how an equity research analyst can grow quickly within an organization.
Do let me know in case you have any questions and I’ll be happy to help.