Do you love doing really thorough research and analyses? Do you like being the expert in a very specific subject?
The job of an equity researcher is to thoroughly analyze companies and give expert opinions on the future value of that company. Equity researchers typically analyze a small handful of companies in a very similar vertical, and write up detailed reports for others to use when creating investment strategies.
Most opportunities are in NYC, Chicago, and SF, but occasionally opportunities exist elsewhere
JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Citi, Evercore, Cowen and Co., Barclay, and Guggenheim Securities.
There is a lower headcount and lower turnover for these roles, meaning that they will seemingly pop up at random and infrequently. While not required, getting a CFA would be viewed very positively (and is possible while in medical school)
An equity researcher’s job is to evaluate public companies, and to this end their job revolves around understanding the companies that they cover as well as possible. This involves using publicly available information to build financial models to assess how the company is doing, and if it is over or undervalued in the market. Additionally, it is vital that equity researchers keep up on any major news source, reading to see if there are any macroeconomic trends that need to factor into their model of how the company is valued.
For example, if Apple has a press release that they are going to offer the iCar then the Associate or Analyst on Apple would need to adjust their model to estimate how that would impact Apple’s earnings and valuation. At large banks or hedge funds, and for well-established Analysts, they may often call or meet with the management of the companies that they cover. An analyst covering Apple during this hypothetical iCar announcement might also research competitors and trends in the space - “how is Tesla doing? is Google going to release their own car?”.
Equity researchers spend all of this time covering a group of companies so that they can deliver detailed reports to someone. On ‘sell side’ firms (typically large banks) this means publicly releasing detailed reports, and updating the investment bankers, brokers, and asset managers at the firm. On ‘buy side’ firms, hedge funds, the primary goal of the firm is to invest the firm’s money in a way that is better than anyone else in the market - so equity research reports are compiled into an investment thesis, and then invested into the market.
The salary of an equity researcher is one of the main draws. The salary depends significantly on if you are working on the ‘sell side’ (at a bank) or on the ‘buy side’ (at a hedge fund). On the ‘sell side’, you are usually compensated better at the earlier positions and you can expect that a larger amount of your total compensation will be guaranteed in your salary. Entry level equity researchers on the sell side can make between $125,000 and $200,000, depending on the bonus structure of their contract. Promotions can be expected around every three years and compensation will increase substantially during that time. At the highest level, managing directors can make between $500,000 - $1M.
On the buy side, you are working for a firm that is highly dependent on the return of their investment. Because of this, a large amount of compensation from hedge funds comes from the yearly bonus, which is determined by how well the firm did. An entry level equity research associate at a hedge fund could expect to make somewhere around $125,000 - $150,000 in total compensation, with about 50% to 67% of that coming from their bonus. Additionally, because the more senior equity researchers at hedge funds are making investment recommendations and decisions that determine the fate of the firm, they might make $200,000 in salary and multiple millions in bonuses every year.
Equity researchers are often compared to investment bankers, since they both work in institutional finance, and are seen as the job more focused on the life aspect of the work/life balance. They work hard, often putting in 12 hour days, but they rarely will work on the weekends and typically have less variability in the length of their work day than investment bankers or even consultants. Their job is typically a little less stressful, as a lot of their time is spent being especially diligent. They are usually thoroughly reading or writing reports, building financial models, and staying up on economic trends.
Progression in equity research involved the typical finance career levels: Associate -> VP -> Senior VP/Executive Director/Director -> Managing Director. The confusing aspect to equity research is that there is a second, more publicly available title, which can be Associate or Analyst. Associate refers to a junior member of a research team, while Analyst refers to the team lead, or most senior person. The complication is that Analysts can be different levels, such as a Managing Director-Analyst or a Vice President-Analyst. Most people progress up the ER ladder every ~3 years.
Equity researchers have many exit opportunities available to them. Typically, most stay in financial roles where you would be a great asset to a hedge fund or an asset management firm. You would also be able to transition to a corporate finance role at a traditional company (i.e. corporate finance at Nike) quite easily. Because you usually have a huge amount of industry knowledge, some people move from equity research into corporate development or corporate strategy roles. Finally, while it is quite difficult, it is possible to move from ER into Private Equity roles - although sometimes people do a stint in IB to gain the transaction experience, which is highly desired at PE firms.