How to Transfer to Equity Research from a Corporate Job
Moving to sell-side equity research from a non-investing office job is a viable path into the industry. From my experience in helping with the recruiting process at J.P. Morgan, I have seen some commonalities among candidates who have successfully transitioned into the capital markets from companies across a variety of industries, without relying on getting an MBA to have access to the structured recruiting paths some programs offer.
The common thread between successful candidates includes:
Spent their own time learning about investing prior to their first interview
Joining teams that cover the exact company the candidate has worked at
Joining teams covering the same or a similar industry they have experience in
Worked in a corporate finance, strategy, or accounting-related role at a company
While many of the successful candidates fall under one or more of the items above, they are by no means a requirement to break into the industry particularly if you’re approaching the job hunt from a non-traditional path.
For example, some candidates have landed interviews from a Marketing background. Their networking would have focused on the unique insight they could bring to a team’s stock analysis framework from understanding a firm’s operating strategy through a marketing lens.
That said, those who come from roles related to finance or accounting (Financial Planning and Analysis roles, Investor Relations, etc.) may have an easier time convincing their interviewers that they already have the skills to succeed in an equity research role without a lot of handholding from their team members. It could also make for a more straightforward story on why they are interested in making a switch to equity research.
That's why it's crucial to learn investing fundamentals on your own if you're trying to make the switch from a job that isn't finance-tangential.
Let’s step through some strategies you could employ to maximize your chances of landing an offer in equity research coming from any job at a corporate office.
Learn the Technical Fundamentals on Your Own
Joining an equity research team off-cycle means you’ll miss the training program that new on-cycle recruits go through, which covers topics such as financial modeling and valuation. Off-cycle recruitment is common in equity research (particularly when compared to investment banking) as team needs change throughout the year. While this means you’ll have to independently close the knowledge gap between yourself and on-cycle hires (or those who studied finance in school), it also means that you’ll have more opportunities to break into the industry throughout the year outside of set recruitment deadlines that many other jobs in finance have.
We recommend you go through our course which will teach you all of the modeling, valuation, stock pitching, and recruiting strategy you need to get the job. This will also help you portray your knowledge as you network prior to your interviews.
Your goal should be to make it clear that you will be a low-risk hire who won’t need to be walked through the basics of the job. There are exceptions, however, particularly in certain science-focused coverage groups such as Biotech, where industry specialization is highly valued as it’s much easier to teach someone with a science background how to build financial models than to teach a finance major the core concepts from a technical science degree on the job. See our blog on breaking into equity research with no finance background for more information on this topic.
You should be comfortable with the following, all of which are covered in our course:
Understanding how equity research fits in with other areas of an investment bank
Finance fundamentals (three financial statements, modeling, forecasting, etc.)
Valuation, stock selection, and stock pitching
Discussing relevant current events / having a view of the market
Focus Your Search on Coverage Groups that would Benefit from Your Experience
While applying a scattershot approach to job hunting can yield results, we recommend you focus your efforts on opportunities with the greatest overlap with your recent jobs. We recommend employing a bottom-up approach at this stage in the job search process, meaning that you would start by finding teams that cover the specific companies (or similar companies) in which you have experience.
You can search Google for your current public company’s name and “Analyst Coverage” to see a list of equity research analysts who cover the stock. For example, this page lists all the analysts which cover Carvana. Similarly, you can navigate any public company’s Investor Relations page to find its Analyst Coverage list.
From there, you can broaden your search to capture opportunities that would cover stocks tangential to the companies you’ve previously worked at. See the table below for some inspiration depending on your experience:
Running a quick search on LinkedIn could help you identify which banks to reach out to. Once you have developed a list of opportunities, start reaching out to current employees at your firms of interest while also directly applying to the jobs.
Make a Plan of Action Before Reaching Out
Research the firms before reaching out so that you can differentiate your outreach. Make sure to check out our blog here on this topic, as from the perspective of an interviewer or employee at the company you’re targeting, it’s extremely obvious when a candidate has put in the time and effort to study a firm. Also, check out our Coffee Chat Questions blog to help you feel more confident in your networking.
Sending LinkedIn requests/messages can help you meet some current analysts (be sure to follow the proper etiquette). If you’re feeling bold, you can email employees directly by guessing their work emails or finding their emails from equity research reports online. Anecdotally speaking, I know that some analysts tend to be more receptive than others in answering cold emails, though it’s worth a shot if you’ve exhausted other options. Email members of teams that you know are hiring by finding job opportunities on their websites or on LinkedIn.
Leverage your current experience and skillset to optimize your job search and break into equity research. Your experience actually working at a company or industry that an equity research team covers could be extremely valuable, as you could provide insight into the inner workings of companies that the teams would not be privy to. Make sure that you learn the technical aspects of the job on your own time, as it would alleviate some hiring concerns from the people you’re interviewing or networking with.