Equity Research Analyst: Career Path and Qualifications

Equity research analysts work for both buy-side and sell-side firms in the securities industry. They produce research reports, projections, and recommendations concerning companies and stocks. Typically, an equity analyst specializes in a small group of companies in a particular industry or country to develop the high-level expertise necessary to produce accurate projections and recommendations.

These analysts monitor market data and news reports and speak to contacts in the companies and industries they study to update their research daily.

Key Takeaways

  • Equity research analysts work for both buy-side and sell-side firms in the securities industry producing research reports, projections, and recommendations surrounding companies and stocks.
  • Most equity research analysts have a bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, economics, or business administration.
  • Having a background in statistics and mathematics is beneficial for equity research analysts.
  • Senior equity research analysts often have a master's degree. A Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, awarded by the CFA Institute, is recommended for analysts who want to move up the career ladder.

What Does an Equity Research Analyst Do?

In a buy-side firm—such as a wealth management firm, a pension fund, or a hedge fund—an equity research analyst typically supplies information and recommendations to the firm's investment managers, who oversee client investment portfolios and make final decisions about what securities to hold.

In a sell-side firm, such as a brokerage or a bank, an equity research analyst typically produces reports and recommendations for the firm's sales agents. The agents then go on to use the information to sell investments to their clients and the general public.

Analysts generally spend less time on financial modeling and more time writing reports and developing recommendations

Career Paths in Equity Research

Most equity research analysts begin in entry-level research associate positions after completing bachelor's degree programs. Research associates work under the direction of a senior equity research analyst creating financial models and conducting research. New hires may work with a variety of analysts over the course of months as a general introduction to the job.

Most research associates are eventually assigned to a single working group covering a small group of firms. With more experience and excellent performance, associates can move directly into analyst positions, taking more active roles in the research process.

Educational Qualifications for an Equity Research Analysts

To work in equity research, a candidate must have a bachelor's degree, preferably in a relevant business discipline such as finance, accounting, economics, or business administration. Undergraduate degrees that provide in-depth quantitative training are also good options, including degrees in mathematics, statistics, engineering, and physics.

A master's degree is not required to advance into senior analyst positions. However, a master's degree in business administration or finance can help pave the way for career advancement, especially advancement into portfolio and fund management positions. 

Many equity research analyst positions require a license from FINRA.

Non-business majors should consider taking some courses in finance and other business disciplines if considering a career as an equity research analyst.

Advanced Positions in Equity Research

After several years of working in junior positions, some analysts return to school to earn master's degrees.

Although, high-performing analysts may continue into more senior research roles without returning to school. A senior equity research analyst who has a high degree of expertise in their specialty area can move into an investment management role overseeing a research team and an investment portfolio.

A portfolio manager is responsible for using the information supplied by equity research analysts and other staff to manage the mix of securities in a portfolio daily.

Other Qualifications for Equity Research Analysts

The preeminent professional qualification for equity research analysts and others working in securities research is the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, which is awarded by the CFA Institute.

This designation requires candidates to have a minimum of four full years of qualifying experience. Consequently, it is generally considered a qualification for advancement into more senior positions in the field. The designation requires candidates to pass a series of three examinations.

Many equity research analysts require a license from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), a national body charged with oversight of securities firms and brokers. The licensing process typically requires sponsorship from an employing firm, so most analysts complete license requirements only after hiring is complete.

How Much Does an Equity Research Analyst Get Paid?

According to GlassDoor, the average salary for an equity research analyst in the U.S. in 2022 is $78.863.

How Many Hours per Week Can a Research Equity Analyst Expect to Work?

An equity research analyst can expect to work up to 60 hours per week on a typical week, which can increase to upwards of 80 hours per week during earnings season.

Who Do Equity Research Analysts Work for?

Equity research can be divided into sell-side and buy-side firms. Sell-side analysts work for investment banks and brokerages and research stocks in order to provide investment recommendations for their clients and the public. Buy-side analysts research stocks to identify investments for their own firm to invest in.

Article Sources
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  1. CFA Institute. "How to Become a CFA Charterholder."

  2. FINRA. "Standards for Admission."

  3. GlassDoor. "Salary: Equity Research Analyst."

  4. Mergers and Inquisitions. "The Equity Research Associate: Remnant of a Dying Industry, or the Hero That Gotham Deserves."

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