Equity Research | A Complete Beginner’s Guide

Equity Research primarily means analyzing company’s financials, perform ratio analysis, forecast the financials (financial modeling) and explore scenarios with an objective of making BUY/SELL stock investment recommendation. Equity Research analyst discuss their research and analysis in their equity research reports. In this in-depth article on Equity Research, we discuss the nuts and bolts of Equity Research –


If you want to learn Equity Research professionally, then you may want to look at 40+ video hours of Equity Research Course or this 50+ hours of Financial Modeling Course

What is Equity Research?

Equity Research explanation is quite simple. Let us look at this steps below

What is equity research

  1. Equity research is all about finding the valuation of a listed company (Listed companies trade on stock exchange like NYSE, NASDAQ etc
  2. Once you have the company under consideration, you look at the economic aspects like GDP, growth rates , market size of the industry and the competition aspects etc.
  3. Once you understand the economics behind the business, perform the financial statement analysis of the historical balance sheet, cash flows and income statement to form an opinion on how the company did in the past.
  4. Based on management’s expectation, historical performances and industry competition, project the financial statements like the BS, IS and CFs of the company.  (also called as Financial Modeling in Equity Research)
  5. Use the Equity valuation models like Discounted Cash Flows, Relative valuations, sum of parts valuation the company
  6. Calculate the Fair price based on the above models and compare the fair price with the Current Market Price (stock exchange)
  7. If the Fair Price < Current Market Price, then the company stocks are overvalued and should be recommended as a SELL.
  8. If the Fair Price > Current Market Price, then the company shares are undervalued and should be recommended as a BUY.

Role of Equity Research

  • Equity Research plays a very critical role that fills the information gap between the buyers and sellers of shares.
  • Reason is that at all levels (individual or institutional) may not have the resources or the capabilities to analyze every stocks.
  • Additionally, full information is not provided by the management due to which further in-efficiencies are created and stocks trade below or above the fair value.
  • Equity Research analyst spend lot of time, energy and expertise to analyze stocks, follow news, talking to the management and provide an estimate of stock valuations.
  • Also, equity research tries to identify the value stocks out of the massive ocean of stocks and help the buyers to generate profits.

What is the Typical hierarchy in Equity Research firms?

  • A typical hierarchy at an Equity Research firms starts with the Head of Equities/Head of Equities at the top.
  • Thereafter there are Analysts (senior) covering different sectors. Each analyst mostly cover around 10-15 companies in a specific sector.
  • Each Senior analyst may be supported by an Associate, who in turn may be supported by a couple of Junior Analysts.

Equity Reserach Hierarchy

What is the role of Head of Research?

  • Head of Research act as a key member to manage the Equity research analyst team, providing the team with leadership, coaching and guidance to ensure that the brokerage goals and objectives are met.
  • They oversee research reports publications, its editing as well as monitor the process of analysis and brokerage recommendations
  • They ensure that adequate support is provided to sales and trading teams
  • Contribute to Equities by providing expert level inputs for overall strategy, goals, initiatives and budgets
  • Responsible for Analyst hiring, compensation, development and performance management
  • Liaison with fund managers and the research teams.

What is the job of the Senior Analyst?

Below is an excerpt from a job requirement of a Senior analyst –

Senior Analyst Job Descriptionsource – FederatedInvestor

  • Typically an equity research senior analyst would cover a sector with not more than 8-15 stocks. Coverage implies tracking these stocks actively. Senior Analyst tries to bring maximum companies under coverage in the sector he/she tracks (initiating the coverage)
  • Many senior equity analyst cover companies that investors may want to invest in. These companies are like the high market capitalization companies or the ones with higher trading volume and there could also be cases where investors want to invest in small cap or mid cap companies with less analysts coverage.
  • One of the most important responsibility of Senior Analyst is to come up with Quarterly Results Update – results summary, expectation and performance against those expectations, updating forecasts etc.
  • Talking to the clients (buy side) and showcasing their calls on the stocks. They have to diligently communicate buy sell recommendations of stocks. Additionally, they have to articulate clearly why a certain stock should be included in their portfolio.
  • Write important industry event updates like conferences or management meeting updates
  • To update the Sales team, dealing and trading team about the latest news in the sector and the company and keep them updated with the brokerage’s view on the same.
  • Attending conference calls for important company updates, results etc
  • Attend trade shows, meet company management, suppliers meetings etc


Responsibilities of an Associate

Below is the summary of Associate job description from efinancialcareers

Associate Position

Associate Responsibilities

  • The primary job of an associate is to support the Senior Analyst in best way possible.
  • An associate has a prior experience of around 3 years or so in similar industry.
  • Updating the financial model, verifying the data and preparing the valuation models
  • Working on various client requests like request of data, industry analysis etc
  • Prepare draft Equity Research Reports (update of results, events etc)
  • Work on client requests
  • Participate in meetings and calls with clients on the stock under coverage.


Responsibilities of a Junior Analyst

Here is a snapshot of Junior Equity Analyst responsibilities.

Junior Analyst Responsibilites

source – careers.societegenerale.com

  • The main responsibilities of Junior Analyst is to support the Associate in every format.
  • Majority of the work done by Junior Analyst is related to data and excel etc
  • Also, Junior Analyst may be involved in doing primary research, industry research, coordinating with clients etc
  • Maintaining the industry database, charts, graphs and financial models etc.


Typical Day at an Equity Research Firm

Previously, I had worked with companies like JPMorgan and CLSA India as an Equity Research Analyst. I covered Indian Oil & Gas sectors with stocks like ONGC, BPCL, HPCL, GAIL etc.  Below was my typical day as an Equity Research Analyst.

Typical Day at an Equity Research Firm

7:00am – Reach office

  • Check emails from traders and sales people
  • Check the stock markets (Asian Markets that open first)
  • Check for all the news related to your sector
7:30am – 8:00am Attend Morning Meeting
  • Morning meeting is nothing a formal discussion of the recommendations before the market opens along with Sales & Trading Team
  • In this morning meeting, all analysts present their views on key developments in their sector along with the Head of Research or Equities presenting their views on the general markets.
9:00am – Market Opens
  • Follow the Market, look for key developments in your sector
  • Try to rationalize if there is any rapid stock price movements
10:00am – Regular Work
  • Perform regular research analyst duties like Client Requests, Financial Model updates,
  • Follow the News and keep a close check
11:00am – Regular Work / Client Discussions
  • Discussion with buy side clients for any explanation of research/calls
  • Continue doing your regular maintenance work
3:30pm – Market Closes
  • Capture the market movements of the company under coverage for the day closure.
  • Check if there is anything that the clients should know and work accordingly.
4:00pm – Work on New Research Publications
  • Work on the new research piece for publication (next day or in coming days)
  • Generally, a research analyst targets atleast 1 to 2 research pieces every week.
7:30-8:00 – go Home
  • If there is no earning season (company results), then the typical go home time is 7:30-8:00pm. However, during earning seasons there is no surety when you will reach home.
  • You need to fully prepare the result update report and keep it ready for next day early morning publication.

Who pays for Equity Research?

Client Brokerage Relationship

  • As noted above, on one side is the Buy Side firms like Hedge Funds, Pension Funds, Insurance Companies, Mutual funds etc.
  • On the other side are the sell side firms like JPMorgan, GoldMan Sacks, Credit Suisse etc.
  • The buy side firms manage portfolio and they are required to invest their portfolio as per the investment objective.
  • Investment objective may mandate these companies to keep a portion of their assets in Stocks etc.
  • In such cases, the buy side analysts seek advise of the sell side analyst for investment decisions.
  • The advise or the idea provided by the sell side analyst is literally for FREE.
  • Once the buy side analyst has take the decision of investing in the stock, the buy side analyst may look forward to executing the trade through the Trading division of the sell side firm
  • The trading division will in turn charge a commission for executing the trade at the lowest price.
  • The commission in return are basically the earnings of the research firms.

Equity Research Professional Approach

So what is your work like as an Equity Research Professional. Equity Research analysts follow stocks and make recommendations on whether to buy, sell, or hold those securities using Fundamental Analysis. Equity Research is a very challenging job, where an analyst may be required to spend more than 12-14 hours a day.

For creating a professional Equity Research Financial model, an expert analyst recommended approach is as follows –

Economic Analysis / Industry Analysis / Company Analysis

  • The very first thing you need to take care of while doing a professional analysis is to learn about the economic parameters affecting the industry, the industry dynamics, competitors etc.
  • For example, when you are analyzing Alibaba, you should know about each and every sub divisions of Alibaba and its competitors.


Fundamental Analysis

  • You should be awesome at Fundamental Analysis. Fundamental Analysis means performing Ratio Analysis of the company under consideration.
  • Before you start ratio analysis, you should populate atleast the last 5 years of financial statements (Income Statement, Balance Sheet and Cash Flows) in excel.
  • You should prepare a blank excel sheet with Separate Income Statement, Balance Sheet and Cash Flows and use neat formats
  • Populate the historical financial statements (IS, BS, CF) and do the necessary adjustment for Non-recurring items (one time expenses or gains).
    Do the Ratio Analysis for Historical years
  • An example is presented below in Colgate Ratio Analysis

Colgate Ratio Analysis - Operating Profitability

Preparing a Professional Financial Model

  • Company management does not provide the future financial projections of the company. Therefore, it is important as a research analyst to project this data. Forecasting the financials of the company is known as Financial Modeling. I earlier wrote a 6000 words step-by-step tutorial on Financial Modeling. If you want to master Financial Modeling, you can refer this Financial Modeling Tutorial

Completing the Balance Sheet

Valuations – DCF

  • Valuation is primarily done using two methods – a) Discounted Cash flow and b)Relative Valuations.

Once your financial model is ready, you can perform Discounted cash flows as given in the steps below –

  • Calculate FCFF as discussed in class and the handbook
    Apply a suitable WACC post the calculation of the capital structure
    Find the Enterprise Value of the Firm (including the Terminal Value)
    Find Equity Value of the Firm after the deduction of Net Debt
    Divide Equity Value of the Firm by the total number of shares to arrive at “Intrinsic Fair Value” of the company.
    Recommend whether to “BUY” or “SELL”

Alibaba FCFF

Valuation – Relative Valuations

  • Relative valuation is based on comparing the valuation of the company under consideration with valuation of other firms. There are valuation multiples used to value companies like PE Multiple, EV/EBITDA, PBV ratio etc.

Box IPO Comparable Analysis Comp

The common approach is given below.

  • Identify the comparable based on the business, Market Capitalization and other filters
  • Identify the suitable valuation multiple to be used for this business.
  • Use the average valuation multiple to find the valuation of the company
  • Suggest “Undervalued” or “Over-valued”.


Research Report

  • Once you have prepared the financial modeling and find the fair valuation of the company, you need to communicate this to your clients through Research Reports. This research report is a very professional in nature and is prepared with lot of caution.
  • Below is a sample of Equity Research Report. You may learn about Equity Research Report Writing here.http://www.wallstreetmojo.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Reliance-Petroleum.pdf

Equity Research Skills-set

 Here is an excerpts from the Equity Research Job Requirements Description –

Associate Qualifications

Key highlights to note from this excerpt is –

  • MBA is a plus (not a necessity). If you are an MBA then you have certain advantages, but if you are a graduate, you should not get disheartened. You have a chance if you prove your interest in finance. Please do have a look at Can an engineer get into an Investment Bank
  • A financial discipline is not essential, but you must have a strong interest in the financial markets with excellent quantitative and analytical skills.
  • You should be fluent in English and have excellent verbal and written communication skills.
  • You possess intellectual curiosity, focus and creativity, and have a keen research instinct with creative problem-solving abilities.
  • Strong proficiency in Microsoft Excel and Powerpoint
  • CFA designation – This is one important designation that the finance industry respects. Try to ensure that you take CFA examination and pass atleast a couple of levels.

I wrote a detailed post on the skills required to enter into Equity Research. My top 5 skillset required to enter the Equity Research Industry are –

  1. Excel Skills
  2. Financial Modeling
  3. Valuations
  4. Accounting
  5. Report Writing

You can get an indepth understanding of the skilsets here – Equity Research Skills

Top Equity Research Firms

Insitutional Investors ranking suggests that in 2014, the best research firm was Merril Lynch Bank of America, second place was taken by JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley came third.

Apart from the top 3 above, there are other notable equity research firms (listed below)

Deutsche Bank Standard Chartered Bank
Credit Suisse Cornerstone Macro
UBS Wolfe Research
Barclays BNP Paribas Securities
Citi CIMB Securities
Nomura Cowen and Co.
Goldman, Sachs & Co. Berenberg Bank
CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets Citic Securities
Wells Fargo Securities CRT Capital Group
VTB Capital Empirical Research Partners
Sberbank CIB J. Safra Corretora
Santander Keefe, Bruyette & Woods
ISI Group Kempen & Co.
Daiwa Capital Markets Otkritie Capital
Jefferies & Co. Raymond James & Associates
Mizuho Securities Group Renaissance Macro Research
SMBC Nikko Securities SEB Enskilda
Macquarie Securities ABG Sundal Collier
HSBC Amherst Securities Group
Banco Português de Investimento Antique Stock Broking
Batlivala & Karani Securities India Autonomous Research
BBVA Helvea
BGC Partners Ichiyoshi Research Institute
BMO Capital Markets Corp. ICICI Securities
BOCI Research ING Financial Markets
Brasil Plural Intermonte
Commerzbank Corporates & Markets JB Capital Markets
Davy Kepler Capital Markets
EFG-Hermes LarrainVial Corredora de Bolsa
Equita S.I.M. Lazard Capital Markets
Fidentiis Equities MainFirst Bank
Gazprombank N+1 Equities
Goodbody Stockbrokers Oddo Securities
Guggenheim Securities Okasan Securities Co.
Handelsbanken Capital Markets Oppenheimer & Co.
Samsung Securities Petercam
Stifel Rabobank
Strategas Research Partners Redburn Partners
UniCredit Washington Analysis
Vontobel Zelman & Associates

Equity Research Compensation

  • Junior Analyst/Assistants have a base comp of $45,000 – $50,000 per year (average)
  • Associates have a base salary of $65,000 – $90,000 per year (average) depending on the experience. Additionally, they get bonus of 50-100% of the base salary (in an average to good year)
  • Senior Analyst generally have a base compensation $125,000 – $250,000. There bonus may range from 2-5 times of the base compensation.

Equity Research Exit Opportunities

Sell Side research analyst have various Career Opportunities –

Within Equity Research Firm

  • If you joined as an associate, then you can move up the ladder to become Senior analyst assuming full responsibility of the sector coverage.
  • Later you can move further up to become Head of Research and Head of Equities.

Private Equity Analyst

  • Sell side analysts also move to Private Equity domain working as Private Equity Analyst.
  • Instead of analyzing public companies, they analyst private companies from the point of view of investments.
  • They can move up the hierarchy to become Private Equity Fund manager. Checkout the List of Top Private Equity Firms

Investment Banking Analysts

  • Movement of sell side analysts to Investment banking is slightly tough but not impossible.
  • Sell side analysts are fully aware of financial research and modeling related work.
  • What they haven’t worked on is the transaction related work like IPO filing documents, Pitch books, registration work etc. If you are confused between Investment Banking and Equity Research, read this article – Investment Banking vs Equity Research

Buy Side Firms

  • Sell side analysts sometimes are also absorbed as buy side analysts (working for Mutual funds etc).
  • The buy side analysts assume the responsibility of fund managers over a period of time.

Corporate Finance

  • Sell side analyst work a lot on financial analysis, analyzing company projects and its effect on the overall company’s financials. Hence, they get into a typical Corporate finance roles of large corporates (take care of financial analysis, planning Projects etc)
  • Another unique role they get into is Investor Relation. As a sell side analyst, they get equipped with the FAQs and how to deal with critical information and its sharing etc. Due to this they also become eligible for Investor Relation jobs.


Other useful article –


Equity Research essentially means preparing an estimate of company fair valuation for recommending the buy side clients. Though, as a research analyst you may spend 12-16 hours a day at office, however, this is a dream job for many who love Finance and Financial Analysis. If you like to work in a challenging and dynamic environment, then this is one career you must consider. Not only equity research job rewards analyst with relatively higher compensation, but also, it provides excellent exit opportunities.

What next?

If you learned something new or enjoyed the post, please leave a comment below. Let me know what you think. Many thanks and take care. Happy Learning!


  1. By Kevin on

    recommended post, thank u Dheeraj! im working as a junior analyst. Is it possible if i want to take the opportunity as a fund manager after this?


    • By Dheeraj Vaidya on

      Hi Kevin, the first move would be to move into the buy side position as an analyst and later you can get promoted to fund manager roles.


  2. By Priya kumari on

    Hii Dheeraj,

    I have just completed my MBA in finance,and eagerly planning to grow my career into analyst profile.Your article has really given me an overwiew of how it works,the whole analysis thing.Moreover,I would like to get more updates into the same.




  3. By Gavin on

    Hello Dheeraj

    Please help me to understand the role of corporate access in the success of an equity analyst?


  4. By Parth Pandit on

    Hi Dheeraj

    First of all thank you for such an informative post on a topic about which finding information is tough. Very well written.

    So I am currently pursuing my MBA in finance (2nd Year). Also I will be appearing for CFA level in Dec 2016.

    Would like to get your insights about how to get an opening in this field as a fresher. Also some tips on facing the CFA level 1 exam.


  5. By Sanchay Maity on

    An amazingly well written article. Such a wonderful change from the usual related articles filled with the technical jargon and confusing descriptions. Having said that there are some things that I would like to discuss with you offline. And I have sent you a mail to that effect. Could you please look at it and send me a response if at all you feel it necessary.

    Warm regards,


    • By Dheeraj Vaidya on

      Hi Sanjay,

      Thanks. Unfortunately, I am unable to locate your email. Can you please resend me the same?



  6. By Varun on

    Hi Dhiraj,
    Very good information..
    Let me know for entry in research part of capital market which is the best equity research training institute.


  7. By Jinal on

    Informative post..thanx for d post..need to ask u from wer to start fr equity research analyst..I have interest in stock markets..but I want to make career in dese line..I have completed my CA CS recently.


    • By Dheeraj Vaidya on

      Hi Jinal,

      You can start by converting your interest in stock markets to your passion. The starting point would be learn the nuts of bolts of research. To start with you can look at learning Financial Modeling, valuations, accounting and excel.
      you can also consider CFA level 1 exam for the same.



  8. By Gaurav on

    Dheeraj, What a wonderful resource you have developed! I am beginning to get to know to about Equity and your blog seems to be the first place to start!


  9. By Amber on

    Hello Dheeraj,

    Which valuation method would you recommend? Which is more commonly used by equity analysts. The CFA curriculum places more emphasis on the relative valuation approach. This method is also more convenient for me as most of the inputs that go into the DCF calculation such as beta, equity risk premiums etc are not readily available for my country. Should I calculate these myself?



    • By Dheeraj Vaidya on

      Hi Amber, I would prefer Relative valuation due to its ease. However, applying DCF (using the financial modeling forecasting along with FCFF approach) helps us understand company’s business in totality. I typically apply both to find the fair price.

      Also, please note that CFA curriculum hardly covers the DCF valuations using Financial Modeling. do have a look at this Financial Modeling tutorial


  10. By v Milind on

    Excellent blog!! Dheeraj, May I request you to kindly send the excel formats.

    Thanks Again for the through & detailed treatise of equity research.



  11. By Archana on

    Hi Dheeraj,

    Thank you for the article. Can you please provide the list of equity research firms based in India. please




    Hi Dheeraj,

    Nice Article.very useful for person like me who wants to start a career in Capital Market.

    Also if you can share some tactics how to start with equity research.

    CA Gaurav M Lukka


  13. By NIDA on

    hello- I am unable to access your excel sheets, is something wrong?
    they are not being sent to my maibox


      • By Megha on

        Hi Dheeraj,

        My name is Megha completed my MBA in Finance fom Pune university in 2012. Graduated in Bsc-chemistry in 2007 , than worked sep 2012 to jan 2014 with barclays shared services in back office role and due to some problem left my job. Now got admission in post graduate program in securities market in National Institute of securities Market,and same time interested in equity research profile/ or as a trader, It will be great help if you can advice is it CFA worth for me ?


  14. By Afreen on

    Hi Dheeraj,

    I must say you are an exceptional blogger. I have ready 100s of articles and blog on this topic but you have just stricken the right cord . You got that flair of connecting with the readers and write in a way they best understand.This blog is perfect for everyone . Indeed I look forward for more such insightful
    work on investment banking.


  15. By yogesh on

    It’s a great post and very useful. I am 25 yrs old and currently working as a Sbi po I am also planning to give CFA this year, I want to know how to prepare for same.please guide me.



  16. By Renard Berry on

    Thanks for the great post. Provides clarity to a career decision I’m sorting through. Currently I’m a banker in the consumer line of business at a big box firm. I want to get into Equity Research however, my BA is in Philosophy and my only financial services designations are series 6/63 ( 2.5 yrs experience) Given these circumstances I understand that I’m at a disadvantage. To close the gap or give myself a legitimate shot in ER I’m considering the CFA or an MBA. I’ve done extensive research on both and it seems by most measures ( opportunity cost, monetary investment, time, preparation) that the CFA is the way to go.
    Just wanted to get your insight on my situation regarding best way to get into ER.
    Thanks in Advance


    • By Dheeraj Vaidya on

      Thanks Renard. I think given your background and work experience, CFA seems like the best option.



  17. By Shubham Aggarwal on

    Brother it was a really informative piece for people who want to pursue Eq. Research as a career. Thanks for the writeup.


  18. By danny on

    Hi Dheeraj,

    I’m just starting out in following the markets and putting together some knowledge for potential interviews. I am a qualified accountant, cfa level 2 and I understand financial modelling and valuations.

    How would you go about choosing a sector and firms to follow so that you can pitch stocks comfortably at interviews. would i have to model a few companies and what sources would i use apart from published annual reports? thanks


    • By Dheeraj Vaidya on

      Hi Danny, you have great qualifications at hand to crack interviews related to equity research. I think you should choose any sector that you have a good sense of. For example, retail, FMCG are easier sectors as we can walk into malls and stores and understand what’s going on. However, sectors like Oil & Gas, Banking, Pharma are difficult sectors to start as they require domain expertise.

      Other sources (apart from Annual report) could be conference calls, press releases, industry data, investor presentations etc.

      Good luck.


  19. By Ken on

    Thank you for sharing your insights about equity research! I really learned a lot from your guide and this article is very useful for everyone interested in Equity research! Thanks again for your help!


  20. By Olesya on

    Thank you very much for your article. Equity Research Analyst is my dream job. Keep posting articles like this one please. It is very informative for newbies like me.


  21. By Habtamu Debela on

    Dear Dheeraj,

    Your frank opinion is very interested. I am senior manager having exposure to financial services. Passionate about finance and bank for last 13 years. I intend to go for this course. It is very useful for my career and profession.
    Be free to contact on my email address if you have any information.

    With Best Regards,

    Habtamu Debela


    • By Dheeraj on

      hello Habtamu,

      which course you are talking about – Equity Research or Investment Banking? given your background of 13 years in Banks, just wanted to understand from you, what is your long term objective?



  22. By shrikant on

    Dear Dheeraj,

    Your frank opinion is solicited: I am ex banker having exposure to credits. Passionate about capital market for last 30 years and I am long term investor too. I intend to go for this course. Whether it will be useful ? In which capacity I will get opportunity to work? pl inform. I am having lot of my own
    information data-in economics/counting/balance sheet and ratio analysis.
    Pl free to contact on my email Id if necessary.


  23. By Vivek Pandey on

    HI Dheeraj, Thanks for this article. Its highly informative. People like me who plan their career in equity research for them its very useful. Also could you please throw some light on buy side and sell side analyst. However I know that IB, Corporate Finance & Commercial banking falls in Sell side and Assets management, hedge fund and retail investing falls under buys side. Could you please explain this in short.


  24. By Kaustubh on

    Highly informative post.Enjoyed it.I have a query regarding this topic.Do Equity research analysts make use of technical analysis?


    • By Dheeraj on

      Hi Kaustubh, thanks :-). You have a good question – Whether equity research analyst use technical analysis? I missed including this completely in my post. Equity Analyst primarily use fundamental analysis and NOT technical analysis for stock recommendation. The reason comes from the clients they server. Equity Research clients are mutual funds, insurance, pension funds etc. These clients mostly have long term time horizon. Using fundamental analysis, an equity analyst is able to guide the clients from long term investment point of view. However, the technical analysis is looking for trading opportunities that are short term in nature.


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