Equity Research Skills

Skills required for Equity Research

It has been seven years since I left my research analyst job at CLSA India. I co-founded eduCBA to train students on Investment Banking & Equity Research. Since then, we have trained more than 10,000 students on different research topics. However, each time we see the same set of questions, one common question is, “What are the Top Equity Research skills that one should acquire to be successful in Research.”

Here are the top 5 Equity Research Skills –

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

Let us discuss each one of them in detail –

Equity Research Skills

#5 – Writing Skills

Writing Skills is at number #5. The equity research report is the most important communication from a securities firm to its clients. This report has a particular purpose; i.e., it is intended to help an investor make a decision about the allocation of resources.

  • First thing First – One crucial aspect is that the research report is nowhere close to novels from Dan Brown, wherein the best is saved for the last!. In a research report, the stock target and price recommendations come first.
  • KISS Principle – “Keep it Simple Silly” is the golden rule. It is essential to be to the point and precise.
  • Less is More – Another essential aspect to note here is that you are not required to write a full Ph.D. thesis here; a single page note or a couple of pages of reports would be great. Readers hardly have 1-2 minutes to read your full report. They may not even scan till the 2nd page.

#4 – Accounting Skills (More than Numbers!)

Number#4 is Accounting! Accounting here is not about Debits and Credits. It is much more than that.

  • Be proficient in Financial Statement Analysis – The keyword here is Financial Statement Analysis. It means you are expected to be proficient in vertical analysis, horizontal analysis, ratio analysis, cash conversion cycles, ROEs, ROCEs, etc.
  • Sourcing of Right Data – Another aspect where I see many challenges is sourcing the right data. For example, if you require an Annual Report of a company, would you visit the company’s website or SEC website. Besides, which other documents will you refer to draw your conclusions. Typical key sources to look for information are the Press Releases, Conference Calls, SEC Filings, etc. Financial Statement Analysis done on the wrong set of numbers will lead to results that will mislead the analysis. Hence, as an analyst, the primary challenge is to fetch the right data.
  • “Identify the Shenanigans” – Our main focus in Analyst specific Accounting is to identify and predict the accounting malpractices by companies. These are normally hidden away. You can see below the confessions in Satyam Fraud Case

Accounting Frauds

#3 – Valuations (Lies in the eyes of the beholder!)

Valuation Skills is at Number #3. Equity Valuation is the process of estimating the potential market value of a financial asset or liability. Valuations are required in many contexts, including investment analysis, capital budgeting, merger and acquisition transactions, financial reporting, taxable events to determine the proper tax liability, and litigation. You should be aware of the following –

  • Intrinsic Valuation methods – Intrinsic Valuation Method (DCF) which means primarily determines the value by estimating the expected future earnings from owning the asset discounted to their present value
  • Extrinsic Valuation Method – Relative value models determine the value based on the market prices of similar assets. It includes valuation ratios like PE Ratio, P/CF, P/BV, and many more.
  • The Key is to identify the right valuation methodology – There are more than 15 valuations approaches, including DCF, Enterprise Valuation Methods, and Equity Valuation Methods. The vital thing to know is why a particular valuation Methodology is used in a specific sector. For example, Banks are valued using Price/Book Value; however, other sectors may not use Price/Book Value as a key valuation metric.

#2 – Financial Modeling (Cliffhanger!)

At number #2 is Financial Modeling. Financial modeling means forecasting the future of the company or an asset by way of an Excel Model that is easy to understand and perform scenario analysis. In the context of our discussion here, Excel-based Financial Modeling includes professionally forecasting future financial statements like Income Statements, Balance Sheets & Cash Flows. Unfortunately, in graduation and post-graduation, every other subject is taught except Financial Modeling and Excel.

  • Financial Modeling follows Modular Approach – The primary approach taken is Modular one. The modular approach essentially means that we build core statements like Income Statement, Balance Sheet, and Cash Flows using different modules/schedules.
  • Provide Additional Schedules for clarity – The additional schedules are the depreciation schedule, working capital schedule, intangibles schedule, shareholder’s equity schedule, other long term items schedule, debt schedule, etc. The additional schedules are linked to the core statements upon their completion.
  • Free Financial Modeling Training – If you want to learn Financial Modeling from grounds-up, you can refer to the Free Financial Modeling Course. Please note that Financial Modeling skills may not be very easy to acquire. It requires time and patience to master this skill set.

 

#1 – Excel Skills (Most Obvious is Most Dangerous!)

At number #1 is the Microsoft Excel Skills! Neither I am joking, nor am I drunk. Equity Research Analyst spend around 10-12-14-16 hours each day working on excel doing financial modeling, valuations, and financial statement analysis. Important points to note in Excel are

  • Formatting is most important– An analyst needs to produce an output that is error-free and neat. There is a lot of money riding on the research reports published by the analyst,s and the last thing one needs is to lose a client due to loosely formatted tables and excel models.
  • Speed & Accuracy – Timely delivery of reports, models are required in Equity Research Industry. MS Excel is the only place I can say where there are “Shortcuts to Success”! I have hardly seen research using a mouse, and the majority of them are masters in Excel.
  • Analysis – One should be able to use Excel tools like Pivot, Filter, Sort, VLOOKUP in Excel, HLOOKUP Function, etc. to analyze complex data and client requests.
  • Scenario Building – It is important to create different scenarios for Modeling like Optimistic, Pessimistic, and Most expected. Also, your client may want to change a few assumptions to see how they affect the target price, find terminal value, capm beta, etc. Hence, you need to be well aware of Data Tables, Goal Seek in Excel, etc. to provide these features to your clients.
  • Graphs & Charts – A picture speaks more than a thousand words! You will find the majority of the research reports contain neat and informative investment banking graphs and charts and less of written material. You should try and master this data representation technique.

Other useful articles –

This article has been a guide to Equity Research Skills. 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!

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. AvatarFarouq V. says

    Wow I normally read and your posts but I have really liked this one, great and informative. Actually am doing a course in banking and investment management – Uganda. I am so much interested in financial modeling and Excel program to help me get more skills for equity analyst and research.
    Thanks

  2. AvatarNikhil Jaju says

    Hi Dhiraj,

    You are doing a tremendous job via this blog as it is quite informative.
    I am a Chartered Accountant and want to explore opportunities in the areas of Equity Research and Investment Banking. Further, I am pursuing CFA USA as well. So just wanted to know which certification apart from CFA Course I should pursue to land a job in these areas. I just came to know about Financial Modelling certification as well offered by many institutes. Does this includes Equity Research?

    • Dheeraj VaidyaDheeraj Vaidya says

      Hi Nikhil, CA + CFA is an awesome combination. Additionally, you can gain training in practical applications of Investment Banking and Equity Research. Financial modeling may or may not contain Equity Research as the scope of Financial Modeling varies with Institute. If you wish to do online trainings, then we also offer such courses. Here is a link to Investment Banking Training (this includes Financial modeling)

  3. AvatarHussein Abdulateef says

    hello, is the equity research training also included in the investment banking training course. thank you

    • AvatarDheeraj Vaidya says

      Yes, it is included in the investment banking course.

  4. AvatarGowtham says

    Nice article Dhiraj. I enjoyed reading it.

    • AvatarDheeraj says

      Thanks Gowtham!

  5. Avatarshrikant says

    Hi Dhiraj,

    I am shrikant ex banker , served in credits in analysing balance sheets and preparing project reports for ccs/TL’s and side by side I develop passion about cap market, interested in pursuing financial modelling. Kindly communicate which is good course for me and its prospectus.
    regards,
    shrikant

  6. AvatarNeeraj says

    Very informative for aspirants in Financial and Business Performance Analysis …Cheers

  7. Avatardeepak says

    its a very useful information and i wanna to know more abut courses that i should pursue in financial carrier as sir am actually a student of 2nd year. am waiting eagerly for ur reply.

    • AvatarDheeraj says

      Thanks Deepak for the note. You should look at developing 2 skills primarily, a) financial Modeling b) excel. You can take any course on this. Infact, on this website there is a free step by step tutorial on financial modeling as well.

      Hope this helps,
      Dheeraj

      • Avatarsavi says

        Is this free financial modeling course enough to make me able to get the thorough knowledge of it.

        • AvatarDheeraj says

          Hello Savi,

          this free financial modeling course is actually good enough to get knowledge on financial modeling. However, it is upto you to take your learnings ahead by applying the financial modeling methodologies learnt to other set of companies. More you practice, better you will become.

          All the very best,
          Dheeraj

  8. Avatarmohamad adityo nugroho says

    Thank you very much, Dheeraj

    Your article will guide me to be a good equity analyst :)

    Greetings from Jakarta

    • AvatarDheeraj says

      thanks Mohamad!

      • AvatarRaj Kotecha says

        Hello Sir,

        I am a first year MBA Student and have cracked Equity Research analyst internship in an investment bank. I currently read Bloomberg Business, Business Today and Mint Newspaper everyday. Sir, I request you if you can guide me on other sources of data I should be reading apart from these 3 sources of data to get information that is beyond between the lines.

        Awaiting for your reply.
        Thank You.

  9. AvatarPrateek Bali says

    It would be great if you could upload the financial model as well.

  10. Avatarmahendra says

    Thanks Dheeraj,
    each and every time i learn new things with the help of your articles…

    • AvatarDheeraj says

      Thanks Mahendra, I am glad you find these articles helpful.

  11. AvatarMichael Samonas says

    Very usefull post as always. Dheeraj thanks for sharing so usefull subject with the rest of us. If you do not mind I tweet your posts and I share them with various groups at linkedin.

    BR

    Michael

    • AvatarDheeraj says

      Many Thanks Michael! I really appreciate your help in sharing these posts in your group.

      Best,
      Dheeraj

  12. Avatarbruks says

    Thanks Rafael. I would like a specific example let’s say a simple “Balance Sheet”, “Income statement” Cash Flow” to build in Excel financial model with graphics.

  13. AvatarVanshja Gairola says

    Nice article. Very informative.

    • AvatarDheeraj says

      Many Thanks Vanshja!

  14. AvatarHari says

    Great Article!!! Enjoyed project finance classes in educba.

    • AvatarDheeraj says

      Thanks Hari!

  15. AvatarRafael says

    Great post! Excelent read for students who are willing to pursue a career in equity research.

    • AvatarDheeraj says

      Thanks Rafael :-)

  16. AvatarNitesh says

    Thanks for the information.

    • AvatarDheeraj says

      Thanks Nitesh!

  17. Avatardeepak says

    Content was very much useful. Thanks for the information.

    • AvatarDheeraj says

      Thanks Deepak!

  18. Avatarsneha says

    Very good article. Please suggest some courses..

  19. AvatarDanish Cooper says

    This is some real good advice thanks alot. But is it possible to value a company without accounting skills and rather using mathematical techniques.

  20. AvatarAngela says

    Thanks Dheeraj. This was an eye opener. I always overlooked Excel, maybe it is high time for me to focus on MS Excel. Any startup training that you recommend for excel?

    • AvatarDheeraj says

      Many thanks Angela.

    • AvatarUuganaa says

      Hello Dear,
      I read your article and I’m really interested in FCA. Could you tell me how i study, what do i do need at first of all. I hope that you will help me.
      See you soon.

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