What do you do for a living?

I’m in equity research for an investment firm, I’m an associate analyst there.

How would you describe what you do?

Currently, as an associate analyst, I help the more senior analysts do research on different stocks that we follow and help try and determine whether they’re stocks that our clients should buy or sell.

What does your work entail?

There are several different things.

Probably the most rewarding is knowing that if you’re doing a good job, you’re helping people build their financial wealth. Most of our clients are people either building towards retirement or are in retirement, and by helping them invest properly then you’re directly helping them live better.

A lot of my job is helping the senior analyst’s keep that up to date and making sure we’re keeping up on the trends and news about what’s happening with the companies we follow. And there’s all kinds of small projects associated with that. The other part of it is trying to develop my own knowledge so that I can follow my own companies here at some point.

How did you get started?

I started as a financial advisor, so I was doing the actual sales side of it and decided I didn’t want to be doing the sales, I’d rather be analyzing the company, so I moved into our home office and started in the research department.

What do you like about what you do?

I just find what I’m doing interesting. I find it interesting and challenging at the same time because you’re trying to make the right decision on whether a stock’s going to go up or whether it’s going to go down. When you’re right it’s rewarding, so that’s probably why I enjoy it.

What do you dislike?

Oh, at times, it can be a little boring in that you’re doing all this reading; you’re doing a lot on Excel, those types of things. So, maybe a lack of interaction with other people sometimes can be a negative part of the job but it’s not as bad as what some people might think it is. You have plenty of interaction with the other analysts and things like that but I would say that would probably be one downside.

How do you make money/or how are you compensated as a stock analyst?

Currently, the way I’m compensated is mainly through salary and then there are bonuses every trimester that are based partly on my performance and partly on the company’s performance.

How much money do you make as a stock analyst?

About $60,000/year total with salary and bonuses.

Would you say there are any perks to this job?

There’s your normal type benefits; 401k, health benefits, and all those types of things. Then also one of the biggest benefits working for Edward Jones is you have the opportunity of becoming a limited partner in the firm. I became a limited partner last year so now I get to share in the profits.

What education or skills are need to be a stock analyst?

A degree in finance or accounting would be ideal. Typically you’ll need high grade point averages too. Then you’re required at my firm, not at all firms but at my firm, to get your CFA which stands for Chartered Financial Analyst before you can start to cover your own company. You don’t have to have it before starting but you have to have it before you start following your own companies. It’s a series of three tests. Typically, you have to pass at least one or two of them before you have much of a chance of getting hired.

So the biggest thing is, an accounting or a finance background and ability to pass the CFA exam. I’d say, you’ve got to have some analytical skills, you’ve got to be good with numbers. You’re dealing with numbers all day long but then at the same time, you’ve got to be able to communicate your message to our financial advisors, so you’ve also got to have some communication skills.

What is most challenging about what you do?

Just trying to figure out what information is most important. There’s news out there every single day on stocks and you have to figure out whether the news items are something that’s really going to matter over the long-term or not. Then you have to take all the information and make the call you think is right. Nobody’s right every time but it’s nice to be able to be right most of the time.

What is most rewarding?

Probably the most rewarding is knowing that if you’re doing a good job, you’re helping people build their financial wealth. Most of our clients are people either building towards retirement or are in retirement, and by helping them invest properly then you’re directly helping them live better.

What advice would you offer someone considering this career?

First of all, if they’re a young person coming out of college, they would need to do as well as they could, you know, as far as their GPA, but especially in their business courses. For someone not coming out of college I would say to have as much experience and background in finance or accounting would be the best. And then to really stand a good chance of getting, into our firm anyway, to have one or two levels of the CFA exam finished is a big advantage as well.

How much time off do you get/take?

As far as vacation days, I get eleven vacation days; if you have been at the firm for less than five years. If you’ve been there over five years, then it starts to go up to fifteen, and then twenty, but I get eleven vacation days. I can’t remember how many sick days I get it’s more than I would ever use. And then the hours are very flexible, so if I need to take a half day here or there, come in at 9:00 or leave at 4:00, whatever, I can do that. But as far as policy goes, I get eleven vacation days.

What is a common misconception people have about what you do?

I think probably the biggest misconception would be most people, when they think of an analyst, they think of some nerdy guy sitting there in a cubicle by himself all day looking at numbers and not interacting with anyone, or anything like that, and I think that’s probably the biggest misconception. Even though you are sitting at your desk and doing a lot of research, you’re also involved in a lot of meetings with the other people on your team and trying to find out what other people are seeing out in the economy, and those types of things. And you’re also interacting with financial advisors, brokers, and things like that. So I’d say that would be the biggest misconception.

What are your goals/dreams for the future?

It would be to get to a more senior analyst position, which would mean I’m following my own stocks and making my own recommendations, and then to go beyond that would be more like a, you know, department leader or something like that: the head of research or something like that. But in the fairly near future, it would be more of a senior analyst type of role.

What else would you like people to know about what you do?

I think we’ve hit on most of it. I just think for someone that enjoys numbers, analyzing things, enjoys the stock market, those types of things, I think it’s a very rewarding career, and there’s a lot of ways that you can go with it. I mean, there’s firms like mine that focus on individual investors and those types of things; there’s mutual fund companies out there, pension funds, so you can kind of pick where you want to go depending on how hard you want to work.