Recently I noticed a job posting for an Equity Research Associate position at a New York City investment bank. If I had not worked in the finance sector, I wouldn’t have understood half the things they included in the description. It made me think about how it must feel for someone trying to break into this career and decided it best that I help translate. I hope this helps you prepare for a career on the Street…or make you consider other options if you don’t find this appealing.
This entry is Part One of the Series (2):
“A leading investment bank is currently seeking a research associate (this is a starting-level position) to join our Biotechnology research team. The position will be located in New York.
The biotechnology franchise currently covers over 35 companies (meaning that this team follows 35 companies religiously and are expected to write reports on these companies whenever new information, either reported by the company or uncovered through your investigations, becomes available that you deem important for investors to know) across a broad range of market caps (this relates to the size of the company. Essentially the larger the market cap, the more money the company is worth. It is calculated by multiplying a company’s shares outstanding by the current market price of one share) and therapeutic areas.
“The new associate’s role will be to provide accurate, reliable, timely support to the senior analyst (your boss) in areas such as modeling (no, they do not mean you will be spending time in front of a camera in exotic locations. This relates to building financial models to predict future company performance), writing, and preparing industry reports (you can think of these as in-depth research reports focused usually around a theme, like the approval of follow-on/generic biologics, meant to have significant impact on the future performance of companies within a particular sector, like biotechnology).
“Potential candidates should understand that the expected time commitment will be very high (average of 12-14 hours a day, starting as early as 7am on the East Coast, with work sometimes required on the weekends, especially Sunday evening). The ability to handle multiple tasks at one time (remember, you’ll be following 35 companies…just imagine if two or three happen to release a significant news item on the same day! This happens often during the ‘earning season’ when companies report their quarterly financial performances) and work efficiently is critical (time means money on Wall Street).
“The ideal associate (remember, they say ideal but how many times do we get ideal? Life is a compromise and they realize this too, so don’t get down if you don’t meet all their desired attributes…just go for it with confidence) will have biotechnology industry-related knowledge obtained via research (wow, all those years in the lab do mean something…pat yourself on the back, you deserve it!) or business development capacities, 1-2 years experience in sell-side (this means working for an investment bank or equity research firms that produces research for its external investor clients, like hedge funds or mutual funds, which make up the buy-side) research in the life sciences, and will have already completed the Series 7, 63, 86, and 87 examinations (these are a series of exams administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, a.k.a. FINRA, which you will need to pass in order to be a registered analyst for the financial sector. Without having passed them successfully, you will not be able work as an analyst on Wall Street. This is NOT the CFA exams and you need a sponsor to sit for them so usually they can only be taken after you land a job in the financial sector).
“An advanced degree (M.D. or Ph.D.) in the life sciences, or a specialized background in a life science-related field (public health/policy, healthcare intellectual property law, pharmacology, biostatistics, etc.), is strongly preferred.”
Eric Vieira, PhD is the Assistant Director of the Office of Technology and Business Development at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in NYC. He holds a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology & biochemistry and PhD in developmental genetics. Eric spent time on Wall Street as an equity analyst covering the biotech and pharmaceutical industry. In addition to his interest in the bioscience industry, Eric enjoys cooking and the visual arts. Don’t be surprised if he offers some recipes and art reviews on occasion. Eric updates his blog on the 14th and 28th of each month.