Hedge funds and equity research – both buy side and sell side – are looking for candidates who are truly passionate about investing. Ideally, investing in stocks and following the market is what makes the successful candidate tick. To tell this story, make sure to begin from where you started, and explain where you first got your “spark” that made you passionate about investing. For example, it could be from watching videos or reading the news about the stock market, joining an investment club, competing in a stock portfolio or stock competition, finance classes, etc. The more genuine the story is, the more effective it will be.
This “first spark” should naturally lead to a progression toward any relevant extracurriculars related to investing, university, and ultimately any relevant work experience. If you have worked previously in any finance-related role, it’s important to tie the skills you learned and projects you worked on to analyzing the valuation of companies and equities or learning the financial analysis skills necessary to do so. Focus on experiences where you really needed to understand an industry inside and out and evaluate the strategies of different companies in the space. Anything related to financial valuation – such as looking at multiples of comparables and precedents or building a DCF – will also be useful to mention.
If you can concrete examples of your passion for investing, such as trading your own stock portfolio or working on analyzing investments for a buy-side firm or even an investment club, you should mention it and make sure your interest is self-evident. Multiple examples solidify the case that you are not simply somebody who has memorized a stock pitch, but rather an individual who has studied many views on the market and stocks in a variety of sectors.
Finally, it’s important to show a bit of personality as ER teams and hedge fund teams are often very closely knit, so it may be worthwhile to mention some interesting hobbies or side projects to start a conversation. Entrepreneurship in the ER and hedge fund world tends to be respected as well, since fresh views on different businesses and industries are conducive to outperformance.