JUNIOR FINANCE ANALYST
JUNIOR FINANCE ANALYST
The mission of Junior Finance Analysts (JFA) is to cater the needs of a wide range of candidates and professionals who need to strengthen and advance their knowledge and skills through providing a top notch quality of finance courses that will help them boost their expertise and career level. Our vision is to maintain our path in assisting all candidates and finance professionals with their course of life.
The Junior Finance Analyst (JFA®) program was introduced to provide candidates with the profound skills they need to excel in the investment industry. It aims at upgrading students and employees’ skills in Finance and elevating them up to the standards required by their jobs and therefore at helping the certificate holders in achieving the career path they aim for
The following companies or institutions are constantly seeking to hire and retain employees who prove their skills in financial and investment analysis:
• Banks • Brokerage firms • Investment management firms • Investment management consultancy
• Performance evaluation firms• Hedge funds • Mutual funds • Private Equity firms • Large corporations, among others.
WHY THE JUNIOR FINANCE ANALYST (JFA)
Stand out from the crowd
Differentiate you from other graduates and postgraduates.
Boost your professional profile
Drive your career and professional experience forward.
Gain priority when applying for jobs
International and local companies will give you priority when hiring for their finance related positions.
The JFA® program provides its participants with a one phase study process that will end with a professional international certificate.
The JFA® study materials are designed to be accessible to a wide range of audience regardless of specializations or business sectors.
Less demanding prerequisites
The JFA® program is less demanding in terms of prerequisites, making the JIA® more suited for a wide range of professional levels.
Prelude for other professional certifications
The JFA® certificate is an ideal start in terms of professional education. JIA’s can successfully progress to other specialized curriculum such as CFA® Program ( Chartered Financial Analyst), ICVS® (International Certified Valuation Analyst), CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) and FRM® (Financial Risk Manager).
RESEARCH ANALYST PROFESSION
Who is a Research Analyst? What are the functions of a person holding this title & what are the qualities that make for a good research analyst? These questions would be dealt with in this chapter.
Imagine you’ve decided to buy a new phone. What would be your process of selection? For the price range decided, you would short list a set of brands, compare various technical specifications and depending upon what factors are important to you – whether it’s the battery-life or the megapixels of camera, you take the decision.
This process is very similar to the kind of work Research Analysts (RAs) do, to help their clients take investment decisions. There is Research – collection of information from various sources and then Analysis – processing of data to take decisions.
Data and information is imperative to the function of the research analyst. RAs need information pertinent to the investment being evaluated. This would include information about the macro and micro economic factors, industry-specific information and company-specific information. Economic information may be collected from government statistics and data provided by the central bank i.e. the Reserve Bank of India. Data on global factors may be collected from International agencies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), African Development Bank (ADB) and other Global Development Financial Institutions. Industry-specific journals and publications may be used to collect information on industries/sectors. Company-specific information may be collected from various sources including the financial statements filed by the companies as part of regulatory compliance requirements, officials of the company authorized to provide it and other sources such as plant visits, surveys and interviews.
Analysis and decision making process is a combination of understanding qualitative factors that affect operational performance, such as efficiency of operations, competitiveness, business plans and work ethics of the management among others and quantitative factors such as revenues, costs, profitability and risks to these financials. Therefore, RAs spend lot of time interacting with companies and others, accumulating data, analyzing it and arriving at a buy, hold or sell call.
Research Analysts are defined by the nature of analysis they do, the coverage, and use of the recommendations they provide. Let us understand some of them:
- Sell-side Analysts – They typically publish research reports on the securities of companies or industries with specific recommendation to buy, hold, or sell the subject security. These
recommendations include the analyst’s expectations of the earnings of the company and future price performance of the security (“price target”). These analysts work for firms that provide investment banking, broking, advisory services for clients.
Buy-side Analysts – They generally work for money managers like mutual funds, hedge funds, pension funds, or portfolio managers that purchase and sell securities for their own investment accounts or on behalf of their clients. These analysts generate investment recommendations for their internal consumption viz. use by the fund managers within organization. Research reports of these analysts are generally circulated among the top management/investment managers of the employer firms as these reports contain recommendations about which securities to buy, hold or sell.
Independent Analysts – They work for research originators or boutique firms separate from full-service investment firms and sell their research to others on a subscription basis. Their clients could be investors, institutions, investment bankers, regulators, stock exchanges, fund managers etc. They also provide customized research reports on the businesses on specific requests. The purpose of these reports could vary from investment activity to understanding competition to mergers and acquisition etc.
Apart from these three main categories, entities such as newspapers, media and consolidators of information also provide research reports.
In nutshell, role of a research analysts is that of a selector – to do a comprehensive study of companies, evaluate their past performance, analyse how a company is expected to perform in the future and make recommendations based on this analysis.
As stated before, Research Analysts’ primary role is to understand and evaluate the growth of industries and companies. Let us briefly look into the aspects which the Research Analysts explore while evaluating industries, companies and/or economies.
British economist John Maynard Keynes (1883–1946) believed that governments could change economic performance of its industries by adjusting tax rates and government spending. Therefore, as growth depends, to a great extent, on the economic environment, it becomes important for analysts to understand the economy. For this, the following are their focus areas:
- Changes in various macro-economic factors like – National income, Inflation, Interest rate and Unemployment rate
- Fiscal and Monetary Policies and their impact on the economy
- Flows from Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs)
- Savings and investment patterns
- Global factors that impact the GDP growth based on export and import transactions.
Different industries face different challenges and opportunities. Their growth drivers could be significantly different. Accordingly, Research Analysts need to understand thoroughly the regulatory environment prevalent in the industry, business models, competition, operating factors, sensitivity of demand to price changes, consumers’ behaviour etc.
We shall explore the methods for Industry analysis using various tools and techniques.
Sylvestor and Maame are both great, but are two very different players. Their statistics (in terms of strike rate and so on) and their style (defensive and aggressive) is different. If one asks – who would perform better? Then a deeper analysis of the pitch, game type and the opposition team’s bowling strengths may help us answer the question, although only with probability and not with certainty.
Just as in the case of players’ statistics and style, companies in the same industry may vary significantly in their approach towards business. Based on their styles, product configuration, business model, customers segment, their financials could also vary dramatically. Accordingly, companies are also studied by analysts in two dimensions – Qualitatively and Quantitatively.
Qualitative understanding is more about understanding why a particular business is better when compared to its peers, what are the strengths and weakness of the business model, how qualified and capable the management is and so on. Quantitative understanding would be more mathematical in nature. In this, analysts try to understand the balance sheets and profit and loss statements of last few years, cash flows, asset and liabilities and so on.
We shall look at both the approaches (Qualitative and Quantitative) of company analysis in great detail in Chapters 7 and 8 respectively.
Though the power of internet gives an analyst the ability to acquire a lot of information, it cannot substitute direct interaction with companies and clients. Personal communication with management helps them to get a better insight in to the vision of the company and its strategy to acquire the desired goals.
However, it may also happen that management mislead the analysts by deliberately exaggerating positives about business (painting rosy pictures) to encourage them to write positive stories to influence the market prices positively. Also, sometimes, managements speak negative about their business so as to discourage people from buying their stocks. Therefore, it is always advisable for analysts to cross verify the claims of the management prior to their recommendations.
This communication with management, like any other, requires analysts to have clarity of thoughts and good listening ability but there are a few additional principles that analysts must keep in mind while talking to the management of a company. The following are a few:
Pre-meeting Research – While the management is generally open to interview with Research Analysts, they must bear in mind that these opportunities do not come very frequently and therefore must be made full use of whenever they come. Before going to meet a company’s management, they must thoroughly learn about their products, industry and competitors’ steps. Analysts must be familiar with the financial information of the company, also read previous year’s annual reports to understand the direction of the company and whether the company has been able to achieve the goals it had intended to.
Independence and Neutrality of view – During the research, analysts must have an unbiased opinion and should always hold their independence. Their analysis should be based on factual information and not led by personal inclinations. Also, they must make it clear with the management to not reveal any information which is not available in the public domain.
Network – Analysts may use their network to acquire more contacts relevant to the research, who would be able to provide meaningful insights into the company’s performance and plans. The person who is responsible for the important activities and understands the heartbeat of the company would be the most relevant contact and this person may not necessarily be from top management. Competitors and other stakeholders of the business such as suppliers, distributors, retailers and customers can also provide meaningful inputs to analysts in the research process.
Clarity of questions – As analysts start analysing a company, there would be certain aspects on which they might need more clarity. Time with management would be effectively used if analysts have clear and specific set of questions in mind. It is advisable to go with a questionnaire to have a better understanding of the company’s operations and future progress.
Once analysts are done with research and research report is prepared, they need to communicate their findings to the clients. There are certain guidelines that an analyst could follow in their communication with clients.
- They must be realistic in suggesting companies to their clients. Suggestions should be based on facts and figures and not contain an optimistic/pessimistic/biased view on the subject company.
- Communication, done through written research reports, should be simple, clear and concise.
- If there is any conflict of interest (e.g. RA holds shares of the subject company), such information should be disclosed beforehand.
- Assumptions, if any, must be clearly stated in the research reports.
- Abbreviations/Jargons should either be avoided or explained clearly in simple words.
The role of RAs is to collect data/information from different reliable sources, interpret the data/information and convert it into recommendations that their clients can use. While doing so, it is expected that RAs would perform their role with utmost sincerity, honesty and ethics without any bias, following all the rules and regulations as specified by SEBI both in words and spirit. For this, it is also recommended to make use of technology like recording devices while interviewing management and communicating with clients, only after taking their due consent for recording.
The job of research analysts requires quantitative and qualitative skills. An analyst needs to have a high degree of comfort in dealing with numbers to be able to analyse various financial factors, identify trends and see the inter-relationship between different factors. At the same time, he needs to be methodical, have an enquiring mind and be discerning to know where to find relevant information. Ability to understand business models and competitive dynamics in a business is another important quality an analyst must possess. Using these skills, a research analyst comes to the conclusion whether he would be in favour of or against investing in a particular industry or company.
Qualities that are desired in a good research analyst are:
- Good with numbers
- Good Excel/spreadsheet and other data analytical tools
- Clarity in financial concepts
- Ability to read and comprehend financial statements and reports
- Ability to ask pertinent questions
- Attention to details
- Communication Skills – Written and Verbal