Big bucks and long hours are the hallmarks of the investment management industry. After all, keeping on top of the world’s financial markets is a full-time job that requires 24/7 devotion, especially amid a down economy.
But the prestige and lucrative rewards that come with the industry, not to mention bragging rights from being part of headline-making investment deals, can make the punitive pace a thrilling rush.
To find out more about what it takes to thrive and survive in the industry, we spoke to Bennett Lee, a former Investment Analyst at UOB Kay Hian, Singapore for insights.
At UOB Kay Hian, Lee led the coverage of Singapore-listed mid to big-cap stocks spanning the consumer, healthcare, land transport, commodities and IT sectors. There, Lee also functioned as the principal spokesperson for the company’s research on macro-economic issues.
Prior to that, he held the position of Senior Quantitative Analyst at Union National Bank in the UAE, where he monitored daily macro-economic developments to evaluate market trends and analyse market risks.
1) What sparked your interest to pursue a career in investment management?
“I was drawn by the quick-pace environment, working around capable and hardworking people, and quite honestly, the remuneration,” Lee shared.
“Top performers are entitled to high bonuses and steady career progression, thereby exponentially increasing earning potential.”
2) What’s your academic background?
“I graduated from NUS (National University of Singapore), with a bachelor in economics. In addition, I am also a Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA Charter) and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Charter holder,” Lee told Asia Finance.
Like it or not, getting into the right university might just make or break your investment management career. For HR managers who have to screen through endless piles of resumes daily, one of the best ways to filter through candidates is by looking at which school(s) they attended.
Here are some of the most preferred universities by recruiters to get you through the door of the world’s top investment management firms.
3) What are some common misconceptions about a career in investment management?
“We already know that investment management is a lucrative industry. However, it’s quite a misconception that earning a huge pay cheque itself would make you rich. Accumulating a huge sum of money simply provides a mean towards achieving a greater financial end, using tools such as investing.
“In a nutshell, it is really the sensible and sound financial management that will make one rich,” said Lee.
4) How to break into the investment management industry?
“Trying to start a career in investment management can be a downright challenge. For instance, a top investment management firms like Goldman Sachs receives over 43,000 applications. However, only 4% get hired by the company. So how can hopefuls boost their chances of landing a job in this coveted field?
“For a start, it would be wise to start building on a specific skill set from early on. This core skill set would provide knowledge depth and act as your fundamental expertise as you progress in your career. One way to do this is by undergoing internships,” Lee pointed out.
He added: “When you eventually get to the process of trying to land a job in investment management, the first thing you need to remember is to keep your resume short and simple. HR managers are often pressed for time. To stand out, you need to be able to entice them enough to give you a call back with just a glance.”
“Finally, if you’re lucky enough to score an interview, instead of telling them what they could read off your resume, be engaging as possible by telling them your thought process behind an investment thesis instead. People like listening to experiential learnings” he advised.
5) How does your job value add to the finance industry?
According to Lee, “Investment analysts often act in a capital markets advisory capacity to corporations and governments, rather than dealing directly with individual investors. They also help investment firms raise money, provide various financial advisory services, and assist with portfolio allocation.”
“In short, the role of the investment analyst helps to deploy capital efficiently. Or at least in theory,” he added.
6) What are some differences in terms of job scope/focus for the role across the different banks?
“Different banks would have different expertise in certain areas. For example, Bank A might be the bank to go to for real estate investments while Bank B is well known for its technology investments” Lee explained.
“So your job scope and focus would obviously depend on the bank’s area of expertise.”
7) How do you think the industry will evolve over the next five years?
“Since the credit crisis of 2008-2009, investment banks and asset management firms have spent much of their time and energy on regulatory compliance, leaving them “on the back foot” innovation-wise. I think financial technology firms will continue to target and invade big investment banks’ and asset management firms’ business models; taking on aspects like financial due diligence, portfolio allocation and wealth management advisory services,” Lee opined.
Currently, Lee is an Associate within the Investment Team for the Technology and Innovation Fund with Golden Equator Capital. His career experiences place him at an advantageous position to provide insight within the financial services industry, particularly across the private equity and venture capital sphere.
Keen to start a career in investment management? Check out this list if 2017 Summer Investment Management Internships!