Getting started

Have we piqued your interest in investment management?

Starting a career in investment management takes time and a passion for learning. As investment funds don’t traditionally take on new graduates, those looking for their first role need to ensure they have a solid university degree as well as several years of professional work experience. It also helps to spend time reading about global markets and keeping up to date with trends. But don’t take our word for it - here are some tips from our partners, past and present:

A day in the life of an equities analyst

An equities analyst is a member of an equities investment team who is responsible for researching companies and generating investment ideas for the funds. While not the only type of investment analyst, this is a very common entry level role.  

One of the best things about this role is that every day is different. You might start your day by reading the paper and catching up on international news overnight as you make your way into the office for the investment team morning meeting. This meeting will be early so the team can discuss company and portfolio news before the market opens at 10am. 

What to study

There are several university degrees that are relevant to a career in investment management. Some are more common; like commerce, maths, economics or business studies, while others are part of emerging areas of study like data science. Combined degrees and Masters are also increasingly sought after with an expectation you’re among the top of your class. Completing your CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) exams is another option. 

The common factor for any relevant degree is that you gain skills in critical thinking and maths. The master skill above all is being highly curious. 

Here we segment the three types of qualifications that those working in investment management have typically undertaken.

Traditional

These are the degrees that until recently have been the most common : Commerce, Business, Economics, Master ofApplied Finance and the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) program.

Emerging

Over the past few years, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have become hot topics in investment management as investors look to integrate the power of technology to model investment opportunities and generate insights. That’s why funds are increasingly hiring people who have come from data science, computer science and engineering degrees.

Unconventional

The sky is really the limit in terms of degrees people have completed who are now working in investment management. At Future IM/Pact we’ve worked with people with backgrounds in the arts, psychology and even zoology! As long as you can demonstrate your skills in numeracy and critical thinking, as well as a passion for markets - don’t let a lack of a finance degree stop you from exploring investment management.

What makes a great investor

Aside from having a degree from a leading university - it’s important to be able to grow and cultivate other areas of expertise. Investors solve complex problems in an unpredictable and rapidly changing environment. That means you need to be highly analytical and also intuitive. You need to be able to see the big picture and also immerse yourself in detail. Being a team player is critical but as you get more senior, you need to make the calls. Determination, grit and humility will set you apart.

Jim Christensen, State Chief Investment Officer, QIC

“The basic ingredients for anyone seeking an investment career are intellectual curiosity, determination and a genuine interest in gaining a deep understanding of why the value of various assets will rise or fall. This curiosity could have been sparked by owning a parcel of shares, reading the financial press or wondering why a friend or relative has made or lost money.”

Julia Forrest, Porfolio Manager, Pendal

Obviously numeracy and analytical skills are paramount, but there is a fair degree of psychology involved – whether it is in assessing others or keeping on top of your own motivations and biases. There is a substantial amount of detective work involved whether it is going through accounts, questioning management or industry participants. Above all an overriding amount of curiosity and tenacity is essential.”

Landing your first job - or ready to move faster?

Getting your first role in an investment management firm will probably be the hardest part of your journey. In Australia, while the industry is massive in terms of assets under management, the number of people working in front-office investment teams is relatively small. That means it’s a competitive industry to crack. But don’t let that put you off! 

If you’re nailing it (or have nailed it) at uni and are determined to make a difference, then make sure you apply for the various intern and grad opportunities our partners offer. Plus, subscribe to receive Future IM/Pact newsletters which promote different ways to gain exposure to the industry and build up your contacts.

Ready to take your first step today?