Case study

Investment research analyst — Adam Simmonds

Adam studied BSc Economics and Finance at the University of Sussex alongside professional CISI qualifications before landing a role as an investment research analyst at GovGrant

How did you get your job as an investment analyst?

Roles are so competitive, especially for graduates, so it can often feel like a numbers game. My approach involved keeping an eye on job boards and setting up alerts on LinkedIn. When my current role at GovGrant was advertised, I had a look into the company and applied after thinking it looked like somewhere I'd like to work.

I was contacted by the recruitment team later that day and arranged a telephone interview for the following week. Lasting for around 30 minutes, it mainly involved running through my CV and introducing me to the company.

The next step was psychometric testing, which I had plenty of experience with, as they're often one of the first stages when making applications - but it's still always good to practice ahead of time.

The in-person interview was hosted by two members of the senior management team. Once again, my CV took central focus. I was asked questions about my degree and extra-curricular activities. But they also wanted to know more about me, my personality, hobbies, and interests. It's always good to include some of these on your CV, as it helps to set you apart.

Remember that interviewing is a two-way process - the company must be a good fit for you, as well as you being a good fit for the company. So, I prepared some questions in advance, to get to know the company and the people involved. That wrapped up the interview and I was fortunate enough that I was offered the role later that day.

What qualifications did you study for the role?

My degree in economics and finance gave me an understanding of the concepts I needed for the role and provided a base for plenty of discussion during the interview process.

While at university, I studied for several qualifications with the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) and began working towards the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) Level 1 exam.

What's a typical day like?

My day can be split between various activities. For instance, I spend a significant amount of time looking into companies and investors, analysing financial accounts and investment rounds, to identify innovative companies who would benefit from GovGrant's services. I make use of data platforms to aid in this analysis.

I also keep up with market developments, investment trends and current affairs. Depending on what's coming up in the calendar, my day can involve preparing content for seminars or webinars and aiding in their delivery. Similarly, I'll be having calls with investors, updating on the work, and seeing how best we can utilise our relationships.

I also try and make sure I set aside time each day to carry out more in-depth research, often project based work such as writing white papers and thought leadership pieces.

Most importantly, I make time for my own development - learning new skills and maintaining my knowledge.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I get to learn new things. Working with innovative new companies and their investors means that I'm always being exposed to new and exciting ideas. Plus, keeping up with trends and carrying out research means that I get to develop valuable insights.

What are the challenges?

Getting lost in the numbers/data can often happen, especially if you're working alone. So, it's important to make the most of support from your team, by bouncing ideas off them and realigning yourself.

The work can also be quite time sensitive and there are often several things on the go, so you need time to unwind away from work, so you don't burn out. GovGrant are extremely supportive in this regard and encourage everyone to make the most of their flexible working arrangements.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

I'm fortunate enough that GovGrant really cares about my development and encourages me to do what's best for me, so that I can develop skills in areas I want.

That's meant cutting out work that I find mundane and focusing more on what I find interesting. For me, that's meant more research-based work, such as producing white papers and thought leadership pieces.

In terms of career ambitions, I'm not the sort of individual that has it all figured out, and I'm very much open to wherever my career takes me. However, I think that some sort of consultancy role would suit me best.

What advice would you give to budding investment analysts?

  • Set yourself apart, both professionally and personally. You're not the only person good with numbers, and there's a lot of competition for these roles. Gaining extra qualifications alongside your degree would be beneficial and do your best to allow your personality and interests to shine through.
  • Look into what the role actually entails. 'Investment analyst' looks great on a CV but as with every job, it's not for everyone and you've got to make sure the role suits you. Similarly, make sure that the company suits you as well. The work can be high-pressure, fast-paced, and long hours, so the last thing you want is to be working at a company that you don't like.
  • Use the early years of your career for development. Hopefully, you'll have an employer that cares about your development, but even if you don't, pursue this outside of work. Remember, you're laying the foundations for your career and if you do it right, everything else should easily follow.

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