Buy-side analysts deal with a lot of money and a lot of stress, which leads to a lot of pressure. Under pressure, it often feels like there isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish everything that needs to be done. However, there are ways buy-side analysts can save time and be more efficient throughout their day. Here are a few time-saving tips for equity analysts:
Time-Saving Email Tips
Analysts are inundated with a high volume of emails every day. With so many emails, it’s challenging to determine what’s important and what’s not. For analysts, it’s a frightening thought to miss the one email that contains the exact piece of research that would enhance an investment idea. Here are a few ways to better manage your inbox:
Dedicate time for email – Many professionals scoff at this idea, but there is research to back it up. The 2017 Stress in America conducted by the American Psychological Association found that “constant checkers” – those who constantly check their emails, texts or social media accounts – are associated with higher stress levels. Higher stress levels leads to lower productivity, mistakes and other negative impacts. Instead of constantly checking email, set aside a few dedicated times for email throughout the day.
Use an email tracking & classification system – This is particularly important for those impacted by MiFID II. An email tracking and classification system will make it clear which emails are potential inducements. Don’t waste your time figuring out what emails you can open and which you shouldn’t when there are tools that do it for you. It’s also simply not worth the risk.
Filter distribution lists – Most email platforms have settings to apply rules for sorting messages into categories. For example, Outlook will apply categories automatically with rules so that you can better manage incoming emails and prioritize what’s important.
Unsubscribe – You may want to be subscribed to every distribution list out there that talks about the companies you care about, but are they all really helpful? Or are they more of a distraction and unnecessary time suck? If an analyst distribution list or a news service isn’t providing value, unsubscribe. For those of you impacted by MiFID II, this is imperative.
Time-Saving Investment Research Tips
Buy-side analysts spend most of their time on research. Whether it’s reading research reports, making sense of sell-side models or attending corporate access events, analysts look at every angle to see where their investment ideas could go wrong. Here are a few ways to cut down on time spent crunching numbers and spend more time turning those numbers into useful information:
Dedicate time for research – As with email, when it’s time to focus on research, do only that. Turn off alerts and pop ups, shut the door, put on headphones and send calls to voicemail. Research shows that “the brain works most efficiently when it can focus on a single task for a longer period of time.”
Read earnings calls – We read faster than we talk. For calls where you don’t plan on asking questions, save time by reading quarterly earnings transcripts instead of listening to the call live.
Develop a note-taking system – Determine a system that allows you to quickly search and cross reference your notes to surface important information. This is a great tip from CFA Society’s “Best Practices for Time Management,” which includes general time management rules, buy-side tips and sell-side tips.
Use shortcuts to build consensus models – Making analyst models comparable, creating consensus, conducting surprise analysis and other tasks associated with models is very time consuming. Consider getting a tool like Visible Alpha Insights that does the grunt work for you so you can spend more time generating investment ideas. Visible Alpha Insights provides instant access to the latest analyst models with analysts’ sources so you can cut down on calls to the sell side.
Curate your research experience – A research discovery and consumption platform can help curate your research experience across internal and external research reports, corporate access events and analyst models. You’ll find it easier to discover the research you need and collaborate with peers (in a MiFID II compliant tracking framework).
Time-Saving Travel Tips
It’s hard to know the right balance of being in the field and being the office, but in an interview with James Valentine, the author of the popular book Best Practices for Equity Research Analysts, he says, “I don’t know that I’ve ever met someone who felt like they were out of the office too much…the more an analyst is out on the road the greater the likelihood they’re going to do high quality work.” Here are a few ways to travel intelligently:
Leverage technology – With smartphones and tablets, there’s no reason why you can’t stay connected while on the road. Catch up on the news, read research reports, stay on top of emails and continue iterating on investment ideas. If you use any SaaS products with a mobile app, you can to continue use them on the road.
Turn one meeting/event into multiple – Anytime you go on the road, meet with more than one company or person to get the most out of your travels. Keep a running list of contacts by city and region to ease the scheduling process. It’s helpful to keep your event calendar updated, so you can easily see your schedule if an opportunity arises.
Other Time-Saving Tips for Equity Analysts
Take a time management course – This is another recommendation from Valentine. He suggests – and actually enforced with new hires on his team – take a one-day time management course from Getting Things Done or FranklinCovey.
Prioritize what’s important – The above time management courses will teach you prioritization skills, too. When you have so much coming at you at once, it’s easy to get lost and unfocused. Learn how to rise above all the noise and focus on the important tasks at hand.
Learn more about how Visible Alpha can save you time. Contact us today!