Chris Analyst, Mid Cap-Stock Research Global Investment Research division, London
“When I joined as an Intern for the first time I had no financial knowledge. It was the help and advice of my fellow interns, mentors and team members that taught me the foundations. What I found particularly amazing about this was that very senior people took their time to explain the most basic concepts to me in a simple and yet non-degrading way.
Looking back five years ago I did not expect to be working in finance at all as I had just started my engineering degree at Oxford. I then decided to do an internship in one of the industries I had no intention of working in, just so I could rule it out based on experience rather than commonly held prejudices—so I decided to do a banking internship. I only applied and interviewed with a few firms and was fortunate enough to receive an offer from Goldman Sachs for an internship. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and realized that I wanted to work in this industry. It was the working environment—the people and culture of Goldman Sachs as well as its differentiated positioning in the industry—which made my choice for my second internship and later full-time position quite easy.
First I was a summer intern with the Midcap team, having applied through campus recruiting in my second year of a four-year course at university. I then came back for a six-month off-cycle internship with the GS SUSTAIN team, which was part of my course in my fourth year of university. After going back to university for another six months of student life, I joined Goldman Sachs full-time. At several stages in this process I interviewed with other firms but as during my internships I enjoyed working with the people in my teams I returned to Goldman Sachs both times.
Getting Started at Goldman Sachs
From my first day at the firm, I was struck by the level of openness, teamwork and the willingness of others to help me learn and achieve my goals. When I joined as an Intern for the first time I had no financial knowledge (coming from an engineering background). It was the help and advice of my fellow interns, mentors and team members that taught me the foundations. What I found particularly amazing about this was that very senior people took their time to explain the most basic concepts to me in a simple and yet non-degrading way.
Another thing I was and still am impressed by is the sheer intellectual capacity and integrity of both the individuals I work with as well as the organization as a whole—if I had a question, chances are that there would be someone who had some knowledge of the subject which they were happy to share. In short, whilst I had a glance at the business principals before my interview, I was surprised to see them incorporated as second nature in the daily operations without ever anyone referencing them literally.
Working in Global Investment Research
I work in the Small and Midcap team in Global Investment Research (GIR) as a research analyst. Together with several senior analysts I cover a broad spectrum of companies, ranging from online gaming to house builders, technology companies and retailers. As part of my role I analyze the impact of macroeconomic drivers on industries, combining this with a bottom-up analysis of individual firms’ competitive positioning to forecast companies’ financial performance.
Specifically, my responsibilities involve staying on top of news flow (macro news flow and industry-specific news such as regulatory changes and company specific news releases and presentations) as well as creating and updating company models. We then make investment recommendations and communicate these to clients through research notes, calls and meetings.
Besides covering approximately 25 stocks with other team members, I am currently working on applying the GS SUSTAIN framework to the 160 stocks in our European Small and Midcap coverage. The GS SUSTAIN research methodology looks beyond the traditional six-to-twelve-month investment horizon and aims to incorporate environmental, social and governance factors in financial analysis. In my work, I integrate an evaluation of companies’ corporate governance with their sector-relative industry positioning as well as their cash returns.
The most interesting aspect of my job is getting an understanding of a broad range of industries and having access to a variety of industry sources. Given the early stage of my career, this is a unique opportunity to enter into a dialogue with CEOs/CFOs of leading companies about the key challenges and drivers in certain industries. This is especially the case when travelling to analyst days, which provide unique perspectives into the operations of businesses.
At first sight, single-stock research may appear to be a task that an individual can perform alone. But given the increasing complexity and interconnectedness of global macroeconomic themes and industry drivers with the performance of individual companies, a team-based approach is much more fruitful, especially in my role in the Midcap team. A joint approach not only allows for a more balanced view but also enables us to draw on a much wider set of skills and resources, such as the global economics team, sector teams and the experience of our own team’s more senior members.
In general, you are spoilt for choice with opportunities at Goldman Sachs, and the difficult part often becomes choosing, especially as one successful project tends to open up several new opportunities and you get responsibility relatively early on. For example, when I was working on the GS SUSTAIN team as an intern, I gained exposure to a unique product, which at the time was solely focused on large-cap companies. Having worked in midcap single-stock research since I joined full-time, I recently took the opportunity to apply an amended version of the GS SUSTAIN framework to the European midcap space—a significant opportunity for me given the high level profile of this product.
In my role, I have to respond to breaking news quickly with a limited amount of time available to analyze the specific detail and impacts of the news flow. That makes the tradeoff between timeliness and thoroughness a constant challenge.
For me, the most rewarding aspect of my job is the very steep learning curve, which you only recognize when reflecting on the past year and which brings with it an increasing amount of responsibility and new opportunities. It is very satisfying having gotten an investment recommendation spot-on and then as a result being entrusted with a bigger project.
One other aspect which makes my day is the team I work with—the people soon become not just your co-workers but also your friends and mentors.