Vivienne Analyst, Consumer/Pharmaceuticals Global Investment Research division, Hong Kong
I have been encouraged by my senior managers’ passion towards their work, their consistent emphasis on the quality of our products and their ability to manage time and people efficiently.
I went to primary school and high school in mainland China, and then completed my bachelor’s degree in Hong Kong, majoring in Quantitative Finance. During my college study, I did a one-semester exchange program with Wharton Business School, taking classes and doing group projects together with Americans as well as other exchange students.
The Interview Process
The hardest question I had to answer was, “Growth vs. return—which do you think is more important for a stock?”
This was a question that neither my friends nor I had ever been asked before. It’s an open-ended challenge, designed to test the candidate’s understanding of the stock markets, the clarity of his/her thinking, and the ability to present one’s points in a persuasive way. That is a typical Goldman Sachs question that you cannot predict beforehand. Luckily, I was able to handle it and I moved to the next interview!
Working in Global Investment Research
One thing that I think differentiates our analysts from other houses’ is the level of independent thinking we put into our reports. Because of this, I often find our viewpoints to be the first in the street, and can catch investors’ attention and potentially move the market. I am really proud of this.
My manager, other senior people on my team, and my mentor have influenced my career the most. Working in research is not an easy job given the intensity and pressure involved. But I have been encouraged by those seniors’ passion towards their work (imagine—some of them have been following one sector for ten years!), their consistent emphasis on the quality of our products, and their ability to manage time and people efficiently. They set very good examples for me, and I hope I can do things as professionally as they do some day in the future.
I think having a mentor gives me the chance to establish a personal relationship with someone senior in the firm. I can share my ambitions and concerns with my mentor comfortably when we grab food together, or have a coffee catch-up. My mentor is also a great tutor who gives me career and personal development advice.
Next year would be the second year of my three-year Business Analyst (BA) program. I am looking for more opportunities to interact with Equity Sales, e.g., speaking on the morning calls and the chance to take more responsibility in writing sector reports. In addition, I’ll start planning for my stock pitch, which is a test that BAs need to pass in their last year to be promoted to Associates. I am looking forward to these new challenges.
I have been involved in two Community TeamWorks projects since joining Goldman Sachs. In the first one I spent a full day with kids who have communication disorders, and in the second one I had local high school students shadow me in my job.
Both experiences were memorable. I think they connect our people more closely with the communities we live in. On top of this, it feels great to be an ambassador of Goldman Sachs!
I think the ability to think independently, critically and creatively is my biggest asset. In my daily work, I use this to check the integrity of our financial models, and to add flavor to our reports. As a research analyst, I can obtain information from different sources, and I need to utilize that to double-check my financial assumptions from different angles. Another example: One of my team’s mottos is “a chart is worth a thousand words.” I often need to think creatively about how to make my charts content-rich while still clear. Those tasks can be time consuming, but they help make our Goldman Sachs branded research products outstanding.
One of our key clients once asked us to do some work showing trends in luxury consumption in Hong Kong. Originally we collected data on retail sales of jewelry and timepieces, but we knew this was something that other brokers could provide as well. I recalled that our Conglomerate team tracks the retail sales of two top shopping malls in Hong Kong that are owned by one of their covered companies. I included that information in the report as well. The feedback was good: both the client and my manager were quite interested in this new dataset.
The point I’d like to emphasize here is that creativity in research is not rocket science. In a lot of cases, as long as we keep thinking about what the client may find helpful, creative ideas will emerge.
Network, network, network—not only within your team, but also with other members of your department and other employees of the firm. An extensive network has helped a lot in my daily work and personal development.
Ask more questions and never make assumptions without a firm basis. My manager emphasized this a lot in my early days. As research analysts, we often need to make estimates, but we can never pretend to know things that we don’t
Remember to do sanity checks. This is something that I was not trained to do in college. But in the work environment, it is very important to do sanity checks before presenting my findings to others; even basic eyeballing can help me spot errors.