Accountant seeks path into equity research

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A. Equity research jobs are among the most desirable in investment banking - or were so depending on who you talk to - so it's not surprising that you are finding it hard either way.

You appear to be taking a systematic approach to your switch, which is a good thing - and also holds a clue to which of the two paths you should take: portfolio analyst. For one, as a qualified accountant, it is safe to assume that your skills and experience lie more in the detailed analysis of complex information, than they do in the fast-paced, follow-your-instincts world of trading.

There are very few people who are good in both types of role. 'They are quite different skill sets and I can't think of a single instance of someone moving from a trader position to equities analyst,' says recruitment expert Tony Tucker. 'One is all about careful judgements and minimising risk and the other needs a gung-ho, risk-taking personality,' he says. 'For that reason, it would be virtually impossible to get a job in trading from an accountancy background anyway.'

Something else you should think about is sectors. Do you have specialist knowledge of a particular sector from your work as an accountant, where you can really add value to the process of analysis? You will have a much better chance of convincing an employer to take a punt on you if you can offer a specialisation that is in demand.

Finally, as with any career change, keep two things in mind, say our experts: networking and transferable skills. Most people get jobs by networking and this is especially true if you are changing field and don't have a track record to reassure potential employers. As for transferable skills, this is all about demonstrating the relevance of your experience and achievements to date to the new job you are going for.

Next week's question: I suspect my race is holding me back. I have been job-hunting for six months and have interviewed with several top investment banks. Despite very good interviews, I have never progressed further and I have come to realize that most recruiters weren't expecting a black person with my profile to turn up. Whenever I have tried to get feedback, I have been fobbed off with implausible explanations of my failure. How should I deal with this type of 'social discrimination'? Should I put my ethnic origin on my CV?

What would you advise? Send your answer to:

Look out for the Experts' answer to this dilemma and readers' comments on Ask the Expert next week.

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