(Possibly) Unveiling the Traits of a Top-Ranked Research Analyst: Achieving Excellence and Differentiation

Jul 14 / Geoff Robinson

In the competitive realm of equity research, being a top-ranked analyst (and let's not kid ourselves - it's #1 or bust, right?) requires a unique blend of skills, knowledge, and adaptability. Aspiring to be ranked number one in prestigious surveys like the Institutional Investor survey is a testament to an analyst's exceptional abilities. In this blog post, we delve into what makes a great equity research analyst, explore the significance of effective marketing and communication skills, and discuss the role of alternative data in creating differentiated insights.

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Before I start, these are just my views. Every analyst has (or should have) their strategy, and I'm sure many differ from mine.

I was fortunate to be #1 ranked 8x in the EMEA Institutional Investor survey (this fact is plastered all over our website, I know...). I got there (I think) because I took a potentially dull subject and made it interesting and relevant ; I spent a lot of my time thinking about what other people were not doing (and what they could be missing), and then I marketed our work to clients unapologetically using whatever data I could get my hands and using as many different types of media as I was allowed to play with - but I can think I can sum all of this up - plainly and simply - our DNA in my team was be different. If we couldn't be different, we kept our mouths shut and our ears open. 

So here are the traits I think are important if you want to get to the top of the rankings.

Deep Industry Knowledge: A great analyst comprehensively understands the industry they cover. This includes staying updated on sector trends, competitive dynamics, regulatory changes, and emerging opportunities. In-depth industry knowledge forms the foundation for accurate analysis and insightful recommendations.

Analytical Excellence: Exceptional analytical skills are critical for success in equity research. This entails dissecting financial statements, performing valuation models, assessing risk factors, and identifying investment opportunities. A great analyst can extract valuable insights from vast amounts of data and present them coherently.
Thorough Research: A commitment to rigorous and exhaustive research sets great analysts apart. They possess a relentless drive to uncover critical information, conduct primary research, interview industry experts, and explore various data sources. Diligent research leads to comprehensive coverage and enables analysts to provide unique insights.

Financial Acumen: Strong financial acumen is vital for equity research analysts. This includes proficiency in financial modelling, understanding key financial metrics, interpreting market trends, and assessing the impact of macroeconomic factors on investments. A great analyst can navigate complex financial landscapes to identify value drivers.

The Importance of Marketing and Communication: While technical skills are crucial, an analyst's ability to effectively market and communicate their research is equally important. Effective marketing allows analysts to showcase their expertise, gain visibility, and build relationships with clients and investors. Clear and concise communication helps bridge the gap between complex analysis and client understanding, enhancing the impact of their insights and recommendations.
Achieving Top Rankings: Being ranked number one in the Institutional Investor survey requires a combination of excellence in research, strong relationships with clients, and peer recognition. Consistently producing high-quality research, delivering unique insights, and establishing client credibility are key factors contributing to top rankings. Analysts must build trusted relationships, understand clients' investment goals, and provide tailored recommendations that align with their strategies.

The Role of Alternative Data: In the era of big data, alternative data plays a crucial role in creating differentiated insights. Great analysts embrace alternative data sources to complement traditional analysis. Analysts can gain unique perspectives, uncover hidden trends, and generate differentiated investment insights by leveraging non-traditional data sets such as social media sentiment, web scraping, satellite imagery, or transaction data.

Developing Out-of-Consensus Ideas and Insights
: The ability to think beyond consensus is a hallmark of exceptional equity research analysts. When supported by robust analysis, they challenge prevailing narratives, question prevailing assumptions, and develop contrarian viewpoints. By venturing into uncharted territories and offering fresh perspectives, these analysts are more likely to identify undervalued opportunities or spot potential risks others have overlooked.


Becoming a top ranked equity research analyst requires industry knowledge, analytical excellence, thorough research, and financial acumen. Achieving top rankings in prestigious surveys demands consistent, high-quality research, strong client relationships, and peer recognition.

Equally important is an analyst's ability to effectively market and communicate their insights, bridging the gap between complex analysis and client understanding.

Lastly, using alternative data empowers analysts to create differentiated insights and gain a competitive edge. By embodying these traits and adapting to the evolving landscape, equity research analysts can excel in their field and deliver exceptional value to clients and investors.