Mehedee Hasan, senior portfolio strategist (assistant director) at Brac EPL Stock Brokerage Limited, talks about what the job of an equity analyst entails and its career prospects
TBS: You started your career as an analyst, and now you are a portfolio strategist. Tell us about your journey.
Mehedee Hasan (MH): Back in 2008, as part of the graduation requirements, I was doing my internship at Standard Chartered Bank in the trade services department. But I always had an interest in the capital market.
This interest led me to the career path of an analyst, and right after completing my graduation in finance (BBA in Finance), I had the opportunity to join LankaBangla Securities as a research associate.
I worked there till 2011 and later I joined Brac EPL Stock Brokerage Limited's research team. In 2015, I joined City Bank Capital, where I worked as the head of research for four years. I was also designated as the chief investment officer (CIO) of the company. Meantime, I also completed my MBA in Finance from North South University and I am currently pursuing a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) degree.
Finally, I went back to BRAC EPL again, and currently, I am working here as an assistant director and senior portfolio strategist.
As an analyst, I used to cover macro, banking sector extensively and other selective stocks from telco, pharma, fuel & power, engineering, mutual fund, textile sectors and most of the MNCs & consumer sectors.
During the early days of my career, I got the opportunity to attend training both in the country and overseas. I have attended training on Advanced Financial Analysis & Valuation Modelling of Euro Money Training (London), Smart Investing Strategies and Portfolio Management at the BSE Institute, India. It helped me understand my work in a better way. I also got the chance to work closely with the top management and senior colleagues from the very beginning of my career. This also inspired me to stay in this sector.
TBS: How long does it take for an analyst to get promoted to senior roles?
MH: It is a tricky question. Getting promoted to a senior role depends on the skillset of a person because when a fresh graduate joins the industry, his knowledge is minimal. Also, it takes two to three years to understand market dynamics.
However, if we want to generalise, it approximately takes three to five years for a research associate to become an analyst and get promoted to senior roles. To become a 360-degree focused analyst covering multiple sectors, it takes around seven to ten years.
TBS: How can one prepare to become an analyst?
MH: We learn the fundamental theories of finance in university if we pursue a bachelor's degree in finance. However, during the first three years of your job, you need to be very careful because this is when you learn more about the market, macroeconomics, building spreadsheet models, writing reports etc. through practical experience.
Also, an analyst needs to have an idea about corporate laws, e.g. tax and vat, and the mindset to accurately mine data and manage big data. Taking communicative and written English courses can help someone write reports and communicate with foreign investors in a better way.
TBS: Is there any gender barrier in this sector?
MH: I do not think so. This is a knowledge-based industry, and anyone can build a career here. However, female participation is comparatively low in Bangladesh.
I would say females only occupy around 15-20% of jobs in this sector. Maintaining a balance between the job and family life is relatively a bit tight here. This might be a reason behind the lower participation rate of women.
TBS: How long does an analyst need to work?
MH: The conventional 9-5 job hours usually does not apply to this sector. At the beginning of the career, an analyst may get to work eight hours as they are still in the learning phase, and job responsibilities remain mostly desk-based.
But with time, the situation changes, and they need to work longer hours. However, there is also the flexibility to adjust working hour in the office. An analyst needs to research a lot. You cannot force them to do the research by binding them by a time frame.
TBS: What are the prospects of equity analysis as a career in Bangladesh?
MH: If we see the global trend, Bangladesh offers a very promising career prospect for young analysts. The market cap to GDP ratio is only about 12-15% here, but the global average is more than 102%.
Also, our market cap size is only about $40 billion, whereas it is more than $80 trillion globally. The bond market is worth more than $100 trillion.
Bangladesh's economy is still on the growing side. In five years, more companies will get listed on the stock market, and the treasury securities worth $10 billion will start trading at the secondary bond market, and this will enhance the market depth as we advance. Thus, opportunities will broaden for analysts.
In my opinion, young analysts have nothing to worry about at all.
However, the demand for equity researchers is low in Bangladesh as most of the brokerages and merchant banks do not have a research team where they can employ analysts.
TBS: How much can an analyst earn at the beginning of his career?
MH: At the beginning of his career, an analyst can earn Tk30,000-50,000. But if a junior analyst completes his CFA Charter, his salary can jump to Tk 100,000 in an instance. The person with a professional degree can earn more than a person without the degree in the same position.
TBS: What would be your advice to future analysts?
MH: I am in not in a position to give advice, but from my experience, I would say you need to have the urge to learn new things every day, and you need to be extremely patient. You will need to read newspapers daily and gather insights into the market.
I would also suggest pursuing CFA as it provides some extra boost and opens up the opportunity to work overseas as well.