Why Make Effectiveness A Habit?
At Sentieo, we care about helping equity analysts become more successful. It is core to our mission as a company. While we have broadened our purview to finance and general knowledge professionals, we still have buy-side in our DNA. Our CEO and co-founder, as well as many of our executives and product owners, were analysts in their previous lives.
The mountain of data that analysts have to process to find nuggets of unique truths is growing more massive each year, leading to information overload. In the face of these challenges, we still believe there is a role for human analysts, augmented with better technology and process to help them fight off those challenges. Thus, we’ve updated our most popular whitepaper, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Analysts. Read the preview below, or download the whole thing!
Looking Beyond The Echo Chamber For Ideas
The world of finance tends to be an enormous echo chamber where even ostensibly intelligent participants can get caught up in manias and panics of groupthink: how much of your communication is with fellow buy-siders versus outsiders? We actually found it more instructive to steal ideas from outside of finance.
All three of the above have similar constraints on resources and relevance to the ultimate research output. Of course, we don’t think there is any better authority on general personal effectiveness than the original Franklin Covey book (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People), which also obviously served as an inspiration for this paper.
Three Individual Equity Analyst Habits:
1) Be Proactive: Optimize Your Coverage Universe and Expand Your Circle of Influence
You only have so many hours in a day. Valentine (book referenced above) and most major hedge funds recommend covering up to 40-50 stocks at most. If you can’t find a good idea — long or short — in those, you are doing something wrong. If you are trading hundreds of stocks a year, you are going too broad to have any edge over quant-driven processes (and probably paying too much in commissions). The only way humans will have a sustainable and permanent advantage in investing is by doing deep fundamental research. Fortunately, we at Sentieo are continuously working on building technology to augment, not replace, the human. The universe of thousands of stocks can be hard to narrow down. Luckily, Sentieo’s platform has a built-in powerful screener with thousands of categories just for that purpose.
Use Sentieo’s Screener to filter down to the companies you care about.
Once they have a sensibly defined investment universe, effective equity analysis are ready to go deep. Buy side analysts have a wealth of broker research resources at their fingertips, but often drown in the floods of daily push emails. Your inbox is valuable real estate; the most effective Equity Analysts access information on a “pull” basis—on demand, instead of having their time and attention demanded by outside parties.
Analysts should approach search with a specific intent in mind, and gather as many relevant facts as possible. Sentieo enables this by bringing users access to the full spectrum of Broker Research inside our Document Search platform.
Drill down by document type (or even document section) to only get the information you want.
2) Begin With the End in Mind: Don’t Miss the Macro for the Micro, or the Structural for the Near-Term
All too often, analysts get worked up about basis point moves and minor catalysts when they should be focused on the tectonic shifts under their feet. Think beyond the movements of macro model inputs like commodity costs and currency fluctuations. The shifts from major global trends, ranging from “Software Eating the World” to regulatory and political shifts can serve as either incredible headwinds or tailwinds to investment theses that can far outweigh any modeling considerations for the next fiscal year.
Models are only as good as the assumptions going into them, and no amount of Excel wizardry will help if, for example, you try to buy the dip in global mining stocks ahead of a Chinese slowdown, or you seek value in consumer packaged goods while well-funded startups (instead of stale brands) are gaining ground in every category.
Although one should constrain their coverage universe (see Habit 1), no stock is an island. Our platform allows effective equity analysts to quickly get a read across adjacent sectors, to stay informed through plotting market data and document mentions.
Sentieo’s Search Summary Analytics give you insight into the most keyword mentions by Company, Document Type, Sector, and Region
3) Put First Things First: Maintain A Catalyst Calendar and Do The Work Well Ahead
Stocks often run ahead of earnings. It is not an infrequent occurrence for a company to beat, but trade down. This cues puzzled commentary from the Street about the “inexplicable” reaction, while a 30% pre-earnings run-up was ignored. Funds need to be sized up at the start of these pre-event moves, not just the day or week beforehand. The proactive analyst with this end goal in mind should maintain a priority list that includes a catalyst calendar, and should ideally organize their work around the profit potential.
Key catalysts to track include earnings announcements, product launches, and transactions. Sentieo’s Calendar can feed in from a user’s watchlist, and it makes the forward calendar plain as day:
Track your tickers using an earnings calendar in Sentieo, on both desktop and mobile.
These are just 3 of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Analysts. To read about all 7, download the full white paper.