As a fund manager I’ve spent my entire career reading equity research – some good, some bad and some ugly. Here are my top five tips for writing great research:

  1. Create a Structure. Spend time thinking about the key points you want to make (try to keep it to no more than five, then use sub-headings to get these points across. A well-structured note with charts and illustrations is much easier for a PM to get through than a long string of text!
  2. Keep it Simple. The point isn’t to show off your detailed knowledge of the company but to get readers to understand the investment case. Remember Einstein’s quote: “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex…It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction”
  3. Be Balanced. Nobody is interested in reading a sales pitch. The investor wants to know that you have spent time considering the risks that might impact your thesis. This is what differentiates a stock analyst from a mere stock jockey. (Sell-siders will often list these ‘risks’ as an afterthought at the end – you should avoid this mistake!)
  4. Don’t Overload it with Numbers. Of course you should know the numbers inside out, but that doesn’t mean you need to share everything with the audience. Give them only what they need to understand the salient points. If you feel you must include all the numbers, then put them in an appendix.
  5. Come to a Clear Conclusion. Nobody likes a waffler so be clear about what you are telling the reader. Read the conclusion back to yourself to ensure that the thrust of your argument is clear. Don’t overburden it with qualifiers (ifs and buts!), while ensuring that you have covered off key risks.

If you want to get some feedback on a research note you have written, you can submit it to the Research Room at StockViews.com. We promise to provide honest feedback on your note within 24 hours of submission.

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Hello Tom,

    Nice thoughts. I have been a sell-side analyst for a long time, and believe research notes should be short, crisp and hard-hitting, with sound investment thesis. However, I continue to see research reports running into like 50 or 80 pages. I guess it’s part of the image that some sell-side firms have to keep projecting – of being thorough in their work. Never understood why somebody needs to write 50 pages to explain an investment thesis.

    Regards,

    Nitiin A. Khandkar
    bqinvesttraining.com

    Like

    Reply

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