Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Day in the Life of an Economist/Research Analyst

I tend to field a lot of questions from people I know and don't know on what I exactly as an Economist/Research Analyst at a Mutual Fund in Pakistan. 

Inspired by the 'A day in the life of series' (I think the ones I've read so far are really boring) here is typically what a good day looks like. 

8:00 AM: Wake up, hit snooze, Go back to sleep. I don't have to be at work till 9 and my pillow and I are in the midst of an engaging conversation. 

8:20-9:00 AM: Bounce out of bed, quickly change, shower, shave and prepare for my day. Jump in my car and drive to work. Blissful if good music is on and annoying Radio Jockey's just shut up and play music.  

9:05 AM: Stroll into my office, working at a mutual fund in Pakistan is pretty chill, so people don't walk till 9:30-9:45 AM (Market opens at 9:30 AM) . I on the other hand have things to get done before the markets open.

9:05-9:40 AM: Get to work, I have to check various news sources, pulled out any relevant news pieces and figure out how the news will skew the market (Karachi Stock Exchange;KSE), if I'm well versed in the subject matter I'll have an idea on what impact it'll have on certain companies for eg. if Saudi Arabia lifts its embargo on regional exports for cements, that's probably bad news for Lucky Cement (symbol LUCK) as it relies on exports to distribute around half of its units produced. Saudi Producers are also highly subsidized in terms of energy costs, which Pakistani producers aren't. 

9:40 - 10:00 AM: Morning meeting with the investment team, listen closely to whats being said, I'll offer my input only if I know whats going on or if I have questions. Often the questions I'm asked to field are related to the Economy and what macro impacts certain policy changes will have. Dubai crisis, means bad news for the rates of our floating Euro Soveriegn Bonds. Jeez, no one wants to trust big governments anymore...what is the world coming too. 

10:00 AM-1:00 PM: Meeting is over, and I head back to my desk, I have a barrage of emails to deal with coupled with morning reports to go over. Since the dedicated research team consists of 3 people, we have to juggle multiple work flows that tend to overlap across sectors. So it's important to be as widely well versed as possible in virtually every sector. I'll also start making calls to other research analysts and brokers with queries (definitely the norm; you are alwayslearning something new) I'll have about certain points they've made in their reports or any contentious issue that arises that I need to understand. It's a pretty full morning, the highlight of which is when our resident Tea Distribution Manager/Chai Walla drops off a batch of sweet steaming tea in my personal over sized mug on my desk.....and then...he semi-bows. Which I'm yet to get over and it always puts a smile on my face. I also typically think about various potential investments we might be interested based on the news flows, assessing our exposures to market swings etc. 

1:00-1:45 PM: Get Lunch, the guys in the office usually go out and get lunch together, but depending on deadlines and just plain bad timing we'll peel off into groups. Working in the financial epicentre of Pakistan has its perks, for starters the food here is great (and cheap), whether you want Chinese, Pakistani, Iranian, Afghan or Western food, its all available. There is even Pizza Hut, Henny's, KFC and Subway nearby so its a pretty wide selection, but it depends on what your in the mood to eat. Most places will also deliver in case we are too lazy to leave the office or don't have the time. Healthy options are at a minimum and I don't think I've ever seen a place serve a real salad. 

1:45-4:00 PM: I usually spend this time working on my economy work flows; inflation projections, current account break ups, monthly economic reports, updating state bank data and at least a few times a week I'll call other Economists and get their views and get some feedback on ideas of my own. It's important to understand how people think than what they actually think (in fact what they think is usually irrelevant, for me its all in the thought process). Economists don't need to be accurate, though they need to be as close as possible. 

4:00-5:00 PM: We invite different research analysts to give presentations; its an opportunity for them to pitch us their ideas on certain companies and sectors (which we're considering taking a position in), if we like what they have to say we'll use them (usually) as our broker for the deal. 

5:00-7:00 PM: Wrap up any work flows, investment notes I have left to do, in some cases a late query will come in from the Investment side and I'll have to deal with them as quickly and accurately as I can. 

7:05: Head to the gym and then head home. 

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