How to build credibility before a junior investment job? (Part 1)

Young people looking to join the investment industry often encounter this challenging question: what relevant experience do you have? This is a chicken and egg question. How would one be able to accumulate experience if nobody gives a chance first. Fortunately, for every graduate of Springboard, you are already guaranteed an edge when interviewing for an investment role. We always believe that if a person has enough commitment and passion, she/he will definitely find a fulfilling job.

Our students are the best examples of how to build credibility prior to joining the front office

After running the Springboard mentorship program for almost a decade, we are well- positioned to understand the success factors required for junior or entry-level investment roles. Here, we pen down the common traits of successful graduates. They have landed their dream job in private equity, research, or asset management.

A dozen success stories have been posted on our website (link to testimonial). While each student is unique, the common traits amongst successful job candidates are their dedication, their eye for details, and a passion for the industry. Aside from learning the basics of financial modelling and investment research, these candidates continue to do their best for each assignment during our program. When given research projects by their mentors, they adopt a can-do attitude instead of making excuses. Read on to find out about the positive attributes possessed that we observed in and constantly look forward to from our students’ assignment:

#1 Meet our expectation: On-time delivery with acceptable quality

This is the basic level of work that we expect our students to achieve. When it comes to our foundation mentorship program, i.e. Model Like a Pro, it means following our recommended schedule of viewing video and completing homework within 6 weeks of your mentorship program. If you cannot even complete a simple guided model within 6 weekends (assuming you spend 4 to 5 hours per weekend), you will surely not be able to handle a full-time role as an investment analyst, which is even more demanding.

It is completely alright if you are stuck with troubleshooting your model initially. Your mentors are ready to help you to move on. In our advanced mentorship program, there’s no recommended schedule. However, we expect our students to churn out a research report in two to three weeks’ time with significant progress over each mentorship session.

Being able to deliver homework on time and within expectation, is the most basic criteria that mentors take into consideration when providing job referrals.


#2 Exceed our expectation: Formatting and Balancing

There are many ways to tell if a homework delivery exceeds expectation in our modelling program. They include but are not limited to:


Adopting good formatting habits for every single tab  – clean and colour-coded. A well-formatted model implies that you strive to make your work easy for others to understand and use. Institutional investors are busy people. They are dealing with information from all over the places throughout the working hours. Hence it is utmost important to keep your work easy to understand for others.

Imagine if you are the boss on the sell side and you have to spend half an hour reformatting the work from your associate before you can send out to stakeholders, would you like to hire this associate analyst?

Balancing the model

Balance your model by yourself based on our troubleshooting guide. It is common to have some issue with balancing your model if you don’t completely get the concept of certain integrity rules and principles of troubleshooting financial model clearly. Don’t be disheartened, think through each principle, and go through the checklists.

We don’t expect the majority of you to get the model done perfectly when you join our Model Like a Pro program. We also understand that balancing the financial model indeed could be the most daunting task for juniors. Even seniors like us do not want to spend too much of our productive hours balancing a model, though we know how to do it. Therefore, being able to balance your model shows two things:

1) you understand the principles of financial modelling better than most of your cohort, and

2) you have a very good self-learning capability.

If you can reach this level of competency in your homework assignment, we would not hesitate to put this top notch quality into our reference letter to your potential employer.

In Part 2, we will touch on typical failures that unknowingly reduces your credibility and chances of joining the investment industry.


We would like to thank AKY for his contribution. The author has more than seven years of experience working in institutional research. He currently the founder and Co-Head of Reseach at Aequitas Research, an independent research house focusing on liquidity events research. His clients include hedge funds, long-only funds as well as sovereign wealth funds. He loves coaching aspiring junior analysts. If you wish to get in touch with the author you can email info AT

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