How to build credibility before a junior investment job? (Part 2)

Make it happen, don’t be oblivious to opportunities

Young people looking to join the investment industry often encounter this challenging question: what relevant experience do you have? 

In our Part 1 post (link to part 1), we talked about two levels of expectations that we expect a junior to possess if he/she is pursuing an investment career. By achieving these expectations, you will have an edge in the job market. In this Part 2 post, we will touch upon where some candidates fail, and how to avoid them.

Take one step back and look at the bigger picture of your life. You generally have one or a few good (or even great) opportunities every three to five years appearing in your life. They are your life boosters. If you manage to capture one or two, you will be able to enjoy what you do, feel fulfilled, and even become financially free earlier than the rest.

Being a mentee in the Springboard program is also an opportunity in your life. If you grab the opportunity, you should aim to exceed our expectations, and prove that you can value-add to the investment decision making process. It is natural that you are getting close to an investment career. Otherwise, you simply miss many powerful referral opportunities. In many cases, you might not be aware of it because you are not even able to experience it.

Therefore in this post, we will focus on the reasons why some candidates are unable to break into the investment industry even after signing up for our program.

Why do some students fail at an early stage?

We estimate that a typical beginner in our Model Like a Pro programme will take 20-30 hours to build his/her first integrated financial model. In the big picture, this may only account for less than 30% of the effort of your entire learning journey at SpringBoard. Hence we take your performance in financial modelling program seriously when we consider you for our advanced programme, i.e. Research Like a Pro, as well as job referral opportunities.

Having said that, we observe that some of our students – who initially sounded ambitious or passionate – do not even complete our program within two months. They have committed for the program but found out halfway that it demands discipline and determination. While some give up halfway once they encounter challenges with their own financial models, the rest fail for other reasons. Here are the common ones we have seen:

Reason 1: Too busy to put a priority on mentorship

Here are a few examples of our students’ excuses we find as common: “I am too busy with my work”, “I have family matters to deal with”, and “I am busy attending interviews”.

As we look at these excuses, they have a common denominator – the mentee has not tried to figure out a way to set aside certain time during the two months to complete his or her work. It is also a sign that the person is not taking ownership of his/her career. The person who can be accountable is who does not try to find excuses for his/her incapability.

Why do I say that it is entirely possible to complete your mentorship in two months? We have briefed our students at the start of each mentorship program that it will generally take about 20-30 hours to complete your first integrated financial model. If you divide 30 hours into eight weeks, you will get 3.75 hours a week.

Is this very hard to allocate 4 hours a week study? Unless you are working 100 hours per week in the investment banks, we don’t see any reason that one cannot allocate 4 hours a week to improve skills for a better future. We can only help you as much as you dedicate time to your future.

Reason 2: Too much distraction

This is another typical scenario where one fails the mentorship program. Typical excuses that we have seen: “I am going to take off for two weeks”, “I need to help out with my friend on her wedding thus will be busy for two weeks”, “I have a family trip to go. I can’t decline”, “I am attending another course these few weeks so I will have less time building financial models”.

OK. We understand that you have other things on the plate, and we are completely fine that you give us head-ups and go ahead to take off for a week or two during your mentorship program.

But what we really want to highlight two points here:

  1. If you get distracted from your mentorship halfway, you lose momentum. As you lose momentum, you will find it difficult to pick up later. From what we observe, it is likely you just give up eventually.
  2. When you promise us that you can finish your model, but cannot handle distractions, you lose accountability and credibility. We pay great attention to these two aptitudes when we do job referrals. If you don’t get it right, you just simply give up a channel/network that can help you in your career.

The spirit of this article is not only applicable to our mentorship program, but also in your workspace. The concepts are the same. If you constantly exceed expectation set by your managers, you have a good chance of getting promoted. If you constantly lose your credibility and accountability, you ruin your own career unknowingly. We sincerely hope that you are able to get this idea right at the right start of your career and move on quickly on your desired path.

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We would like to thank AKY for his contribution. The author has more than seven years of experience working in institutional research. He is the founder and Co-Head of Research 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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