How Do Equity Research Firms Make Money? And Who are They?

Equity research is all about producing reports. These reports are targeted towards investors to provide the financial analysis that would enable them to choose what investment to buy, sell, or hold. Equity research is also used to provide timely analysis and quality news, which in most cases is used by financial institutions as a means to support all their clients. It helps traders gain profits by generating profits from stocks and ascertaining the value of stocks in the market.

With equity research, individuals who buy shares have as much information as those who sell shares because it gives room for the circulation of information. Without this information being provided, stock trades may be affected below or above a fair value, and those investors who do not have the resources to analyze their stocks end up with a great loss.

Primarily, the term equity research means financial modeling, analysis of the company’s finances, analysis of ratio performance, checking the market for possible opportunities to make a buy or sell stock investment opportunity. To find the value of listed companies in the stock market, traders and investors are free to use equity research.

Who is an Equity research analyst?

An equity research analyst takes their time and energy to analyze stocks by following the news trends and talking with the management to estimate stock evaluations. He can also be known as a Financial associate.

They understand businesses’ economic value, including its cash flow and income statement, to enable them to prepare balance sheet access as the company usually does.

An equity research analyst also prepares different kinds of reports and publishes them. It could be an in-depth report or a flash report. These reports are then analyzed and recommended to different financial institutions or clients interested in them.

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To ensure a rewarding career, an equity research analyst should develop multiple talents and skills. Usually, an analyst is assigned to a particular group of companies in a specific industry to become accountable.

The main responsibilities of Junior Analyst are to support the Associate in every format. The majority of the work done by Junior Analysts is related to data and excel etc.

Also, Junior Analysts may be involved in doing primary research, industry research, coordinating with clients, etc.

Maintaining the industry database, charts, graphs, and financial models, etc.

An important point to consider is that analysts generally benefit from having a positive working relationship with their research subjects’ executive management and investor-relations teams. Analysts rely on corporate management teams to provide more specific and in-depth information on company performance that is not otherwise publicly provided.

Who is an Equity Research Associate?

An equity research associate has the primary responsibility of supporting the senior analyst in the best way possible. Such a person should have prior experience of 3 or more years in the industry.

The duties of an associate include verifying data, preparing model valuations, helping clients solve their data requests, updating financial models, industry analysis, and so much more.

How Equity Research Firms Make Money?

There are different means through which equity research firms make money. For a lot of equity research firms, this can be done by charging on each report. However, this differs from independent equity research firms as they do not have trading and sales divisions. Some of the ways they make money include;

  • For financial institutions like pension funds, mutual funds, insurance companies which are sometimes advised to keep a portion of their assets in stocks, the instructions are given by the sell analysts are usually free. Whenever the buy-side analyst decides to invest in stocks, it would mean executing a trade through the sell-side. A commission would then be charged by the trading division for executing the trade at a lower price. The commission earned is taken to be one of the earnings of the research firm.
  • Research firms identify and analyze stocks in the market that seem promising to new traders then take them to their institutions for further analysis. Analyzing an entire market may prove difficult and overwhelming for groups at the buy-side shops. This, therefore, leads idea generation as an important pastor to generate sell-side funds for an organization.
  • In some cases, research firms get money through big investors. This may seem like an irony because it usually seems like individual investors do not pay for research no matter how valuable it seems. In previous times, all brokers were requested to do was to send a report which they received with no charge because brokerage houses provided a means for researchers to gain and keep their clients. However, what a lot of people failed to realize was that the research was paid for by the investor’s commission.
  • Under MiFID 11, all asset managers are to fund the external research from their profit and loss accounts. This law went into effect in 2018. This leads to billing clients for research and trading differently.
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What is a Fee-Based Research?

Whenever the term Fee-Based research is used in the market, it refers to increasing market efficiency and bridging the gap between investors and companies. It refers to the professional analysis that accompanies investment potential.

Companies usually engage a legitimate fee-based research firm to analyze their stock. This is to enable them to get information to investors and improve market efficiency.

Features of a Fee-Based Research Firm:

Below are a few things that would help you identify a fee-based research firm.

  1. A fee-based research firm provides an analysis of the relationship between a company and its research firm to enable investors to objectively evaluate.
  2. The services in fee-based research are usually analytical and not promotional.
  3. To avoid conflicts of interest, they are usually paid in cash as they do not accept equity as their form of annual payment.

A company and research firm’s competence is dependent on the efforts made to inform investors. Any misleading or unreliable research can tarnish a company. Therefore, fee-based research provides only professional and objective analysis of a companies investment potential.


The major role equity research does in the market is to provide information. When information is not adequately provided, it could lead to inefficiencies that occur only when the market is misrepresented.

Research firms are important because they help prevent barriers in the information that prompts individual investors to analyze every stock. This leads to the division of labor and efficiency in the market.

Analysts are usually divided into industry sectors to cover similar companies within an industry. Most sectors have a lot of specialized knowledge required, so it makes sense for analysts to stick to one industry to become experts.

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Some of the largest sectors in equity research include consumer staples, consumer discretionary, internet, healthcare, energy, mining, technology, and telecommunications.

A team of associates and an analyst will usually cover at least 5 companies and cover as many as 15, depending on their seniority, the sizes of the companies, and the industry. More: see our financial analyst guide.