I Wannabe A "Research Editor" (I think)


#1

I answered an ad for Part-Time Research Editor and I’m going for a test the day after tomorrow.
R.E., as I understand it, means working for a brokerage firm.
I beleive the job is to put financial and other info into a standard, succinct, readable format.
I’ve heard (on this site or elsewhere) that this kind of job means working your butt off for NT$ 40,00 month (If you’re full-time).
This, in hopes of becoming a Financial Analyst.
Nevertheless, I’m interested in the job.
I don’t have a business background, but apparently, it’s not required.
I’ve worked as an educational editor/writer in Taiwan before.
So…any hints, thoughts, ideas about TAKING THE TEST, working as an editor in Taiwan, or becoming a RESEARCH EDITOR?
THANKS in advance for your help!


#2

I’d be suspicious of jobs where they make you take a test, unless you are a 20-year-old that just got out of college. Since you do have editing experience, you are in the business–why do you need to take a test? Also keep in mind as long as you are working part-time (aka illegally) you have no rights. They can drop you at any time. Just look at it as a learning oppurtunity and remember that jobs like that open up a lot here, so don’t get discouraged if this one doesn’t work out. Good luck!


#3

Brush up on you figures skills.

If it’s a financial co, they’ll likely toss in some incorrect percentages, stock shares, etc, just to trick you.
I don’t think the ‘test’ will just be about editing the dross.

Be on your toes if you really want the job. Bring a calculator along, too. And a small dictionary.

Good luck!


#4

[quote=“Johnnie”]I answered an ad for Part-Time Research Editor and I’m going for a test the day after tomorrow.
R.E., as I understand it, means working for a brokerage firm.
I beleive the job is to put financial and other info into a standard, succinct, readable format.
I’ve heard (on this site or elsewhere) that this kind of job means working your butt off for NT$ 40,00 month (If you’re full-time). [/quote]

You’ll also be a human spell-checker (!) But you will have to make sure an argument is being coherently presented. My ex-HOR used to call us “journalists” when he was pissed off. Your clients already know the figures. They do not want a page of bloody figures ! I did a test in Honkers for a big firm and there was no consistency in the presentation. Check for example that increases are in the format “Blah has increased to New Blah from Old Blah”, and not the other way round, or at least that it’s consistent. Define “billion”. Is it a thousand or a million million ? Don’t use it unless you firm has a style guide which defines it. Ask them for their style guide before you start. They won’t give it to you, but it’ll show you’re thinking. Check you know whether the percentages quoted are meaningful to the reader (or indeed the analyst). They are interested in the stuff they can’t get from the Bloomberg or Reuters machines. If you are given a report with a recommendation (Buy/Sell - very rare/Hold/Accumulate) is it justified by the report ? Are the graphs and tables meaningful or just shoved in to fill space ? It is better to send it back to the analyst saying “I don’t understand this” than let it go. Does it read like it was copied from a newspaper or from the firm’s annual report ? Is the analyst employing any form of professional scepticism ? Are there assumptions in the report which aren’t explained to the reader, who if he looks at it at all, will spend 2 seconds reading the first papragraph and make his decision on the entire report from that. Is there any encouragement to read further ?

It sounds like you’ll be working for a local firm. As far as I know there is no such thing as a part-time work permit, so you’ll be doing visa trips, or have a visa somewhere else. As the firm can’t employ a foreigner without a work permit, your salary will most likely be appended to some local’s salary and tax will be deducted at his marginal rate. For a firm that takes editing seriously (ie no local firms as of 1997!) it’s not an economically viable proposition at less that NT$60k full-time, with participation in bonuses. I was paid NT$40k with about NT$100k (in a year!) in total bonuses when I did it in 1997 at a local firm, which of course was a total pittance - but it was the going rate, and I took it not expecting bonuses, but of course I expected to become the next Peter Kurtz. (You’ll need to know who he is (http://www.mrtaiwan.com) and the intimate details of every analyst in Taiwan in order to fully participate in the “So and so’s moving to Barings / ING / BZW / ABNAMRO / Deloittetouchesolomonsmithbarneytravellermergertasticeggsbaconandchips and he’s taking his entire team with him!” type conversations.

A totally different thing, and you must be allowed to do and publish research in the post you are considering, even if it’s only contributions to the Daily Report, to begin with. For this your Chinese must be very good indeed, as you will be attending morning meetings with the Research Dept the purpose of which will be to produce advice on the coming day’s trading. So you’ll have your nose deep in the Taiwan and HK financial papers (for some reason I have yet to fathom as anything in the papers is waaay to old to be of use to a brokerage - but you’ll be expected to read them) These meetings start around 7 am. This assumes you are allowed to participate in research activity. Initially, you will probably be allowed to find stuff for the Daily, or your Head of Research will tell you what to put in it. It varies. Hey, your firm may not even have a Daily. (The Daily is a kind of advert for the firm sent to overseas clients who will already know most of what’s in it. Proper Dailies like wot Barings Japan used to do were insightful, amusing, informed, and opinionated. Taiwan Dailies used to be dull rehashes of the day’s newspaper. Okay maybe times have changed…!)

You may also be allowed to deal with client requests. This could be anything from “What’s going on with company X” to being emailed an Excel model of OTC companies to track over a period and submit daily emails back to the client. (He’s got a small cap fund and he’s thinking of investing in Taiwan but can’t be arsed to track them himself on the Bloomberg)

But this sort of work is dependent on excellent Chinese, an understanding of accounting, an understanding of why accountancy doesn’t help investors make decisions, and an understanding of why share price and the financial state of a company can be totally urelated. Expect to graft away on spelling and compostition for at least a year before they let you start putting your name on reports.

[quote=“Johnnie”]Nevertheless, I’m interested in the job.
I don’t have a business background, but apparently, it’s not required.[/quote]

You’ll need to learn how the markets work, even as an editor. There are some good books published cheaply by Prentice Hall, and I would read things like George Soros’ book (Why I Stiffed the Bundesbank and Other Related Tales), and Peter Whatsisname (ex-manager of the Magellan Fund) wrote two interesting books for the layman in which he sang the praises of fundamental analysis and common sense (as opposed to graph-watching (technical analysis - very popular in Taiwan) and the use of accountancy based ratios - like the universally condemned but ubiquitous price/earnings ratio).

There’s a huge jump from editing to research, but you can build up your knowledge whilst being an editor. Just be aware that the firm you might work for now just wants a glorified spell-checker, and you will have to move on to be allowed to spend time on research. I made it very clear that I wanted to do research and was allowed to. Mind you, come the end of '97 I was out on my hole with all the rest of them ! So beware the routine hire and fire cycle of investment banking. Good fun though ! But do you know what ? I’d almost rather be a full-time professional editor, than a wannabe analyst. Because when all’s said and done, to get recognition you need to publish credible reports that will stand up to analysis by MBAs CFAs and CPAs in London and New York, and without 3 capital letters after your name it’s hard to get taken seriously. On the other hand, there are a significant number of people in Taiwan doing just that, but they have the language and the finacial knowledge, just not the letters. As far as I can see, it takes many years. Have you considered sales ? (You’ll get asked that)

Won’t necessarily help. If I were you I’d get the Economist Style Guide. Find a seat near the Bloomberg and read everything on it. Remember you’re writing for a load of City boys. Get shirts with double cuffs. They like that. Buy big thick silk ties in which it is impossible to tie a proper Windsor knot. This is important because it marks you out as only knowing the full Windsor, which is compulsory at all the best schools. If you can tie a slip knot - don’t. Hmm and haah about whether the Director’s Stripe or the Bengal Stripe is most appropriate for a sell-side analyst’s shirt, or whether only New York brokers can get away with wearing button down collars with a tie. (Better still, memorize American Psycho and quote verbatim). You will be crucified for the most pedantic usage error (tautology is especially hated) or sartorial inelegance.

[quote=“Johnnie”]So…any hints, thoughts, ideas about TAKING THE TEST, working as an editor in Taiwan, or becoming a RESEARCH EDITOR?
THANKS in advance for your help![/quote]

Draft Spiel:

"Yes, I am interested in learning about the unique Taiwan equity market, and specifically what the foreign institutional investor needs to know about both incesting (oops) in the main board stocks and in the over the counter market. I am aware of some of the inward investment restrictions, and that the Taiwan equity is almost uniquely in the world, retail-driven. I am also aware of the widely fluctuation turnover of the market, and its susceptibility to perceived and actual government interventions. Like everyone who ever wanted to work in the Taiwan stockmarket, I am especially interested in the electronics sector, and hope to be able to study it by taking a top-down approach first looking at global demand drivers for semiconductors, and then when I am a bit more familiar with the market, looking at particular aspects of the Taiwanese market which set it apart from potential competitors such as Korea. Blah blah blah.

I have some knowledge (?) of the inter-relationships generally between stock market investment and alternative investments, but have noted that interest rate fluctuations have little effect on the desire of local Taiwanese to invest in shares. I am also aware of some of the idiosyncracies of the market, for example the tendancy for blind faith in technical analysis and how this turns the market into something akin to Happy Valley on a Wednesday night, and also how the local investors watch the foreign investors, watching them, watching us.

However, I would like to put my current English language skills to use, and pick the whole shebang up as I go along by reading up on stockmarkets in general, and cribbing as much as I can (up to the limit of your subscription, Mr Cheapo Head of Research!) off the Bloomberg."


#5

Thanks for a very useful and informative post, Taiwan Beer. One thing I’d like to add to:

I have an employment visa for 12 hours a week “part time” editing work.

I believe an employer must offer you a minimum amount of hours to give you a work permit, although in practice you may work less hours than stipulated by law.


#6

I’m fairly confident I know which firm you’re talking about and while the previous posts are helpful they’ll probably have scared the shit out of you.

Don’t worry about a calculator -your job will be to deal with the text. Leave the figures to the bean counters. In time you will be able to see if something doesn’t look right.

An editing test is a standard check to see if you’re up to the job. Typically, it entails a time test for panelling a mangled piece of shite into some semblance of shape with the person giving it to you having not bothered to think much about what that should be. Sometimes they’ll offer something they have thought of, rarely, and then they’re looking to see if you get the mistakes they did. Usually the latter offers scope to find more so keep checking. But remember time will be the key.

If it is the company I’m thinking of - Dun Hua - then don’t worry about your Chinese ability or lack there of. In fact even local houses aren’t too fussed by the editor’s Chinese skills as they usually have translators on hand. This of course offers you a unique range of secondary problems in that original research guff in Chinese is virtually without style, or serious analysis, just an interminable spewing of data connected by haphazard punctuation. It’s the same ugly dross translated.
Unfortunately you have to make it interesting.

Cheers,

HG


#7

Oh, dittoe on the spiel Taiwan Beer. Good stuff
Though you say you’ve been out of the game since '97, still extremely apt.

HG


#8

– Flicka

Are there any jobs for editors/writers that do not require a test of some sort? I wouldn’t hire someone on the strength of a CV, no matter how impressive it is. Show me the goods.


#9

The right ‘connexions’ can be useful in attaining such positions. So can ‘guanxi’. So can having a reputation that precedes oneself.

Get to work.


#10

I’m overwhelmed by all the useful info I got from all you helpful people!
Your posts were probably far more helpful than the interview/test itself.
I think I may have failed miserably.
I’m feeling a bit desperate to find an editing job.
I’ve already gone insane from teaching.
I’m afraid if I start teaching, I might go sane again!