(Oct 9): When Nirgunan Tiruchelvam became a stock analyst in 2004, a big run in the local market was just gathering pace. More than a decade on, after having worked at financial institutions such as ABN Amro (which was later acquired by Royal Bank of Scotland), Standard Chartered Bank and Religare Capital Markets, his chosen profession appears to be under pressure.

Banks and brokerages have tightened their research budgets in the face of declining commissions and market volumes. And, on Jan 1, 2018, new regulations in the form of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II will come into effect, forcing brokerages to unbundle their research from their trade execution services. Now, many experienced sell-side analysts are moving into other fields, such as consulting and fund management.

Tiruchelvam is not surprised that some of his peers are taking on new roles, given their “solid intellectual credentials, expertise and contacts”, but he insists that his profession is not dying. “Whether we are going to see an end of equity analysis as we know it is a moot point. There’s never going to be a company that is fully debt-funded. As long as there is going to be an equity, somebody has to value that equity,” he says. “This line of work is under siege by a number of trends. But it just needs to discover a new business model.”

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