- Unlike other professionals like Doctor, Lawyer, etc., one does not need any specific qualification to become a research analyst.
- There is virtually no penalty/answerability for going wrong (or even horrendously wrong). Think about it. (Of course, an analyst will be answerable to his boss, who can go wrong himself! :-) )
- The analyst gets to blame others all the time. E.g. If a company does not declare results as per the analyst's 'projections', the analyst gets to say that the company has 'underperformed'. Arey!! How can the company ' underperform'? Isn't it the analyst who has 'underperformed', who has not made correct and logical assumptions to arrive at forward numbers? But no! Its always the company and its management who underperform! Sweet! :-)
The purpose of the post is to discuss the phenomenon called 'analyst bias'. Now, this affects all investors and not just analysts. So it makes sense to know about it..
Let us see how an analyst should make a recommendation, logically. After that. we shall see how an analyst who is affected by 'analyst bias' makes the recommendation. Damodaran has written on this concept in his books.
The logical thought process of a research analyst:
Now, lets look at the thought process of an analyst affected by 'analyst bias':
As one can see, the entire thought process of an 'affected' analyst gets inverted. Instead of starting with research and ending with an opinion, the analyst has started with an opinion and follows it up with research!
I do not mean to demean analysts per say. Unfortunately, even though this affects all investors, the phenomenon is called as 'analyst bias'. Think about it..how many times have we bought stocks, just because someone gave us a 'tip'? And afterwards, we end up rationalising our decision one way or another.
So how to escape and guard against analyst bias? One very logical approach is to do original research, filter away the noise and ignore 'tips'. Another way is...
Don't get me wrong. I am not asking you to become disfigured, yet cool! :-) What we need to learn from this is about having a bit of 'split personality'.
What if we do this.. For any company that we think is a 'buy', we prepare a 'sell' report on it! I agree that this is extremely difficult, given our natural thinking patterns and biases. It takes time. So the next best thing is to ask someone (some friend, maybe) to give as many 'sell' points for the company as possible. This would help us come across points and arguments, that we might have unknowingly ignored, since we considered the stock a 'buy'. This would help broaden our view and take better and informed decisions.
So there is a lot more to movies than just entertainment after all!! Psychology and behavioural finance are absolutely fascinating and i intend to post more on these topics. Hope you will enjoy them as much as i do.
cheers and happy investing!!