I have been involved as a Mentor & Grader since last 3 years in IAIP-IRC and it has been a very enriching experience of interacting with the students. While the students lack professional experience , but they are very inquisitive in terms of understanding the business and coming up with relevant questions. 
The most common challenge that the students face is lack of understanding of the sector in which the company operates and the dynamics of the industry. For writing a good quality research report, it is very important to not only analyse the company on a stand-alone basis; but also be able to examine the company’s relative performance vis’a’vis its peers. Hence, developing a adequate understanding of the sector is of paramount importance while writing a research report. 
There is nothing called as the “Best way to structure a report”. In summary, the Report has to capture – Past, Present & Future of the Company. As long as the report captures these 3 aspects along with logical reasoning that substantiates the rationale of growth, the structure of the report is just a by-product of the same. The easiest way for students to grasp on the possible structures of report writing is to read as many reports possible on various companies that are available in public domain. 
Some of the key points that cannot be ignored - is the reasoning of the deviation of company financials as compared to industry benchmarks. For example – if EBITDA margin of a company is 500 bps higher than the industry average, then the rationale of the same needs to come out clearly in the report. Additionally, are these Margins sustainable in the future should also be brought out clearly into the Report. 
One has to understand that the audience of this Report are financial investors who take a call on investing/ not investing in the company. Hence, while presenting the factual information is important, it is also pertinent to present a detailed analysis of the company financials alongwith the rationale of future projections. 
Some of the challenges that teams face include division of work. They often divide the work and then present a report which is a mere collation of work done by individuals. The drawback here is, while each individual might have done his/her chapter to perfection; the amalgamated story might not make logical sense and the report would be full of discrepancies and ambiguous ideas. Hence, it is imperative for the team to sit together and analyze the company on all fronts and then start writing the Report. The reasoning of recommendations have to flow harmoniously with the facts for anyone to make a prudent financial decision. 
Resources to tap for getting a hang of quality content writing include – Research reports available on web, attending investor conference calls, reading transcripts released during quarterly results, management interviews which give a view on the strategic thinking of the promoters, etc.

Vishal Bhambhani

Assistant Vice President at Investment Banking Infrastructure, Centrum Infrastructure Advisory Limited