I like to compare my experience of the Back Office, with one of the final scenes in Lord of the Rings. Towards the end of the Return of the King, there is a moment where Frodo, the hairy footed rapscallion that he is, looks as though he is going to blow everything and keep the one ring for himself. The look on Sam's face at this moment is exactly how I felt every Monday morning at 9AM, trudging through Canary Wharf towards another day in IT. Fear, desperation and above all else, a feeling of helplessness. After a year's worth of applications, I've recently accepted a job in Equity Research and thought I'd give a few tips to anyone else hoping to make the jump.
1. Start applying
All the banks will feed you some bs about 'internal mobility' and how you can move from the Back Office to the Front Office. Speaking from experience, this is rare - it does happen, but it's by no means a certainty. Better to look for entry level jobs at other places, or even summerthat can then be converted.
2. Know your stuff.
Any IT punter can make some bold claim that 'I want to be a trader' but wouldn't know the CAC from the DAX. If you are in the, chances are that you have a lot of time on your hands. Even if you work at 70% capacity and use the other 30% of your time to do research, then do it. You can learn a lot just from googling around online, reading your banks research notes and looking into qualifications that may help you achieve your ambitions. Indeed, it's definitely better to find an area you are interested in and applying in depth, rather than adopting the 'scatter gun' approach and shooting applications to anything remotely resembling the Front Office.
3. Don't give up.
It can be disheartening when you get the 8th final round interview rejection email and you may start thinking that you have been tarred with thebrush, but you have to persevere. You have to want it enough to get back from work at 7pm and start doing numerical tests. It's not going to just arrive on a plate.
4. Be flexible on pay.
salaries are very generous, considering the hours worked. Being paid PS42000 straight out of University to essentially work 9-6, with an hour for lunch, can get very comfortable. I had a loose cut off at 30k, but would have taken less. In the long run, if you are genuinely interested in finance and are happy to work your way up, you'll catch-up salary wise and have a more interesting job thrown in for good measure.
5.Become a certified org stalker.
There may be opportunities to move within the BO, to areas where you stand a greater chance of eventually making Front Office. I know of people that moved from IT -> Finance -> Trade Management and are nicely placed to be brought onto an actualdesk the next time headcount permits it. If you are sitting in IT, away from the area where you want to be, try and change that. Think about moves that may position you better in the long run.