Why do people shit on Back Office roles?

Is it really that bad? I feel like back office is a role that is highly underrated. Very low stress, no all-nighters, no sleep deprivation. It's an easy 9 to 5 and cruise all you want type of role that will pay you 6 figures eventually.

Lastly, no one outside of finance gives a fuck and most people have no clue what high finance is anyways. Most people don't even know what back office is. So, what's the point? Why put other people in our industry down like that? The reality is even though back office doesn't generate the revenues for the firm, they are essential for the firm. Without back office/mid office the firm just doesn't function. To me, I think of a job just as a job. Really nothing more. Prestige is just a make-believe bullshit. Most people don't give a fuck. Probably 99% of people don't and yet we care so much about prestige, pedigree, and rankings, but in reality, we should be focusing on what makes us happy. I'm sure no one would be thinking about working at GS or a small boutique bank on their deathbed. Just my 2 cents. I don't know, what do you guys think? Maybe I'm wrong, who knows.

Comments (52)

Controversial
Mar 15, 2022 - 11:35am
Arroz con Pollo, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It sounds like you're disgruntled that some in front office positions look down on back office jobs. Not everyone is like that.

The "a job is a job" is true from a surface level view, but anyone with a brain can see that being a PM at a hedge fund is different than being a janitor at your local Denny's.

I have never worked at a bank - I'm in corporate finance and deal in FP&A, M&A, and Treasury, and I interact a lot with accounting. There are different types of people in each department.

I think you're trying to complain that some people actively portray front office jobs in a bank as better than back office. The crux of the argument that one is better than another is the point of view. If we are going strictly off of income earned for the job, then front office wins. If we are going off of WLB, then back office probably wins.

My argument is that you can't really compare the two. The career paths are not similar at all, and the nature of jobs in each respective function are entirely different. Front office jobs pay a lot because the expectation is so much higher.

You make this argument about prestige, but prestige is closely associated with income. More prestigious jobs usually pay more.

Frankly I don't get why you're so upset. I know people who make more than bankers that don't even know what investment banking is. You gotta get off WSO and go chill in a Waffle House bro.

Mar 15, 2022 - 11:41am
Frog The Jam, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm actually not even complaining at all. I'm not upset at all either. I've looked around WSO and so many people shit on back office roles. I'm just curious why that is the case. Honestly though what is the point of people shitting on those roles? I don't even really know what back office really is. In my opinion I don't really go by any classifications. A job is just a job as I stated in my post. In my personal opinion every part of a bank is important. The overall function of every role has their purpose.

No where did I say I was upset or tripping over it. I just feel like a lot of people let their role get to their head. Working in "high finance" is great! But that shouldn't give anyone the right to shit on back office roles. That's my view. To each is own. 

Mar 15, 2022 - 11:46am
Arroz con Pollo, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It's because nobody dreams of working on Wall Street in a back office role. Front office pays multiples of back office. That's why

Mar 17, 2022 - 2:55pm
GoingToBeAnMD, what's your opinion? Comment below:

User name checks out . . . 

*
  • 1
Most Helpful
Mar 17, 2022 - 2:06pm
Deal Team Six, what's your opinion? Comment below:

In short, people are toxic. You should see the consulting firm App (Fishbowl). Everyone shits on every other firm below theirs. Are you at a T2? Then fuck Deloitte, their strategy group doesn't do "real strategy". Are you at Bain? Then fuck T2s, they only feed off the work you and the other MBBs turn down. People who work long hours often want to put down other lifestyles to justify their own. 

Honestly, there is nothing wrong with a BO role. Are you looking for a good WLB? Do you have a lot of hobbies that eat up your time? Do you not thrive in high stress environments? Then BO roles makes sense. I have friends in IB / PE / BO. Guess which friends are the most interesting? BO and its not even close. They are always doing the most fun activities, going out the most, reading about interesting stuff, and never complain about work. Do they make the most all in? Absolutely not, but that was never their intention. 

People on here work a lot of hours and are very comp-driven. BO is low hours low comp, relatively. Therefore, many IB / PE / Consultants turn up their noses at roles they consider beneath them. 

Mar 17, 2022 - 6:23pm
jarstar1, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I think there is also a broad generalization that back office roles are monotonous and low-skilled, and while that's certainly true of some roles, you more you climb in any vertical the more complex the job gets. I have a buddy who is pretty high up at a BB in a BO role (his boss reports to C level officer) and the shit he's doing is easily on par with a middle-level banker as far as job complexity and skills necessary, and he's still at 40 hours a week. 

Mar 21, 2022 - 10:57am
Deal Team Six, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Couldn't agree more, very well said. Also, the guys who make MD or a comparable title who lead BO workstreams clear 2-300k a year if not more and never had to grind through IB, get an MBA, get straight As/Bs in UG. These guys and gals can comfortably afford to raise a family on a single salary and will probably outlive us all because they live much more low stress lives. Did I mention they are probably happier day to day? I dont mean to glorify these roles, every position and industry has some awful characteristics. But to say BO roles are all bad or monotonous is like saying being in IB is idyllic and only the ultra-intellectuals can gain entry. Broadly hating on BO is indicative of being younger and having less perspective, or just being close minded. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Mar 17, 2022 - 2:32pm

what about middle office tho?  is that like the best between both worlds? Currently bored rn so appreciate some answers. 

  • Prospect in RE - Comm
Mar 17, 2022 - 5:07pm

I feel like MO is pretty cool. Its comp is higher (I heard CRM Analysts make 85k Base, 10k Sign On, and 15k bonus)

  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov
Mar 17, 2022 - 2:43pm

It's not everyone, people on this website are <25 years old and live in a fantasy world. 

Apr 6, 2022 - 12:16pm
AnalyzeANDchill, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I agree I used to work BO at a broker dealer I was right beside those people. Almost all of them was horrible, did you know at a lot of places they don't even have to get a degree? 

Any person who was the least bit ambitious worked there for a little over a year and left. 

Mar 17, 2022 - 3:11pm
heremaji, what's your opinion? Comment below:

nobody cares unless you're a 20/21 year old in college trying to break in. When you get there, you realize that each function is vital. For instance, as an analyst, if you're a dick to the Presentation Technology team (that makes presentations/fancy slides for you) or the Printer Guys or the IT guys, you will get royally fucked and all your tasks will be deprioritized or come back in a way that was contrary to what you'd asked. The back office tho (Mumbai outsourcing guys) generally in my experience then were quite incompetent. As a memorable data point, one of my Ds always had these fancy, non-value-add ideas in his head on how he wanted a Michael Angelo type of slide created (which would be reasonably time consuming and a waste of energy because clients dont care unless it is super garbage), I'd need the Pres Tech to help me, and not that frequently, I'd bring a box of donuts for them every Friday, and work was ALWAYS prioritized. Even if I gave it last minute, it would generally always be done in a short window and done very well. Others would just be told off.    

Mar 18, 2022 - 7:45am
Heartcore, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This 100%. It's fun to do dick measuring and prop up morale among your bros in that it's "Front Office or die trying" / "Nothing else matters", but in reality all functions play their role, and I would say even more that the so-called back and middle office functions are the lifecycle element of the business that is indispensable to the initial sale (front office). Especially relevant now is the transition to retained / long-term revenue (which the BO/MO enables) rather than opportunistic, one-off, unsustainable white elephant sales.

  • 2
Mar 17, 2022 - 7:27pm
Sequoia, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Well when you're a college student you have no idea how life works. You have an absurd amount of free time, even if you're a try-hard. Your parents typically cover your expenses. You get like 4-5 months of vacation a year all combined. Of course you're going to look at FO roles paying the $$$ and go for that

Only after entering the real world do the realities hit you. Making all the money in the world but having no time to spend it (3 weeks of vacation a year at most, and in intensive fields like IB you maybe only end up taking 1-2) is no way to live life. When you can't hang out with buddies / family / SO's then it really hits you. WHen you can't play guitar anymore or lift or bike or surf or hike in a big way, it hits you. WHich is why IB / PE / HF are such high churn -- people see the realities and prioritize other things.

I'm working ~50hrs of a week right now which isn't bad at all. Though I know when I become Analyst that'll get closer to 60 for 4-5yrs before moderating down to 50-55 again -- which honestly makes me a bit sad. But the real kicker is just not enough vacation times. 3 weeks isn't anything to complain about in relation to other jobs (quite avg) but compared to school, it's nothing. I'd want 6 weeks vacation a year I think to be really content -- 2 weeks for international vacations, 2 weeks for randomly visiting friends, 2 weeks for chilling with fam (though on the last one, remote work has let me spend more time with them even without taking time off). So perhaps 4 weeks of international trips and 2 weeks for visiting friends...either way. The best I've seen it get in AM is 4 weeks which would be pretty good, but who knows when that'll happen 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Mar 17, 2022 - 11:34pm

yeah bro except your 60 hour "work week" is spent 40% of the time practically doing nothing and just waiting, why are Americans so fuckin lazy lmfao

Mar 17, 2022 - 11:51pm
Sequoia, what's your opinion? Comment below:

? Don't think you've ever worked in AM. When I did time in IB, yes a lot of time was just spent waiting. With AM, you're "on" for >90% of the workday (ex-lunch). So yes, intellectually you're quite exhausted at the end of the 10-hour workday

Mar 17, 2022 - 8:24pm
fomafoma, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Insecurity. I will add though that if doing back office work or fp&a in financial services sounds like a boring AF place to do it. I cover nat resources and our clients fp&a staff helps plan for performance and capex for huge pieces of infrastructure etc. idk but planning how much business some bankers can do seems very dry 

Mar 17, 2022 - 10:33pm
fomafoma, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Ha, of course they do. The big dogs (CVX, XOM, SHEL) etc hire from top programs in large quantities across corp fin, m&a and trading roles. Smaller shops aren't so structured but yes they like MBAs. There's a lot more FP&A staff w/o too MBAs but a lot of the high flyers come through structured programs 

Mar 18, 2022 - 6:19am
Gucci Loafers, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If you are in your 20s and you put WLB as a top priority when searching a job you're clearly brain washed. You read all the HBR articles and other writings in WSJ about WLB which are written by people over 35+ years old, not 20s years old, so you basically start to get into a movements which is not relevant nor written for your age group.

Mar 26, 2022 - 12:35am
oil_quant, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Avoiding the back office is more than just prestige chasing.  As someone who has worked for about a decade, I can tell you that prestige indeed does not matter in your day to day.  But meaning does.

Back office jobs are support roles, and a lot of support roles basically solve a painful problem that no one really wants to do.  The reason why no one wants to do them is because they go against human nature.

Human beings want do something they like, learn, contribute to a team, and feel valued.  Back office jobs oppose that human nature by offering arbitrary, cog-in-the wheel tasks no one likes, stunt learning by making those tasks repetitive, and because you are just keep things afloat rather than build anything new- make you feel like you don't accomplish much, and are disrespected universally by people in revenue generating roles to make you feel unvalued.  

A job is not just a job.  I'm in (the small field of) quantitative commodities research, so I get to learn about global supply chains of real things, create new ways to represent and forecast those elements, help our group make money by coming up with trade ideas, and improve my understanding of technology while doing all of those.  The money is what keeps me at the company, but the sense of craftsmanship and genuine interest in what I do is what keeps me in the field.  I'm not sure how anyone can say the same for validating PnLs, reconciling invoices, doing KYC, or resolving IT issues.  If you have a genuine interest in those, more power to you, but I find it unintuitive how you can.

Mar 26, 2022 - 1:36pm
Frog The Jam, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I agree with all your points, but I feel like Back Office versus Front Office comes down to different personality types. Most BO people are doing their job just as a job in return for decent pay and little to no stress. Obviously, some folks in BO want to make it to front office and couldn't and so they had to settle.

But the majority of back office people seem to be content with the job otherwise. I think back office is underrated in the sense that a person can actually climb the ranks in BO and make great salary without ever stressing whatsoever. No need for an MBA to advance, just do the work and most will make 6 figures + guaranteed. 

Obviously, the comp isn't comparable to any revenue generating role, but for what it's worth for 40 to 50 hours a week and potentially pulling in $150k+ a year eventually down the road in one's career is pretty underrated. Aside from that with only working 40 to 50 hours a week and pulling in 6 figures back office people have more room to do other things. Like run a business on the side and all that stuff. I guess my point is, BO is not nearly as bad as people make it seem to be.

Obviously, some people can't do that type of stuff because their value doesn't align with what BO people do, but one can question is FO worth it for all the stress and the constant pressure to deliver? At the end of the day FO folks generate the money, but they do so by working 80 to 100 hours. BO in a supportive role working 40 hours a week with literally no fucks given because they are just some cog in the wheel and it is what it is. 

Lastly, I guess another good question is: What are some roles that are stimulating and interesting, but not as rough as front office? The in-between of FO/BO. 60 to 65 hours a week with better pay than BO, but less than FO

Mar 26, 2022 - 3:39pm
oil_quant, what's your opinion? Comment below:

So I think one assumption you need to check is whether or not back office jobs are stressful.  Personally, I find some of them extremely stressful.  If our trade capture system crashes and I am on a team to fix it while 200 traders are paralyzed and could lose tens of millions a day from being unable to understand positions or enter deals, I would find that very stressful.  By the way, you don't get any credit for fixing it.  People just expect it to work normally and any downtime looks bad.

Also, I think you are over-estimating your ability to know what you want before you do it.  It's one thing to calculate theoretically how much pay per hour or how much stress per dollar there is in a group of jobs and say- the stress per dollar in this profession is low, I'll go with that.  But it's another to be 5 years into a role where you are just clocking in, clocking out, doing mind-numbing stuff all day that you have no vested interest in.  Work really isn't supposed to be about - hey I gotta suffer for a certain chunk of time to get my money- which I can then use to spend on things I enjoy.  It's a lot better when it compliments your interests.  

Lastly, not all revenue generating jobs involve 90 hours of work.  I think that's just for the first 2 years of IB.  And many of them are results-oriented vs process-oriented, meaning that as long as you do a good job, no one cares how long you worked.  My first boss was an energy trading MD who made 2 or 3 good speculative bets a year to get a 7 figure bonus, came in the rest of the time to chill for 25 hours a week to plan out his fantasy football lineup and work out at the company gym.  If you want to be paid to perform, not to check off a list of tasks, look into markets oriented roles.

Mar 26, 2022 - 3:54pm
financialwisdom, what's your opinion? Comment below:

agree with u, a back office job is not bad however comp and exit opps and definitely less so its subjective and it depends on the individuals goals,

Mar 26, 2022 - 3:57pm
Frog The Jam, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Yeah, that's basically what I am saying. To me I feel like if BO guys play their game right they are literally freeloading on the bank for 6 figure salary while doing basically nothing. Okay, not nothing, but repetitive ball crap that is easy as hell and it's the same thing all day. BO doesn't mean you stop learning. It just means a job that is very chill and nothing is going to really stress you out.

What people want to learn is on them. Lowkey, people can sit at their desk at their BO jobs while simultaneously running an online business and no fucks will be given. 

Mar 31, 2022 - 10:17am
rickle, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The irony is most people who come up through the corp finance silo and ultimately run the company (ie CFO) are BO people. Their jobs in treasury, accounting, FP&A, etc are all BO functions. But they lead to Director of X positions that pay a ton of money and have significant responsibility. Sure some CFOs come through IB but most are CPAs and start in audit and work their way up the corp finance ladder.

In fact, if you go into Corp FIn, you're almost, by definition, going to be BO. I guess a firm's M&A function (Corp development) might be considered FO.

Mar 31, 2022 - 4:45pm
rickle, what's your opinion? Comment below:

In the real world, there is NO point of it. I'm one of the older WSOers (58) and see things through a very different lens than the college aged aspiring IBers. Two of my buddies are F500 CFOs (making millions - literally) and they've been BO their whole career. They do far better than 99.9% of IBers will ever do. Of course they work a ton and travel a ton but everyone at that level does.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Mar 31, 2022 - 8:55pm

Most people restrict back office to operations division work in fin services. Corporate functions aren't usually included afaik

Mar 31, 2022 - 7:45pm
Deter6895, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I've worked in both MO and FO, I miss MO sometimes honestly. The culture was great, worked 9-5/6 with an hour gym break at lunch. Low stress. Amazing team. The pay wasn't anywhere near what I make now but it's not bad (VP was making ~200k all in). The level of interestingness of the work depends on you, I find that they are both equally mundane except now I work longer hours, in a toxic environment, for more pay.

Apr 5, 2022 - 7:08pm
confused_yuppie, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Because they don't have the skills to take 3 BO WFH jobs, then half automate them and eventually sell a fully-fledged solution that automates workflows and reduces headcount to the banks they work for. NGMI.

Apr 6, 2022 - 11:58am
CuriousUndergrad, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Because people who work in investment banking think their better than everyone else, although they are too stupid to figure they make just as much as the average citizen when you figure out the salary-to-hours ratio haha

Apr 6, 2022 - 12:24pm
AnalyzeANDchill, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I do think they are generally too high and mighty but I dunno about as much as the average citizen, they still make more than average. Also, a lot of people who can only make average will work more than 1 job or would gladly work way more hours id they could get paid double or triple the pay. All does seem a little ungrateful though with the way they talk about it. 

Apr 6, 2022 - 12:09pm
AnalyzeANDchill, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Officiis quia quidem eaque veritatis possimus. Quasi quae vitae aut a sint rem atque. Minima at aut nisi provident id.

Apr 11, 2022 - 4:46pm
2wo2imes, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Dolorem ad cumque non esse. Aut maxime ut incidunt reprehenderit aut error. Nulla nihil reiciendis minus reiciendis illum optio porro. Nesciunt aut quidem accusamus est maxime dolorem voluptas et. Odit sit placeat sunt magnam consequatur voluptas.

Quia laudantium laudantium dolorem et. Dignissimos numquam deserunt unde similique quis et magni. Sint amet provident tempore suscipit labore tempore tempora. In magnam saepe quisquam ut necessitatibus. Est consequuntur voluptatum qui et ea. Similique quidem totam et itaque sit. Iusto eos in qui odio nihil.

Nesciunt in id temporibus repudiandae. Aut ex quia aliquam architecto et dolorem. Ut id rerum provident qui iusto optio. Culpa rem error nemo et ullam error.

Start Discussion

Career Advancement Opportunities

September 2022 Investment Banking

  • Jefferies & Company (▲05) 99.6%
  • Lincoln International (= =) 99.2%
  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch (▲04) 98.8%
  • Financial Technology Partners (+ +) 98.5%
  • Evercore (▽02) 98.1%

Overall Employee Satisfaction

September 2022 Investment Banking

  • Jefferies & Company (▲12) 99.6%
  • Greenhill (▲07) 99.2%
  • Evercore (▲01) 98.8%
  • PJT Partners (▽02) 98.4%
  • Macquarie Group Limited ABN (▲21) 98.1%

Professional Growth Opportunities

September 2022 Investment Banking

  • Jefferies & Company (▲05) 99.6%
  • Lincoln International (▲03) 99.2%
  • PwC Corporate Finance (▲12) 98.8%
  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch (▲05) 98.5%
  • Houlihan Lokey (▲05) 98.1%

Total Avg Compensation

September 2022 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (10) $613
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (318) $407
  • Vice President (38) $392
  • Associates (209) $257
  • 2nd Year Analyst (130) $163
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (19) $160
  • 1st Year Analyst (438) $151
  • Intern/Summer Associate (83) $150