BB Operations career path


I'm really interested in operations, as well as finance. I know a lot of people say that it's not a good idea to go into operations if you have hopes of landing the front office, but if you want to stick around in operations, is it still really that bad? What is the typical career path like? I'm not nearly ambitious as most people here, and am only looking to eventually be in the 150-200k range, so is that possible in BB operations as you climb the ladder?

Also, how difficult is it to break into operations from a non-target school? I plan on keeping a high GPA, so as long as I do that, is it possible to get in?


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Comments (29)

Jul 9, 2009

Operations is a good career path if you aren't interested in the stress and BS of front office (yes, I'm exploring negatives, not positives, as you are not interested in front office). Regarding career path, it is often similar to IB - you often go from analyst to associate, to VP, and then, I think SVP (it may not be the same for every bank). The pay is solid; it is usually in the same ballpark (at least for the more junior levels) as Banking based on SALARY only, NOT bonus. Bonuses are where bankers shoot up (historically), and ops stays closer to the 5-10k range. You can definitely make a very comfortable living working in operations or control; there is definite promotion possibility, and your target gross pay is definitely doable moving up the chain.

Regarding breaking into operations, the list of "feeder" or Target schools is much broader in the sense that you can break in if you are from an IB Target, as well as any of the operations target schools. Most non-target schools with business majors are at least semi-targets to operations. If, however, your school is not a target at all for operations, then you may have a difficult time breaking in, as operations has a very wide range of target schools across the various BBs, and I don't know how much effort would actually be put into reviewing applicants from non-targets. So in your case, I'm not sure if by Target you mean IB target, or IB/Operations Target.

If you are not at a Target school for operations, I'm sure the same rules apply - network through alumni, family, friends, etc and make sure you know exactly why you are interested in operations, what the job entails, etc.

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Jul 10, 2009

I did a summer at a BB for ops and you definitely do not need to goto a target. There were people from Northeastern/BU/BC/CUNYs and all kinds of state schools. Banks still have GPA cutoffs, most of them being 3.0/3.2

As long as you have a good GPA and a decent resume you definitely have a shot. Something that i think helps a lot is to get an ops internship before trying to get a ops SA at a BB. (just like people who want to do Front Office might do a pwm gig sophmore year)It shows you have an interest, gives you something to talk about during interviews, and can help you network. Its pretty easy to get an ops internship at a random asset manager, which i did, and it helped alot during interviews. Analyst pull in 55k-60k, goes up like 10k-15k a year. 150k/200k is the upper end of VP range. During the summer my hours were around 9 - 7. But the sales/trading SAs around me were doing around 6 - 8. Your hours generally aren't as bad, but you are still going to be extremely busy when the market moves.

The thing thats the most important is that you have to show an interest in ops, be able to explain why ops is important to how a bank operates, and why it is something for you. (helps control risk & work/life balance were pretty big points during MD speeches) Something you definitely want to avoid is to appear as if you just want use it to get into the front office. OPs recruiters look for this because they want to hire people who they can groom into furture team leaders/project managers. Have good GPA and network a lil and you will definitely get an interview. Show that is something you have always been interested in and be enthusiastic, and you will definitely get a job. If you actually have the interest and are good you will climb the ladder pretty easily.

Jul 10, 2009

I know a lot of people say that it's not a good idea to go into operations

read my comment in this post


To answer the rest of your questions, Bankonbanking and noexplode are on point with their responses. Base salary is on point with the FO, but bonuses is where the big difference lies. Although I have heard that senior VP and MD bonuses often are on par with their salaries, the analyst, associate, and junior VP years you should not expect to break 35K. Ultimately it depends on the firm's performance, your business unit's performance, your tenure, and how you are perceived by your team lead who contributes to the bonus conversation and the VP that makes the final decision on your number. All these factors will be a determinant where you will fall on the 5k-35k spectrum (do not expect more than 20k as an analyst if all the factors are at their max) I think the best point to take away regarding bonuses are that they are very unique and there is really no way to foreshadow them, it all depends on your and your firm's unique situation.

As far as the school, Ops has its target schools that we recruit from, but you can definitely network your way into an interview and if you are a good candidate you will have the same shot as the target kids (by target I mean ops target eg. top 50 not FO target top 10).

The only item I would disagree with is noexplode's comment about "climbing the ladder easily" The fact is ops is one of the hardest divisions to get ahead in, because unlike the FO where most of your promotion potential is based on the amount of business you bring in and the money you make, the ops promotions is based on non quantifiable characteristics and then on politics and willingness to go anywhere on the globe that the firm feels that it needs you. But to agree with noexplode if you are interested and enthusiastic you will naturally take on extra projects and differentiate yourself by doing what an ops analyst with a long term career prospective is expected to do.

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Jul 10, 2009

Thats great to hear. Since you all seem to know what you are talking about, how much data entry compared to mid office does ops usually do (or tedious work)? I have a decision to make in a week of whether i want to interview for midoffice or operations. As an intern I enjoy operations however i do not want the workload/quality of work to change once i am in the program..

Jul 10, 2009

I think by mid office you mean compliance, which i dont know anything about. For ops the groups im familiar with are settlement/reconciling/client service. Some of the work you do in settlement include collecting signatures from traders, making sure trades are cleared/settled, fix any problems by working with counterparty. And for reconciling, you make sure the accounts you are responsible for match what they are supposed to be. How tedious the work is definitely depends on the type of work you are doing. In settlement you have the chance to interact alot with traders. If you have a data quality position (make sure information is fed into systems correctly) i would think it gets tedious very fast, but for a reconciling or client service type you are speaking to the backoffice of hedge funds alot.

They want you to understand the process, and then from there be able to improve on it. I remember people who knew VBA well were kind of stars because they were more project focused, which is what you want to become as you move away from the analyst role. If you are in a team of five analysts fixing breaks for some accounts every day, day afer day, that's pretty tedious, but if you think outside of the box and figure how to eliminate a type of breaks, so now there only needs to be three people to cover the accounts, your work is more interesting, and managers will take notice. Alot in ops depends on how you approach the work and how well you balance between the day-to-day and the projects.

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Jul 10, 2009

I agree wholeheartedly that OPs and BO in general is one of the hardest jobs to "climb" the corporate ladder. There is just so many layers of beuraucracy. In the FO their is essentially only 5 layers: Analyst, Associate, VP, Director, and MD. Thats it. With BO you have like Assistant VP, Manager, Junior VP, SVP, Senior Director, etc. I had a friend who interned at MS BO last summer and he said there was like 8 or 9 steps separating an analyst from MD. It is also the sheer numbers. A VP in the FO is in charge of around only 2-6 people while a VP in the BO is in charge of around 35+. You really have to differentiate yourself. Yeah OP's is a great lifestyle but be prepared to still work your ass off and play the office politics game if you want to succeed.

Jul 10, 2009

...arent these questions u should have figured out prior to getting the offer?

anyway, from ppl i met with, they're able to rotate and do different things and progress upwards.

the operations personnel (sales assistants, equities clearing) may be able to get into the Finance division. depending on the person's background. for example if u studied history at a non-IB target undergrad and went into ops (50-55k for a liberal arts major from ramapo - shitty school in jersey) is pretty damn good, then probably staying within the ops division and grow upwards is where u'll stay.

now if u were a finance major, worked hard in ops, got a CFA, networked, u could move in S&T, finance, IB.

But at the end of the day, people in ops have done different things from going to IT to going to trading. but if u want, u can end up as a managing director for a certain division making 6 figures.

Note: information has been gleaned from the ppl that have reached out to me for networking purposes from within the firm.

I'm making it up as I go along.

Jul 10, 2009

im a finance major from Stern. I plan to be at the top of my analyst class. I'm ridiculously good with excel which should help me impress them my first two years. I also have alot of market knowledge so theyll think I'm smart.

I tried researching these things but I get wildly different answers. For example, VP level i've heard anywhere from 90-100k all in to 200-225k all in. I've also heard wildly different things about how long it takes to get promoted. I know its slower than front office, but I dont know how much slower.

They called me after my inerview and said I was their top interviewer (dont know if they tel everyone), but I think I can get a good group (we get to list our top 3), which one would you recommend picking career path wise?

Jul 10, 2009

Also will they sponsor your CFA? does it need to be sponsored?

Jul 10, 2009

i got a front office job out of college then resigned and took a back office job in a new city and product. I was there for 12 months and back to front office.

You work hard and thats a given but you also need a little luck. For instance, my firms front office was growing so fast they needed some people so I was able to make the jump. It is tough but not tough in that you cant do the job but tough in that someone else has to hire you to come over. Lot of back office managers are not happy to help you either. Think about it, you may be one of their top anaylst and your asking them to help you leave their group.

The job is fine compared to your peers that are not in banking/s&t/pe/hf. I was 23-24 making around 85k working 8-4. Laugh if you want but I was able to start a side business, mentor high school students, coach a little league baseball team and spend time with my family/friends. So for me it was a great exp.

Send me any direct questions.

Jul 10, 2009

I know this is kind of an extremely broad question, but do you feel there are any specific areas/products within operations that are easier to transition to front office?

I'm going to be doing Citi NYC.

Jul 10, 2009

definitely, one thing that always gets glossed over in the ops topics here is that there are many different levels of things you can be doing in ops. at most firms that I know ops consists of back office, middle office, risk, finance/product control, etc. of these groups of things middle office is the best place to be but the move is still very difficult at the bigger firms due to their structure. but at some shops middle office is pretty involved and does a fair amount of work that can lead to the front office. I would shoot for a trading/sales asst job that sits on the trading floor. if you wind up in settlements/product control or on a novations team you wont even be on the same floor as the groups you work with so its nearly impossible to make the move.

Jul 10, 2009

I was in energy

Jul 10, 2009

is middle office considered part of ops for Citi?

Jul 10, 2009

some firms call both the same. analyst26 really hit nail on the head

Jul 10, 2009

I just always thought something like risk was recruited seperately from operations

Jul 10, 2009

Citi's site is a mess so I can't figure it out.
it has risk being under operations above

but also has it under corporate functions below

Jul 10, 2009

i know when I was coming out of school many banks hired classes for back office, mid office and front office

I could not say if they now hire back/mid and front. I know for a fact that my former bb sent new analyst through all areas.

Jul 10, 2009

1st = 55K
2nd = 65K
3rd = -100K
Future = Bleak

J/K. I'm told that some Directors in Ops can take home 250-500K. SVPs I'd guess at least 100-150K. Probably depends on the group as well. You can bet that entry level is between 55-65K, and then perhaps 80K n your 3-4th year.

Deutsche pays 1.5x OT as well :D

Jul 10, 2009

why does deutsche pay its ops so much more than Citi, thats ALOT of over time.

Jul 10, 2009

MS risk analysts got 70+10 for first years

Jul 10, 2009

in comparison to a sell side ib, what would pay be like for entry level ops at a top buyside firm/hf/pe shop?

Jul 10, 2009

"in comparison to a sell side ib, what would pay be like for entry level ops at a top buyside firm/hf/pe shop?"

from what ive seen it really depends on both the place and specific operations position. Some hedge funds recruit traders from their operations and they pay well/work you hard/ give you some good experiences....other places just have you processing loans and take people with associate degrees, work you 9-5, and pay you shit.

Jul 10, 2009

gotcha, thanks for that.

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Jul 10, 2009


Jul 10, 2009