Day in the Life--Middle Office (Risk)
Congrats, you've made it into finance...in the middle office. What is the middle office? Definitions vary, but think risk management, certain accounting roles, corporate treasury--broadly speaking, you interact with the business divisions on externally-related (i.e. client, funding) topics, but don't directly interact with the client. Most importantly, you don't make the firm money.
That's besides the point--better explanations are elsewhere. What does the middle office actually do?
Here's a day in my life (specifically, credit risk management as an analyst/associate).
6:20 am- Rise. My office isn't in NYC , but we work the hours. MO roles can be elsewhere to save the firm $$$ on compensation and rent.
7:05 am- Out the door, and either biking or taking the bus (psh subway, you think this is NYC?)
7:15 am- Arrive at the office. Building looks gorgeous, but the inside is the same as any open-plan office. We even have lockers for our stuff--who knew a BB was so like middle school? Then again, it's middle office. Also keep cereal in the locker (like everyone) since the milk is free. Ever wonder what goes into SG&A expense?
7:15-8:15am- Catch up on the news and the companies I cover. I'm in credit risk, so each day starts with me scanning SNL, WSJ, Bloomberg etc. for news on mergers, bankruptcies, and especially rating agency actions (our contracts with counterparties often have rating-based breaks). If something occurs (Moody's writes an analysis of a sector, Crappy Bank Inc. defaults, Muppets & Co. defrauds clients...) I write a summary post and email the rest of my credit team (i.e. corporates/banks/funds/leveraged fin group) in my office and in NYC. If it's good, it gets posted to the MDs, and if you're really golden, they write back "thx"...or a list of 25 questions...
8:15-9:15am- Generally the first meeting of the day is slotted in here. Planning for our monthly credit review meetings, or for some change in our rating methodology, or a rearrangement of our portfolios.
9:15-9:30am--Starbucks, because our coffee in the office is ________.
9:30-11:30am- Review writing, part 1: We operate on a monthly review cycle--each analyst covers several hundred counterparties (not like equity research!) that are sorted by industry and/or geography. So a corporates group will have an analyst for TMT, for airlines/transport, for resources; financials will have insurance analysts, emerging markets coverage, munis may or may not be thrown in here; some firms may also split off their funds coverage from FIs while others include it.
11:30-12:30- Lunch! Not everything about MO is bad. IBD may get the pay and prestige, but we get hour-long lunches most days (at least if you're productive). Christmas is over though, so no more 2hr sushi lunches with sake...
12:30-4:00pm- Reviews, part 2. There may also be more meetings on side projects--credit risk tends to get pulled into some interesting firmwide projects since the higher-ups like a range of views. So it could be on tax policy, regulatory strategy, the Fed's latest diktats...it's a nice break from the more tedious review writing.
4:00pm- is it a Friday? Go home, since your VPs left at 3:45. Is it not a Friday? Is the MD gone? Leave 5 min after the VPs; yes, facetime matters here too.
5:00pm- Facetime only matters so much. GO HOME. Seriously--the VPs don't care after this point.
Unless your work isn't done, in which case you stay late.
Or you have a call with an Asian office.
6:30pm--if you're finishing up that team call with Tokyo/HK/SG, send some pings to your team about dinner. Order dinner--make sure to also get lunch for tomorrow. Our dinner $$$ is the same as NYC's, but goes a lot farther. Time it so you're done eating by 8:05. Leave.
8:10pm- No one is here. Literally not even the cleaners; they left at 7:45
10-10:30pm- Bed. This city isn't known for its nightlife. Seriously.
Conclusion: While not for everyone (myself included in the long term), it's a good place to get your foot in the door; it's also rather like a corporate finance job in that you have manageable work hours at the cost of (comparatively) mediocre pay. You also have job security--turnover is high due to meh pay (but morale is pretty good), while those who stay can make VP simply through attrition.