Does business analytics or data science play an important role in banks now?

Hey I'm new here at WSO. I'm thinking of getting a master's degree in business analytics and looking to find opportunities in the financial industry, particularly asset management and IB. I was just wondering how might banks go about hiring people with analytics background. Would they have a chance to go to the front office, or is it a back-office position? 

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Comments (8)

Dec 8, 2020 - 1:58pm

Also really interested in this, declared my minor in business analytics this year and also looking into a career in asset management so would like to know more as well. 



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Dec 8, 2020 - 4:53pm

Great question and I'll try to answer the best I can. 

  • First off, realize that there is a world of difference between analytics and data science. I'm not saying one is "better" than the other, they just have different roles and most banks are well aware of this. So be careful and specific on whether you're going after analytics or data science since that will put you on different tracks in your career (and your recruiting, your prospects, your title, etc, etc). 
  • Whether the role will be FO or BO is highly dependent on you and your skills. Can you program? Which languages? How's your data management skills? What clubs were you involved with? All of that will dictate whether the FO and BO positions will be open to you.
  • Having said that, the majority of positions will be BO and there's plenty of need for analytics and data science in any number of BO functions. You could look at IT, Compliance, Audit, HR. Really, just about all of the BO functions would have a position for you at some point. On the FO side, the barrier to entry tends to be a little higher and most will look for a Phd but if you have serious programming skills then those positions become a lot more obtainable. 
  • There's a saying on Wall Street that when you want to move internally it is much easier to move away from the money than it is to move towards the money and I have found this to generally be true. If you really want to get an FO role then go after that and meet those requirements. If you start in BO, it might not be as easy as you think to move around even though you have the proverbial "foot in the door".

Good luck!

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  • Prospect in S&T - Other
Dec 9, 2020 - 3:02pm

BS in Business Analytics with a minor in Math & Statistics here. Secured a 2021 Sales & Trading Internship at a BB in NYC for as a non-target, hope I can be of some help.  

My Background: For the longest time since high school, I thought I wanted to be a Data Scientist. I did two Analytics internships my freshman and sophomore year summers through extensive networking and cold applying. I enjoyed the work a decent amount. However, I wanted something more challenging, client-facing, and meritocracy-based. I'm a big believer in meritocracy > degrees/credentials, and realized how valuable my analytical and statistical skillset was on the street, even in IB or ER or AM where it's more about the mentality and thinking process, rather than the skills. I didn't like the Tech side's over-emphasis on Academia (especially nowdays with tech recruiters sucking off Ph.Ds/Masters students with no real-life experience or social skills). Many roles on Wall Street will go nuts for someone articulate, analytical, and who thinks statistically about things, regardless of degree. 

Advice: It seems like you're shooting for FO from the wording of your post. My best advice to breaking into FO from an Analytics background:

  • Keep the GPA high (3.7+) and don't be afraid to show off your STEM classes! C++, Python, Stochastic Calculus, Linear Algebra, Machine Learning, etc.... even though IB/AM/ER doesn't require that level of math, it can go a long way in impressing people and showing you're naturally smart and hardworking.  
  • Have at least 1-2 finance, consulting, markets, or investment projects/competitions on your resume. Shows you're not a 1-dimensional tech robot, who is actually eager to learn what the FO does. Most people from a technical background struggle here, and you could put yourself above 95% of candidates instantly.
  • Networking is your friend - I've found people actually enjoy hearing about your Data Science & Analytics background, and are much more willing to help. You definitely stand out from the typical Finance & Econ geek.  
  • Have your story down. Maybe write like a solid paragraph on who you are, what drives you, what stimulates you, and how you'd be of benefit to a firm's XYZ FO department because you ____, ___, and ___. (My "reasons" were that I think statistically and mathematically, love to ask the "why" rather than just the "how", and I love to build relationships)
  • Most important one: Practice your charisma and public speaking skills. This is essential. If these banks come across the rare STEM major who's very articulate and confident, they'll gladly dump their giant resume stack of Finance nerds and Excel ninjas and give you their full attention. I didn't get all my Technical S&T questions right during the interview, but expressed a strong desire to never stop learning more. I nailed my behaviorals, and showed them my enthusiasm. I got the offer the next day.

Opportunities: To give you some color, I've seen many peers with my skillset go into Quant Trading, Quant Dev, S&T (usually Trading rather than Sales), Quant Risk (MO), certain groups at BlackRock (like PAG, RQA, etc.). I'd recommend you shy away from "Data Science" teams at banks, as the skillset is very MO/BO and more operational/supportive than client-facing. You're pretty much another IT/Ops/Compliance, according to my friends who work in that area. Unless that's what you want, then by all means go for it. 

Best of luck with everything! 

Nov 19, 2021 - 4:46am

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