4/27/10

in a few months i will be starting an investment banking operations job with JP Morgan. this job is typically considered a back office job. however, it has been described to me by the employer as a middle office type of job, because of the direct and immediate exposure i will get to upper management and the front office. i was wondering if anyone could give me some insight into how hard it might be to start in operations (specifically this job where i will be exposed to the front office) and move to the front office after getting some experience. the front office is where i ultimately want to be. thanks!

Transition from Support Role (Middle Office) to Front Office

Regardless of what HR might tell you, this is not a simple transition to make. Moving between back office / middle office and front office at the same firm will require a good amount of internal networking as you will be competing against potential external hires with more experience or an MBA that may want the same position.

That being said it is definitely doable and some firms are better at allowing mobility that others - a lot of times it will depend on the firm. Our users shared their thoughts below:

User @Batrick Pateman shared:

Its definitely possible..i did it.... you need to work harder than most ppl, and make sure you ask question, are curious about the job. In other words, you wont get anywhere just being an "executor" or "macro roller."

You need to know what you're doing, and if you don't, ask questions, even if you have to ask the trader/Ibanker (make sure you don't ask too many).

Become friends with them, and when your comfy, ask them for a coffee, express your interest for th FO

User @NY1088 shared:

I went from Ops to IBD, so it is definitely possible even at the same company. Just make the right contacts and make sure to get FANTASTIC reviews from your current managers.

User @SchweizerHF shared:

Network, take the exams (it shows you want it) and possibly study. Looking back on my own personal experience I would also not be afraid to develop a fantastic relationship with your manager and then basically ask them about the possibilities. The back office (at least in Europe- just look at Jerome Kerviel) is still, albeit in a somewhat small way, an area that the front can recruit from if they see someone exceptional.

However, user @jhoratio shared a different perspective:

This is a ruse by the HR staff to entice you into taking the job. In short, they are bullshitting you. Back office experience does not put you on an inside track for front office. It's possible to transition between the two worlds, but it's just as possible to career switch into banking from almost any world. No advantage is gained by the physical proximity you have to the bank.


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Comments (132)

4/27/10

This is a ruse by the HR staff to entice you into taking the job. In short, they are bullshitting you. Back office experience does not put you on an inside track for front office. It's possible to transition between the two worlds, but it's just as possible to career switch into banking from almost any world. No advantage is gained by the physical proximity you have to the bank.

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4/27/10

I agree. I know one person who went from IT to IBD, and he had to network internally to do so.

4/27/10

I am in a similar situation. The best thing you can do is try to maximize your interaction with the Front Office guys. While talking to some of the traders on the desk, my knowledge of derivatives pricing theory came up and I was invited to interview for a front office position after only being in my current position for a few months. I didn't get the job b/c of a substantially more experienced internal hire, but I definitely got their attention. I have been working int he inside network route, looking for the next opportunity to make the jump.

4/27/10

i assume back office to front is very easy and is a good way to get into ibd if u didn't get in the first time. you get to network all the time and talk to the front office so why wouldn't they help you out if you are a good worker?

4/27/10

its definitely possible..i did it....
you need to work harder than most ppl, and make sure you ask question, are curious about the job. In other words, you wont get anywhere just being an "executor" or "macro roller"
You need to know what your doing, and if you dont, ask questions, even if you have to ask the trader/Ibanker (make sure you dont ask too many)
Become friends with them, and when your comfy, ask them for a coffee, express your interest for th FO

4/27/10

im in the same boat as the OP, thanks Pateman and the above posters. i figure ill work hard, try to meet people, get them to like me, and hopefully get very lucky, while also making sure to know my stuff if/when asked. if not i figure ill bounce to corporate treasury and go coach some little league baseball when i get out at 5/6 everyday... kinda joking but still serious to a degree, i would rather have some corp. finance in my everyday work than none.

4/27/10
4/27/10

I went from Ops to IBD, so it is definitely possible even at the same company. Just make the right contacts and make sure to get FANTASTIC reviews from your current managers.

2/4/15

Hi, can I know how long you stay in Ops? How did you make your first step to contact the FO people? Thanks.

4/28/10

Made it from middle-office to IBD. MD took a chance on me and I was very aggressive with HR. It can be done.

2/4/15

Hi, can I know how to let IBD MD give the chance to you? How long did you stay at Ops? Thanks.

4/28/10

I am a sophomore who will be interning in back/middle office, anybody here got a junior internship in front office after back office experience? I am going to network, be aggressive, work hard, and be smart.

4/28/10

Hard to do at the same company; typically requires switching to a MM/Boutique. Learn as much as possible. Good luck.

7/16/10

I went from back to front. I know others that have also.

When I joined the back office I had no idea what banking was. I just needed a job and was lucky enough to get one at a decent place (BNP) very easily and one that was quite well paid (pre Lehmann, Bear etc).

I obviously realised quickly that in the City of London you were nothing in the back office and therefore made a plan to get to the front.

(NB I would advise using ANY contacts you have to the max. It could make your life much easier. Don't be shy about it)

This involved taking the exams that the front office would take. In the UK this is the FSA SII exams and in the US it would probably be the series 7 and or 63 etc.

After 6 months in the slack office I left to take a Masters and worked part time at a FOHF whilst doing this. I also tried to network as much as possible.

In short: network, take the exams (it shows you want it) and possibly study. Looking back on my own personal experience I would also not be afraid to develop a fantastic relationship with your manager and then basically ask them about the possibilities. The back office (at least in Europe- just look at Jerome Kerviel) is still, albeit in a somewhat small way, an area that the front can recruit from if they see someone exceptional.

2/4/15

Amy Wong, I'm not sure if IBD is worth your time. Have you considered a delivery company? Or maybe helping to run your parent's ranch / casino on Mars?

2/4/15
SanityCheck:

Amy Wong, I'm not sure if IBD is worth your time. Have you considered a delivery company? Or maybe helping to run your parent's ranch / casino on Mars?

lol at this + your username

3/18/15

Hey Guys, I have a similar situation. I accepted a corporate position at a large firm (UBS). It is a summer internship and I am a junior. Full - time recruiting begins in the fall right after the internship and I really want to get into IBD or sales and trading (i am still researching which one). Does anyone have any advice for internally networking or how to get into a front office position from a corporate position.

3/18/15

Going back office to front office is like going ATM. It involves a lot of rejection but with a little bit of luck and persistence you might get there (it might also help if it's your birthday).

Under my tutelage, you will grow from boys to men. From men into gladiators. And from gladiators into SWANSONS.

3/18/15

There have been cases that I've heard of but very rare.

If its in to corp. fin..... then prolly very very hard. If its into S&T then chances might be more depending if you have some good knowledge....

Which side of Front office are you talking about?

3/18/15

finance or operations in back office, transfering to IB in the future.

Reason I'm asking is because I'm starting to realize that its pretty much impossible to get into IB, unless you are from a target school(i.e. my sister goes to cornell and I looked up their interview trak and they have like every single IB recruiting there, my school on the other hand only has 2 MM banks, and 1 BBs).

Networking isn't as helpful as I expected since there are very few people listed on the networking site for my school who are actually in IB.

And it seems like it'll be almost impossible to even get a first round interview, since every single person who made it to IB from my school has had a 3.97 gpa, with 3 internships, and was offered a full time job from their summer internships.

I have a 3.8 Finance major gpa, and I didn't even get preselected for the 1st round interview at the MM...so I have to start making plans if that turns out to be a trend, and look at other careers that'll help me jump into IB.

My 2 choices are either do a lateral transfer...which is why I asked this question...my 2nd is to get a good job out of college that'll raise my chances for a good business school, which will allow me to be on campus of a target school, and will help landing that summer associate internship.

3/18/15

You know what, I think the second idea of landing a good job and then taking the MBA associate route sounds more like a possibility. However, do realize that you are form a non-target school but that doesn't mean that you can't get into BB IB. Fine not straight out of school but, try some botiques. There are tons out there. After 1 year, then try again.

From what all my friends in US tell me, it is very very very competitive. Most of the places are taken by Ivey League grads.

But make sure you don't go for a shit back office job just cuz you are not from an Ivey League. If I were (in fact I am in a position similar to yours), try worrying about getting the job where you have to perform the desired job function. If you want to be IB analyst, then just try for all the botiques as well and not just BB or MM. If you have a good track record at that botique, then it'll raise your chances to get into BB later on.

What are you trying for in IB, corp. fin. or S&T, or what??

3/18/15

IB, yeah I filled out the online applications at 42 Banks, and hopefully some of the smaller IBs will actually go thru them.

3/18/15

i'm sure there have been times in your life when you wanted something really bad, then when you got it you realized it wasn't all that you made it out to be. banking is one of those things. one day when you've settled into a different career path and realize that you enjoy it you're going to look back and laugh at how silly it was that you wanted to be in ibanking so bad.

3/18/15

we'll see, but I actaully think ibanking is like the right career for me based on my current personality, my priorities may change in the future but for now I don't really care about starting a family or going out every single night...so the bad part of ibanking doesn't really affect me that much

3/18/15

can be done, but definitly not easy. speaking from personal experience, takes a lot of luck as well as skill. good luck.

3/18/15

so i guess its better to do something else then do Business school?

I mean the way I see it,

OPS(2 years) then if you are lucky you start as an analyst in IB(another 3 years) before you get promoted to associate, so 5 years total.

if I do something else and after 2 years go get my MBA, I'll start out at the associate level 1 year sooner PLUS I'll have the MBA degree.

3/18/15

i think you might be underestimating the business school thing....

You most likely will not get into a good b-school (i.e. BB IDB target) with only 2 years experience. Candidates accepted to top b-schools usually have 4-5 years experience. The ones that have only 2 years experience are the ones with 780 GMAT and two years at a top BB in IB or at McKinsey, Bain, BCG.

Just thought u should be aware....

3/18/15

yeah I know it'll be hard, going to have to select the first job after college very carefully

3/18/15

At some more entrepreneurial banks, it happens very easily in trading. A desk has a need and a backoffice guy steps up to fill in quickly. In banking, I suppose it is much harder, because these programs seem much more structured.

3/18/15

Try sending your app to boutique / MM first. Higher probability.

3/18/15

This is a very good thread. I was thinking the same exact thing!

Let me ask: What are some jobs to consider, if one dosen't 'cut it' the first time around? Perhaps Asset Management? PWM?

3/18/15

Don't count on a move to front office from back - there is the usual prejudice against back office staff as business prevention officers

3/18/15

the culture makes it impossible to be a front-office trader without rising through the ranks of middle-office trade support first. these opportunities do exist at reputable banks.

3/18/15

Don't listen to the nay-sayers, it can happen with proper planning, exhaustive home work & some plain luck. At least that's what I am telling myself :)

Seriously, though it's possible, depends on how bad do you want be in a front-office position?

3/18/15

think it is easy if you are very good, driven and in S&T or structuring role

3/18/15
3/18/15

I just had a back-office/trade support interview, and this particular rotation takes about 1.5-2 years, then if you're motivated you can possibly go to middle-office, or if you are really sharp and they need people it may be possible to get a front office.

However, you should see if the divisions are in separate offices or bundled together because if the traders or front office people are in a different building, you can forget about getting much exposure and networking. You can bet that everyone else sitting next to you also wants to move up as well!

I'm also in the position of deciding where to start.

3/18/15

Anyone know where in the pipeline a 'trading assistant' lies? I've seen job postings for trading assistants that ask for a year of experience in operations, so I'm curious if this is an advancement or what. Also, what are the responsibilities of such a position?

3/18/15
MetalJack:

Anyone know where in the pipeline a 'trading assistant' lies? I've seen job postings for trading assistants that ask for a year of experience in operations, so I'm curious if this is an advancement or what. Also, what are the responsibilities of such a position?

bump

3/18/15

Extremely difficult. I've seen a couple middle office to front office and some quasi front-office to IBD (i.e. fixed income research). Have never seen/heard of back office to front office.

3/18/15

Hey
Im a rising junior at a target school with a good gpa and good extra curriculars.I'm currently interning in the treasury operations departments over at Merrill Lynch. They give me a lot of pretty substantial work to do and a lot of responsibility. just like everyone else on this website i want to do i-banking. Do you'll think working in the operations department this summer will help me get an internship at a BB bank next summer after my junior year. thanks

3/18/15

does anyone have any advice for how i could use the experience i gain in op's for getting a front office position junior year summer....

3/18/15
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3/18/15

Dude I cant even imagine how baked you are right now

"Oh - the ladies ever tell you that you look like a fucking optical illusion?"

"Oh the ladies ever tell you that you look like a fucking optical illusion" - Frank Slaughtery 25th Hour.

3/18/15

Then why in hell do you list your college as NYU?

3/18/15

I am assuming that you still have at least one more year of school left. You are in a good position as an ops intern to apply to FO positions during your final school year if ops is not something you want to do. However, if you do choose to go the FT ops route with the ambition of getting to the FO, I am telling you that it is extremely hard to do so. By no means is it impossible, I have seen it done, rarely, but it does occasionally happen. It really is all up to you with the help of some luck and being in the right place at the right time. The people that have moved from ops to FO were extremely driven. Get CFA done, score 730+ on GMAT, be able to talk freely about the intricacies of the market ready to spit out investment ideas, and network with people who make these decisions in your firm. Most importantly the people that have moved were considered the best of the best ops employees, people who would go above and beyond their assigned roles, they would differentiate themselves from their peers by taking on extra work, training on new products and work-flows without being asked, and figuring problems out for their FO counterparts by taking random inquiries and doing whatever it takes to get the correct answer that would be helpful to the FO colleague.

Just make sure you understand that most skills that you acquire as a BO/MO employee are NOT transferable to FO roles. If you are not successful at transitioning from BO/MO to FO in your firm, quitting and applying for FO in a new firm puts you at an extreme disadvantage compared to what FO normally recruits (with the exception of the GMAT 730+ followed by top 10 b school route).

3/18/15

We were drinking for an event, and I asked him how I was doing. He said I was doing really well, and things were looking good. I asked him to compare me to other interns he had, and he said I was in the top 3 and he had about 7 all of which took the offer but one. I asked him what happened with the 1 who didn't and this is what he said.

The last intern he had was the smartest kid he ever dealt with. The kid was better then all his officers/analyst/AVPs... which meant he was even better then me.

He was a shoe in to start right away, but made one mistake. The week of his final evaluation, which went really well since they had his offer papers right on the table for him, he turned it down on the spot, and said "I'm not really interested in MO and would never do BO, can you put me in contact with the FO of S&T." Shocked my VP said "sure dude, but is this really the path you want to take... Why not except the offer and apply to other banks FT for a FO roll and if all else fails come back and be a star, you'd be a AVP in less then 2 years rather then 5". Even after my VP gave him this advice, he STILL refused to take it. Since he was that good, my VP put him in contact with the HR person for FO.

Fast forward 4 months ago, and my VP gets a call from said dumbass, begging for his offer back because banks had basically dried up on hiring and he couldn't find a job. My VP wanted to hire him, but went to discuss this with our Principle (one lvl above VP one lvl below Director which is followed by MD then SVP then 2 other roles). Keep in mind that my Principle is a very cool guy and really really liked this kid, but what he said kind of brings the whole story together "This kid had his perfect back up plan, you even laid out the plan for him as bright as day, why would I hire someone who can't think rationally and take other peoples advice".

Morale of the story... if they give you an offer for MO (which it seems like you're in since you actually do PnL and maybe risk?) take it and interview at other banks for whatever you want. Remember this offer could be the only one you end up getting because of the economy. GL

3/18/15

wtf you can get to AVP in 2 years?

3/18/15

no, if you do not have any prior work experience most BBs have a six year minimum for VP promotion. Six being the minimum that the best analysts are considered for at that point in time.

3/18/15

avp and vp are a different lvl...

3/18/15

Raun, you should definitely read Mainstreet's post in detail. Make sure you always have a backup plan, especially in times like these.

You are in a good position in the sense that you have one more recruiting cycle left: the upcoming FT recruitment. Keep networking and looking for FO opportunities in your free time.

Furthermore, if you state your case well, your HR contact should be able to get you, at the very least, into an accelerated interview slot at your current bank. However, you should know that if you are granted that interview, you are forgoing the offer you might have received in your current MO position. It's definitely a risk, but depending on your personality, it might be a risk that you have to take.

Personally, I would first make sure to do everything in my power to land the FT offer. Then, every chance I could get, I would look for FO contacts/positions outside of my current bank.

3/18/15

Thanks guys -especially Mainstreet. This helps a lot.

I'm willing to risk my MO offer in hopes of getting an FO offer. I'm at a non-target with a non-target GPA.
BO I'm in is not a bad job by any means, and I actually haven't touched a trade break yet. But if I had to do it full-time, I would not have fun. My recruiter said that the one thing working for me is that they're one of the few BBs that give 2 offers for 2 different positions at the same time. So it can serve as a back-up if I play my cards right.

Either way, I feel like I could get some other full-time in Financial advisory(relatively easy IMO at the big four- from my school) and would pick that over MO so that may serve as another back up. Correct me if I'm wrong.

My recruiter should get in touch with me in a couple of days. I will keep posting my updates. Hopefully it'll help someone else who has the same questions.

Thanks again!

3/18/15

Best of luck. I hope everything works out.

3/18/15

Hey guys,

Just an update to the new guys who have similar posts like this:

I did end up getting an initial phone interview after intense networking through many different sources and even made it to the final round after that. Unfortunately, I did not get the full-time offer. Luckily, I still had the BO/MO offer on the table and grabbed it because I still think this would be a faster route to FO then going to PWM or other route since I'll still be in the bank.

Question:

I've signed up for the CFA Level 1 and taking it in december. Does it really help to have a CFA level 1 if you're applying for FO? or would GMAT be better? or both?

Appreciate all the help,

Raun

3/18/15

connect with people from the front office and have them pass your resume to HR

3/18/15

The problem with this question is that it is misleading. Your question should be "how do I get from a job that has virtually nothing to do with investment banking, to investment banking." It really doesn't matter that you have the same logo on your business card as the dudes in the IBD. I'm not trying to hate here, pal, just making sure you understand something pretty important: don't distract yourself by thinking you are somehow closer to a investment banking career than any other random dude out there with a random job at some other random company. Because you are not. It still can be done, as it has been done with people at random jobs too, but I always get the feeling with these kind of questions that there's a false belief that if you just knew the magic words, a trap door would open and you'd fall down a chute and be plopped into your cube in IBD. Put this thought out of your mind. Because the more you believe it, the more time you'll spend focusing on just your own bank, the less you will broaden your network and the more you will be guaranteed to fail. You have to approach it like someone who is completely outside the industry, contact lots of people at lots of different places, treating your own front office no differently than any other bank you'd talk to.

3/18/15

sorry for not being clearer --- i meant back office ..into TRADING (which is a much easier shift than going from back office into ibd)

3/18/15

I know some people that did it but they are had very quant background and went from risk management -> quant trading

3/18/15

I DID IT. PM FOR DETAILS

3/18/15

never heard of someone from controllers going to trading. have heard of operations ppl doing it

3/18/15
KillerMike:

never heard of someone from controllers going to trading. have heard of operations ppl doing it

i know two people at jp that went from PC to desk

3/18/15

Do you guys know the chances of going back office to front office? 1 in 50?

3/18/15

It's on a case by case basis, so there are no hard measures of chances. There isn't some magic number that every bank has, but in general, I'd say the odds are very slim.

3/18/15

the chances of going from:

risk management/operations -> trading is not uncommon (only for quant/derivative trading)
risk management/operations -> IBD almost unheard of

but anyone know the chances of going from market making firms like Optiver to BB trading? Also from firms like DRW/Jane Street to BB trading? I would say slim but would be interested to know.

3/18/15

Going from a legit prop shop (DRW/Optiver/Jane Street) in a trading role to BB trading actually isn't that difficult to do, depending on what you're trading. It's just uncommon because most people go in the other direction.

3/18/15

Sounds like a lot of job hopping and grasping at straws. Headhunter is not finance. Bloomberg sales could lead to something institutional. I would probably stay at ML and put in some decent time. Do a couple levels of the CFA, get an MBA. Maybe if you cannot handle 3-4 years at ML look into MSF degrees.

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3/18/15

You should check our Crimson Resume (www.crimsonresume.com). Their articles and their services really helped me find that job I've been aiming to get!

3/18/15
arsenalsg:

Hello all

Would appreciate some advice on my career or any tips.

I graduated in July 2009 with an Honors degree in Finance from the National University of Singapore Business School; GPA of roughly 3.5.

I got a graduate internship at a leading French bank straight out of school as a Compliance analyst.

Completed the 6-month long internship and got recruited by ML to join their collateral management team, where I've been for the past 6 months.

I've been told theres no way I can make it to any decent front office role from this position and off late, I've become jaded with the middle-office job scope/atmosphere as well.

Recently, I got an offer to become a headhunter for a big UK firm which is starting out in SG and deals mainly with banks. It's a basic sales role, coupled with the incentive to lead a team in a year, and I was wondering if this experience would be of any use in the long run, i.e. for a sales/associate role in a bank

On another note, I'm also close to getting a role in Bloomberg Data, with the eventual Sales role being something definitely in the pipeline.

I know both roles are not the standard routes into IB/PE/S&T but I am currently mulling over my options. I do have a passion for finance but at this point, my future in the financial industry looks kinda bleak and I would love some direction.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Cheers

First off, I'm no Arsenal fan so take my words with a pinch of salt ;)

I think it's a shame you did not leverage on the business school's career centre (what's your relationship with Joan and gang like?) as they had helped place many - including some abysmally mediocre souls I know of personally - students from your faculty in FO roles with top banks based purely on relationships (ie. I am assuming you have a decent CV, and not a CAP of 3.00) between the career centre and the banks. If you've any decent ties with the career centre, try reaching out and see if they can lend alumni like you a hand.

As for your work experience (did you do any internship pre-graduation?), I suggest you start getting focused and work in that direction - 6-mth compliance stint, followed by a 6-mth collateral management stint isn't really focused. If you throw in another stint at a headhunter or bloomberg, I think it would hinder you even more. PE's/VC's are not a viable option for students in Singapore - very few top PE's/VC's hire entry-level folks. That effectively leaves you with S&T or IB. If you haven't tried the smaller banks, I suggest you give those a shot instead of just looking at the BB's as relevant experience trumps the brand of the firm you work for in the event you can't have the best of both worlds.

In short, if I were in your shoes, I'd first decide on what I want to do (S&T or IB) and perhaps give a last shot at landing a place in the 2011 graduate programme (you aren't too old having just left school for a year). Failing which, I suggest you head back to get a MBA and start from a level playing field again post-MBA.

I'm from S&T at a BB, so if you have any specific questions pertaining to that, feel free to drop me a PM.

3/18/15

I am in a similar situation as you, except, I am still looking. I know it's said that you it's impossible to go from BO to FO. Anecdotally, I know someone who did it. My friend made the leap from BO to S&T. you are right about bschool. as it is bschools are overweight financial folks. and they give preference to those who are being sponsored by firms and/or whose alums are calling in to make sure their departing analysts/associates get in to the school.

3/18/15

hey man--dont worry too much about starting in the BO...you read most of the stuff on the forums that is negative, but the bottom line is that the VAST majority of the people who post on these forums ARE STILL IN COLLEGE (i.e. they dont actually know how hard the transition is, just what they have read)

obviously, its not the best place to start, but its better than sitting on your ass. Just keep networking and keep working. you never know what can happen.

3/18/15
Fahmie25:

hey man--dont worry too much about starting in the BO...you read most of the stuff on the forums that is negative, but the bottom line is that the VAST majority of the people who post on these forums ARE STILL IN COLLEGE (i.e. they dont actually know how hard the transition is, just what they have read)

obviously, its not the best place to start, but its better than sitting on your ass. Just keep networking and keep working. you never know what can happen.

This is very true

The answer to your question is 1) network 2) get involved 3) beef up your resume 4) repeat -happypantsmcgee

WSO is not your personal search function.

3/18/15

I think the best track is going to be an internal transfer. Anything on the markets side- S&T, Risk Management, maybe product-specific research, would obviously be a better candidate.

3/18/15

Also, make sure you post in the right forums, this would be best suited for the "Get A Job" forum

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer
"Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee

3/18/15

p.s. The CFA is a very good credential. I have been thinking of pursuing it as well. OP: have you pursued it as part of your degree program (some schools do this) or completely independently. If the latter, how self contained do you think the curriculum is?
I agree with the post that many of the posters don't actually know the industry too well beyond on-campus recruitment.

3/18/15

I intern in a BO/MO kinda hybrid team.... (joining FT in the summer).. just had a member on my team get promoted to FO after three years.. then again we are client facing so that helped... if you go to BO just make sure you get a team that:

  1. interacts with FO and MO personnel (this will be your network to leverage off of)
    2.interacts with clients (might provide some exit opportunities)
    3.has had a track record of promoting to FO or MO positions

good luck!

"I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me." - Malone

3/18/15

i started in back office and in front now

3/18/15

Thank you everyone for your feedback. It has definitely made me feel a lot better about starting work and I really appreciate the advice. I apologize for posting in the wrong forum and will try not to make that mistake again. As of now I am just waiting for my result for CFA level 1 and will receive it on Tuesday so keeping my fingers crossed for that. Thank you all once again.

3/18/15

I KNOW FOR A FACT that front office recruits people from middle office, i don't know about "BACK" office. When I say middle office I mean your are actively working with front office on projects for clients, not in I.T where nobody see's you. So for example after your two year analyst rotation is up in middle office a manager from a group youve worked on projects for wrill approach you and say they like the work you do would you consider working in their group.

You give me a gift? BAM Thank you note! You invite me somewhere? POW RSVP! You do me a favor? WHAM Favor returned! Do not test my politeness.

3/18/15
1man2nv:

I KNOW FOR A FACT that front office recruits people from middle office, i don't know about "BACK" office. When I say middle office I mean your are actively working with front office on projects for clients, not in I.T where nobody see's you. So for example after your two year analyst rotation is up in middle office a manager from a group youve worked on projects for wrill approach you and say they like the work you do would you consider working in their group.

Uhhh, I started in front-office analytics and watched our group get shunted into back-office IT. Then I got hired into trading It was really a simple hop, skip, and jump, and I can name four other people I worked with who did the same. So IT is not necessarily back-office where nobody sees you, and even in cases where it is, smart people make it to the trading floor all the time.

The key here is that you have your foot in the door. OP needs to develop a solid track record over the next 18 months and then do an internal transfer. It's much less risky for the firm to hire an analyst out of ops in a similar product areas/function than it is to hire someone in from outside in a different front-office function or hire a HYP candidate in. You are a known quantity with an HR file that the hiring manager can look at. Maybe the Harvard kid is smarter than you, maybe he's dumber, but whatever the case is, you are much less likely to be a mistake than him given that the firm has more info about you. Hiring new people is all about risk mitigation.

Work hard, prove that you're competent and smart, and somebody in the front office will probably want you.

3/18/15

I will put a post up on this next week

3/18/15

Thanks guys. Turns out I am in the back of the back office. No interaction with front office/middle office or clients. I did just find out that I passed level one this past December so that kind of lifted my spirit. Besides that I guess I just have to focus on level 2 for now and work on building my Excel VBA skills and try to automate some of the work to make myself stand out. I do feel that staying for 18 months might be risky considering reading everywhere that you should try to get out of operations as soon as possible and don't stay longer than a year otherwise it will become very difficult to get out. I don't know how much truth there is to this statement but it seems to be the general consensus among people on the boards.

3/18/15

How did your year-end reviews turn out? Your manager probably gave you a meets expectations if you're new on the job, but were the comments at least pretty favorable?

A strong internal record and a CFA are enough to get anybody an interview for an FO transfer if there's an opening. After that, it's all up to you.

I got hired into a group I had no interaction with. It was fixed income IT to equities trading.

3/18/15
3/18/15

It is easier to move from BO/MO/FO on the S&T/markets side, but if you're on the banking side it is somewhat more difficult. Since it sounds like you are in S&T, you should follow the advice of those here who have made the transition successfully. Best of luck to you.

3/18/15

Start in BO, end in BO. you're stuck there for alllllllllll your life. sorry to break it to you.

3/18/15
Dibbs:

Start in BO, end in BO. you're stuck there for alllllllllll your life. sorry to break it to you.

not true at all... I know over 20 people who have made the jump..all on s/t side

3/18/15

Put it this way: Your career is going to be 30+ years. Talk to any MD, they would never tell you that you would not be able to do it.

3/18/15

At least one or two BB CEOs started in the back office. To say your first job probably won't be your last job is an understatement. That said, there does seem to be a horizontal asymptote that most people hit, though it has little to do with your first job and a whole lot more to do with how your second and third jobs look relative to your first.

3/18/15
3/18/15

I did ops and am now FO. I used my ops position as experience and a name, took another position at another bank and did that for a couple years, went back to school and then used that to intern and get some new experience. From there I went into FO work.

Always be networking, always be hustling. I would suggest studying for the CFA while you do BO work. If you can knock out two levels you can make a good case for other jobs.

Masters in Finance HQ - The #1 site for everything related to the MSF degree!
MSFHQ

3/18/15

for some sb's i will tell my story from bo/fo

3/18/15

Hello, ladies and gents!

Want to rise topic starter's question.
I've found a lot of answers that BO->FO is possible.
And how do you think, does it work now in US and UK?

Thank you for answers, really need this.

Best Response
3/18/15

Back to front office, strategy session (Originally Posted: 04/22/2012)

So I am currently working a BO job at a BB. I would like to make a transition into the FO, preferably sooner than later. The company has minimum requirements established before applying to internal job postings, as well as performance requirements.

So other than waiting to meet the time requirements, and obtaining superior performance appraisals, what can I do?

Would passing the CFA L1 exam help? How about the modeling course advertised here? I saw this book http://www.Amazon.com/Investment-Banking-Valuation..., however there is no official designation for having read a book. At least I could present something to the hiring manager if I completed either the CFA L1 or WSP modeling course.

Although my job is BO, I interact with clients as well as other departments constantly, so that may provide networking opportunities.

3/18/15

does your BO team directly support the FO team you want to join?

3/18/15

I jumped from BB BO to FO by getting my MBA. Trying to move internally would be significantly more difficult unless you work with the FO guys already and someone is willing to vouch for your capabilities being above what they get through their usual recruiting processes.

3/18/15

@trailmix8- My team interacts with ST, not IBD. IBD is where I would like to end up.

@Eljay- That is another option and seems like it might be the most viable. I am still very new to the street and the organization so I am able make first impressions with my end goal in mind. Not that I would be manipulative, just more mindful of what I am saying, wearing, etc.

How high up is too high to become an associate at an IB? My group is expanding, so it is quite possible I may move into a first line leadership position in 1-2 years. I was hoping to wait 3-4 years to get my MBA. Perhaps I may adjust that to 2 years from now.

3/18/15
OilBaron:

@trailmix8- My team interacts with ST, not IBD. IBD is where I would like to end up.

Unfortunately this is an uphill climb on an inverted cliff. It will be especially tough to meet IBD people in a natural way as you will not be interacting with them in a work environment. You can obviously try to network with them in the usual fashion via cold emails etc. But to them you are just another BO guy. BO is a place they do not even consider recruiting from, especially in this environment when people are being laid off left and right, and any replenishment of ranks comes from campus recruting or just hire a person that has already done banking as there are tons of them unemployed in the work force.

But I do wish you luck, and please, prove me wrong if you can.

3/18/15

I just made the jump from a BB Back office to a PE/M&A boutique front office. I signed my offer last week. If you ask me honestly, it is not possible with the same firm. Your best chance is to move to a boutique. However, that depends on which region you are working in. I work in India, and this was the most feasible option to move to FO. Not sure about other regions.
PS: I am drafting my success story and will post it shortly.

3/18/15

Congrats. I am very happy for you. Thanks again for pointing out that 1) CFA does not help to get a FO role and 2) BO roles at BB/HF doesn't mean make it easier to transition to FO roles.

"I am the hero of the story. I don't need to be saved."

3/18/15
Human:

Congrats. I am very happy for you. Thanks again for pointing out that 1) CFA does not help to get a FO role and 2) BO roles at BB/HF doesn't mean make it easier to transition to FO roles.

It is a ridiculous statement to say that the CFA does not help to get a FO role. All else equal, it helps out tremendous amounts. But if you're comparing one person to the next, you might have one super qualified person with exceptional work experience and no CFA, versus another with no experience with a CFA. Is this then a fair judgement to say that the CFA dose not help at all? Obviously not. I reiterate, all else equal, it helps tremendous amounts.

3/18/15
Valuestrats920:
Human:

Congrats. I am very happy for you. Thanks again for pointing out that 1) CFA does not help to get a FO role and 2) BO roles at BB/HF doesn't mean make it easier to transition to FO roles.

It is a ridiculous statement to say that the CFA does not help to get a FO role. All else equal, it helps out tremendous amounts. But if you're comparing one person to the next, you might have one super qualified person with exceptional work experience and no CFA, versus another with no experience with a CFA. Is this then a fair judgement to say that the CFA dose not help at all? Obviously not. I reiterate, all else equal, it helps tremendous amounts.

ah yes...i see where i went wrong....does CFA help.. of course...but my point is CFA is over rated esp in the minds of many who work in non finance profiles and give their 3 years for CFA thinking it will help them transition the very next day into front end IBD profiles... that's all...even in my interview they did ask me alot of finance based questions which was prob Level 1 material i think which i answered plus fin modelling which i had prior knowledge of... isn't this exactly a major, if not all, a reason why people jump into CFA in first place...just my 2c...but in same breath i also know friends who have CFA as MBA freshers getting good profiles...all in all its your own knowledge & interview skills which help you break in.. there is only a point upto you can leverage any magic three letter words

"A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it." ~George Moore

3/18/15

this pleases me

I eat success for breakfast...with skim milk

3/18/15
3/18/15

this is to all of you who pinged me separately(( i was really surprised at the fellow BO thugs out there waiting to pounce:-)) asking specifically for details regarding how i marketed myself, what i put in my resume, how i explained my time in BO and turned it into an advantage...here is the answer...i have just written whatever have come to my mind so anything not clear to you just ping me again and i will be happy to reply. thank you.

Hi, regarding marketing myself and explaining my time in BO the turning point came in when as i mentioned in my post i started taking my weekend modelling classes..there i came in contact with people better placed than me, made contacts, started knowing about different openings with FO/fin analyst type roles( anything other than BO) revamped my resume taking tips from the faculty there, threw around my resume in all job portals with all matching keywords in my resume ( right from fin modelling/project work in M& A analysis, comp analysis, excel, industry studies) anything to really take the focus away from my current BO role to my knowledge purview. this really helped, mind you..

with a resume in place and being into sports and having good friend circle in college it was easy for me to find my seniors who were placed in all sorts of exciting roles in PE/IB/Corp strategy etc and i started calling them over weekends/ connecting through FB/Linkedin and just started my calls projecting myself as some1 with real core talents but unfortunately struk in a BO role..( dont go beg to seniors or while networking...project yourself as someone who has great potential and comfortably placed in life but looking for the extra zing and oppurtunity and not as a loser who will do anything to escape fate)

over time just using my college networks, i landed interview spots when it opened up in IB/PE/ transaction teams in Big4 here...

i also by this time had befriended potentially strong HR consultants in our domain and dug up links from there.

also having a better resume thrown all over job sites which will never go unnoticed during the initial keyword search these HR guys do helped get a few interesting job mails here n there.

plus i really started talking to analysts in my HF to inquire and further dug up roles at our level..( these guys if you milk them well can give you a truck load of information more useful than all of above steps i followed) this gave me a step in to roles at different firms as well..

all in all during the last 5 months i can assure you i must have sent my resume over to some 30-40 firms atleast, talked to many new people and had an amazing time interviewing with them...most of the time you will face rejection/ no response or you will screw your chance and your friend/senior will know you talk more than you are capable of but the trick lies in having absolute zero ego, an attitude to learn from your mistakes and taking firm initiative of your own life....looking back i dont really think it was that difficult now that i have gone through it...it was just about doing the little things right all the time.

And during interviews i was careful to steer the interview away from what i actually did to what i actually know....for eg...while explaining my work i would say a part of work i did was in fund accounting ( accounts is strong) helping clear complex trade breaks( analytical thinking) communicating with c/p trade desks/investment analysts over NY,London and Singapore markets giving some Corporate action related problems you solved or any1 did... doesn't matter..( strong comm skills ) thus helping me gain insights into x market and also helped analysts with thier fin models they created ( not part of JD but gives the idea you took initiative to really go out of your way and learn...in reality i didnt do it..i just helped run some macros and at times run some formulae but used my weekend modelling class learnings to really push this lie!! ) and so on......

"A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it." ~George Moore

3/18/15

congrats! and obviously the CFA helps...its not necessary but definintely helps!

3/18/15

see someone like you gives me hope in the future when I am "desperate"

3/18/15
Vtechsl63:

see someone like you gives me hope in the future when I am "desperate"

be desperate NOW dude...life for me is all more relaxd now even though im easily working twice the hours!

"A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it." ~George Moore

3/18/15

Thanks for sharing! Great insight into the BO struggle.

3/18/15

Yeah, I'm sure the risk of becoming the next Kerviel is one of the main obstacles that prevents people in settlements from moving to the trading desk.

Under my tutelage, you will grow from boys to men. From men into gladiators. And from gladiators into SWANSONS.

3/18/15

This is very interesting because I work with a large power firm and a lot of promotions come from accounting and scheduling for our front office team. I suspect that what you have learned is the old way of thinking but ever since ENRON and Dodd Frank, most firms - if they are smart - take extra precautions to be fully in compliance with all applicable regulations.

3/18/15

Interesting take on BO -> FO transition. Thanks for sharing.

3/18/15

its nothing new i guess, same happened with that guy from ghana who made UBS lose billion dollars, went to fo from bo, knew how to hide the losses. cases like this strengthen the barrier you have to overcome when you want to make the transition.

3/18/15

There's a closer meaning to my user name. Try reading it quickly. Perhaps you will then understand ;P

9/19/17

"Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, for knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA."