Internal move from back office to front office after doing the CFA?

mikewagner's picture
Rank: Baboon | 133

I have spoken to various hedge fund and Asset Management employees and they have all recommended that I take a back office job and then work towards a front office fund management role after doing the CFA.
Is this route common?
Is it true that front office positions in hedge funds are all first advertised internally to all employees?

The back office roles include jobs in operations, marketing, data analysis etc...

Comments (13)

May 3, 2017

I've seen it happen at a notable asset manager. I think he had only Level I too at the time. But note this is operations/BO to a role not very heavy in research/modeling, not RM in anyway, and very slow/boring front office AM.

May 3, 2017

Thanks for the info.
I am thinking it may be easier in a Hedge Fund where you would have not as many people as in a Asset Management firm therefore making it easier to move

May 3, 2017

This is possible- I started in BO at a large Asset Manager/Custodian Bank for 2 years and moved my way up to the front office where I am in Fixed Income now (Research/PM). I am currently sitting for L2 this summer, it really is about your intellectual capability, willingness to learn quickly and contribute right on the spot, networking within the firm to show your desire/drive to be in a FO role.

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May 3, 2017

it depends on the company. Typically a lean hf will have "very qualified" employees in specific positions & if you're BO the chance that a spot will open up is very unlikely.

An organization with a larger staff will, by scale, have more movement among staff & possibly more opportunities.

not a rule, just something to think about

May 5, 2017

Better off taking a sales role and then pivoting to a more pure AM/HF role.

May 5, 2017

Speaking in general terms isn't really meaning as I think this highly depends on how the individual pivots himself. If you are in a pre back office accounting role with minimal interaction with front office people, I don't think you will have any chance. I think the key is that you must navigate yourself strategically so that you build network with front office people. There are some pretty smart people in the back office, and I've seen IT people moving into front office because they helped building certain technologies that enhanced, for example, the trade execution. A rule of thumb is that the more opportunities you have in working on projects involving front office, the higher chance you will have at cracking into front office jobs. Good luck thinking you will ever have a shot just by throwing your resume to a front office job, even if it's internal.

May 5, 2017

Its doable, but don't rely solely on the CFA.

If you want to be in research, do the job of a research analyst before your paid for it. That means writing reports in your spare time, following companies, staying on top of the markets etc. Do that and its only a matter of time before someone takes a chance on you. No one expects you to have all the answers, but talk is cheap and everyone says they're passionate about the markets, how are you going to show it?

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May 6, 2017

Common? No.

Possible? Yes.

This site will lead you to believe that if you take anything other than a FO role you're fucked. Yeah, it's a harder path but network your ass off, accumulate the necessary knowledge via CFA or other route, network even more, interview, and see where it takes you.

Also, break your goal down into small steps. Going from BO to like TMT analyst in one jump is next to impossible. But structuring your path in bite sized pieces will make the goal way more attainable.

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May 7, 2017

Best bet is MBA to banking/equity research then making the move to HF. For 90% of HF spots banking or banking + private equity is a de facto requirement the way that med school is needed for residencies, with the alternative being equity research if you work for a very well-respected analyst

There is a lot of hate for banking on this forum due to a combination of hours/lifestyle, work environment, perception as the "default" path, but it honestly is the best answer for so many of the questions on this forum. The job at the mid- and senior- levels is also not bad at all from a lifestyle standpoint and actually a very nice way to have a decently interesting job and have very nice compensation.

May 9, 2017
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