Move from back office to middle office to front office

Hi everyone,

I would love to get some input from the more experienced users around here.

So first, my background: 23 years old with a Bachelor's degree from a non-target university in a small Eastern European country, have a year-long internship in the Financial Advisory department of a big 4, and I recently accepted an offer from a top 3 global BB in a different Eastern European country in the BO doing valuation control/mark review of structured credit derivatives (bespoke tranches and CDS index options) within the S&T inventory. I have very good theoretical knowledge of my products, I am taking the December CFA level 1 exam, and have been networking with the corporate credit risk department of the BB in this country.

My long term goal is to end up in a FO role (investment banking, asset/investment management). The problem is, I can't network with the FO guys as they are sitting in hubs like London and Frankfurt, so there are no opportunities for me to chat to them face to face and try to network my way into a FO position.

My question is, which of the following moves should I take in order to maximize my chances of transferring either internally or externally to a FO role:

1.) Move to corporate credit risk after a year in this role (they take a lot of people from my department and focus more on internal hires than external), continue with the CFA and try to move internally/externally to a FO Investment banking role after another year or two in this role.

2.) Try to get a consulting position in an MBB consulting firm in any country I can and continue with the CFA and afterwards apply for an IB analyst position.

3.) Stay in this role for a year and do the CFA and try to get into a target MSc Finance program (specially those that accept CFA instead of GMAT like London Business School or IE University).

4.) Anything else?

I know a top MBA is a great way to rebrand myself and get a FO role but the thing is it requires at least 5 years of experience and I don't want to wait so long and not do anything to increase my chances before that. I would prefer busting my ass doing whatever is best for the next 2 or so years and get my foot in the door, and afterwards get an MBA with experience in the FO.

Looking forward to your advice, thank you in advance.

Comments (14)

Apr 16, 2019


May 1, 2019


Most Helpful
May 1, 2019

The corporate credit risk role could position you well for a FO Corporate Banking career, but not necessarily an IB role. Many banks have a well-trodden path between the corporate credit underwriter/analyst role and the relationship manager role. Other banks have a bit more division between client-facing analysts/associates and the middle-office underwriting function.

As you network with the credit risk department, try to get a sense of where the underwriters move on to. Is it common to relocate to a different office with the bank to take on a client-facing role? Or do they generally stay within a risk discipline? Even if it's the latter, as long as you're getting underwriting experience analyzing loan structures and credit worthiness of corporate borrowers, those skills are very marketable for other front office corporate/commercial banking roles, or for a lateral move to direct lender or CLO.

May 7, 2019

Thanks a lot for your advice. Do you think I would be at a disadvantage when applying for FO corporate banking jobs in London coming from a CEE country, even if I have risk experience at a top BB?

May 7, 2019

My perspective is US-based, so can't comment on European nuances. Still, investigating where people in this group have exited should be instructive.

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May 7, 2019

at a minimum, you should expect to spend at least 1 year in each role...if not 2. Don't worry, time flies pretty fast.

just google're welcome

May 8, 2019

Thanks for your input. I've been told this numerous times, however, why is that? Is it because otherwise you're considered a flight risk, or is it something else?

May 8, 2019

imagine you were sitting on the interviewers side of the desk...would you want to hire somebody who seems to look at the job as a stepping stone and will only be there 6 months?

just google're welcome

May 16, 2019