Operations technology - how to get more involved in the business side?

Foible's picture
Rank: Chimp | 4

Hi all,

Looking for some advice, from a strategy/front office perspective.

How can I move from back office technology to a front office/strategy role?

I'm trying to work on something a bit more connected to the business end of the bank. I want to earn a bit more money, but the main reason is an interest in finance.

I'm currently a systems/Technology analyst having worked for 2 large European investment banks, working in operations technology, with some exposure to Treasury/finance. It feels quite detached from what the business actually does.

I've managed to get a number of pretty great references, and people tend to throw me at problems that others have struggled to resolve, knowing that I'll find a creative solution for it. I enjoy this trouble shooting type of work, but I still feel unchallenged/uninspired by most of these projects.

I've also worked outside of banking and technology in a sales department as their general troubleshooter - on some pretty complex organisational problems. I liked that I knew exactly how my work affected the customer.

I'm just looking for something which is more related to the money making side of the business again, but would appreciate some suggestions on how to get exposure to that side of things - you seem to get pigeonholed as an Ops Tech person. Do you have any advice?

What's important for getting into a front office role? Is there still any value in an MIF, or CFA? I'm in my late 20s, so need to be focussed in how I pursue this - don't just want to collect qualifications.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance

Comments (4)

Jun 12, 2017

i started my career in a similar role. to get to FO positions, i lateraled...took an IT position at another BB where the position was doing ad hoc programming projects for a trading desk (in retrospect, could have tried to do this at my current firm). The IT group was a hybrid of programmers and hardcore quants with PhD in all sorts of math/ engineering things. Most BB firms will have these groups.

Getting so much exposure to the trading desk (asking lots of questions for my projects) offered my the opportunity to do extra work for the desk. Ultimately (after 3 years, and lots of excel projects) i was offered the chance to become a junior trader.

    • 1
Jun 13, 2017

Thanks a lot for this advice. This sounds positive.

Also sounds like I need to get back into programming. I've been an "IT business analyst" for a few years now.

Are there any particular knowledge or programming languages you think are key for this type of move? I know job specs are often a Christmas list, but most front office programming roles I've ask for hardcore developers with existing front office exposure.

Anything in your mind that would get me noticed for these roles?

Many thanks

Best Response
Jun 13, 2017

Excel, VBA, Python, SQL, MatLab, etc...

Download MS SQL Server 2012 (its free...lets you build databases up to 10 Gigs i think...has the full suite of DB management tools too). Play around and use it to build something, as the backend to an Excel project (use VBA to connect to the database...first just put data into the DB and retrieve data...then do a little manipulation of the data with some business logic)

Use Excel to build something useful...some kind of analytic...store the results in the database to create a historical data series...then pull the data from the DB and use excel to graph the historical data. (i did lots of projects where that is the guts of it....the difference was the "something useful"). You could build a spreadsheet that takes the strip of Eurodollar futures and calculates how much hike the market prices have "priced in" to each FOMC meeting. You try to could calculate implied default probabilities for a CBO from underlying bond credits (this is hard, but give it a try)...or you could try to build a Delta One pricer (replicate the performance of a basket of stocks with fewer names, but still gives same market performance...for example...take the S&P 500 ETF 'SPY'...and look for a portfolio of 50 or fewer stocks that most closely replicates the index...track this over time intraday to find your slippage and look for ways to minimize slippage...you goal is find the smallest number of secuities that most closely matches the performance of the index...ideally to different time windows..daily, hourly, 30min, 5min, etc....).

You could try to do the same thing with treasury futures, gold futures and Yen futures (ZN, GC, 6J). They tend to move together, but not exactly. Try to build a mean recversio model...how would you trade it? (remember that trading desks will use massive size....and they HATE losses AND drawdowns...so how do you trade 10,000 or 20,000 contracts and minimize losses, while also being involved in the market every day /week...being down 500k on 10,000 contracts is easy to do...how would you prevent that?)

These are all things that trading desks at investment banks do. There are countless others...first decide what trading desk you want to work for...then try building something that would be useful for that type of desk.

You might need to learn some more math for some of these things...you might need to use MatLab to help with some of the analysis as an intermediate step. This is a long journey...if you are really going to do it....then don't be afraid of investing the time and effort to learn new skills.

    • 3
Jun 15, 2017