The best of the back (or middle) office?

obviously most people here are IBD or bust, but for those of us happy making a decent living and prioritize work and family time, what are some of the better roles in the BO and MO?

the only real BO/MO role i am familiar with is Trade Support so i am interested in knowing what else is out there.

i am prepared for the snarky comments but i do know there are a good handful of people with the back office/operations experience that will chime in.

thanks all!

Comments (65)

Dec 28, 2017

There definitely are good paying, good work life balance MO jobs. As you could imagine, the recruitment/hiring process is competitive for these positions, and on occasion you will be expected to work more than traditional 9-5. For my understanding, the best paid and most interesting/coveted of these positions are (in no particular order):

  • Risk (either market [trading] or credit [CB loan portfolio]
  • Tech (writing code/maintaining systems, not traditional IT where you help people when they can figure out how to use their computer)
  • Treasury department
  • Legal (Less knowledgable about this, but if i were to guess, the higher level legal issues (not base level compliance) are better

Hope this helps!

    • 2
Dec 28, 2017

CCAR is a strong spot for balance between income and hours spent working. Roles spread throughout Risk, Treasury, Finance, and some front-office seats as well. Very transferable as well and in extremely high demand. I know a kid who started in CCAR who after 2 years lateraled from a lower-end BB firm to MS as an AVP (jumped right past associate) and is pulling in a nice 135k base + 25-35% bonus. Hours are rough in Q1, otherwise it rarely passes 55 hours a week.

Risk is general is the best bet, but there are gems to be found across the industry. Credit Risk and Market Risk professionals are in high demand constantly, bring in a strong salary, have far less career risk than any front-office professional, and can move into consulting OR front-office roles in the right situation. I know a handful of credit risk and market risk guys who had no problem going from a USC-level MBA program into an IB Associate seat.

If you want to be come a lawyer or aspire to jump into a restructuring or lev fin team, legal can be the way to go. Also, lobbyists working for the top banks pull in insane money relative to their hours. This is one way to get exposed to that world.

5/10 years ago the front-office was by far the move..... I wouldn't be entirely shocked that if in 15 years the kids starting off in strong compliance, risk, or tech roles are better off than those that are joining weak trading desks or banking groups. The skill-set is simply more necessary for the long-term and offers far more career longevity.

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    • 1
Jan 2, 2018

I was an intern last summer at a BB returning FT next year. We had a chance to speak with about 20 MD / ED's, some of which really made names for themselves about 5 to 7ish years ago through CCAR development. Their consensus was in 2010 / 2011 since CCAR was pretty new there was a LOT of work / recognition to go around and many of them attributed their career progression to some of the CCAR work they did. Their general advice now was to try not to get involved in CCAR as its pretty developed and there isn't all that much innovation going on ("the machine has been built now the responsibility is more or less to just run it" type mindset).

We didn't speak too in depth about this in my 10 weeks so perhaps you can shed some light as to where I might be misinterpreting the advice we were given or where I might just be plain wrong?

Dec 28, 2017

Echo all of the above, though avoid ops risk and model risk IMO. Otherwise, I think risk strikes a desirable balance between being a bit more demanding than a straight 9-5 job and having commensurately higher pay. I average 45-50 hours per week and rarely have anything spill over into the weekend.

Dec 28, 2017

Stupid question, but what do you mean by ops risk and model risk specifically?

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Dec 28, 2017

Operational risk is pretty broad but it covers things like fraud, systems failure, reputational risk, and operational/workflow risk. It's very process oriented and control heavy (i.e. at some banks op risk manages SOX programs). In contrast market/credit risk are more directly related to finance and thus, more interesting in my opinion.

Model risk means evaluating and validating models used by other departments to ensure their soundness and that the bank is adequately protected against weaknesses relating to their application. The main knocks against model risk are that while it provides good exposure to several models, it doesn't involve model actual development and also that it is very hard to move out of.

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Jan 9, 2018

I have a question of my own. I'm currently interning in Markets Product Control, part of the Finance dept of the bank.

Is this BO or MO? Also is it possible to move from this position to FO. I will be taking another internship after this before searching for FT.

"The markets are always changing , and they are always the same."

Dec 29, 2017

It depends on the company, but quite honestly, the lines between BO & MO are so blended that it doesn't matter "if it is BO or MO" if we are speaking about Product Control. Some PC roles include more accounting which is more BO and others are more risk (greeks) focused which is more MO.

You'll be responsible for the trader's P&L, risk, balance sheet commentary, etc. I have see a few move from PC to the desk, but it is very low.

Jan 9, 2018

.

"The markets are always changing , and they are always the same."

Dec 29, 2017

What are some of the pros/cons for Treasury, Risk Management, and Finance?

Is one paid higher than the others? Does one give you more exit opps? What do you think will be in highest demand long-term?

Dec 29, 2017

I would not say that one group has a history of paying more. Pay is likely to vary between companies, specific roles, experience, etc. It will not be a situation that Treasury makes 25% more than Risk (for example). The groups are far too broad.

I think you have to define the groups.

Broadly speaking...

Treasury - funding, cash, balance sheet, and liquidity management
Risk - market, credit, op, etc. and the specific role can either be quant based such as model creation or qualitative such as reporting, controls, regulatory, etc. (or a mix).
Finance - accounting & financial reporting, controllers, valuation, etc.

Exit ops are going to be more based on your relationships, i.e. if you're responsible for the market risk for a trading desk, you'd have a connection there over someone in treasury who doesn't interact with that desk.

In terms of future growth, certain operations jobs will (and already have) been replaced by technology, but core roles in treasury, risk, and finance will not be replaced. The skill set and expertise cannot be simply automated with scripts, models, AI, machine learning, etc.

    • 1
Dec 29, 2017

I am in a Credit Risk role and absolutely love it. Hours aren't as bad as they were when I was in FP&A and the compensation is great imo. I usually work 50-55 hours and bonus is around 20%. One of the biggest pros is the amount of demand for competent risk professionals. A con (albeit minor) is that finance may look at you as the party-killer.

    • 1
Jan 8, 2018

Same here. Pretty good role, depending on your boss and the company. Bonus can go up to 40-50% depending on how well your desk is doing.

Dec 29, 2017

there is a big difference between what would be a BO role that's at a satellite location away from a major city. the exposure you get there (along with comp) is not very compelling. that being said, a "MO" role on a trading desk where you are actually interfacing in person is not the worst.

there is a large difference between a market risk guy who is sizing trades/risk with a trader and a person confirming trade settlements 2,000 miles away. not sure why those are ever even compared.

    • 1
Dec 29, 2017

honestly depends what you're interested in.

im in credit trade support at a BB. if you join a BB graduate scheme you will rotate around the different business units. whereas trying to pick and choose what business unit to get in to without any experience will be very difficult. 95% of the time job advertisements require previous experience with a particular product or group before entertaining your application.

don't agree with the post above about satellite offices. a lot of the operations and risk work is a very blurred line these days. the majority of trade support roles are in satellite offices, this is 2018 where communication is instantaneous, you no longer have to be sitting beside someone to partake in the kind of activities mentioned above. everyone uses instant messaging, video conferences and phones. even the biggest BB's are moving the majority of these roles to satellite offices.

and for context I'm interviewing at a fund in the next few weeks with an all in comp comparable to 135k USD in Europe with a few years experience. its more of a project management role, about 45 hrs a week. for me, streamlining the business is one of the sexier roles, but as I say, depends on where your interest lies.

Dec 29, 2017

my point was more in reference to moving up to a trading role. if there is an opening on a desk, the guy that sits there booking a trade is more likely to get the look than the guy in a satellite office.

Dec 29, 2017

I see. in my office there is only 1 trader on this product and he executes the trades. that said, I've seen people move to trading and IBD from satellites. but would be easier if you can get closer to the execution as you say.

Dec 29, 2017

If you dont have what it takes to get front office finance or high consulting gig, yet want to maximize your earning potential, dont do back office / mid office. Go into sales at a large tech company. If ur good, you can clear 300-400k after several yrs and a couple of promotions.

Also mutual fund wholesalers can make a fuck ton of money. These guys are largely sales idiots trying to sell funds to neighborhood mom and pop shop financial advisors. Source: my high school friend is a wholesaler at pimpco / blackrock / allianz type of place and he cleared 600k this year, with 5 years of experience. He tells me that the more successful/ senior sales guys at his fund tend to clear 2-5mm a year, which is basically ibanking MD money

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Dec 29, 2017

Agreed on this. Only recently looked in to tech sales. Been reading a reddit that is dedicated to sales, mostly SaaS/Tech sales (Seems a lot of the guys jump over to selling cars when they're in-between jobs), Downside is that you need to go to a good company/product and secondly its a lot of cold calling. Upside is that sales is probably the best skill you can have. Its a true transferable skill, not like the excel/powerpoint transferable skills people cream about on WSO.

Jan 7, 2018

Tech sales is legit. However the money across the board in IB is higher almost all around in Tech Sales. 100-200k is probably the most common in the vast majority of roles. (SMB, Mid Market). and 250k-300k being the median of a lot of enterprise roles.

Sure you can make 500k, but its not as common as IB and takes a few years to get in a position where that is even possible.

However Tech Sales has incredible work life balance really shines. You're in at 8-9 and out usually by 5. So if work life balance is important to you it might be better. To add onto this there's flexibility -- often working from home or tier 2/3/4 cities where the COL is extremely low.

If you love money go IB as you will almost definitely make more, however if work life balance is just as equally important to you as money Tech sales is a good choice.

Dec 29, 2017

just stumbled upon this lengthy post -

https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/i-hate-the-...

Dec 29, 2017
TommyGunn:

just stumbled upon this lengthy post -

https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/i-hate-the-...

lol.. what the fuck.. this kid is an idiot for thinking of doing law school for the reasons he mentions in that thread. Have some friends who went to law schools and working at big law firms now. They absolutely hate it. (high school debt + boring work + no career advancement + lack of good exit ops) Corporate lawyers are basically glorified back office compliance professionals supporting M&A / restructuring activities for I-bankers, most times.. proof reading contracts / writing memos.

Dec 29, 2017

love that you make this out to be some super easy job. spoiler, if the market pays you 600k to do something, it is not easy, or everyone would do it.

Dec 29, 2017
zerojb34:

love that you make this out to be some super easy job. spoiler, if the market pays you 600k to do something, it is not easy, or everyone would do it.

never said it was easy.. you gotta be good at sales for these careers. but you don't need to be particularly intelligent. and once you establish yourself with your core client base in your sales territory, you are pretty much set for the rest of your career. those account managers, sales managers, wholesalers, etc at PIMPCO, Blackrock, Vanguard, etc will always crack at the minimum 300-400k a year, if they are any good at their job and have somewhat established network / client base in their sales territories.

Jan 2, 2018

Is CCAR really that convertible into FO offer? I work in a credit risk role in one of the BB bank in the commercial bank side here in Taiwan and do Basel 2, part of CCAR and RRTS re-engineer type of work. Pay is definitely not as high as a perspective from ibanking role but is considered fine as a MO role.
But as far as I would desire, I just want to make a hop to levfin job side. The hours are not that good in risk and instead of staying up late in office with nearly no bonus, it just make s me feel that I should to transfer to FO roles to get more engage with levfin and get more pay alongside with more work. I'm now working on networking and trying to figure out a way to transfer to the Hong Kong office+ front office role. Other than reading Moyer's book and networking, what should I do in advance to get that levfin offer? Any suggestions will be appreciated.
(Would prefer to internal transfer but if changing shops are better, then I wouldn't hesitate to do so.)

Best Response
Jan 2, 2018

I'm going to get monkey shit for this, but I'd rather be real here and help someone whose shoes I was in a while back. Don't bother with MO or BO dude. Its not a good place to be. Trust me.

It is my hope that this gets stickied and pinned so that everyone making this decision has some insight that, frankly, I wish I had when I was graduating college. I created a burner account specifically for this post, because I want to be as blunt as humanly possible here. I was in the MO and FO at two sell-side banks. I've since left, but I still lurk around here.

This is harsh, but please, I'm hoping people will see this for its honesty.
People can call me an elitist, but there are several things that are going to be working against you in the near future, that only add to the misery that MO/BO as you get older. I'm in my early 30s now so I'll be real: My guess is you're probably a pretty bright guy, and you think that there's an aspect to finance that's still lucrative and worthwhile from 10 years ago. I would tell my sister, my cousin, or literally anyone younger than me to skip Ops altogether at a sell-side bank. Let's go over some of the issues:

(this is NY-centric but still worth a read):

1) If you live in New York, get ready to be moving, relatively soon, to another city. Salt Lake City, Jacksonville, Raleigh, etc. This isn't stopping and will only accelerate as time goes on as banks continue to cut costs. Hope your girlfriend/boyfriend is supportive of that move.

2) When layoffs occur (and they will), guess who's getting the door first? Yeah, the guy who blows himself up trading will be the one everyone knows who got the door, but your onboarding, KYC, and settlements guys are getting a shove too. If you make money for a bank you are much less likely to get let go than a MO guy. Trump coming to office means a much less strict interpretation of Dodd Frank, and as a result, less of a need to hire good talent for it at banks. I know this because I have several friends in compliance in managerial roles now who bemoan the fact that it's harder to get good talent in satellite offices because it doesn't make sense to spend up for it now budget-wise at banks.

3) You don't live in a bubble. You're not going to notice it yet because you're 22 and every 22 year old bro or girl is going to spend Saturday nights hitting up Brass Monkey, La Caverna and Hotel Chantelle without a care in the world. And that's great. Have a blast. It's all the same salary-wise when you're 22 unless you play for the Knicks. If you're moderately driven (and to be on WSO, it seems like you are), you'll make friends with FO people, and people in other industries whom are driven and making a lot of money in their respective industries as well. You won't. You'll make about the same as a firefighter, principal, etc. any number of public servant jobs. Which is fine. But you didn't kill yourself in school for a specialized field like finance for public servant money. There is no "20 years and out with a pension" like you'd at least get in those fields, so you're arguably worse off from a monetary standpoint.

Worse, and you won't realize this until your mid-to-late 20s, people will start doing summer houses out in Montauk or trips to Europe, or things that, while you want to do, it will be much more a struggle for you to afford. You'll still likely be feeling grateful for your bank throwing you $15k for year-end. Beach house? Rolex? Any of the material trappings, that, while they don't bring someone happiness in themselves, do serve as a reminder why you work so hard? Nope, and nope. Not happening.

4) You're still working 55-60 hours a week in an Ops role. There's another cost component to this that you won't realize when you're 22. If you're in NYC, you can't afford to live near work and have kids. It's fine if you don't raise kids in the city, but you won't live off the first stop on the Metro North, and you won't live in North Jersey with anywhere of a reasonable commute. If you want any type of home that's not a tiny apartment, you're looking at, at a minimum, a 90 minute commute from like Middlesex, Suffolk, or Rockland county. Yes, 55-60 hours a week sounds great in comparison to the FO. You're still answering e-mails on your phone and on call if needed. So you're now up to 70+ hours total a week for $135k-$150k a year.

5) Spouses are important and picking the right one is an unbelievably important choice. But guess what, your spouse is working too! I hope you have grandma and grandpa nearby when you decide to have children, because otherwise, a huge chunk of mommy's salary is going to daycare. Forget about retiring wealthy, you're going to retire at 65 like everyone else, on whatever you saved. Which will be one year's earnings for a managing director on the FO side.

And Last, and most harsh:
6) You're going into an industry that worships money. Our society as whole worships money and places way too much emphasis on money as a barometer for intelligence, but you're going right into the belly of it in going into the finance industry. You will bring in zero revenue. Remember that post about "getting friend-zoned" by your job? FO people will look at you as always a "kid brother". It's literally the career equivalent of being the "nice guy" in romcoms from a respect by the FO level. You're the Ops guy that works hard. You won't get paid out of the FO bonus pool, salespeople and traders won't pull out an extra $5k in cash as a thank you for the work you did that year. You are the help. You support other people's efforts whom are valued more highly than you in every way shape or form, with rare, rare, rare exceptions for certain MO types of people whom have very specific skillsets.

I made the jump into FO. It took me years. I made a nice egg and I've since left to go work on something else that allows me to work in sweatpants and a t-shirt for comparable money. I had no issues with the industry as whole. I'm not going into too much detail about my background, but I just want you, and any other prospective monkeys to realize what MO/BO actually is.

This is what your life will be if you choose it. There are so, so many options out there that you can go for. If you're going to settle for the BO/MO salary, for God's sakes, go do something else.

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Jan 3, 2018

Are you speaking more about Ops or the Treasury/Risk Management/Finance roles above?

Also, what job makes the same comp as FO where you can wear sweatpants?

    • 1
Jan 7, 2018

lol and GS & JPM risk people get paid more than the majority of bullshit boutique banker bros. If anything, risk is the most secure job at any bank in this market. Most people in the roles mentioned can still work there for 3-5 years in Denver, Phoenix, Jacksonville, etc. while making 100-120k+ and having a strong name for business school later . Nobody here is even making an argument that these roles are better than ib and yet some hardo always comes on to these threads about how IB is for everyone.

To answer OP's question: I'd say risk, finance, strategy, tech and investor relations are good spots to be in. Avoid ops, accounting, hr, etc. Some banks (BofA/JPM) have neat little fldp programs that give you a nice skill set and rotations. I know WSO has an ib or bust agenda but most banks have more openings in back and middle office than front office.

Jan 7, 2018

I'd love to see where you got your numbers for that. I have friends in FO at boutiques and know several in risk at JPM, and a good FO vs. a good MO employee (which, if youre on here, you want to be), is not even close. Sure, the bottom 20% of FO guys might make what the average MO guy does, but we both know on average what you're saying isn't really true.

I prefaced my point saying that it was New York-centric in nature. A lot of people, specific to this board and site, are in it to go to New York and do the NY finance life. It wasn't correct for me to be honest with a guy? Where exactly was I wrong? It sucked when I was in the MO and some of my FO friends were starting to do share houses in the Hamptons or trips to places I couldn't swing until I got to the FO. How many Ops lifers I saw I worked with that were doing 2 hour commutes each way, grateful for a $15,000 EOY bonus, who always looked absolutely exhausted and beaten down from working 80% of the hours of FO people and making 10% of the salary for it?

I was just going off of his comment that "happy making a decent living and prioritize work and family time"...you can't do that in NY in an Ops salary. Its almost impossible. That's all.

The job I switched to is one I'm not sure I want to mention on here given the nature/honesty of the post...I don't want to get into what it is in case any of my friends are still on here, but it's somewhat of the same skillset of trading.

    • 1
Jan 7, 2018

really interested to hear about this sweatpants job

    • 1
Jan 7, 2018

I don't know what you did when you were in "ops", but my experience in MO was very different from yours.

I started in Risk Management and then jumped to my current role as an associate in IB. It did not take me years to make the change, it took me 7 months of intense networking, and preparation. Personally, I am much happier now in my current role, but that being said, MO is not necessarily a bad place to be.

There seems to be confusion in this site in the sense that people tend to think that all MO roles are the at the same level. The exact same compensation rule of thumb still applies there: the closer you are to the money, the more money you make. So if you do Model Validation or Compliance you are pretty far away from the cash generating activities of your bank, and your compensation will in fact not be enough to even live in Manhattan. But there are other jobs.

I was in risk, so I'll limit myself to talk about that. Risk Management is a very wide field, and within risk I usually like to classify the roles into two categories: before and after the trade. After-the-trade risk management is the analysis and reporting that happens after a security has been bought, or money has been lent to a company. People in these roles generally make less money because they have no say in whether or not the cash generating activity will actually happen.

Before-the-trade risk management teams, actually get to say if the security can be bought or the money can be lent. So they actually have a say in the activity that will eventually generate profit (or loss). I was in Securitization Risk Managment, and my position was actually defined as "front office" risk management. Obviously it is not really FO, but we did get to travel to meet with clients (for due diligence purposes), while the real FO team structured a note. Our compensation was tied to a degree to PnL, so our bonus was pretty decent. Also, I used to get out of the office at ~7pm on the longest of days. That's probably the only thing that I miss.

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Jan 8, 2018
realist243:

There are so, so many options out there that you can go for. If you're going to settle for the BO/MO salary, for God's sakes, go do something else.

great response, a bit pessimistic, but great.

what would you suggest otherwise?

May 17, 2018

This is the story of my life :-( Stuck in a MO Product Control Treasury Finance type of role at a BB in Canada at 34 yrs of age. Always lurking around the fences of FO hanging out drinking beers with the guys. Applying for internal openings at FO only to get rejected after interviews. When will I get out of this shit!?

Jan 7, 2018

Anything that lets you get licensed and have your series 7 and 63 could turn a negative start to your career into a positive. A lot of client service, account management, and middle office funding jobs where you are talking to clients want you and almost make you get your series 7 and 63. Then 8 months later when you have the licenses and you begin job hunting, interviewers dont have to worry about you getting your license, and you will be ready to start the job running.

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Feb 17, 2018

I'm actually at a JPM/GS trading MO role right now (just started, May 2017 grad). How valuable could the series 7 & 63 be to my resume if I wanted to make the move to FO?

Jan 7, 2018

Hey, just out of curiosity but where does "Client Onboarding lay in this discussion? It's definitely not FO and more of KYC/Pre-trade ops but it's "client facing". I am only asking because I got hit up by a headhunter for a 4 month contract position (recent college graduate with only internship experience) and trying to figure out if it would be good starting position.

Jan 7, 2018

First of all, that is not a head hunter, that is some sleaze bag that is looking to take advantage of vulnerable unemployed college grads such as yourself. The recruiter that is talking to you is not being paid to find some talented kid for the position, he is getting paid to find someone dumb enough and willing enough to do that job. It's the beginning of the year, the holidays are over, and lot of clients will be getting on boarded. Lot's of companies need young temporary employees during this busy period. If you have nothing on your resume and are struggling to pay bills and keep the lights on, then take it. Sure it can add a solid bank's name to your resume, but the position could hurt you in that it could hold you back from interviewing for other jobs. What is you need to miss work to interview, or someone wants to have a one hour phone interview with you on a Tuesday at 2PM, will the company let you off work? What if you get a job 2 months in to the temp gig, will it be ok on both sides if you left? A couple things to think about.

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Jan 7, 2018

Thank you so much for the input- I definitely did not consider any of that. My thought process was more so to "keep the lights on and put something on my resume" as I have been applying for positions for a while without any offers.

Feb 17, 2018

doesn't answer your question, but here's a thread u might find helpful: http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/5-benefits-t...

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My Linkedin

Feb 17, 2018

So you're looking for the lowest level backdoor to front office? This just seems silly. A lot of people who move internally are from Market Risk and Credit Risk, so I don't understand why you're ruling that out.

Feb 17, 2018

Get a job as a trading assistant (at any firm) doing settlement/other tasks on the trading desk itself (make sure you're not in another office). As long as you're working 5 feet from the traders, there's an opportunity. I did it.

Feb 17, 2018

I started out as a secretary in a client servicing area that was not held in high esteem. From that spot, and in less than 6 months, I got a job in the Fixed Income Quantitative Research group, which at that time was part of the front office in a major buy-side asset manager. I had zero background in economics or finance. Get the best job you can and show some humility: take the job seriously, build goodwill and network discretely. I saw another guy a few years later get promoted from The Performance Group to be a corporate bond trader. He worked very hard in The Performance Group. His bosses liked him and pulled for him to get a front office job. With this economy it is much more difficult of course but I am a living example of the phenomenon.

As far as what firm, I think for what you are asking about, you will not get an answer. It's like asking if there is a Wall Street company that is "nice." There isn't.

Feb 17, 2018

If you have any aspirations for making moves from back to front, you're definitely going to want to shoot for a role in a major financial hub (New York). Makes it easier to network internally and externally if things aren't going too well with your search within the firm you're at.

Jan 7, 2018

Don't even bother with that crap. Go for front office. Its more interesting and you are paid more.

Timing Is Everything.

Feb 17, 2018

d

Feb 17, 2018

I don't see how it would lead to banking

Feb 17, 2018

You need to go play around on vault.com for a while and then maybe you'll be able to give some more clarity to your question. The majority of us here are I-bankers or former I-bankers, so PE and VC info might be hard to come by here. I work for a HF that I can't disclose for obvious reasons (former I-banker). If you're looking for company, salary and employee reviews, vault.com sounds like your best bet...

"Cut the burger into thirds, place it on the fries, roll one up homey..." - Epic Meal Time

Jan 7, 2018

Proximity to money and proximity to senior management are two key factors when considering a non-p&l role (I hate the FO vs. BO term as not all FO employees are actually producers).

Roles that position you close to market transactions (money) are a great way to get yourself integrated into businesses. Examples of these roles are Risk (calculating and monitoring the risk of each position) and Treasury (financing transactions). I'd much rather work on benchmark 10BN+ bond issuances within a BB's corporate treasury or actively work with traders to monitor the market risk of a BB's 100+BN trading book than work on micky mouse deals in a bad industry or product group.

Access to senior management is also super underrated. Roles in investor relations and group strategy often provides analysts and associates a direct line with the Bank's CFO, COO, or even CEO. Yes, I'm not making money for the firm, but I'm instead eating a late dinner with the CFO working on tomorrow's earnings report or modeling financial projections for the Bank's Board of Directors. These are great roles with awesome exit ops.

I would avoid reporting roles, accounting roles, and all general reg / legal related roles unless you are really interested in that area. I don't know much about trade support or Ops but would also rank them below what I wrote above.

Hope this helps

    • 2
Jan 9, 2018

I think people do underrate a quicker path to stability from those close to market transactions and access to senior management for the short term reward of good exit opps . It would be awesome if everyone landed those PE/HF offers after an IB analyst stint, but I've come across a lot of people that just burn out. I guess it's better to take the burn out risk than not at all when you're young?

Jan 9, 2018

As someone who started in Ops in a non-metro hub and has since moved to a trade support Ops role in NY, @realist243 provided a great perspective from someone now in their early 30s who's been there and done that. I'd like to touch on some of the points he made and expand a bit here and there, offering insight from someone currently in their mid 20s trying to GTFO of their current position. These thoughts are purely based off of my own experiences.

1) Relocation (outside of Manhattan)- very real. Whether it's within your office building making room for another group (that adds more value being closer in proximity to their FO) or to another building in the NY Metro, I could definitely see relocation to a non-metro hub in the coming years happening. One bank in particular already does this for some of their trade support staff.

2) Layoffs- can't really comment on this as I've only seen people who are (apparently) terrible at their jobs get laid off.

3) Your early to mid 20s- yeah you'll make enough to live in the city with roommates and have a good time meeting girls/guys, but depending on how much your career matters to you, you may get bored/start to hate your job. Some of the people I work with are pretty smart, but I do not think staying long-term is the smart move.

4) Hours - I'd put them at the low end of 50 or so, higher end closer to 60 (ex. a teammate is out and you're covering). One major downside to the Ops life is if one of your teammates who carry a lot of weight (like yourself because you've been there for a few months and are competent enough to be able to do the same repetitive tasks that were shown to you a few times) leave for a new job, you're going to be picking up their slack and waiting (months) for your bank to hire someone new. Once that new person is hired, the training process begins and if they're not competent, well, sucks because the job still needs to get done and trading doesn't give a fuck who's doing it.

I won't touch on the commuting/thinking about kids etc. because I'm personally nowhere near that point in my life.

5) Re finding bae- long story short Ops is not going to support a viable lifestyle in NY if your significant other isn't also working. Please save yourself and find something more fulfilling that will pay you appropriately for your time.

6) Being a support function (that generates 0 dollars in pnl)- this one hits home. At the end of the day, you are team bitch. You may be buddy buddy with some of the sales guys or some of the traders, but you busting your ass in your current position is only going to get you more work because people are going to start coming to you instead of someone else to fix their problems. I've seen this firsthand with some very intelligent people who just get smoked with work because no one else has the knowledge... this isn't like banking where you can look up something you don't know in a BIWS modeling guide or find out new tax bill impacts with the right sources... instead you have a handful of gurus between the team you're on and the teams you'll interact with on a daily basis (tech, other support functions, etc.) who know the answers to questions you have and if one of them leave/don't know, you're stuck figuring it out on your own. Dealing with the number of antiquated systems that have been pieced together after years and years and living with issues that have no budget to get fixed can be frustrating to say the least.

If you're in your 20s coming out of college or a few years out and you choose to go into a role like this, please use this as a stepping stone and do not get stuck in a management position (again, my personal opinion) without having one foot out the door looking for your next step. I started in a non-metro area in the definition of a back office function where over half of the people I was working with (~60 person team) were 35+ and had zero motivation to do something more with their careers. I'm not kidding when I'm saying I wanted to shoot myself (not really but you get the point - it was that bad) and even after moving to NY, it's getting to that point again. Ops can offer some great roles, but you really need to seek them out. Think about where you're currently at, what you want out of life, and go from there. I think Ops is a waste of time (more than the CFA exams that I've taken) and I hope that if you're in a position to do something else that will add more value to your long-term career, you choose to work a little harder to get there.

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Jan 10, 2018

Thanks for the post. I've seen a lot of people in ops, back office, or in any role really with normal hours and that wants to get to a sexy position do the CFA. What is your view on it for a front office sales role. I am currently in the front office in institutional sales and work on the low end of 50 hours of week, and am wondering if I should do the CFA. 0% intention on grad school.

Jan 13, 2018

All depends on what you think you'll get out of it. If you're doing equity sales, yes. If you're covering another product, may be worth thinking about. I'd look around your desk/sister desks and see who else is pursuing/has pursued the charter. Ultimately, for someone on the sell side with a solid background (I'm assuming you went to a good school and have a wide network on the street) it really depends on what you (may) want to do from here, whether or not you're thinking about business school, and whether the opportunity cost of those 250-300 hours spent studying for each level may be better spent elsewhere on something that's going to add more value for your end goals. For me, it made sense because I went to a non-target and my network of alumni is slim when it comes to things I'm interested in. Happy to chat offline but my advice is to chat with people in similar roles (within or outside of your firm) who have their charter or are Level 2 or 3 candidates about their thoughts on taking the exams.

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Jan 9, 2018
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Jun 23, 2019
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