The Front Office of a Back Office is a Back Office

kbgzp's picture
Rank: Chimp | banana points 8

Hey guys,

The question I want to ask is whether audit at a Big 4 is actually considered FO in the exit opportunity sense and not just by pure definition. I actually worked for audit over the summer and definitely felt that it was more BO than FO. By definition, FO is client facing and revenue generating, both of which audit checks. But by exit opportunities, I didn't really get the feeling that you could network into banking other than the already bottle-necked CF/Advisory to IBD route.

So the question is, I got an internal audit MO (interaction with FO and senior management) offer at a bank and the FO audit offer at Big 4, which will more likely let me exit to the real FO at a bank?

During the 2 months at audit, I did face clients, It was actually a BBIB so that wasn't too bad. But the team dealt only with BO Finance people and at best Risk Management. You probably need to be a manager or above to interact with the CFO or COO and that's not really that helpful anyway!

Thank you in advance!

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Comments (41)

Apr 13, 2012

No one gives a fuck. It's about what you actually do. Juggle these FO/BO/MO titles all you want.

    • 2
Apr 13, 2012
Flake:

No one gives a fuck. It's about what you actually do. Juggle these FO/BO/MO titles all you want.

would have to agree with Flake here. I think you are confusing yourself with all the titles. If you want IBD, you should probably think about what type of experience is relevant for what you are trying to get to. Wherever you will apply to probably won't care what "O" you were in or think you were in, its more based on the experience and its relevancy to what you are applying to.

    • 1
Apr 13, 2012
trailmix8:
Flake:

No one gives a fuck. It's about what you actually do. Juggle these FO/BO/MO titles all you want.

would have to agree with Flake here. I think you are confusing yourself with all the titles. If you want IBD, you should probably think about what type of experience is relevant for what you are trying to get to. Wherever you will apply to probably won't care what "O" you were in or think you were in, its more based on the experience and its relevancy to what you are applying to.

Thanks Flake and trailmix8,

I don't care too much about the titles as well, but more so on the interaction and networking opportunities to move into AM or ER. I guess I really wanted your opinion on whether you think disregarding the titles, the internal audit job is better in meeting the FO colleagues and management to network into their department or whether I am just in over my head.

Cheers!

Apr 13, 2012

you are in over your head.

Apr 13, 2012
probinganalyst:

you are in over your head.

This

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Apr 13, 2012
probinganalyst:

you are in over your head.

This

Apr 15, 2012
gammaovertheta:
probinganalyst:

you are in over your head.

This

+1

Apr 13, 2012

I am a firm believer that with STRONG motivation, ability, and network, you can break into banking. It will be an uphill battle, but definitely doable.

But your reason to move to IB better "because banking pays more."

That is all.

Apr 13, 2012

If individuals can work hard to go from operations and support type roles into FO IBD roles, then you should have no problems going from audit. It happens a lot actually, just work your ass off.

Apr 13, 2012
Anacott_CEO:

If individuals can work hard to go from operations and support type roles into FO IBD roles, then you should have no problems going from audit. It happens a lot actually, just work your ass off.

It actually doesn't happen "a lot".

    • 2
Apr 13, 2012

It's definitely possible. It's just not an easy direct jump. Here do this if these are your only two options:

1) External audit (internal audit is a joke, don't even consider it) for a year.
2) Transfer within your company or to someone like HL in their Financial Advisory, Valuations, or Due Diligence teams. Stay here for a few years.
3) Try to make the switch to banking as an experience hire, or go get your MBA and break in as an associate (If your are looking for AM or ER get your CFA while you're still doing accounting work in order to get a basic finance background and show interest).

People in these "accounting roles" break in "a lot," but not as a complete lateral (for instance, 2 years of valuation works ~ 1 year experienced IB hire). Forget about the people telling you that you can't. There are a ton of boutiques and MM IBankers with that exact background.

GL.

Apr 13, 2012
Highway Robbery:

1) External audit (internal audit is a joke, don't even consider it) for a year.

Not sure if I agree with this. Personally, I have never done internal audit so I am talking from 3rd person experience, but depending on the firm and role, internal audit can straddle between/work with some other groups like corp strat/dev, internal consultancy. Think about CAS at GE for example, or CAS at any F500 (pretty sure most major oil companies have CAS groups).

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Apr 13, 2012

Audit is shitty work man. are these the only options u have? Its like asking is BO at trading better or BO at IB better?

Apr 13, 2012
Imperialian:

Audit is shitty work man. are these the only options u have? Its like asking is BO at trading better or BO at IB better?

Yeah man, quite fortunate already. This is Australia, and for personal issues my grades just don't cut it to begin with. A lot of banks are cutting headcount and RBS just got sold so a bunch of reneged grads are also applying now.

So the internal audit is with an Australian IB and external audit will be working with a BBIB. I audited that BBIB over the internship, client interaction is only with Controllers and Finance guys. Really didn't like checking shit like you said.

I am considering the Big 4 offer now, It might be wise for me to transfer to property or insurance group, at least I might win the lottery to meet CF people doing vals for intangibles. As an external auditor, you are out at client all the time so networking is actually not that easy. Plus you are usually secluded from client activity so I will have to be on the ball with CF or client networking.

At internal audit, the AD said there are opportunities to transfer because people are here to get a feel of management. He did mention IBD and trading albeit overseas but that might be because internal auditors travel to overseas offices.

Tough choice...

Apr 13, 2012

Neither is going to help you get relevant experience or network.

Apr 13, 2012

WTF? For Accounting, audit at Big4 is front office. For banking/finance/consulting, audit at Big4 is nothing, because it's not banking/finance/consulting. Whether or not you can use audit to get into banking/consulting is irrelevant when you're trying to classify BO vs FO (not that the classification is important in the first place). By your logic, medicine is BO because you can't use it to get into banking.

Apr 13, 2012
manbearpig:

By your logic, medicine is BO because you can't use it to get into banking.

Yeah I agree. Caring professions ---> total back office / non-alpha

Apr 13, 2012

First, stop obsessing with the generic titles of BO/MO/FO. More often than not, they mean nothing related to your specific experience. All you need to care about is what you will get out in terms of knowledge and expertise in 2-3 year and how you could sell it to someone doing what you want to do. That being said, I know more people moving into IB from the big four than from IA. Just my experience.

Best Response
Apr 13, 2012
Rey Kong:

First, stop obsessing with the generic titles of BO/MO/FO. More often than not, they mean nothing related to your specific experience. All you need to care about is what you will get out in terms of knowledge and expertise in 2-3 year and how you could sell it to someone doing what you want to do. That being said, I know more people moving into IB from the big four than from IA. Just my experience.

I only leaned three things on this site:

  1. No one in "FO" refers to themselves as "front office", they just name the actual division/role. Those who have some ambiguous job god knows where will use FO to be cryptic.
  2. Everyone in BO says they are MO and continue to obsess with generic categories.
  3. No one here apparently works in BO, see #2.
    • 3
Apr 15, 2012
Flake:
Rey Kong:

First, stop obsessing with the generic titles of BO/MO/FO. More often than not, they mean nothing related to your specific experience. All you need to care about is what you will get out in terms of knowledge and expertise in 2-3 year and how you could sell it to someone doing what you want to do. That being said, I know more people moving into IB from the big four than from IA. Just my experience.

I only leaned three things on this site:

  1. No one in "FO" refers to themselves as "front office", they just name the actual division/role. Those who have some ambiguous job god knows where will use FO to be cryptic.
  2. Everyone in BO says they are MO and continue to obsess with generic categories.
  3. No one here apparently works in BO, see #2.

This is epic especially #3. Thanks Flake.

Apr 19, 2012
Human:
Flake:
Rey Kong:

First, stop obsessing with the generic titles of BO/MO/FO. More often than not, they mean nothing related to your specific experience. All you need to care about is what you will get out in terms of knowledge and expertise in 2-3 year and how you could sell it to someone doing what you want to do. That being said, I know more people moving into IB from the big four than from IA. Just my experience.

I only leaned three things on this site:

  1. No one in "FO" refers to themselves as "front office", they just name the actual division/role. Those who have some ambiguous job god knows where will use FO to be cryptic.
  2. Everyone in BO says they are MO and continue to obsess with generic categories.
  3. No one here apparently works in BO, see #2.

This is epic especially #3. Thanks Flake.

2 is spot-on. MO is just a term coined by BO folks to make themselves feel better.

Apr 19, 2012
probinganalyst:
Human:
Flake:
Rey Kong:

First, stop obsessing with the generic titles of BO/MO/FO. More often than not, they mean nothing related to your specific experience. All you need to care about is what you will get out in terms of knowledge and expertise in 2-3 year and how you could sell it to someone doing what you want to do. That being said, I know more people moving into IB from the big four than from IA. Just my experience.

I only leaned three things on this site:

  1. No one in "FO" refers to themselves as "front office", they just name the actual division/role. Those who have some ambiguous job god knows where will use FO to be cryptic.
  2. Everyone in BO says they are MO and continue to obsess with generic categories.
  3. No one here apparently works in BO, see #2.

This is epic especially #3. Thanks Flake.

2 is spot-on. MO is just a term coined by BO folks to make themselves feel better.

This is a pretty stupid comment. Not that any of these classifications really matter, there is a vast difference between a back office, and several functions within a bank that are not part of a business line. Risk Management, and Treasury to name a few. How are these in any way comparable to trade settlement etc.?

Apr 19, 2012
manbearpig:
probinganalyst:
Human:
Flake:
Rey Kong:

First, stop obsessing with the generic titles of BO/MO/FO. More often than not, they mean nothing related to your specific experience. All you need to care about is what you will get out in terms of knowledge and expertise in 2-3 year and how you could sell it to someone doing what you want to do. That being said, I know more people moving into IB from the big four than from IA. Just my experience.

I only leaned three things on this site:

  1. No one in "FO" refers to themselves as "front office", they just name the actual division/role. Those who have some ambiguous job god knows where will use FO to be cryptic.
  2. Everyone in BO says they are MO and continue to obsess with generic categories.
  3. No one here apparently works in BO, see #2.

This is epic especially #3. Thanks Flake.

2 is spot-on. MO is just a term coined by BO folks to make themselves feel better.

This is a pretty stupid comment. Not that any of these classifications really matter, there is a vast difference between a back office, and several functions within a bank that are not part of a business line. Risk Management, and Treasury to name a few. How are these in any way comparable to trade settlement etc.?

u mad, non-revenue generating bro?

Apr 19, 2012
probinganalyst:
manbearpig:
probinganalyst:
Human:
Flake:
Rey Kong:

First, stop obsessing with the generic titles of BO/MO/FO. More often than not, they mean nothing related to your specific experience. All you need to care about is what you will get out in terms of knowledge and expertise in 2-3 year and how you could sell it to someone doing what you want to do. That being said, I know more people moving into IB from the big four than from IA. Just my experience.

I only leaned three things on this site:

  1. No one in "FO" refers to themselves as "front office", they just name the actual division/role. Those who have some ambiguous job god knows where will use FO to be cryptic.
  2. Everyone in BO says they are MO and continue to obsess with generic categories.
  3. No one here apparently works in BO, see #2.

This is epic especially #3. Thanks Flake.

2 is spot-on. MO is just a term coined by BO folks to make themselves feel better.

This is a pretty stupid comment. Not that any of these classifications really matter, there is a vast difference between a back office, and several functions within a bank that are not part of a business line. Risk Management, and Treasury to name a few. How are these in any way comparable to trade settlement etc.?

u mad, non-revenue generating bro?

Bro, last year when you were busy changing font sizes and graph colours, I billed over 700K and brought in almost a million in sales. How exactly are you revenue generating though?

Apr 20, 2012
manbearpig:
probinganalyst:
manbearpig:
probinganalyst:
Human:
Flake:
Rey Kong:

First, stop obsessing with the generic titles of BO/MO/FO. More often than not, they mean nothing related to your specific experience. All you need to care about is what you will get out in terms of knowledge and expertise in 2-3 year and how you could sell it to someone doing what you want to do. That being said, I know more people moving into IB from the big four than from IA. Just my experience.

I only leaned three things on this site:

  1. No one in "FO" refers to themselves as "front office", they just name the actual division/role. Those who have some ambiguous job god knows where will use FO to be cryptic.
  2. Everyone in BO says they are MO and continue to obsess with generic categories.
  3. No one here apparently works in BO, see #2.

This is epic especially #3. Thanks Flake.

2 is spot-on. MO is just a term coined by BO folks to make themselves feel better.

This is a pretty stupid comment. Not that any of these classifications really matter, there is a vast difference between a back office, and several functions within a bank that are not part of a business line. Risk Management, and Treasury to name a few. How are these in any way comparable to trade settlement etc.?

u mad, non-revenue generating bro?

Bro, last year when you were busy changing font sizes and graph colours, I billed over 700K and brought in almost a million in sales. How exactly are you revenue generating though?

u mad, insecure bro?

Apr 20, 2012
probinganalyst:
manbearpig:
probinganalyst:
manbearpig:
probinganalyst:
Human:
Flake:
Rey Kong:

First, stop obsessing with the generic titles of BO/MO/FO. More often than not, they mean nothing related to your specific experience. All you need to care about is what you will get out in terms of knowledge and expertise in 2-3 year and how you could sell it to someone doing what you want to do. That being said, I know more people moving into IB from the big four than from IA. Just my experience.

I only leaned three things on this site:

  1. No one in "FO" refers to themselves as "front office", they just name the actual division/role. Those who have some ambiguous job god knows where will use FO to be cryptic.
  2. Everyone in BO says they are MO and continue to obsess with generic categories.
  3. No one here apparently works in BO, see #2.

This is epic especially #3. Thanks Flake.

2 is spot-on. MO is just a term coined by BO folks to make themselves feel better.

This is a pretty stupid comment. Not that any of these classifications really matter, there is a vast difference between a back office, and several functions within a bank that are not part of a business line. Risk Management, and Treasury to name a few. How are these in any way comparable to trade settlement etc.?

u mad, non-revenue generating bro?

Bro, last year when you were busy changing font sizes and graph colours, I billed over 700K and brought in almost a million in sales. How exactly are you revenue generating though?

u mad, insecure bro?

u mad about dodd-frank and jelly that it doesn't apply to me, bro?

    • 1
Aug 21, 2018

God I just got douche chills. Don't understand why everyone on here under the age of 25 is obsessed with prestige. Most people in finance don't start in IBD, and it's an obvious long, grueling process to 'work your way up'.

This site just constantly perpetuates this 'big cock' attitude. If I were hiring manager and heard your ignorant bs scrutiny about FO/MO/BO after higher or during an interview, I'd either fire you or wouldn't think twice about not hiring you. Treat everyone with some fucking respect and get off your high horse. It doesn't take a genius to do any of these jobs, the thing that's most difficult to find is a fundamentally genuine person.

Apr 19, 2012
manbearpig:
probinganalyst:
Human:
Flake:
Rey Kong:

First, stop obsessing with the generic titles of BO/MO/FO. More often than not, they mean nothing related to your specific experience. All you need to care about is what you will get out in terms of knowledge and expertise in 2-3 year and how you could sell it to someone doing what you want to do. That being said, I know more people moving into IB from the big four than from IA. Just my experience.

I only leaned three things on this site:

  1. No one in "FO" refers to themselves as "front office", they just name the actual division/role. Those who have some ambiguous job god knows where will use FO to be cryptic.
  2. Everyone in BO says they are MO and continue to obsess with generic categories.
  3. No one here apparently works in BO, see #2.

This is epic especially #3. Thanks Flake.

2 is spot-on. MO is just a term coined by BO folks to make themselves feel better.

This is a pretty stupid comment. Not that any of these classifications really matter, there is a vast difference between a back office, and several functions within a bank that are not part of a business line. Risk Management, and Treasury to name a few. How are these in any way comparable to trade settlement etc.?

While I agree with mbp that there is a difference between treasury/risk and trade settlement, I'll just explain the other side of it.

Whatever is not FO is BO. You either are part of the strategic core of the company, or you support it. Other areas may even directly "generate revenue" (treasury) or helps cut costs at the very least (in some cases FP&A, risk mgmt, etc) but they are still periphery relative to the core operations of the business.

The difference between MO/BO is just a gradient, and then you can get into the discussion of where exactly to draw the line. Easier just to categorize as FO/BO.

Apr 19, 2012
Ultima-RDK:
manbearpig:
probinganalyst:
Human:
Flake:
Rey Kong:

First, stop obsessing with the generic titles of BO/MO/FO. More often than not, they mean nothing related to your specific experience. All you need to care about is what you will get out in terms of knowledge and expertise in 2-3 year and how you could sell it to someone doing what you want to do. That being said, I know more people moving into IB from the big four than from IA. Just my experience.

I only leaned three things on this site:

  1. No one in "FO" refers to themselves as "front office", they just name the actual division/role. Those who have some ambiguous job god knows where will use FO to be cryptic.
  2. Everyone in BO says they are MO and continue to obsess with generic categories.
  3. No one here apparently works in BO, see #2.

This is epic especially #3. Thanks Flake.

2 is spot-on. MO is just a term coined by BO folks to make themselves feel better.

This is a pretty stupid comment. Not that any of these classifications really matter, there is a vast difference between a back office, and several functions within a bank that are not part of a business line. Risk Management, and Treasury to name a few. How are these in any way comparable to trade settlement etc.?

While I agree with mbp that there is a difference between treasury/risk and trade settlement, I'll just explain the other side of it.

Whatever is not FO is BO. You either are part of the strategic core of the company, or you support it. Other areas may even directly "generate revenue" (treasury) or helps cut costs at the very least (in some cases FP&A, risk mgmt, etc) but they are still periphery relative to the core operations of the business.

The difference between MO/BO is just a gradient, and then you can get into the discussion of where exactly to draw the line. Easier just to categorize as FO/BO.

Why is generate revenue in quotes for treasury? Treasury usually houses the repo, funding, money market desks. These desks not only fund all the other business lines of the bank but also have a mandate to generate profits. Also the balance sheet management of the whole bank is done by treasury. This includes all of the principal investments (public and private equity investments etc.). Not sure how any of this can remotely be called back office.

By your logic, being a quant on a trading desk is also a back office role, even though no one considers this to be true.

Finally, IBD analysts are not part of the strategic core of anything. They're support staff. So would that make them back office?

Apr 13, 2012

I started at Big4 audit and if you want to make the switch you have to get in and out as fast as possible. The longer you stay the less attractive you are for IB. Spend all your time networking and perhaps take the CFA (over the CPA) as soon as possible.

Don't even consider internal audit. The best you could do from there is moving into some ops role and have to continute to work your way up forever.

Apr 13, 2012

FO - MO = BO

FO = BO + MO

MO = FO - BO

BO^2 = ...still BO

MO^2 = ...somewhat able to show yourself in public (still pretty pathetic)

FO^2 = king of the fucking world

Figure out your formula and continue on the trail that generations of corporate cogs have created for you....you'll accomplish great things.

"Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a Champion" - Muhammad Ali

Apr 13, 2012
pacman007:

FO - MO = BO

FO = BO + MO

MO = FO - BO

BO^2 = ...still BO

MO^2 = ...somewhat able to show yourself in public (still pretty pathetic)

FO^2 = king of the fucking world

Figure out your formula and continue on the trail that generations of corporate cogs have created for you....you'll accomplish great things.

What about (FOxBO)/MO ?

Apr 13, 2012

If you want to work in banking, then you should start in banking. Delay graduation, go on exchange, do extra internships and get your foot in the door. Once you are out in big 4 or internal audit, there are absolutely no guarantees that your hard work and dedication will get you into banking.

Apr 14, 2012

Reiterating what was said previously, worry less about if you are considered FO or BO and more so on what relative value your experience provides to the roles you are seeking (so if you are missing required skils, how do you fix that? i.e. mba, etc.). While it doesn't happen frequently, I know of several people who made the jump from BO/MO to FO roles. In this industry, many times it is more about relationships and not being a prick and more often than not, friends will help you get a job. So don't be a asshole who puts value on what cost center you are in, and more so if your are someone that you friends and colleagues will put their own rep on the line for. Trust me, in this game, understanding that goes a long way.

Apr 14, 2012

I will reiterate. Internal audit is not where you want to start your career. Big 4 external audit is 1000x better starting opportunity compared to internal audit. Not the external audit is a fabulous place to start, but it is night and day with internal audit.

Internal audit is corp governance/control testing. There is nothing useful for finance. Take the Big 4 gig if these are your only two options and then start looking ahead. Lots of opportunities to transfer within the company or externally to a bridge position before MBA/IB.

Apr 14, 2012
kbgzp:

So the question is, I got an internal audit MO (interaction with FO and senior management) offer at a bank and the FO audit offer at Big 4, which will more likely let me exit to the real FO at a bank?

During the 2 months at audit, I did face clients, It was actually a BBIB so that wasn't too bad. But the team dealt only with BO Finance people and at best Risk Management. You probably need to be a manager or above to interact with the CFO or COO and that's not really that helpful anyway!

Thank you in advance!

You sort of alluded to this but I wanted to make it very clear to anyone thinking of going down the audit (internal or external) path: you will NOT have any meaningful interaction with front office guys. A lot of people will go into audit thinking they will be able to "network" their way to a revenue-generating position just by schmoozing with clients, but practically all of controls you will be auditing are performed on the back end. (Especially when it comes to SOX/ICFR).

Apr 15, 2012

Either way breaking into banking is not likely.

I would take the internal audit @ Macquarie offer over KPMG audit. Their FS division is a hell hole.

PM me if you want more advice.

Apr 20, 2012

There are obvious shades of FO, MO, and BO across the board. Why argue about this? I personally think FO, MO, and BO designations should be given out daily depending on your performance for the day. If you had a shitty scum-bag day at the office, then youre BO n I dont care if youre a CEO youve been relegated to BO status for the day. Come back n try again tomorrow.

    • 2
Apr 20, 2012
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Apr 20, 2012
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Apr 21, 2012