What exactly is "ops"?

bernie madoff's picture
Rank: Baboon | 164

i know what ops is at a broker dealer. but what is ops in F500 or even much smaller companies? for instance a contact of mine has recently started working in "operations" at a sexy startup in san francisco. it just seems like a kind of catch-all job title. but is there a typical description of what ops actually is/does?

Comments (123)

Sep 16, 2016

Depends on the industry but probably generally best description is the people who put the wheels in motion and are responsible for product / service delivery in a correct, timely, efficient and cost effective manner. They are also often responsible for a P&L and for ensuring a given subsidiary / product related business runs smoothly and adheres to plan.

I'm in the oilfield - for example here operations is responsible for supply chain and making sure the right equipment packages are sent to the right customer jobs with appropriate rig staffing levels. They also get involved sometimes with engineering / product development work from a feasibility standpoint.

When looking at product delivery - the engineer says, can I design this cool new thing, the sales guy weighs in on whether it can be sold, the ops guy weighs in on whether it can be effectively delivered and scaled up, and the finance guy weighs in on whether it can be made to be a profitable offering.

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Sep 21, 2016
JuniorMInion:

When looking at product delivery - the engineer says, can I design this cool new thing, the sales guy weighs in on whether it can be sold, the ops guy weighs in on whether it can be effectively delivered and scaled up, and the finance guy weighs in on whether it can be made to be a profitable offering.

This is a great overview.

Operations is the running of the core business (what that means varies by industry). In healthcare delivery, Operations is the management of nursing staff, supplies, and drugs to ensure patients can be cared for in a safe and effective manner.

In Biotech, you might think of Operations as the manufacturing/production group (again....the management of the underlying business...ultimately a biotech/pharma company makes no money if it can't produce biologics/drugs).

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Sep 18, 2016

Ops is another term that people on this forum throw around without knowing what it is, just that it exists because they've seen other people who don't know what they're talking about use it on WSO.

JuniorMinion gave a great explaination. They're just the people that actually deliver the service/product the business offers.

Ops at construction firm = builders
Ops at engineering firm = engineers
Ops at arhcitechs = architechs
Ops at bank = bankers (for some reason they don't like to see themselves this wasy and non-operations people are called 'ops' at many banks)

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Sep 21, 2016

what do you mean "do operations analysts eventually become analysts"?

Sep 21, 2016

That depends on what department you support (mainly for sales and trading, I believe). Your title is called analyst, but not in the investment banking sense (I think that's what you're referring to?). If you're looking to become an IBD analyst, it will be a rather difficult transition from Ops to IBD.

Sep 21, 2016

Agreed I know that it is possible to move from ops to the trading floor, but I really have not heard of anyone from ops moving to IBD.

Sep 21, 2016

yeah I'm sorry for the confusion, I meant from operation analyst to ibanking analyst.

So you've seen people go from ops to trading but not to the corporate finance side. Do you know why is that?

What do operation analysts do? I though the ibanking analysts were the bottom of the food chain, is ops below that?

Sep 21, 2016

Yes ops is below that. Ops is a "back-office" gig, whereas IBD analysts are in the "front-office."

The difference between front and back is front adds to the top-line of the income statement (revenues) and back takes away from the bottom-line (income). IBD analysts get paid a lot more than ops analysts, but IBD analysts bring in revenues. Ops analysts are a cost center--albeit a very important one--to the banks. You can't have one without the other.

There's a totally different roles, requiring different skillsets. Ops is a transactional environment (did this trade settle correctly? did we get paid on that sale today? etc) IBD is a deal environment (can we advise company a in their acquisition of company b? can we help company a IPO? etc)

IBD is sexy. Ops sucks but it's stable...in a bull or bear market you always need people ensuring transactional activity. The vast majority of posts on this site relate to IBD, not Ops.

Explore vault.com or efinancialcareers.com to learn more.

Sep 21, 2016

Hang out behind the office

Sep 21, 2016

You show up and act excited. Don't talk about front office. BO is a job, plain and simple. Your not going to get a big bonus or anything flashy. It's like working billing at a doctors office, shipping at a company, whatever. You put in data and print out reports. Interview will be behavioral.

Sep 21, 2016

Speak with a Brooklyn accent, if you don't already.

Sep 21, 2016

Can you guys tell me what are the hours in operations division?

Sep 21, 2016

Depends on what part of ops you're in, but its usually 9-5. MO roles might have you stay a little longer as the hours are closer to trading, but never more than 10-12 hrs a day is required.

Sep 21, 2016

not to be rude, but why did you apply if you didn't even know what it was?

Sep 21, 2016

It is mid office work.. more like management I think.. If comparing IB as the forefront people dealing with clients.. OPs would be those who do the routine works or paperworks once the deal is close.. ???..

Ling~

Ling~

Sep 21, 2016

Most of ops is considered back office. Its the supporting functions of what the bankers/traders are doing. Go to any career section of a BB web site and read about the ops division.

Sep 21, 2016

Is compliance/legal (both inhouse and outside counsel) considered backoffice or middle office?

Yes, I realize that outside lawyers, in the perspective of the law firm, are front office.

"We are lawyers! We sue people! Occasionally, we get aggressive and garnish wages, but WE DO NOT ABDUCT!" -Boston Legal-

"We are lawyers! We sue people! Occasionally, we get aggressive and garnish wages, but WE DO NOT ABDUCT!" -Boston Legal-

Sep 21, 2016

Is business continuity considered an operations job? It's in the COO, but it has to do with crisis management and planning, not typical operations functions. If not, what would you classify this position as?

Sep 21, 2016

I have worked extensively with operation teams in top IB, have noted OPS is not the most glamorous place to be, however those who stays there, they do enjoy the place.

and to answer your question, it is difficult but possible to move from Ops to Front Office, have seen that head of Australia Ops move to Electronics trading team.

Also, it does not matter if you work with GS or any other similar top IB, as long as you bring value to the table all experience is more or all equal, what matter is attitude and performance in the firm.

All the best.

Sep 21, 2016

For summer internship: YES

Go on the company directory and collect every email for VP and above. Then, email them for an internship for next year.

Sep 21, 2016

Thanks for the input....do you mean VP and above from the IBD division of the firm?

Sep 21, 2016

There's always a chance and a possibility. No one gets pigeonholed for interning one summer in operations. Question is how bad do you want it and how long are you willing to chase after it. You'll also have to have a good story as to why/how your interest turned from Ops to FO.

Sep 21, 2016

Ok thanks for the advice. I guess my only reason for interning at Ops was because I couldn't land anything else and was in a panic so I just accepted the only offer that came my way. I'm definitely interested in something in FO by the time I graduate in the spring. I guess it's all on me now...

Sep 21, 2016

I've heard 60K, small bonus and sign on, don't really know that much about comp, however assuming that the insurance company was a decent sized one, you likely have a decent shot at F500 finance roles. Consider the GE FMP, FP&A Roles anything, but BO. There are also lots of boutiques and MMs. It doesn't have to be GS or bust.

Sep 21, 2016

1st year comp(NYC): 10k at signing + 55-60k base + 5-12k year end bonus. Doing a boring, dead end job with no exit ops and virtually no mobility to front office: priceless.

Stay away if possible.

Sep 21, 2016

FO > Ops > unemployed

I came out of ops....it SUCKED, but a few months in and all you have to do is impress the right people and you're golden. Network your ass off though, anything is possible.

Sep 21, 2016

Ever think about perusing a business analyst position with an investment bank? Can definitely lead to some good consulting roles. Last I heard a few banks were offering 70-80k for experienced BAs. Not bad if you ask me.

Sep 21, 2016

I'll be honest: ops fucking blows. The people are retarded at best, and most of them would rather be doing something else, but they want to bank a few bucks in the meantime....most of them don't give a shit about the job. Network to front office immediately, and spare yourself from being surrounded by lazy fucking scumbags.

The only ones worth a fuck are the ones who go into BO with the intention of making FO. Fuck the rest. I'm speaking from experience....feel free to kick their asses when no one is looking, seriously, just punch them in the face.

Sep 21, 2016

Thanks for all your insight. I'm probably still going to apply to all the BO shit, since I don't want to limit my options.

This raises a few more questions, so if you don't mind:

  • What are the hours like usually?
  • During the interview, what should I say to the questions "Why this job" and "What do you want to do in 5 years?" (BS it or say honestly that I want to move up to FO?)
Sep 21, 2016

An alum from my school started at a BB BO and now is VP at an Elite boutique he made it happened in less then 10 years...He did tell me though his path is very rare, not impossible but the odds are staked highly against you. He said you have to impress the right people and he did and someone notice and told him their was an opportunity for him. Though he had to start from scratch as first year analyst...

Sep 21, 2016

Dont say you want to move to FO. I did during an interview and he took it poorly. He used to work in FO too

Sep 21, 2016
butidigress:

I'm a senior at a target school without much relevant finance experience. I had an internship this summer in the insurance industry as a business analyst, but that's the most I can say. I know I'm definitely a super long shot for any of the front office positions, so what do you guys think about starting in services/ops and trying to work my way into a better position? What would the be pay like at a BB and how shitty is the job?

Thanks for your input guys.

First off, Services and Ops is completely different. Go to the careers section of bb websites, they usually have decent explanations of what each division does.

I would recommend meeting people from the industry and talking to them about their experiences. There are a couple good points in this thread but most it is way off base. I am not really sure where people are getting some of the information that they are posting here.

Also understand that ops is very broad, you could be doing something boring like confirming equity trades all day, but there are also very analytical roles where you get to look at workflows of some very interesting products and help work on processes that make your group able to trade exotic products for instance.

Obviously ops and FO are completely different, and I am not trying to say otherwise, but like I said earlier, you are better off to meet some people from the industry and ask them things you are curious about, most will give you honest answers.

Sep 21, 2016

also interested in the day to day of this

Sep 21, 2016

What year in school are you? I get the feeling that you're on the younger side (freshman-ish). If that's the case, don't worry about being unprepared. They'll have you do a range of tasks but none of it is anything you won't understand. The best thing you can do is familiarize yourself with what opportunities will be opened to you coming from there, since that internship can be a good launchpad for other roles next year.

If you're later on in your college career (junior), then really brah, it's all good lol. Ops is nothing you can't do. Internships will train you if they need to, and ops generally doesn't.

Sep 21, 2016

Troll

Sep 21, 2016

The culture is equivalent to being a rented mule...

Sep 21, 2016

50 hours/week but of the most boring work. Kind of like accounting at Big 4 firms.

Sep 21, 2016

50 hours a week, mostly back office finance work. Culture is more relaxed than most investment banking groups, mainly because of the fewer hours and no working on actual deals

Sep 21, 2016

It also really depends on what area of ops you are in as well.

Sep 21, 2016

Hours depend on group. There really isn't a 'culture' like there is in IB. People do their jobs and go home, pretty straight forward.

Sep 21, 2016

Get into ops, and then the sky is the limit

I eat success for breakfast...with skim milk

Sep 21, 2016

Ops will crush your soul with boredom.......and my job in ops is more involved than most but it's still the intellectual equivalent of staring at a wall for 9 hours a day.

Give me a kid whose smart, poor, and hungry...............

Sep 21, 2016

not really...they are not investment banking analysts and they make less than ibankers do...but i believe the work is less demanding and the hours are better and more flexible...

Sep 21, 2016

How much less? And, how are the opportunities?

What about Summer Analysts in the field? Does anyone know about those?

Sep 21, 2016

Not to be trite, but search for operations. You will find more info in all the past posts compared to any responses here.

Operations are not considered "IB". The hours are much less, but are anywhere from 40-60. Base is anywhere from 50-60k. A 5-10k sign-on. And no idea about bonus potential, but I think 5-10k.

Sep 21, 2016

Operations does a lot of things from Corporate Actions to working with Clearing and settlements.

Some positions are a lot of paper pushing and making sure that the trades clear. Other positions involve making processes more efficient. Think of it as in house consulting.

Having a big name I-bank on your resume will get you more attention than otherwise. I think the big thing for you to do if you are doing ops in an Investment Bank is to make a good impression on the ops analysts, etc. you're working for. And also network in order to set urself up for an IB internship Interview. Its happened before.

I'm making it up as I go along.

Sep 21, 2016

Its at blackrock asset management so not an ibank but still better than nothing as a sophomore right?

Sep 21, 2016

Assuming you are serious, I'd argue that it is harder to break into operations at a MM firm. For example I went to 2 back office superdays at a Japanese bank and a French bank for a financial analyst role and they strictly kept to their targeted schools e.g. pace, st johns, rutgers, manhattan college, some NYU etc. etc.

Sep 21, 2016

The back office is the largest group in a bank. Go for the BBs since they'll need a lot more people.

Sep 21, 2016

bonus for ops is usually the same for non-FO positions. Think accounting, etc.....

did you tell your employer that you wanted a FO job or at least made it very clear FO is where you want to be? If so, just work hard and you'll get there.

I started in mid and moved up to FO.

Sep 21, 2016

Unfortunately, you won't be developing any key skills in your current internship, so spending time reading up on valuation, practicing modeling, and cold emailing might be best bet for the summer. You could ask people in your department if they know anyone in the banking side personally. HR might be useful, but it's unlikely...they are just mouthpieces.

Sep 21, 2016

Thanks for your reply, what's the success rate with cold emailing? Are people likely to be receptive to an intern, also who would be the key people to target (analyst/associate/vp/md?)

Sep 21, 2016

I think you have an idea of how successful cold emailing probably is. You have nothing to lose. Does your firm have bios on any of the bankers? Look for people who went to your school first. If there aren't any, then pick which group you feel you have at least some tangential affiliation with, if any, and start with some MDs and email them asking if they could spare a few minutes to speak with you about their career path and whatnot.

Sep 21, 2016

my friend did a ops internship this summer and he said it was the easy and extremely boring. He said it got so bad that half way through he had to talk to the hiring manager and get transferred to MO, which was mildly better.

Sep 21, 2016

No offense for people in operation, but my dad's friend calls it "janitorial work." I guess if you really want to pursue banking, you should almost definitely avoid operation. But I also have a friend who's a supply chain major and going to GS ops because he loves it. If that's what really makes you happy, then why not.

Sep 21, 2016

The reason people hate OPS is because it can be very mundane. Depending on what you do, you may just be twirling around in your chair all day, doing the same three processes in excel all day, or you might get one of the better backoffice jobs where your daily work is actually servicing client accounts, answering client inquries, etc. You can still do well for yourself in ops, but you won't be filthy rich. If you are a real go getter, you can move into management pretty quickly.

Sep 21, 2016

It's all a matter of perspective. At top schools it would be considered a pigeonhole / "settling" while at my school it is literally one of the best name-brand BB jobs you can get graduating with a business degree. If you live in some regional area and say "I work at JPM" the average lay person doesn't care or know the difference between Compliance and IBD. Live there long enough and you might not either. Of course, if you live in NYC or some other primary market than that won't be true at all.

Sep 21, 2016

I did MO work this past summer. I worked with great people, but as mentioned, the work was very mundane. After about 2 weeks, I honestly felt I could do most of the Associate/VP's tasks.

The perks of the internship included constantly talking to fratbros about sports, browsing WSO everyday and studying technicals/CFA stuff, hitting on the Sales chicks, chatting via messenger/in-person with IBD Associates/getting resume help (I kept quiet about this), shadowing/learning from traders, and the many drunken adventures with my team.

The cons are getting complacent (I absolutely fucking hated this 4 weeks in), the way too laid-back environment, the feeling that you're eternally fucked, the fact that you can rack up a ridiculous amount of posts on WSO just because you have so much free time during the day, the monotony, and the dread that washes over you when you wake up in the morning and realize that you probably won't learn much at all that day. One of my mentors summed it up perfectly: "Same shit, different day."

And yes, I got a return offer. Still trying to claw my way out.

Sep 21, 2016

Do what makes you happy.

The thing with ops is that you'll be working 40+ hours a week with no transferable skills, a pay ceiling and a good chance of being outsourced / replaced by computer software in the future.

Any type of MO / FO role will give you some skills that you can take elsewhere, raise or eliminate the pay ceiling and its only at the cost of a few more hours a week or 2-4 hours a day. We go to work each day to make money, might as well make the most of it in the most efficient way possible.

Sep 21, 2016

Aren't expense analysis, transfer pricing, procurement and other such functions part of ops?
Not that they would be all that much more exciting, but they seem less likely to be replaced by a computer.
Offshored perhaps though.

Array

Sep 21, 2016

Quick aside: Is product control considered operations?

Sep 21, 2016

Thanks guys. This is helpful. Sounds like it can cary a bit depending on where in the BO you are - from boring to not so bad . The possibilty of being outsourced/replaced by computers is alarming though.

How cometitive is the market for these jobs though? Are they difficult to get?

Sep 21, 2016

This thread along with the Back Office Attire thread inspired me to create an alias. I am the King of Opz. The first thing that came to mind when I read the OP's post was that scene from Bill Madison where he grabs the little fat kid's face and goes "DON'T YOU EVER SAY THAT!!!!". If you enjoy Finance, DO NOT think that going into an operations role will benefit you in anyway. Operations is the most god forsaken field for anyone with aspirations and half a brain. That being said, if you have few aspirations of being a millionaire, paying for your kids college in cash, etc. you can make a respectable living in Ops with minimal damage to your personal life and emotional/physical status. What EtherBinge said here is pretty much spot on:

"The cons are getting complacent (I absolutely fucking hated this 4 weeks in), the way too laid-back environment, the feeling that you're eternally fucked, the fact that you can rack up a ridiculous amount of posts on WSO just because you have so much free time during the day, the monotony, and the dread that washes over you when you wake up in the morning and realize that you probably won't learn much at all that day. One of my mentors summed it up perfectly: "Same shit, different day."

The feeling of being eternally fucked can take a toll on an individual, I have experienced this first hand. Claw your way out as soon as possible or be prepared to forever dwell in the rings of hell of the Back Office.

God speed.

Sep 21, 2016

Its easy to break into Ops. Take it from me, a guy who has moved from phone call rep to Ops. If you have a degree, then you can get in.

The work is really not all that glamorous.Its true I am somewhat close to the action and yes I do deal with big numbers (worked on two transactions today >90 mm), but its not enough of the numbers to keep a smart person satisfied. I used to be an admin assistant before I do what I do now (Money Market operations) and its almost the same thing. Look through some documents, ask yourself does this document meet our risk requirements? Ok, yes it does. Now go enter that information into a system. Does this sound challenging to you?

And on top of all this, you will find yourself intimately knowledgeable about tiny things of finance. You will know how to differentiate between a 202 vs a 103 vs mt535 Swift Message and argue about which P account (some accounting fund) that money belongs to. Sometimes I sit at my desk and think, what am I doing here talking about P accounts and how this Swift message doesn't match the right format? This isn't the reason I studied this in college. Where is calculating the duration of the portfolio, or comparing the beta of your fund vs that of another? I will tell you its not in ops.

The good news? If you get yourself with a product that you find interesting you can work yourself into a front office sales job. There are plenty of ex ops people that started in our office in some undesireable city that are now selling to the largest companies on earth from their sales office in London.

Sep 21, 2016

It's really not stress free. It's not some walk in the park. I wanted to blow my brains out after those 9-5 days, where you had to interact with two types of people: 1) the complete idiots (your coworkers, your boss, your boss' boss, etc) and 2) the "business" (traders, sales force, higher human beings, people who didn't give a fuck about your existence or what you had to say).

I would pay $100k a year just to avoid dealing with people in that first bucket.

Sep 21, 2016

HS kids, don't listen to them.

If you want to move to finance from such an untraditional background (you're going against the odds, sure) ops is a good place to start. Yes, it's mostly utterly boring clerk shit but you're not going to break into any decent FO role at this point if you don't "know" somebody.

Sep 21, 2016

Amazingly, I'm still in. The level of imcompetencey at my current job is unimaginable, so all of this hasn't swayed my interest. A lot of good input though.

Sep 21, 2016

FP&A is better and you will get more transferable skills. Operations is more focused on manual processes by definition.

Sep 21, 2016

-

Sep 21, 2016

Based on the description you provided, you will probably learn a lot more at the FP&A role & have better options to grow into different/more roles after a couple years.

Try to stay at one of these places for around 2 years or so..

Sep 21, 2016

I'd say go for the FP&A and pray that your firm acquires another so that you can do some M&A work as well. Take on any project beyond your role that will give you exposure to more than the just he "closing the books" skillset.

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there" - Will Rogers

Sep 21, 2016
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Sep 21, 2016
Sep 21, 2016