by Brian DeChesare Comments (671)

Holla Back, Office: Should You Avoid the Back Office at All Costs?

Back Office vs Front Office

A decade ago, I wrote an article strongly advising you against working in “the back office” at a bank.

It became one of the most popular and controversial articles on this site.

In the comments, people on both sides of the debate weighed in:

Camp #1: I agree! The back office is terrible; I’ve been here for five years, and I need to get out right away.

Camp #2: This article is nonsense. The back office offers a fine career path that has some nice benefits, and the jobs are still decent.

So, who’s right?

And how have things changed in the ~10 years since the 2008 financial crisis?

Definitions: Front Office vs. Middle Office vs. Back Office

There are dozens of groups at large investment banks, but they’re often placed into three main categories: The “Front Office,” the “Middle Office,” and the “Back Office.”

Front Office roles generate revenue and often have significant client interaction; the classic examples are investment banking and sales & trading, but equity research also qualifies (sort of).

In these Front Office roles, you advise clients on deals or help them trade securities, and the clients pay fees to the bank.

It’s trickier to explain the difference between Middle and Back Office roles, but some people use the following definitions:

Middle Office roles support processes related to revenue generation; examples include risk management and treasury.

A bank doesn’t make money directly from risk management, but as a result of risk management, the traders can do their jobs more effectively.

Finally, Back Office roles relate to processes and systems that must exist regardless of revenue generated; examples include compliance, accounting, technology (IT), and HR.

These are the “classic” categories, but, as of 2017, they are somewhat outdated.

Many banks have stopped using these terms, and the line between Middle Office (MO) and Back Office (BO) has always been blurry to non-existent.

Also, a role like risk management could be Middle Office if you’re on the trading floor or Back Office if you’re at the corporate headquarters.

Many MO and BO roles have become project-based rather than process-based, as those functions have been outsourced.

People still search for these terms and use them in online discussions, but a more helpful distinction might be:

  • Revenue-Generating Roles: Investment banking, sales & trading, and equity research.
  • Support Roles: Operations, compliance, settlements, accounting/finance, IT, etc.

Even if you accept a job in a “revenue-generating role,” you as an individual will not be generating revenue for a long time.

At the Analyst or Associate level, you are a cost center until you start bringing in revenue (see: The Myth of the Front-Office Analyst).

Holla Back: How Has the Back Office Changed?

My original advice to avoid “support roles” still holds in most cases.

Non-revenue-generating and non-client-facing roles have many disadvantages, including:

  • Lower Pay – Junior-level base salaries are a bit lower than those in revenue-generating roles, but bonuses are significantly lower. An IB Analyst might receive a bonus equal to 70-100% of his/her base salary in a good year, but it’s more like 5-10% of base salary in these roles. The bonus percentage climbs significantly only at the mid-to-senior levels (VP/Director/MD).
  • Difficulty in Transitioning to Front-Office Roles Elsewhere – Yes, you can do it, but it is still an uphill battle. And the transition is difficult whether you’re at a large bank, a hedge fund, a private equity firm, or anything else.
  • Repetitive Work – Much of the process-related and day-to-day work can get repetitive, but this point may be a bit less true for certain roles now. Note that much of the IB Analyst/Associate workload also gets repetitive (e.g., writing pitch books or CIMs).
  • Lack of Respect – This one isn’t universally true, but many front-office employees show little respect for support staff – partially because they’re always being yelled at by their superiors. If an IT system breaks, they may take out some of their anger on you.

All that said, I’m less negative about the Back Office than I was at the time of the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

In certain cases, it can be helpful to accept a BO role… as long as you have a long-term plan.

Here are a few benefits of these roles:

  • More Free Time and a Better Life – You’ll have more free time at work, you’ll get more time to pursue hobbies/interests outside of work, and, most importantly, you will have more time to network, learn new skills, or even pursue another degree.
  • It’s Easier to Stand Out and Get Promoted – The competition in these roles will not be as motivated as your peers in front-office roles. You can stand out more easily by automating simple processes or making tweaks to improve profitability.
  • At the Top Levels, the Money is Still Good – If you make it to the Director or Managing Director level in a risk or support role at a large bank, you can still earn in the low hundreds of thousands USD per year. It takes much longer to reach that compensation level, but it is possible.
  • You Get a Solid Brand Name That Lets You Apply to Other Industries – Finally, if you accept a back-office role at a bulge-bracket bank, you’ll instantly get a well-known brand name on your resume/CV.

People in other industries don’t necessarily understand this back-office vs. front-office distinction, so they might look at your resume and say, “Wow, Operations at Goldman Sachs! What a great company.”

The Bottom Line

If your long-term goal is to work in a revenue-generating role in investment banking, private equity, hedge funds, real estate, or anything else, you should move into a revenue-generating role as soon as possible.

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The longer you stay in a back-office role, the harder it is to make this transition – especially if you’re in a full-time role rather than an internship.

If you can choose between front-office work at a boutique bank or back-office work at a large bank, take the boutique offer if you want to stay in the finance industry for the long term.

There are also a few cases where a back-office role can be helpful for moving into a front-office role:

Exception #1: Internships

It’s not the end of the world if you accept a back-office internship, especially if it’s your first or second year in university and you have time for more internships.

If you’ve attended a non-target school, it can be very helpful to get the brand name of a large bank on your resume.

Many of the readers in our “breaking in” stories completed back or middle-office internships at large banks and then leveraged the experience to win front-office internships.

In interviews, you can say that you wanted to learn how a large bank worked and gain exposure to all areas, but you quickly realized you wanted to do client-facing work.

Finally, sometimes you can move from a back or middle-office rotation to a front-office one in an extended internship (e.g., one that lasts for 6-12 months); there’s a “compliance to equity research” example here.

Exception #2: Sales & Trading

In support roles, you tend to interact with traders far more than bankers, which makes it more plausible to move from BO/MO roles into front-office S&T roles.

Candidates occasionally move from trade support roles into “real” trading, especially if they work on extended projects with traders.

The downside is that sales & trading itself has a negative outlook, and banks have greatly reduced their S&T teams as a result of new regulations.

Exception #3: Corporate Finance

Corporate finance roles – FP&A, Controllership, Treasury, etc. – at large companies are also considered Back or Middle Office since they do not generate revenue directly.

However, the pay ceiling in these roles is higher than it is in BO/MO roles at large banks, and the work can be more interesting.

They also offer opportunities to move into other groups, departments, and regions.

Sometimes it is possible to move from BO/MO roles at a bank into these roles, especially if you’ve done accounting or treasury work at a bank.

Exception #4: Smaller Markets

In some markets, true front-office work may be scarce.

A prime example is India, where most large banks offer back-office and KPO roles to undergraduates and reserve the few front-office roles for IIM graduates.

It’s still not ideal to accept a back-office role, but it is possible to move from a BO job at a large bank into a front-office role at a boutique bank.

An upcoming M&I interview will feature a reader who made a move exactly like this one.

Exception #5: Quant/Programming Roles

Finally, if you’re mathematically inclined or you’re a skilled programmer, you may be able to leverage these skills to move from BO/MO work into a revenue-generating role.

Quant hedge funds illustrate how you might make this move, but you can do it even in less quantitative areas.

As one example, a reader recently moved from a support position in public finance to a front-office role there because of his modeling and programming abilities.

VBA and DBC are common in public finance, and his skills in those areas, plus a dedicated networking effort, led to interviews and an eventual offer.

Is the Back Office the End of the World?

No.

That is, if you have a long-term plan in mind.

Especially if you accept a support role in an early internship or a role that has significant overlap with trading, you can get out.

And if you want to stay in the Back or Middle Office for the long term, more power to you.

You’ll still be better off than 95% of the population; it’s just that your compensation and exit opportunities won’t match those of front-office roles.

But outside of angry comments online, maybe that doesn’t matter so much.

For Further Reading

M&I - Brian

About the Author

Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys memorizing obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, traveling like a drug dealer, and defeating Sauron.

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  1. I go to a target school but started considering banking late. I got an internal audit junior year internship at a BB that became a full-time offer. I did statistical model audit as I do STEM so my skillset is transferable. What should I do to maneuver into an IB role? Should I keep applying to other FT jobs in my senior year? The current CEO actually went from Audit to IB and the BB has internal movement across areas. Any advice you have is greatly appreciated!

    1. I would just stick with that role for now because there will be almost no FT hiring this year with the pandemic, economic uncertainty, deal activity being way down, etc. Start working there, network around with IB groups, speak with different banks, and if none of that works, consider an MSF program if you cannot get good leads via networking.

  2. Hello, I just received an offer from Citi for a Valuation Control Analyst position (they also call this position valuation risk controller in other firms). What do you think of the role? Do you think it is possible to move from this role into front office?

    1. Possibly, but probably more easily on the sales & trading side. It’s an OK place to start, but I’m not sure it’s the best path into IB roles.

      1. Thanks for your reply. What do you think the right move would be from here? I’m planning to accept this offer but I want to have an action plan and not to get stuck in middle office for too long.

        1. If it’s your best option for a full-time offer, take it, because there aren’t going to be many full-time offers available outside of internships this year. But plan to switch elsewhere within a year, ideally to an S&T desk or some type of valuation role at a bank or business valuation firm.

  3. Hey Brian,

    What’s your thoughts on internal audit for a BB?
    General consensus is that its a pigeon hole but can you comment on whether its one of the more stimulating back office functions you could go for?
    I did a Finance internship before where it was just boring FP&A stuff every month.
    Can internal auditing of a FO business prove to be a more interesting career? Any good exit opportunities for internal auditors after a couple years too?

    1. I don’t think it’s a great role because it’s tough to move into something different/better from there. At least if you’re in audit at a Big 4 firm, or in corporate finance at a normal company, you can rotate into something better eventually. But it’s more difficult at a bank.

      You might be able to move to an outside audit/accounting/business services firm, but I’m not sure what the other viable exit opportunities are.

  4. Avatar
    Himanshu Agarwal

    I am an Indian Chartered Accountant and have also passed all the levels of the CFA program. I have dedicated my 4 years concentrating on clearing in these exams. I still haven’t decided which profile I want to get into as I believe in trying first and then making opinions. Having said that I am offered a position as a trade accounting and operational analyst position in a Fintech company catering to various big hedge funds. I just want to be sure that I must be able to realize my full potential. As you are suggesting people to move out from India to bigger markets like US and UK for better opportunities. Do you know any path to move to these bigger markets?

    1. The usual path is to complete a Master’s or MBA program in one of those countries. Or, start working at a multinational company in India and then ask for a transfer.

  5. Avatar
    Sarah Choudry

    Hi Brian,

    Thank you for the insight. I am a recent graduate who completed a Tech summer internship at a bulge bracket bank, and have received a full time offer on the graduate program for tech. However, my interest lies in Private Banking. My two strategies at the moment are:
    1. Network within the bank, during my graduate program, and transition onto the PB graduate program or a entry role in PB
    2. Apply for the next round of PB graduate programs at other banks in September for 2021 start, while I am working in the tech role. However, I am concerned with the issues that may arise with leaving one bank for another mid-program, and the negative impact it may have on my career.
    Can you please advise me on what the best route for transitioning into PB from Tech would be?

    Thank you!

    1. I would just do #1 and network internally. It can be difficult to make the back/mid-office to front-office move, but it’s probably more feasible for transitions into PB because there’s less competition for those roles to begin with. I don’t think it’s a great idea to apply to other banks until you’ve exhausted all the possibilities at your current firm first.

  6. Hey Brian,

    I am a junior at a non-target with a 3.8 GPA. I got a summer offer at a BB S&T for the summer and I recently wanted to transition into a IB role. I was wondering how I could make that transition. All the connections I currently have are in S&T. If it helps I am interning in the fixed income and currencies over the summer.

  7. Hi Brian, very interesting piece, thanks! I’ve been working as a transaction lawyer for a boutique European investment bank for about a year and a half now. Before that I worked as a banking and finance attorney for about two years in a reputable law firm. I mainly work on capital markets transactions (DCM-ECM), and work closely with the respective front office teams of the bank in a “semi-client-facing” role. I like the work and would want stay in finance for the longer term, but am considering moving (back) to a revenue-generating (front office) role in the future. I like my current work but feel that I could have a lot to offer in a more client-facing role (knowledge of transaction structures and the proces (at least from a legal perspective), solid communication skills, great attention to detail, service-minded)
    I’m a lawyer with two graduate degrees but have no formal education in finance as of yet. I’m hoping to use the favorable hours I currently have to study up on finance, network in and outside the bank, etc. in order to gear my profile towards such a transition.
    Any pointers or tips you might have for someone with my profile and ambition would be much appreciated!

    1. We covered law to IB here: https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/law-to-investment-banking/

      But that assumes you are working at a law firm. If you’re already at a bank, I don’t think it should be that difficult. Reach out to some of the people you’ve worked with in ECM/DCM and ask directly about the possibility of transitioning over, mention that you’ve learned finance independently, etc. If there’s nothing at your current firm, start networking with others via LinkedIn/email.

      1. Thanks, I’ve read the article in your response (also helpful). I should’ve clarified: I started out as an attorney at a law firm, and then transferred to the bank I’m currently at, working as an in-house lawyer. I guess I’m just concerned that my current role as in-house lawyer is “too” back office (no offense to BO employees; I’ve truly come to appreciate BO colleagues who are good at what they do) to be able to transition to a front office role.

        1. I don’t know, law experience is usually not perceived as “back office.” The objections usually tend to be around do you know finance, can you do the math, etc. So I would worry less about the back office perception and more about those other points.

  8. Hi,

    I have an interview for a Portfolio Analyst role for a well-known bank. The role is operations based, with reconciliations, cash settlements etc.
    Isn’t a portfolio analyst meant to do financial modelling on companies and valuations?
    From the employees’ profiles on LinkedIn I can see that who progresses to Portfolio Manager or VP has responsibilities of portfolio allocation and investment performance for clients.
    Do you think it is a front office or back office role?
    I would be more interested in front office of course, but I don’t know if this one is a good opportunity or not.

    Thank you!

    1. That sounds more like a middle/back office role. “Analyst” could mean a huge variety of different things depending on the context, and there are many “Analysts” in the middle and back office as well.

      It is possible that people gain investing responsibilities as they advance (more common in public markets roles than with deals).

      1. Thank you Brian,

        I am aware of the flexibility about the various “Analyst” roles, but what about the “Portfolio” roles? I have some doubts because this bank has Operations Analyst roles and Portfolio Analyst ones, but the latters look very operations focused as well.
        Thanks!

        1. It’s hard to say because those are not exactly standard titles, so they work differently at different firms. But from your description, it seems like more of a middle/back-office role.

  9. Brian I heard this comment from MDs that an Investment Banking Analyst role is back office work, this cannot be correct right?

    1. It is true from a certain point of view: https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/front-office-analyst-myth/

      But it’s not exactly true because unlike most “real” back-office roles, IB Analysts have the chance to advance up the ladder into client-facing roles at the senior levels.

  10. Hi Brian,
    I’m a junior at a non-target in the greater NYC area, and I just accepted a junior year internship at a bulge bracket as an internal audit summer analyst. I don’t have FO dreams, but I am interested in pursuing a FT role in risk, or something non-audit related. Do I stand a chance? I have a 3.8 GPA and have prior internship experience and participate in a couple of clubs. I’ll be recruiting for FT positions, but should I also be recruiting for SA internships as well? Delaying my graduation would be well worth it for me not to end up in audit. Will banks see me applying fo both and ding me? what do you think?

    1. I don’t think you need to delay your graduation just to switch roles within the middle or back office – you should be able to network your way into something else without that and without going for internships once again. Doing that might also create confusion because banks might wonder what you’re doing. I would just accept the internal audit offer, do the internship, and network once you’re on the job.

  11. Hi Brian,

    Interesting article! I am an Engineering student in India and looking to break into a front office IBD. Most of the BB Investment Banks in my campus recruit for internships and jobs for the Back office roles(IT mainly). My question is this: would a back-office internship combined with the writing the CFA Level I help me get a front office role later on? If not, is it possible to move from a back office role to a front office one within the organization, again, with the CFA?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. It is possible but extremely difficult to do so, especially in India because the market is so small there (https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/investment-banking-india/). Your best bet is to move into a role like Big 4 Transaction Services or Valuation and use that to get into banking, or, better yet, go overseas into a market like the U.S. or U.K. that’s much bigger and has more opportunities.

  12. Avatar
    She D' Towin

    Hi Brian

    I am a 28 year old chartered accountant in India working at Offshore IB division of a big 4 accounting for last two years( my entire experience has been assisting onshore analyst or associate in building a financial model, IM, teaser, pitch book and preparing company profile ). I always wanted to get into front end IB role but haven’t had any luck. Now I have a offer from a big five accounting firm in Oman in the transaction advisory team where majority of the work will be of valuations due diligence feasibility study and some M&A activity. I am pursuing CFA and will finish that in 2020 and at that time I plan to do a one year MBA from a European University (SDA Boccioni etc.) then join and investment bank as an associate. My query is:

    1. is this Oman role a good opportunity to get me into a front end IB?
    2. Does my CFA and MBA plan make sense or should I plan an alternative?

    1. 1) Yes, but it will still be tough if you stay in a smaller market like India because there aren’t many jobs there relative to the population size, and most are taken by IIM graduates. You might have a better shot in bigger markets such as the UK.

      2) I don’t think you really need a CFA if you’re already a chartered accountant and you’re going to get TAS experience. Maybe just finish Level 1 and stop there.

  13. Avatar
    Sophia Zeng

    Hi Brian, I am a computer science student in a target school. I recently got an internship offer as a technology analyst in a BB. I have not assigned a group yet. I struggled a lot about how to decide. Most of my friends want to do a job in big tech companies and advise me not to do technology in investment banking. I do not want to restrict myself to be in tech/IB, but I definitely want to do a job that can teach me something new instead of just doing maintaining.

    I would like to ask you do you think the technology division in the top three BB (morgan stanley, goldman) are essentially different from other BB? What kind of groups do you recommend if I want to do something in future that closely connects with front office (especially trading) if I am inclined to math in CS?

    1. If you want to work in technology, I would strongly recommend joining one of the big tech companies initially to get the brand-name benefit and better experience for your resume. Tech at the large banks is improving, but it’s still not “front office” and is worse than front-office roles there. If you want to do tech combined with finance, better options would be fin-tech startups or quant funds or funds that use quantitative strategies. If you want to do trading eventually, a tech role could work, but the other options I just mentioned are still better.

  14. Avatar
    Dhruv Gupta

    Hi Brain,

    Thanks for being awesome ! My query: I am working in Offshore Valuations team of KPMG. This is a backend/KPO role and I do Valuations support for UK practice and I do not get to work on end to end assignments. I have always wanted to join mid market front-end IB (KPMG, Deloitte Duff & Phelps etc) . I am getting offers from Boutique IB (Indian). Could you please suggest me:

    Does staying in KPO/offshore units help me in my goal?
    Is it better to join Boutique firm than staying at backend?
    What would you have done?

  15. I’m an M&A Analyst at an EB, but actually think that you’re a bit too pessimistic on the BO, at least in IT.

    My dad immigrated to the US in the ‘80s and had worked in technology at various BBs since, and he’s been an MD in technology since 2000. He makes around 500k-800k (bonus fluctuates depending on bank performance) a year working 45-55 hours a week. In his earlier years, however, he was putting in 50-65 hours a week to ride up.

    By any standard, that is good comp, even in the ny/nj/ct metro. And while my MDs (M&A MDs) make much more than that, they travel all the time and respond to tons of emails and calls on weekends, and have way less time off.

    The short of it is, imo, if you work hard in technology at a bank, you can make bank.

    1. Yes, you can earn a lot at the top levels. But there’s no guarantee you’ll make it, even in an IT role, and front-office roles give you more options if you drop out in the early-to-mid stages and want to do something else. Also, if you worked in technology at an actual tech company, you could earn a lot more at the top levels. So, point taken, but I would still say IT at a bank is not the best place to do technology work, though it has some advantages over other roles at a bank.

  16. Morgan Stanley has a structured Treasury Dept internship program. Do you know anything about this program and ability to leverage into IB full time offer?

    1. No, sorry. Readers might be able to advise you on this one.

  17. Hi, Im just about to start a Corporate Actions Analyst at a swiss bank (this is my first job out of undergrad college) , and I was wondering if you could share a few thoughts on these issues
    1. A career path in Corporate Actions (yay or nay?)

    2. further education and if it would help my prospects into getting into a FO role

    Thanks so much!

    1. Sorry, don’t know anything about this industry. I’ll see if we can cover it in a future article or interview.

  18. Hi Brian, this summer I am working in the private sector in DC doing policy analysis for asset managers and investors. I have done a lot of work with federal regulatory policy. I noticed some positions open for next year at many large banks for regulatory compliance analysts requiring little to no experience in finance and only a bachelors degree. Would I have a shot at these programs? And if so, what should I do to prepare?

    1. Yes, potentially. We don’t cover compliance roles on this site, but you could still get questions on accounting, valuation, etc. as well as the regulatory frameworks for banks, such as Basel III, Dodd-Frank, CRD IV in Europe, and so on. So learning about all of those would be a good first step (and to understand them, you need to know something about accounting and the financial statements for banks).

  19. Avatar
    Shivanshu Chauhan

    Hi Bran,
    I am an Engineering graduate and I have got Full time offer (after 2 months internship) from Morgan Stanley, Back office (Technology and Data division). I am highly interested in Front Office Investment, Banking.
    Can I get into Investment Banking by networking in the firm and learning Finance by my own? OR Do I need to get MBA for entering in Investment Banking?
    Will CFA help me in getting into IB?

    Thanks in Advance

    1. It will be quite difficult to move from a FT role in the back office to a FT role in the front office. You might be able to do it if you move to a smaller firm. The CFA or learning finance might help a bit, but I’ve seen very few cases of someone directly moving from the back office into front-office IB. It is somewhat easier on the sales & trading side.

      1. Avatar
        Shivanshu Chauhan

        Thanks for the reply.

        Suppose I do a lot of networking and get the required skill-set, will it be possible??

        Can you suggest me topics and concepts I need to focus on, to get the skill set?

        1. Avatar
          Shivanshu Chauhan

          Can I get internship in Front Office Investment Banking division (if not FT role) ?

        2. Accounting, financial modeling, valuation, etc., see the rest of the site. You will most likely need another degree to do it. Anything’s possible, but your chances aren’t great if you stay in the back office too long.

  20. Hi Brian,
    Throughout my network effort, as an international student from China, I joined one of the biggest (most prestigious) PE firms on the street in its internal audit function as an intern. Internship is 5 month of length that could be extended to fulfill my one year OPT period. Having prepared anything for front roles, but still I didn’t break into it. Finally I was brought to this back office role at huge PE firm, I would like to hear more of advice from you as to how I could transfer to a front role within a year. The team I was in really helped me a lot, how can I try to get into a front role without showing my team I am a person who doesn’t have too much loyalty or appreciation. Thanks!

    1. You might find this account helpful:

      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/back-office-to-private-equity/

      You’ll probably have to move to a smaller firm or go into a front-office role in something other than PE… or consider an MSF degree to make the switch.

  21. Hi Brian,
    I ran into your article while preparing for an epic battle with my boss on setting clear boundaries for my department which seems to be a convenient mix of Front and Back office tasks (convenient for him, obviously). We have been given the ambiguous name of “Commercial Office”, but with a Back office job description.
    My office is responsible for the “sales operations” in our company so we input orders into the ERP system and take care of shipping and invoicing. Since a recent change of ownership and a consequent increase of workload for everyone, our direct interaction with clients increases everyday, The Front Office (Sales dpt. in our case) brings the sale home and abbandons us completely to manage any contact with the customer. We get the the responsibilties from both worlds and the perks from none, since we get neither the credit for the revenue nor have enough time to dedicate to the “repetitve” but necessary tasks that make up the daily business of a Back Office… Wish me luck!

  22. Hi Brian,

    What are some ways one can go from back office to front office in a full-time role? I’m hopefully going to do a Masters in Management, but most of the placements at this school are in back-office roles.

    1. It is very difficult, but the best options are to aim for boutique firms, go back for a Master’s degree and use that to get in, or aim for front-office roles in an area like sales & trading where it’s easier to move over.

  23. Hey Brian, thanks for the article, I’d also appreciate some advice.

    I’m an undergraduate at a target school going into my junior-year summer and am facing two options: (1) Back-office at a bulge bracket (i.e. Controllers), or (2) Part-time equity research role at a large bank. My goal is to ultimately get into IB/PE, so would you recommend me towards either option? Option 2 comes with lower pay which is somewhat of an issue but not a deal-breaker, and the bank from Option 1 has better name-recognition. Thanks for your help!

    1. Option #2 is probably better because at least ER is considered “front office” and closer to IB/PE. You could get the brand name of a large firm in other ways as well (summer programs, bank-sponsored competitions, etc.).

  24. Hi Brian, would appreciate if you could give me some advice. I am currently working at an outsourcing company whose client is a large private bank. I do settlements on a day to day basis and it’s really monotonous. However, I agree that it has work life balance and there is definitely room to progress and grow. My target is to land a role in research (preferably commodities) at a bank. I’m on a 6 month contract which is ending in May, should I leave or continue to stay for another 6 months?

    1. It’s almost always better to look for another job when you already have one job, so I would recommend staying, especially if you have a decent amount of free time during/after work.

  25. Avatar
    Tom Dircks

    Hi M&I,

    I am a freshman student at a non-target school. I was wondering what your thoughts would be on my current situation.

    I recently got a spring internship (I know weird) with a small start-up hedge fund that has ties to the university that I go to. The hedge fund is very small and isn’t some place I would want to intern during the summer or take a job at. The other intern options that I have are being an analyst with a lower middle market M&A firm that I have connections to, or a “Wealth Management” intern at Thomson Reuters.

    The reason I put wealth management in quotations in because even though that what it says on their career website, it seems like a much more operational role. While Thomson Reuters has stronger brand recognition than either the hedge fund or M&A firm, I am scared to take a role that might be seen as back office. Also I would not want to intern or work with Thomson Reuters after this summer.

    I am a freshman with a okay resume that should allow me to transfer to a better school. (3.92/4.00 and president of investment organization on campus). I was wondering what internship would be the best for me to take if I looking to get an investment banking intern junior year.

    Thanks for all the great content, also I bought the BIWS premium package and it is great!

    1. Take the M&A offer, that’s an easy one. getting IB experience matters a lot more than brand name at this stage. Good luck and thanks for using our courses!

  26. Hi M&I,

    Read the article, thought I’d get some feedback on my plan with respect to my situation.

    Summary:

    – Graduated from a non-target with a first in a banking/finance degree
    – Have internship experience (one basically doing research for a bank) and another is 3 months on a trading floor
    – Have about 8 months exp in a BO role in a big bank (first job)
    – Now up to 10 months exp in a jr analyst role in a HF (basically followed all the networking tips on this site to land this)

    The HF is going through some restructuring and basically, other juniors are looking for other roles. At the moment, it doesn’t seem like there are much around at this point in time.

    I see a lot of trade support and junior risk analyst roles (I suspect these should be the MO roles I should look at) — basically a lot of middle office roles (other FO roles like mine want 2 years of experience, period).
    My plan is, worst comes to worst, take a mid office role then actively work towards a FO office role (I’ll crank it up once I meet that 2 year mark).
    While I appreciate the transition can be hard, surely it is “easier” with roles like risk and trade support as you can prop up the FO exposure, with smaller institutions at least?

    I’m currently doing the IMC, which from what I hear can be used for FO and MO roles (work up a story with that maybe?).

    I’m thinking basically if it looks bad, rebrand myself with a 1 year masters programme in finance (MBA is wayyy out of my budget) from a top notch school.

    I know Cass Business School’s Trading and Quant Finance and ICMA’s IBIS masters are defo on par, or perhaps better than say finance masters degree programmes from LSE/Oxbridge etc… but I’ve added all those top targets on the list ’cause IMO it is stupid to bank on just 1-2 universities for this.
    (Plus they’re all within a budget I can reasonably make.)

    The goal is to reach a FO role, ideally trading.

    Following the site’s take on getting to the FO really helped me out with going from BO to FO, so I’d defo appreciate your take on this.

    1. Yes, it is more feasible to do that.

  27. Interested in your opinion. I have an opportunity to be an IT Security Manager at a top 10 VC firm. I’m a complete outsider to this industry. Most recently I’ve been Federal Contracting for the last 6 years. Would you roll that type of position to be no different than any other IT position or maybe a little better because of the “Manager” title?

    1. Yes. It is still a Support role, so it’s not too different from other IT positions. The work environment will be slightly better since it’s a VC firm rather than a large bank, meaning that people are less likely to be stressed out and screaming all the time.

  28. I transitioned from Active Duty service into a Veterans Internship Program at one of the bulge bracket banks. The most natural fit was to go into an Operations role due to my project management background in the service. I used the internship and eventual full time offer to pivot from the military to the financial sector and as you said a plan was necessary. I used the extra time and got my MBA part time at one of the better B-schools in the state I was placed. Through my own networking and interviewing landed a sales role at a hedge fund two years later. It is very hard to make the move from BO to Revenue side within a large firm. In any case persistence is key because you will be told no at some point while trying to make the transition.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story! Yes, it’s very difficult to move around internally. But it is more plausible to move into a revenue-generating role if you switch firms.

  29. Hi Brian,
    So even if I get a back office position in the FP&A at a Top 5 Hedge Fund straight out of College, it would still be bad for my career? No shot chance of ever moving to front office? This is scary to me because I have been offered the position and I am at a cross roads with what to do. It’s a big name HF in nyc and I really need the job and it’s not like I am getting other better offers at the moment. Any advice?
    Thanks

    1. If that offer is your best option, then you should take it. You can still move over to a front-office role. It’s just that it’s difficult to do so in traditional investment banking roles. It is somewhat easier on the sales & trading side, which includes some hedge funds. But if that offer is your best one, take it, leverage the brand name of the firm, and use it to move elsewhere later on.

  30. What about investment product development? Is it a front office, middle office or back office job?

    1. I don’t know, but if you’re not working directly with clients, it is not front office. And if it’s in India, it’s almost certainly not front office.

  31. Avatar
    Sgt Devil Dog

    Hey can you guys give me your thoughts on my current track?

    Veteran of the US military, current junior at a pretty good school majoring in business (top 3 undergrad business program). Locked on for a spring17 internship in IB with a boutique firm, then a treasury services role with a bulge bracket firm in summer17 (no other offers for summer), I’ll likely be well positioned to get another IB boutique job in fall17 and from there I’ll use all three internships plus my four years of active duty to recruit full time.

    My concern is that treasury services falls into middle office, at least from my understanding, and that wasn’t really talked about in this article other than that limbo reference. Within treasury services you can work in sales which IS revenue generating, or other roles like product management, etc. But would “middle office” limit ones opportunities in terms of full time recruiting and grad school?

    1. You can potentially win an offer at a larger bank coming from that background, but you’ll probably have to use off-cycle recruiting or convert the boutique internship into a full-time one. Treasury roles are fine, and it is more feasible to move from a middle or back-office internship into a front-office role than it would be for a full-time transition.

  32. Im interested in your view regarding back office positions as a student.

    Some small investment banks and trading firms are recruiting students for part-time back office roles at my university. The work seems to be generally dull and basic, however you will be getting some exposure to the industry which I suspect is great as a student. These roles are considered one step below the part-time analyst roles some boutiques offer to more experienced students.

    As of now, I personally have the opportunity to take on senior roles within sales (B2B) at some local tech-startups. Due to my previous experience in sales. I am convinced that the work will be challenging, fun and hold a higher status than working back office. However, I am worried about the lack of exposure to the financial industry when applying for summer internships (London) next year.

    Whats your view on this. Can part-time back office positions in finance improve your chances to land an internship? Or is it just as good to have worked in sales in an unrelated industry during your studies?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Well, what do you want to do in the long term? If you want to work in finance, yes, even a back-office internship would help a bit since it proves you can work in the industry. But if you want to stay in sales or work outside finance, keep doing what you’re doing.

  33. Avatar
    Invest in Goodwill

    Hey Brian,

    I’m an Accounting and Business Management grad from the top school in my country. I’m close to accepting an offer from a Fortune 500 company and it’s a front office role too. The thing is, it’s not related to banking or finance. I’ll be doing biz dev which deals with product management, pricing, volume and sealing contracts. The deals they make range up to millions of euros, and I find it would do a great deal for my networking and business skills in general.

    I was just wondering if this career path could still leave the IB door open for me someday, or even other finance-related fields. Conversely, I could also get into a Big 4 Firm or join small boutique IB firms as an analyst.

    It would be great if I could get some input from you guys. Thanks!

    1. It depends on how much time you have left, but if you want to do IB, the Big 4 firm or a boutique IB internship would be better than the role you described.

  34. Hey Brian,

    I’m a sophomore at a top 5 school trying to decide on internships for this coming summer. Would doing an internship in the legal department of a top IB be a worthwhile experience to set me up for a competitive junior year recruiting season or am I better off trying to do front office work at some small firm that would actually hire a sophomore? Thanks!

    1. Front-office work at a smaller firm is better

  35. Great article Indeed.
    I felt the similar thing while interning in a BO this summer too. So, I was cautious while applying for full-time position.
    I have been offered a position in the HSBC Securities Services Global Graduate Program.
    It has 4 job rotations with the functions of Sales, Product Strategy, Risk Management and Operations and sub-teams of custody services, investment operations, fund administration, corporate trust and loan agency services.

    As I am an Engineering student, I feel this is my best shot in an I-bank at this stage. I wish to go for an MBA after a few years of work. Any insights on this situation.

    1. If you really want to do finance, sure, that’s fine. But it will be easier to get into S&T from such a role. An MBA might help, but you usually need a front-office pre-MBA internship to make it useful.

  36. Hi Brian,
    I have been working on a BB BO for about 6 months now and have got an offer for MSc Quant Finance for next year. Would it look bad to my prospective employers if I resign now or should I stick it out in operations for a whole year?

    1. It’s probably better to stick around for an entire year, but if the MSc requires you to start now, you could leave anyway if you’re sure you never want to go back to your current firm.

  37. Hi Brian,

    I recently received an offer to be a technology analyst intern in NY from a major bank (JP, GS, MS) as well as an offer for S&T intern for a “lower tier” bank (WF, Scotia, etc.). Which one do you think I should go with? Im double majoring in Computer Science and Finance and if I don’t have a tech internship it will be impossible to break into FB, Google, etc. but on the other hand a back-office role might not be too good if I want to become a trader or quant in the future. Just wondering if you had any advice.

    1. I don’t think it will be impossible to get into Facebook, Google, etc. if you don’t have a previous tech internship. Demand for good engineers far exceeds supply. You’re better off taking the front-office S&T option if you’re unsure, just to keep your options open.

  38. Avatar
    success_breakthrough

    I successfully made the transition between back office work to front office work, albeit my experience was a little bit different than most. During my junior and senior years at university I worked as an IB summer intern at a BB, to gather experience and knowledge, and was really interested in the public finance muni aspect of banking (I know most people do not choose to go this route). Upon graduation I took a job at a BB doing back office trade management and client finance work. When I originally took the offer I was unsure of the specifics of what I would be doing, but I needed a job immediately. After six months of doing this I realized the route I was on was completely different from where I wanted to be, so I sent out resumes looking for a Public Finance IB Analyst spot. It took a little while to get calls/interviews, but in May earlier this year I finally got a new job at a mid sized firm working in municipal finance. I will say that it would most likely be incredibly harder to make the transition if I would have waited another year or couple of years, and I transitioned into the public finance rather than a traditional M&A role but I absolutely love the work I do now. Working only six months in the back office role was incredibly boring and repetitive. I do not know how people could work years in it, unless you want the 9-5 and secure job as you mentioned above.

    1. Congrats. Let us know if you’re interested in sharing your full story (anonymously) sometime on the site.

      1. Avatar
        Success_breakthrough

        Yeah no problem at all. You should have my email from this current comment.

  39. Hi Brian-
    I’m graduating with an undergrad degree in IT and have received offers to two Dow 30 companies of which I have prior internship experience. I recently received an offer to a top global hedge fund to work in their IT support group, but I’m unsure of the opportunity for growth. I have a passion for financial services, but not necessarily to be on the execution side. The other companies are offering more of a leadership development track within IT in the tech space, while the HF touts its prestige.
    For someone that is unsure about their niche, would it be a mistake to take a back-office role due to the excitement of the firm, as opposed to a development role with an established company?

    1. It’s hard to say because it depends on what you want for your career: Do you want to stay in IT or move to something else? If you want to stay in IT, it’s better to take a leadership role within IT in the tech space. But if you want to possibly transition to another role and out of IT, the hedge fund might be better… I say “might” because it’s still quite difficult to make that move.

  40. I worked in PWM Ops as a summer intern last year. Received an offer to come back however everything is that article rang so in my 10 week exp. The work is “easy” and monotonous once the systems are learned (3-5 weeks for me). The work makes it impossible to quantify success and separate oneself from other coworkers. Can only do so many accounts in a day.

    I put my heart and effort into consulting and I recently just was offered a full-time consulting job at Strategy&. Goldman, along with my GPA, definitely helped open the door; the rest was up to me. So excited to be counted within the “prestigious” jobs.

    1. Congrats! Yes, some back and middle-office roles are quite repetitive.

  41. Don’t know how accurate this article is, but I guess it depends on perception and preference. I’m a CPA and did the regular 3 year stint at a Big 4 and I’m now an accountant for a middle market PE Fund. My base + bonus is at 6 figures and i’m only 26. I’ve been here a year working 9-6, not too much stress and it’s almost certain that if I stick around I’ll be promoted to Manager. I get to drive a european car, travel, have a nice 2B apartment and eat and drink quite often. Don’t know if I would trade that for IB. Finally, i’m almost 100% sure that my boss is at the $500k level, CFO as well. And they’re 36 and 38 year olds. Ill stick to that, no problem.

    1. Back/middle office roles in PE are somewhat different. Yes, there’s potential for higher pay, but I think $500K is an exaggeration, at least a mid-sized fund.

  42. Hello Brian,

    I graduated in Economics from an average university from London, England having obtained a 2:1 equivalent to a 3.5 GPA. I have previous experience as an intern at JP Morgan in their PMO office in the back office working as a controls analyst. I am seeking to move into a similar role but applying for these roles in the back office and middle office is becoming harder as time goes on.

    I am deciding whether to apply and study for a masters in banking/finance at a top UK university. or to just keep applying to any investment bank hoping for a breakthrough. Any suggestions?

    1. At this stage, it’s better to go for a Master’s degree if you’re really set on moving into a front-office role.

  43. Hi,
    I’ve been shortlisted for an internship in equities at one of the big investment banks, but I’m not sure what exactly the job involves?

    1. ??? Can you contact them and ask for a job description? It’s hard to say if you only have the department name and nothing else.

      1. They told me it was “equities business” and that it was a front office role but thats about it

        1. Ok. Not sure I can say anything else without more information then.

  44. This is hilarious and pretty much sums up everything that I have been feeling — plus the facts to back it up! I work in RM and haven’t seen any of my peers move from BO to FO. I work in model validation (back of the back office, anyone?) and want to bang my head against my desk. I sometimes feel like some of my coworkers are robots disguised as humans.

    1. Yup… it is a bit easier to move into the front office on the sales & trading side (do a search on this site for some stories), but it’s still not easy and is definitely an uphill battle.

  45. Good afternoon,

    What are the prospects of a Credit Analyst, which is a “middle office” or “support team” role, looking to break into IB?

    Depending on the firm and or who you talk to, Debt Solutions/Lev Fin, M&A, Infrastructure could be a good fit.

    I have also heard (in many quarters) that Credit Analysts tend to excel in client facing roles (although this might depend more on the individual). There also seems to be a large amount of modeling, analysis and presentation work involved which could help futher an individual’s case.

    Any thoughts?

    Thank you.

  46. Your article is spot on! I’ve been in the back office for 9 years now and moved between many different operations and risk roles. I’ve only seen two exceptional people EVER make the transition and they were incredibly talented (CFA completed) and wasted doing the long hours of routine. Now I am finally interviewing for a sales and trading role which would be amazing but I Am planning on starting a family soon and having a baby, I may now have to stay in the back office for better flexibility and less stress while pregnant at work. Such a shame cos I would take the role in a heartbeat had it been a few years earlier . Any thoughts about me making the move now?! Could it be better for starting a family?!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      No I don’t think so, and it can be challenging to transition into a new role when you’re starting a family. I’d see how the interview with S&T goes first. And if it is a role with good prospects (i.e. strong team), I may actually make the move if this is what you really want to be doing.

  47. Hi! I have and example of someone who moved from Back-office to front-office. His name is André Esteves, BTG Pactual’s former CEO. Entered as IT intern, got out as CEO and billionaire. Cheers!

  48. What about a business management / development role whereby you directly launch new products and markets for the trading desk (i.e. new revenue)? Currently working as part of the DD1 BM role doing exactly that, have 2 predecessors that have gone into trading roles before me, but not sure if just luck or you actually gain relevant skills for the move?

  49. Avatar
    Wondering

    Is it more advisable to start off at a front office DCM role? Or Corporate treasury – Cash and forex management?

    I’ve potentially got two offers, one with a tier 3 regional bank in Asia doing DCM and the other for Daimler’s CAReer program in their corporate treasury unit.

    The salary is quite low for the regional bank ( 3k+ ) while Daimler’s offer will be 4.5k – 5k.

    Was wondering which is a wiser career path to take.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      It depends on where you see yourself going in the future, and if you like the team members there or not. I’d say go for the DCM role if you’re interested in IB/capital markets down the line. However, if you prefer a bit more security and the higher salary, I’d go with the cash and forex role.

      1. Avatar
        Wondering

        Thank you!

  50. Avatar
    Matthew

    Hi,

    Thank you for the article. I would like to know are MBB research related jobs (e.g. Mckinsey Research Analyst, BCG Knowledge Analyst) considered back office roles in finance?

    These roles get you to specialize in a certain industry (e.g. Telecom, financial institutions, TMT) and assist consultants in their specialized industry sector. Furthermore, the daily work includes modeling as well, as they do lots of market analysis and industry bench marking.

    Within consulting it is considered as BO, however to me it does not seem like it is the risk and operations type of BO roles within banks, perhaps more like equity research in sell side?

    What do you think about someone with this role wanting to switch to a finance research related job such as Equity Research, Credit Rating? Will it be a wiser choice to use the MBB brand name for applying to BSchool or MFin programs to break into finance?

    It would be great if someone can share their thoughts, thanks!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      These are consulting roles so I wouldn’t consider them as back office roles in finance. But if I were to choose, since they are quite industry specific, they maybe relevant to industry-specific research/IB roles. Yes going back to bschool can help you retool yourself, though people do refer to work experience so if you can gain experience in finance related to the industry you’re covering this will help.

  51. Hi,

    I have an opportunity to do Treasury (cash management etc) in a BB (UK) or Product Control in another BB (UK). Which role would you say has the better future opportunities? I don’t necessary aspire to be in front office. But going by this article, which role could yield better respect, earning potential and possibility of FO action?
    (PS my background is in Accounting and Finance and I enjoy exposure to financial markets)

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Both are good roles. I am not 100% sure, and I’d go with a team you get along with most.

  52. Hi,
    5 months ago I started working in a fixed income trade support position at a top Canadian bank after finishing my MBA at a non-target school. I have an engineering background and am currently studying to take the CFA level 1 in June. I’ve been networking like crazy trying to make any connections that could help me out in the future. If I work my way up internally or move to a higher trade support role at another bank, I would at least be on the trading floor interacting face to face with S&T. I’ve also considered applying for institutional sales assistant roles. Is there anything else that you can think of that I could do to make myself more attractive as a candidate for a front office S&T role?
    Thanks

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Having some sort of trading/finance experience would help. If you have your own trading portfolio, you can list that experience/talk about that. Having a stock pitch would also be useful: https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/hedge-fund-case-studies-part-2-research-structure-stock-pitch/

  53. Dear Brian and Nicole,

    Thanks for the interesting post. I also have a similar problem.
    My Background: Mechanical Engineer from Top Grad school in India, started my career working in a techno-functional role for Regulatory Financial Reports at Oracle Financial Services for 2 years. Now for the last 1 year I have been working as a Business Analyst at Goldman Sachs in Regulatory Analytics domain, which is again a back office job.
    Problem: I have been looking for a job change from last 1 month but have been getting short listed almost always for BA roles in back office of other banks or other sectors. But I want to move to either Equity research or other front end jobs(PE is out of the equation I guess). Some people suggested me that you should try moving internally to front office roles within GS, wanted to know how difficult would that be, or any particular approach that I should follow?

    And any pointers on how to switch to front end roles even at small boutique firms, because all these jobs require some work-ex to get in?

    Thank you !

    1. It is pretty tough to move from the back office to front office at a large firm like GS, especially if you don’t interact with the front office too much. At this point it’s probably easier to target smaller firms and say that you liked the work environment at a bank, but want a more client-facing role, and you’ve taken the initiative to learn finance/modeling on your own and then be able to prove that in interviews. Another option is to focus more on S&T roles at the bank since it can be easier to move from BO/MO roles into S&T since there’s more overlap and interaction. This story might help:

      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/middle-office-to-sales-trading/

  54. Hello,

    I’m looking to do a placement year starting this year and can possibly get into back office at some trading firms. However, my aim is to get into front office after i graduate. Is that an acceptable internship or should i be looking for other internships? I have a corporate finance interview lined up as well but chances for that is less likely than the operations placement.

    1. You could do that, but I’m not sure if it’s the best way to get a front-office trading role. If that’s the most relevant role for which you have a good shot, sure, go ahead, but otherwise it’s better to go for almost any other front-office role.

  55. Dear Brian and Nicole,

    I’m currently looking for advice on career path. I graduated from a decent UK university (top10) with an MSc degree in January. My undergraduate degree did not go to plan(still 3.0 gpa, but not a top school) and I’ve been struggling with getting anything from my applications. Previously I’ve interned in a FO role with StanChartered so it’s not like I’m lacking any experience at all.

    Recently I’ve received an offer for a trainee scheme in what I think is a MO/BO role(performance analyst) at a decent company (LGIM). Should I accept this offer and aim to transfer to FO? Or keep applying to every single asset manager/IB/fund out there and hope for the best?

    Thanks

    1. I would probably take that role and then aim to transfer to a front-office position at LGIM over time.

      You could also just cold email and cold call smaller banks or PE firms and attempt to win an off-cycle internship like that, but I think it would be tough with a lower GPA from a non-top school.

      1. Hi Brian,

        Thanks for the reply.

        I’ve been cold calling quite a few firms currently – probably 3/4 a day. I only recently saw your guide to effectively doing it so maybe I’ll keep trying this while working at LGIM too. Assuming the role is 9-6 I’ll have plenty of time to call/email people.

        My only concern with LGIM is that I still have applications at firms I’m waiting to hear back from. Should I email these firms telling them I need to make a decision quickly, or will that cause them to just reject me?

        1. You could contact the other firms, but they may or may not respond more quickly. It’s worth a shot if you have someone’s direct contact information at each firm. If you haven’t had a lot of success with other firms yet, I still think LGIM is the best option for now (and then continue networking once you’re there).

          1. Thanks again Brian!

            I’m accepting the offer, with the plan to continue networking once there. Hopefully in a few years I’ll have an interesting story for you to discuss with you and your readers. Thanks for all your help and guidance, via case studies, templates, and your insightful comments!

          2. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            You’re welcome.

  56. Hi,

    I will be doing a summer internship in compliance this summer for one of the largest BBs. After the internship I will attend a top-tier target university for an MSc in Management.

    I am interested in transitioning into a front-office role, particularly IBD within a BB or a boutique. Do you consider this likely to do? The climate of transitioning from MO roles to FO has become more common these days. I am afraid networking will be the only leverage I will have over a more Finance/Mathematics oriented graduate.

    What do you think?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes, your MSc can potentially help you retool yourself, so I think it is likely to transition from MO to FO.

  57. Hi! Im a master student from a european semi target univ. im looking for my first finance experience, got two options (summer internship):
    1 global transaction banking/trade finance BB
    2 unknown m&a boutique
    Both regional office
    My goal is to end up working in capital markets (ecm dcm) in a top tier ibank. What do you suggest? Consider that im gonna do another summer int next year. Thank you very much
    Keep it up!

    1. I would probably go for #2 if you have another summer and another internship, as you can leverage the experience to move to a bigger bank next year once you already have the one M&A internship.

  58. Thank you for great article.
    I am currently a level 2 candidate of the cfa program. I am currently working for middle office at a small asset management company (AUM 1 million usd) and would like to get into front office some day (As a trader, equity research role).

    I have been given an offer for a knowledge research analyst role at one of the big 3 (MBB) consulting firms’s financial institutions team. I do understand such a role will allow me to learn more about research of a specific market (FI industry in my case). The tasks involve market trend forecasting, bottom-up analysis, and specific company analysis. I’ll also get to work on cases with consultants.

    1) I would like to ask will such an experience give me the skill set for a front office job in the future? (Equity Research, Investment Banking)

    2) Would it be better to stay in my current buy side middle office role and try for an internal transfer into front office? Or go for this consulting research role for the MBB brand name and larger project exposure?

    I hope someone will be willing to help me out, thanks!

    1. I think you’d have a better chance moving into more of a front-office role at your current firm and then applying to ER roles from there. But if that’s not an option or you’ve already tried many times, then this new role might be better.

  59. Avatar
    Christopher

    Hi, thanks for a great post. If you don’t mind, I’d only appreciate you making a quick judgement on this:

    I’ve studied law and I’m currently working as an Analyst in the Legal department of top 3 bank, where I’m doing the negotiations for derivatives agreements. Considering that this is a fairly difficult area of finance, do you consider this back office?

    I ask, because I usually have to work with our credit department a lot, whilst trying to communicate the firm’s position to clients directly, sometimes with a sales person involved. So even though it doesn’t necessarily bring in revenue, what I do or say in those negotiations could make the firm better or worse off, but for some reason, I still think it’s considered back office.

    If you think this is a useful skill to have, eg negotiating derivatives agreements (ISDA Master Agreements) in particular, is it worth trying to move to the business side, structuring financial products for example?

    Would appreciate your thoughts here, thank you.

    1. It’s not exactly back office, maybe more like middle office. It is a useful skill to have, and you would have a decent shot at moving over to front-office roles more on the sales & trading side of the firm (as it tends to be easier to move over to those areas anyway).

  60. Hi Nicole,

    I just graduated and will start doing operation(might be trade support) in March. I want to transfer to other groups. Do you think I have a chance to get an offer from other firms in about a month? I also know there is a liquidity risk management job within the firm I am going. Do you think I should try to transfer to that group?

    If I end up doing the full time job in operation, what is your suggestion for me in the future? I really appreciate it.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      It’s hard to comment on your chances and risks, but in general moving within a month is probably not the easiest move. I’d suggest that you network as soon as you get to that role, and perhaps try to go back to a top business school to rebrand yourself

  61. Hi I need advice,

    I got an offer from MS in London to join their business strategies department as an intern. My end goal is enter in FO and I think the internship is quite good because it will allow to be in contact with all the departments that the team support. I ve never work in a banking before and I think its a great way to kickstar my career cause it will give me the brand name in the cv and I can interact and see how other departments works, besides the fact I am a not native english speaker from a public university ranked 368 worldwide… so I can not complain
    Anyway, after reading this article and some negative comments I think that it might not be the best idea. Do you recommend accepting the internship or keep trying to look for other opportunities in FO in others banks/boutiques?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes at this stage I may just accept the internship first, and keep looking for other opportunities in the meantime.

  62. Hi All,

    Looking for a little advice.

    Background: I have 1 years experience in a Trade support role (MO) from a top tier US IB. I choose to leave and obtain a MSc Fin Math from a fairly good Uni (top 15 UK) that I completed about 3 months ago. I am now looking for FO positions in S&T, I seem to be getting interviews with positive feedback but always a “someone had more experience” etc.

    I can afford to be out of work for a few more months (financially) but wanted advice on whether I should hold out for an FO entry level position (not many about) or go back into MO/BO role (a lot more around) and try to work my way through? The worry being, I may get stuck in BO for too long?

    All advice appreciated!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      If you can find a FO role in the next few months I’d go for that. But I wouldn’t wait too long because it can be hard to explain the job gap. The longer you are out of the market the harder it maybe for you to find a job so I’d suggest that you go back to a MO/BO role for a while and perhaps go back to a target school or try to transfer internally

  63. Hi,

    I’ve been made an offer by Goldman Sachs in compliance. I have JD from a top-tier Australian university. Could you please advise if I should accept this role and try to get into DCM or IB? I’m interested in the front-office however I don’t have any opportunities at this time.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      In this case, yes I may accept the opportunity given GS’ brand name and try to transition internally down the line

  64. Serious Quesiton: Was this article written when the perception of IT was geeky kids that just fix broken keyboards? I just finished an internship at a prestigious BB as a software Developer and worked on some really cool applications. They offered me a return offer that is actually very competitve, but I’m nervous to take it because of articles like this….My goal is to work for three years and then get an MBA at a top 15 school. (Im a senior)

    Thanks for your feedback.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Not necessarily. IT is very important these days and if you think that this role is something you want in the next few years, yes if I were you, I’d take it. You may also want to explore tech companies too because your skills may also be valued there and pay is also competitive.

      1. True about other tech companies. I’ll probably stick to the bank because the pay is more than gracious for my current skill level. I’d be hard pressed to find higher pay at a tech company for my entry level skills (tech is something I started recently in college). Also their training is super good. Essentially my plan is to learn on their dime, probably go to another pure tech company after a couple of years (3) and stay there for a year to 2 years and then apply for an mba. Looking for top 10 programs. With a solid GMAT, does this sound like a feasible plan?

  65. What is Data resource group in IB, is it back or mid-office? I have heard people transition into front end after a few years, does that seem like a viable option?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d say it is back office because you maybe pulling up data for the IB team. Yes it can be viable but I am not sure how likely the transition can be.

      1. Do you think doing courses like WallStreet Prep, CFA level 1, series 79/63 would be helpful to advance a career from back-end to front-end within a year? I would have loved to pursue an MBA, but I doubt I can afford it at this point!!

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          I think they can potentially be helpful but work experience and networking matter most!

          1. Ahaan!! Thank you so much for your guidance and prompt replys.

  66. Hi,

    I am currently in a trade support ops role at a off site location for a well known bank. I really want to get out of ops and change my location. Right now, I have two options: 1) move to another ops role on the buyside with better compensation and possibly more exposures to the PM/trader or 2) another internal middle office role that might lead to different opportunities in the bank after a year or two. I am afraid that if I move into my second ops role, I will be stuck with ops. Which one do you think will help me more in the long run more?

    Thanks,
    Sue

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d probably go with 1 to broaden your network and increase your chances.

  67. Avatar
    William

    Hello,

    I am looking to get into IB. I currently work as senior consultant for a well-known public sector consulting firm and I am starting an MSF program in the fall.

    I have had an offer come up to be an analyst at a commercial bank in balance sheet management. I am trying to see if the client facing work at my current firm performing financial analysis for public sector clients would more relevant than this back office work (but happens to be closer to banking in nature) at a commercial bank for getting into IB when I finish school. Trying to determine in the short term what is the most leverageable experience.

    Any advice?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes your client facing work is probably more important and I’d focus on elaborating on that.

  68. Hi Brian,

    I’ve been trying to break into finance for years. I’m 3 years out of business school and nearly 38 years old. I did an internship in Investment Banking in 2011, but no full time conversion.

    Now I have several opportunities, though they aren’t Front Office. I have a few days to decide.

    Full time offer with M&T in Buffalo, in credit.
    Or
    9 week internship in Treasury Services with JP Morgan, NYC. TS is client facing, not the corporate treasury role.

    The internship is supposed to get me in the door, so a full time position at TS is unlikely. The idea is that I do well in TS, then my manager endorses me for another position at JPM at the end of the 9 weeks.

    I’m not sure which to choose. By the way, I don’t care about age and I’m willing to do whatever.

    Do you have any recommendations? Thanks in advance.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      It depends on how risk averse you are. If you are ok with the possibility of not getting a return offer, I’d go with JPM given its brand name and it’s also in NYC, giving you plenty of opportunities to network. If you really want job security then perhaps the M&T offer maybe a better bet.

  69. I need advice, I’m not sure if I’m in back office or what and made a bad choice. Last summer I interned as s&t at a japenese bank in Nyc (smaller than Nomura in U.S.) left there to go intern in the analytics group at largest asset manager in ny…the analytics group though got merged with another group that’s more back office ish..I mean they interact with clients daily but more in a support function, we go to client sites and help with implementation etc but my job as a full time analyst is basically helping the client with anything as it relates to finance and our software…feels semi ITish…I’ve seen other interns swing consulting from this full time (we are advising kind of but not really) did I make a bad move by interning here/ accepting full time? I know s&t is better but it was a crappy company/ bad culture…help!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d try to move to another company in a more “front office capacity” if you can. I don’t think you made a bad move, but if you want to do more front office work you may want to consider transitioning.

  70. Avatar
    Marty Mcfly

    I’ve been in the back office at two of the best tier one firms and going into my 9th year I’ve become quite depressed at the failure of my career. This article is spot on except you work more likely 12-14 hours and have to take shit from arrogant guys younger than you making 3 to 4 times more and higher title faster. Post Lehman world I would NOT recommend this career to anyone, especially operations who get the least respect, longest hours, and least pay of them all. I want to get out of finance but feeling s bit hopeless at 31. Nine years at the top shops on the street and really have nothing to show for it, maybe only a year’s worth of base (still under 6 figures) in savings. What can I do with my career at this point? Am I too old for an MBA and switching to business development for a Fortune 500?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I may actually go back to a top tier business school to rebrand yourself. You maybe a bit older in the MBA program, but this is doable.

  71. Here is my example Brian

    I did it, for one of the top 5 banks in Canada. I started in a settlements role and worked very closely with my traders. I shadowed them and used all the systems. We worked very closely for years and I even gave suggestions. Traders can’t function without backoffice so they wont disrespect you. Usually they give sh*t to the back office managers to rush deals.

    I had a strong academic background in finance and now I work there. Don’t lose hope. Anything is possible and always make a good first impression. It took me 4 years but I did it.

    Good luck to you all

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Thanks for your input!

  72. Avatar
    Adam Holden

    Hi,

    After 7-8 painful months of job searching I now have two offers to choose between.

    1) Internship within top 15 Banks in Business Data (Mid Office) – 12 month fixed contract. I know a number of interns who have gone permanent, I would either do that or use the money to take a finance masters in London.

    2) Grad role within Accounts/Expenses Payable (Back Office) the top 5 Hedge funds in Europe. Opportunity for ACCA, CIMA, CFA support. Its smaller so would offer more exposure to senior employees & broader responsibilities.

    Like most others i am interested in moving into the front office after a professional qualification. Having researched and interviewed for many entry positions in trading, equity research, IB & portfolio management found all interesting with no clear preference.

    Any advice?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Congratulations! I’d say 1 – at this point, pick a role that offers you higher pay and a role that you enjoy most so you can save up, perform very well at work (for grad school applications), and go to a target school.

  73. I have read a few comments now and are getting more and more depressed. Have been working in risk management 4y now and have tried to move so many times. Have a master in finance from a good university. Now it feels like I have waster my career and I don’t know what to do. really sad

    1. I wouldn’t get depressed. This article is probably overly negative. You can definitely transition out to other groups, but IB is harder than other options such as those that are more S&T-related (if you’re currently in risk management). Transitions are actually more common now than when this article was written years ago.

  74. In essence the back office people get very little to no respect at all. Now I understand why nurses are so many times disrespected, that’s because they do not directly generate funds for the hospitals, nursing homes,etc

  75. Hi Nicole. Thanks for the article. I am a qualified chartered accountant working in the finance department of a large corporate. I’ve interviewed with a large global IB for a MO role. The company is keen to make me an offer as a Junior AVP – Product Control. I’m sure I have the personality to make it in FO but don’t have any experience working in any FO divisions. The corporate I’m currently working for is not offering great opportunities and the MO offer is looking attractive in light of the present situation. Is it worthwhile to get into a MO position and make my way into FO once I’m in or would you advise not getting in until an appropriate FO position becomes available? I’m also not the type of person who would enjoy pushing numbers around in a spreadsheet all day for an extended period of time… Your advice would be appreciated. Thanks

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Depends on how much you want to leave. I’m not sure how much product control can increase your FO chances, so I wouldn’t jump on it, unless you really need to leave now.

  76. Hi, I’ve just recently accepted a Derivative Settlements Internship at BAML. Will that be detrimental to my future career? I still have the chance to do another penultimate internship in 2015 and I’m wondering if it’s possible for me to break into the FO with my current standing.

    Your reply is much appreciated.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes you can still break into FO; I’d network a lot during your time at BAML and see if you can transfer to derivatives S&T

      1. Hi Nicole, thanks for your reply! I’ll certainly put in effort to break into trading next year.

        I’m wondering if it’s possible for me to make use of my knowledge gained as a derivative settlements intern to perform better during my interview for a trading position next year, or will it be of almost no advantage at all?

        Sorry if I’m taking up too much of your time, but I can’t seem to find any info on M&I regarding this… You can always show me some links if they exist. Thanks!

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Yes it can certainly help; learn as much about derivatives as you can during your time there.

  77. Avatar
    Adriana

    I am currently making switch from BO to FO and couldnt be happier. Key for this transition was networking, keeping up with the markets on a daily basis and never gave up! It is hard to do, but you can acheive anything you put your mind to.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Good for you! If you’d like to share your story with our readers, please let us know and I’ll shoot you an email!

      1. Avatar
        Adriana

        I’d be happy to share my story!

  78. I made the switch from BO to FO about a year and a half after graduating.

    My school had one alumni that worked for a major bank, he was an MD in FICC technology. He got me a job in Mortgage Tech working closely with traders, running around, supporting spreadsheets. I knew my place, came in early, worked late. I worked with every group in mortgages and interviewed whenever there was an opening until one team took me in. I’ve been here for 6 months, will probably work another 6 months to a year and make another push into trading.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Good luck!

  79. Hey Brian,

    I am a second year grad form a undergrad B-School that has been climbing the ranks. No where near the Ivy’s or baby Ivy’s but growing. Graduated with a 3.4 (somewhat mediocre). I started off in the back office of a large custodian/investment bank, hated it and just needed an out to something that requires somewhat of a mental capacity. I currently work in a “back-office/operations” role at a growing Private Equity fund-of-funds firm (5+ Billion under management) building financials, quarterly analysis, minor investment data mining/dumping. Basically investment support to the HBS/Wharton guys. I can’t stand accounting and need out. Since I graduated I wanted to move into FO as a analyst/research associate. Recently I have changed focus to a trading desk to get the excitement and pressure I have been looking for as well as the investment/cap market experience that the analyst roles require. What are my chances at getting onto a trading desk as a junior trader or trader at a large investment bank in Boston? And what other FO roles would suit my background?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Your chances are decent, and you’ll have to network a lot and be able to demonstrate your understanding of the markets to people. I’d suggest you to make use of your current role to learn as much about the markets as you can. In terms of roles, it is hard to say because I have not worked with you before, but you may find this quiz useful: http://www.goldmansachs.com/careers/why-goldman-sachs/explore-goldman-sachs-careers-quiz/

  80. Hi Brian/Nicole,

    Thank you for all of your insight I have really learned a lot. I am in a much different situation of many of the people posting on your blog and could really use your advice. I understand that I am not in the best situation but I am willing to make the best I can out of it.

    I have been studying a non business/finance major up until my senior year and made my way into a Morgan Stanley facility assisting some investment bankers pitch an IPO but on the production side (literal production, making a video for the pitch) and finally realized that this industry was my calling. I quickly added a finance/investments major during my senior year and began my research on where I now stood in pursuing a career in this industry. I don’t go to a target school (I can transfer to a top 100 b-school if it would help). Completing this new finance major along with the previous would take me 6 years total to finish both (I am about to finish first degree plus an extra 2 years for the finance). I am in my early 20’s so I am “young” but still feel like I am old / in a really bad spot to be trying to do this, especially based on what I have been reading on here from much more experienced competition. I do have a family connection at ED level in a BB and a family friend who is the same. One in AM and the other in S/T. I don’t know if they will be any help down the line so I cannot count on that. I have also been reaching out to a few alumni to hear about the industry and something that I would want to pursue, and it is (Just talked to an analyst MO at a BB). Anyways, before I embark on this journey, if my position seems so out of line and not worth it to try it, please let me know. I would rather not spend my next 2 years in school to just get laughed at in the end or a job with not much growth (MO/BO?). My ultimate goal as many would be to work in FO. I know I can’t be too picky as I am a little behind most others. If this doesn’t seem like a realistic scenario to achieve at my current status let me know as well. Any advice on next steps that you think might lead to this would be greatly appreciated.

    (College Senior, adding Finance major, no experience yet, 2 more years of school, I do have a 3.8GPA!)

    Thank you in advance!!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      So if your question is should you transfer to a target school, my answer is, yes if it is the top 10 schools such as UPenn, Harvard. Otherwise, no I don’t think it is particularly useful in your scenario. Yes I’d reach out to alum and people in the industry and start gaining experience in front office first, be it through smaller banks or boutiques. To do that would require you to hustle and meet as many contacts as you can https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/non-target-bulge-bracket-investment-banking-offers/

  81. Avatar
    M&I - Nicole

    No worries. Read on for the rest of the articles on how to move if you don’t like it. Otherwise, being in BO can be great if you like what you do there!

  82. Avatar
    Quid Pro Quo

    First off, thank you for all the helpful info on your site…incredibly useful stuff. Through a family connection, I just started as a middle manager doing derivatives pricing for a large investment management firms. My ultimate goal is to escape operations hell and make it into a more FO role, such as a PM or research job specializing in energy or real estate (or rather a place where one’s sole worth is not determined by how big one’s MS Excel d*** is).

    Judging from your site’s articles/comments, I have some significant obstacles to overcome: 1.) I’m a career-changer and pretty much geriatric (I’m in my mid 30s), 2.) have no formal finance/quant-related background/non-ivy education (went to law school, regrettably), and 3.) worked in the public sector for years (non-finance). However, on the pro side, I am passionate about specific market sectors, have a thick face, socially competent, a glutton for punishment (ie law school), and willing to relocate.

    My questions to Brian/Nicole/all of you: 1.) How feasible is my ultimate goal? 2.) Is getting a MBA a necessity (and, if so, what should I focus on, job-wise, in the meantime? 3.) Any specific advice on what MO jobs/roles to look for en route to my final destination? 4.) Given my background, is the CFA worth it? 5.) Should I focus on smaller/boutique/public organizations? 6.) Would an international region (such as SE Asia) be more hospitable to my plans?

    Thanks again for the help!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Getting an MBA is not necessary but a target MBA can certainly open you doors and help you transition out of what you’re doing. We are not experts on MO roles so I’d leave that to readers. A CFA can be worth it if you want to work on the buy-side. Yes smaller/boutique firms can be easier to break into. If you have experience at/or are actually from SE Asia/or have plans to move there and speak local language, then yes it maybe easier for you to work there.

  83. This post is ridiculous. I’m a trader for a large bank and I see many BO employees make the transition consistently. If you have the knowledge of markets, network and learn while in BO the transition is relatively easy. Much easier than gaining employment in FO straight from college. Also if you prefer stability you can work your way up the ranks in BO and earn £100,000+. So ignore this post.

  84. Hello everyone I have an internship as a investment banking operations intern. Will they actually sponsor me for my series 7? I really would like to get licensed?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes, when you get a full time role there.

  85. Does anybody know what are the working hours for a front office developer? Stress level and if working on week-ends is usual?

    Thanks

    1. Hi, Brian! Could you please give me a piece of advice? I had one and a half year of experience as an intern with a Latin American BB at its AM branch (essentially pitching strategies and call presentations for the sales teams). Received an offer, but turned it down since it would consist in an administrative role and no high bonuses were expected. Graduated at an Ivy League school in Brazil 2 months later and tried to break into IB but had low GPA, knew nobody from the sell-side offices and did not get the stellar recommendation I had fought for (in my country, interns sometimes study Engineering full time and also work 30/40/50/60… hours per week).
      The only opportunity I was able to get straight out of college was a trainee program at a middle-market bank. The department I will join at the end of the job rotation is the retail credit risk management area, thus MO. How do you think I could move to FO at a more sophisticated industry (IB, PB, AM, Corporate Finance, Treasury)? I am networking my ass off and if I succeed, will be glad to give you an interview about it!

      1. Avatar
        M&I - Nicole

        I’d network a lot and perhaps rely on your alumni network since I believe there are plenty of alums from your school who work in the industry. Many maybe willing to help you, even if it is just for a brief chat.

  86. Avatar
    Pamela Daniel

    I have worked in stock- operations in one of the biggest investment banks and I can for sure say that this article is a “whole load of crap”
    I have worked with traders and sales and the front office and it is more of “working together” than getting intimidated.

    Front office guys do care- because ops make it happen. We cannot sell a product if that cannot settle in the market now can we? Yes, and the first people they enquire about this is “back office”

    I currently now work in the front office and I know much more than my peers. I know how things work and what needs to be done to get the ship to sail. But it is quiet boring, less interaction and too uptight. We are revenue generators, no doubt but that makes us more ignorant than anything else.

    1. This article was written specifically about why the move from back office to front office investment banking (NOT sales & trading) is tough. It was written a long time ago (almost 10 years ago now) to explain to readers how working in the back office doing IT support for M&A investment bankers is not the same thing as advising clients on a $1 billion M&A deal.

      Yes, it’s easier to get into the front office on the S&T side and the work is more relevant – please see:

      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/middle-office-to-sales-trading/
      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/tales-from-the-back-office/
      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/front-office-analyst-myth/
      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/back-office-hedge-fund-jobs/

      1. Avatar
        Pamela Daniel

        Thanks for your acknowledgement.

  87. Hello,
    I’m working as hedge fund administrator(back office) . Have anyone ever heard of CHP level 1 and CHP level 2 (certified hedge fund profession)? I took CHP level 1 last week. On this friday 24th, i will know if i pass or not. Would anyone know if this certificate will help me advance to work in the HF front office ? By the way, i’m researching online to see if i can get a list of Hedge fund locate in Boston,MA but it came up negative unless i pay for the site. Can someone let me know if you know any hedge fund operate in Boston,Ma and their office contact? Thanks very much.

  88. Hi there!

    I am now a final year student in HK and I am struggling to choose between offers, Transaction Service in Big4 ac firm and Operations Analyst in Top BB.
    I know these two offers seems to be irrelevant but actually the job market is just not good enough for graduates to go into FS directly, so we’re just applying for any positions we can apply.
    The Ops analyst’ base salary is more than twice than I can get in TS in big4, and I’ll have to spend two years in Audit first before joining the TS team, any suggestions?
    Thanks a lot.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d go for TAS and try to move to IB from there. However, if you really want to work in an IB and like the brand name, you may opt for the latter option

  89. The back office is still better than the unemployment office. And if you managed to get into BO at a BB, you can still say you worked at a BB. Besides the pay isn’t that bad either, my brother was hired on a contract as an IT consultant at RBC in Canada, and was taking in 200,000k a year. When he could not get the contract renewed, he left RBC and ended up working for quant hedge fund in NY as a computer programmer. The pay was even higher at the hedge fund. Not bad for a BO job. The working hours were shorter than a typical analyst job at an investment bank. I think people should be more open minded and less myopic on the idea of going from BB analyst to top PE leads to greatness. Take which ever job comes your way. There are many routes in life to success, be proactive and explore these different opportunities that come your way.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Thanks for your input!

  90. Great article. However I am curious about one thing. Most banks also have a Corporate Banking arm. The work involves mostly plain vanilla and working capital lending, credit analysis, cash flow stuff etc and is definitely a lot ‘chiller’ in terms of hours. And it is client facing too – so that makes it FO. Agreed it wont pay as much as IBD, but its still certainly better than IT and the rest of the BO you’ve mentioned here. Would you agree about Corporate Banking?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Sure, you can say that.

  91. Last summer (for my Junior year Internship) I was in a back-office role at one of the larger full-service investment banks. I am now currently a senior at a top 10 undergraduate business school with (regrettably) a mediocre GPA.

    What is the best way to make the transition into one of the front-office roles that I hope to obtain upon graduation?

    I have a strong network, global experience in studying abroad, and a well-developed resume. Any advice that you may have would be very much appreciated. Thank you.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/tales-from-the-back-office/ maybe helpful to you. Networking a lot, being very persistent, and knowing how to pitch yourself well are key

    2. Avatar
      Miss Wall Street

      Network and get a headhunter. Seriously, headhunters can get you interviews you never would have gotten otherwise.

  92. Hi. I’ve recently graduated and accepted a BO role in a big bank. I plan to work there for about 2 years. Is there away to possibly transfer to an FO job in the future?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes possibly, though it can be challenging because you’ll be competing against people who’ve had FO experience. I’ve seen that happen before, though its easier if you move from BO to MO, and have constant interaction with FO people. This will increase your chances.

  93. Hi, I am currently in the last semester of my M.Sc. in Finance in Germany, not a target school. I completed an IB internship at a small boutique and I am about to start an Equity Research internship at Allianz. My goal is to get into Equity Research (completed all CFA levels), but as not that many positions are available in Germany, I’ll probably have to go for IB first. I recently took a shot in the dark and got an offer for a Back Office internship at a big bank. Do you think it is worth taking the position (accounting) just for the sake of having a reputable name on my CV or should I just start looking for a job without this third internship ? Having trouble figuring out a story, your advice will be much appreciated. Thank you!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d probably look for another role without this third internship. Your ER internship should help you in other buy-side/research related roles.

  94. I am graduating in May 2014 and have recently accepted a job at GS Operations. I knew this was back office and have heard it is tough to transition into FO, which is my ultimate goal. I really didn’t have a good chance coming out of a non-target undergraduate school. Is there any advice on how to transition so I can begin my journey right away?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/tales-from-the-back-office/

      You may find the article useful. I’d also plan for target business school – this will increase your chances quite significantly

  95. Hey, Im doing my M.Sc in International Banking and Finance in the U.K, not a Target School but very reputable. I have been having no luck getting interviews or even internships.

    The thing is that I have been networking with a Executive Director in J.P Morgan Treasury Services. If I get offered a position in Operations at J.P Morgan, will I be committing a career suicide by accepting?

    I dont want to be in operations but nothing else has been happening.

    1. No, not “suicide” – better to accept that offer than have nothing else lined up.

  96. Avatar
    B. A. Lindsay

    Are sign on bonuses typical?

  97. Avatar
    B. A. Lindsay

    Nicole, I know you have experiance in the wealth mangagement field so I will as you. Is a regitered associate in the wealth management possition a front office job, because of client interaction and regularly creating spreadsheets and client reports? Also if you don’t currently have a series 7 and 63 (both required for the job) will they wait for you to get one, hire you while you atain one or just not considerate you? Will they teach and sponsor you to get a series 7 & 63? What do think pay and bonuses are like? I’m 29 coming from another industry (sales/hospitality) and wondering if this is a good transition into finance while I go to school as an undergrad.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      No, I’d say its more of a back/middle office role. Yes if you’re junior its likely that they will wait and sponsor your series 7 and 63 exam but it depends on the firm. Pay and bonuses depend on the firm and you may want to check out http://hudson.com/knowledgecenter/salary-guides for details Sure. If you have the skills & passion to break in, it can potentially be a decent transition

  98. I don’t work in IB but in a large corp so this might not apply.

    Although 99% of what is said above is true, I will bring one point where it might not be.

    At the end of the day, you should do the work that you love, that you enjoy your hours doing. Period.

    So, if that means doing IT or marketing, so be it. You should never get into a job you hate no matter the money you receive from it.

    Point is, not everybody has the personality for front-end and will feel much happier in the back end.

    On the IT side for example, those guys might love computer problems and working as a team towards these problems. The IT floor in my firm is a big team with good social athmosphere and so on.

    So I just think that you should do whatever you like, not think of whats glamorous.

    It’s like in the stock market, risk aversion. Just do something with risk you can tolerate and be happy.

    Also I will add that some supporting functions like IT in my opinion are becoming more and more involved in front end as highly technical front end systems are becoming the norm in any industry, and the classic sales guy less so.

    Also, same with Risk. Risk is immensely important in our current financial world, the ability to evaluate risk on customers, portfolios, etc…Has becoming crucial for financial institutions, more so than the sales part, at least in my business.

    So all Im saying is…Front end and back end are not so defined…The question you have to ask yourself is how much value you bring to the firm, regardless of function.

  99. Hi,

    Legal is also considered to be back office? I’m currently an M&A lawyer (industry – not a law firm) and hope to get into a b-school next fall. I’m looking for a new job for this pre-MBA year. Can it potentially harm me (post-MBA) if I apply for (and get) a legal position at IB ?
    Any thoughts on this? Thanks.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes legal is considered middle office (not front). No I don’t think it will hurt you though you will have to explain why you want to move to IB. It should be straight forward i.e. getting an MBA to retool yourself wanting to move because you’re more interested in the finance aspect of deals https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/breaking-and-entering-into-finance-part-ii-the-lawyer/

      1. Thanks for your comment! Much appreciated.

  100. Avatar
    Mid Office Conundrum

    I have full time position at a bb in the middle office, pay/hours are good, been working there for little less than a year, straight out of college. I received an offer to work IB at a smaller bank specialized in emerging markets where there a bit more of a recognizable name. Problem is the position is not guaranteed after the year and I would be taking a pay cut. A lot of people are calling me crazy for even considering it, but I feel otherwise, I trust that even just getting paid in experience is worth the risk, this could be experience that I could later propel at another firm if worst comes to worst. Thoughts? I’m sure you’d agree, right?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Seems like you’ve already made a decision. I’d say yes the experience is worth it though you’ll be taking a risk that you may have to look for a job after one year. With the above being said you’ll get your foot in the door and learn about IB so I’d say go for it especially since it’s always easier to switch when you’re younger (harder as you progress in your career especially from middle to front office) and your earning potential maybe higher in the long-run.

  101. Avatar
    backtofront

    Hi There

    this is a cool website with tons of advice. i would like to just add my 2 cents worth here.

    in terms of people wanting to make the jump to the trading floor at a bank and currently in a back office position (lets put it, according to this website, everything non-revenue generating).

    i would say working in IT support with a focus on pricing is probably a better bet than being in a quant / model validation etc roles. reason being: its easy to outshine, in the former than in the latter, and to stand out from the crowd.

    if you are in support, expectations are low, FO normally think u r stupid (it is true, i ‘ve had colleagues from uni, with remarkably low IQ, who have just been there at the right place at the right moment to scoop FO positions) and its easy if for you to impress them, and help them when they are stuck.

    unlike, if in a quant team or a role very close to the traders, everyone in the teamis aspiring to become a trader and u fall in a long queue to get that one position that may come once in a blue moon. also, IT pays well (i mean systems and third party vendor softwares) and is a more scarce resource than a junior quant.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Thanks for your input!

  102. Hi,
    I am currently a sophomore in college and I’m passionate about trading. However, I could not find any internship that offers some market experience for this Fall semester. Instead, I found an “excel job” at the wealth management section of the back office of a big bank. Given that I have no significant finance experience yet, do you think that this might help me eventually land a job in the field that really interests me or is it not worth the effort?

    Thank you in advance.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Having some experience is better than having no experience. This internship can be a stepping stone for you to land a front office role during your junior year. Not many sophomores get to intern so having some experience is useful. If you’re passionate about trading try your best to learn as much as you can re the markets and investments during your internship so you can talk about what you learned during your interviews

  103. I am currently doing a internship for one of the big 4 in audit (london). I wanted to ask should I try to apply for a graduate position in Ib, Wealth management, asset management or should I try to get an internship instead?
    PS: I am in my last year at uni and I have also done an internship in a retail bank during last summer( in eastern europe so I guess it does not count as much).

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      If you’re in your last year of univ, I think you will be applying for graduate roles. You may not be eligible to be an intern at BBs (summer interns reserved for 3rd years) though you can always check with boutiques. Your retail bank experience can help; WM/AM maybe an easier transition and you’ll have to demonstrate your passion for and knowledge of the markets

  104. what if you entered in a big bank’s tech analyst program and worked there for 3 years….and was recently promoted from analyst to avp..can you do internal transfer to front office gig even willing to take a pay cut? this is assuming if the candidate demonstrates quick ability to learn and has passed cfa level 1

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I think it is doable, though you’ll need to have the right network and can demonstrate your understanding of valuation and nature of the work. It also depends on hiring needs too.

  105. Lol…how can I get into the back office? I don’t want a lot of money, I just want stability and the prestige of a big company. What kind of degree/school name am I looking at?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d still aim for semi targets (like UVA) and perhaps a degree in business/engineering/technology. Getting into back office roles can be challenging too, even though it may seem easier than front office roles.

  106. Hi M&I and Brian, I am an attorney (not corporate or finance related) but have an opportunity to work for a major bank in Credit Risk Management (I have some finance/econ training), which is BO/MO. I don’t have any dreams of being an IBanker, quite frankly, my ideal job would be working as an attorney at the federal reserve or CFTC or in-house within a bank. I also actually like credit risk management as a topic (though have never worked in it — I know school and job are totally different beasts).

    Do you think switching careers to finance in a CRM function is a good idea? To me, it poses greater risks but also perhaps greater rewards. Then again, to throw away a legal career (which, unlike many other attorneys, I do not hate) and the stability of government employment, gives me great pause.

    From your post you would seem to discourage BO work, but I don’t care about FO, so would this not apply to me? Do you think I have a good chance switching to a regulatory agency or even getting transferred to the legal department of the bank after working a few years in CRM?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes I think this experience coupled with your legal experience will increase your chances of switching into a regulatory agency/legal department of a bank. Since you have an offer already, and aren’t looking for IB roles, I don’t think this article applies to your case. I’d suggest you to ask a lot of questions re your role at the bank before you take the offer so you have a better understanding of what you’re getting yourself into.

  107. I’ve got offered an internship with Credit risk at a BB and I’m just curious of what some of the exit opps could be for working within credit risk? I’ve also heard that credit risk is basically starting to count as FO at some IB’s like JP, do you agree?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Perhaps risk management and maybe trading roles (this is stretching it a bit). I’m not quite sure if it is regarded as FO to be honest, but many would view it as MO type of role. I wouldn’t worry too much about it though – enjoy your offer, and congratulations!

  108. Yes BO is not really enticing. However, is it ok to start off a career after graduation as an Operations analyst and keep networking to eventually make a move to the FO? Add to this an MBA or CFA qualification.
    Great articles guys. Keep it up!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes, you can do so, though there will be challenges because you’ll be competing against people who have had FO experience so you’ll have to distinguish yourself and background!

  109. Yes BO is not really enticing. However, is it ok to start off a career after graduation as an Operations analyst and keep networking to eventually make a move to the FO? Add to this an MBA or CFA qualification.
    Great articles guys. Keep it up!

  110. The analyst I worked with last summer at a BB in strategy ops/back office started out at an elite boutique in investment banking and within a year was able to jump over to morgan stanley in a very prestigious group…then she messed up. she got sick of the job after a year and moved to back office at a different bank, thinking it would make things “easier”…needless to say, she ended up having to shell out 200K to go to b-school in order to get back on track. back office is definitely the worse thing you can do if you have any sort of talent.
    You guys are right about a back office internship not being the end of the world, though. The bank I was with got slammed by the feds so they cut down on the new analyst class I ended up having to apply for other jobs. I lucked out and ended up as a front office analyst at a hedge fund…but I’ll never make the mistake again.
    Thanks for this great post!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Thanks a lot for your insights and for sharing. I’m sure readers appreciate your input.

  111. My friend moved from being in a back-office doing settlements directly to a front-office as a funds manager (well, for the first 2 years, he was ‘just’ an assistant funds manager) :-)

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Thank you for sharing. Kudos to your friend!

  112. Hi there. Junior accounting major from non-target, high GPA, previous internship at major asset management firm here.

    Was gunning for BB IB SA position until recently. Met some M&A attorneys while meeting with some firms in NYC, and interest in corporate law was sparked. As I am not sure 100% what I want to pursue right now, what are your thoughts about trying to intern in compliance/risk management? Also, what about an internship at a top Corporate law firm? I.E. coming from a non-target, would a name like Wachtell Lipton/Skadden/Latham Watkins/Kirkland Ellis, etc be impressive in FT recruiting for IB at BB or would I be better off pursuing something else.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I am not 100% sure, and I don’t think compliance is directly related to corporate law, though I may be wrong. You may have more opportunities to deal with lawyers at your IB role. Yes, I think an internship at the law firm would be more relevant, though I think firms may be more interested in pre-law candidates/candidates in law school. Yes I know a contact from Skadden who moved to IB then PE so yes such names can be impressive.

  113. Hi Brian,
    I’m a masters student in Investment Management at a B-school that’s at the top of the food chain in Latin America.
    How helpful do you think this will be in me landing a front office role in the US? What are my best chances?
    I did work in back office right out of college (energy trading) for 2 years and left to get my masters.
    Any thoughts?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      If you have US residency/green card and can legally work in US with a sponsorship your chances are a lot higher. Your chances are somewhat decent, though you’ll be competing with local US students/professionals who have already had front office internships/experience in IB. Your best chances maybe to look for roles within Latam in a global bank and transfer.

  114. Hey Brian,

    So this past summer I completed a B.O internship “Cash Management” at a top medium investment bank in the city.
    However, I am in the process of trying to land a middle office job out of college. What positions are pretty good for exit opportunities? I don’t know which positions are M.O. Is being a financial analyst a M.O position? I don’t think I am ready for a front office job but maybe if I change my mind after the 2 yrs of being an analyst (if i get hired) then I would def be ready to commit to it.
    I don’t want to be stuck in B.O because I’ve read on the site that exit opportunities are very limited. Maybe it isn’t the end of the world if I start as an analyst but that’s taking a risk to get stuck there.

    Please advise & thank you!

  115. Kweku Adoboli started in Back Office I believe… and successfully transferred to Front Office. The subsequent success I suppose is up to some debate.

    1. so did Jerome Kerviel! He was in trade settlements before moving onto the trading desk.

      I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment here. I struggled to find a FO internship but stuck with it and ended up at SG (on the London branch of the desk Jerome traded for in Paris). It’s a distinctly middle tier bank but a much better choice than the MO offers I had at the time (08/09) from the likes of JPM, MS etc…

      Now I trade a macro book in a hedge fund. I doubt i’d be here if i’d been doing credit risk for the first few years.

  116. Working compliance at a BB with the goal of hopping over to SEC down the road. May even come back to BB farther down said road, but FO. Doable? Feasible?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes. You craft your career!

  117. Hello there,
    I’m working as a research sales assistant at a growing firm but not in their nYC office. Instead I’m in a new outside new York office and not getting a ton of exposure.
    Should I go MO at a BB or stay here?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Can you work your way to the NY office? If your role offers advancement I’d stay there. Otherwise I’d leave.

  118. Hello there,
    I’m working as a research sales assistant at a growing firm but not in their nYC office. Instead I’m in a new outside new York office and not getting a ton of exposure.
    Should I go MO at a BB or stay here? Maybe get to their main office after I graduate?

  119. Avatar
    SAMUEL MUSA

    i am so passionate about working in a back office position considering I am not really the customer inclined type but with all that has been said, i am really discouraged about the whole thing. are the front office roles that difficult? or is the middle office any better?

  120. A colleague of mine recently moved from the database development team to portfolio strategy. He’s young and I can’t imagine why he wouldn’t be able to continue that push. I think many back office staff stay there because that’s what they’re suited to and where they belong. If you are driven to move to the front office, that might mean that you are naturally more inclined and suited to that kind of work, making it much more likely for you to end up there.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes!

  121. You are absolutely right! BO is not worth it on many levels. My 5 year experience is testiment to that. Having said that I would like to clarify a few points:

    1. I know of a handfull of ppl who transitioned into FO. Mostly trading. Examples: research, trading assistants, risk nd price testing. BUT a number of these ppl failed and were forced to resign. Why? I suspect lack of training you get as an FO grad.

    2. Your base and bonuses do not get much better after first year. Base grows at snail pase of 5-10pc a year. Most frequently closer to 5pc than 10! Bonuses remain at 10-15pc of your base for a loooong time .. Director level time in fact. Best way to get a raise is to change jobs. Hence the bank hopping common for BO/MO. Promotions give you a silly money raise.

    3. Stress levels and working hours. Ha! You’d think you have it easy there!! Fact is, you work 12-14 hour days, weekends are common in top banks and on top of that there is a substantial stress level. My FO significant other has considerably less “politics” stress than I and in fact shorter hours. Believe me a lot will be expected of you for the money.

    4. FO are not particularely abusive or harsh … I’ve worked for 2 top banks (so far) and was very lucky with my FO guys.

    5. Monotony? Well .. Its quite dull. Repetetive. Not too exciting at all.

    All in I’d say I’m not at all impressed.

    TRY your butt off to get into FO!! Is my advice

    K.

    1. Thanks for adding that. Agreed that back office is not really worth it – for the amount of work, might as well go to the front office (if you can).

  122. Hi, I am currently performing an internship in the back-office of a major pension funds administrator (one of the world’s 10 biggest ones). The role is centered in one team but also allows for rotation around different ones to better understand how they are all connected.

    I was looking into moving to strategic consulting, how could I leverage such experience to enter that industry?

    Thank you in advance.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Re management consulting pls go to http://managementconsulted.com

  123. This summer I held a back-office position as an Auditing Intern (rising junior) for a Fortune 200 company. For next summer and beyond I am looking to transition into Finance and more specifically banking. Can this internship be leveraged well for a finance position next summer? Or will employers look at it as more of a detriment. Will it also help being that it was only my sophomore summer?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Your internship can demonstrate your basic knowledge of accounting and no it won’t be perceived as a “detriment”. Yes it will help you though not exactly relevant to IB roles

  124. I think there are some pretty sweeping generalizations that you make in this article that are unfair and discouraging to people trying to look for work. I do not think this article is accurate at all

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Thanks for your perception and for contributing, Joe.
      It’s just that most people reading this site are ambitious and want to rise as high as possible, and eventually become Partners / CEOs / Founders.
      That is not say that you’re unambitious if you’re in a tech or other BO role at a bank. It’s certainly not easy and can be very demanding.
      But most readers are more interested in client-facing roles with more advancement opportunities.

  125. Hi,

    Is corporate banking/client coverage considered
    front/middle/back office, and are there opp to move into IBD?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      If you are dealing with clients, that would be a “front office” role though it isn’t exactly related to ibanking. Are there opportunities to move into IBD? It would be easier if you work in a corporate bank which has an IB arm (like JPMorgan) so you can transfer internally. Perhaps some of the corporate clients you follow are overlap with the clients in IB though at the junior level I don’t think that’s likely

  126. Dear M&I,

    This (freshman to sophomore) summer I will be doing an internship at a midsize commercial bank at a credit risk analysis department. My tasks will mostly include corporate loans (up til 20mil USD) risk analysis: financial statement analysis, collateral valuation, creating industry reports, also visiting clients on site, if I wanted. My supervisor said, if i expressed such wish, I could rotate to other departments for a week or two.
    My question is how to spin this internship sounding for next year IBD SA recruiting, on which tasks should I specifically focus on and also which other departments at a commercial bank could possibly give me some at least somewhat advantageous or relevant experiences?
    Thanks!

    1. sounding relevant*

    2. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Focus on the impact you’ve made. Re departments at other commercial banks that can help, I believe readers can give you better input

  127. Dear M&I,

    I’m in my final year of my master’s degree and I’m offered a 3-month internship position at Ops Portfolio Reconiliation. Do you think it will be a usefull experience regarding my CV and interviews for a FO position?

    Thank you!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Not really, but if you don’t have other offers on hand and you like what the internship offers, I’d check it out.

  128. Avatar
    Shadowswifter

    Hi M&I,

    Long time reader of your website. Absolutely love your content, so please keep them coming!

    My question is, according to this diagram (http://www.morganstanley.com/about/careers/pdf/glasgow_careers_finance.pdf), will the tax department be considered as MO or BO? And if one was to consider FO opportunities, will be almost purely based on networking? I understand that a tax role will have very little relevant experience such as modelling, quantitative analysis etc.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I presume tax dept is considered middle office though I may be wrong. Yes networking will help you if you want to break into FO.

      1. Avatar
        Shadowswifter

        Thanks for the fast reply.

  129. Hi M&I, first off thank you for your informative articles!
    I’m currently doing BO work in an investment bank’s service center/offshore hub, and I’m worried that I might get stuck in this industry if I don’t move out soon enough..
    I’m considering exploring career paths in Corp Fin/Corp Treasury, but I’m not quite sure if this would provide better opportunities in the future.. Will experiences gained here be considered relevant in the banking world (FO role)? Please note that our banks/markets (Philippines) isn’t sophisticated yet so I’m concerned that as is, my current experience gained in BO would eventually go nowhere

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Not really – your current role might not be relevant. I’d suggest you to network with IB peeps in Philippines and Singapore and see how it goes. You might also want to look at top tier masters/MBA program if you can afford to and want to break into FO roles.

  130. Avatar
    123lalala

    Hi Brian & Nicole,
    Awesome post! THank you very much!.

    I just started my summer internship in back office of a decent bank (not BB) and I am starting to regret my decision. I went to a semi-target school and I had some experience in investment banking, private banking (PE and HF group), equity research and Bulge Bracket names on my resume (Citi, JP Morgan,etc). However, summer internship recruiting was a nightmare. I went through 7 superdays at 7BB and wasnt able to land an offer. So I took an offer at that bank in Ops in NYC

    Positively, I am working on a project to expand their footprint internationally (I think is not a normal ops internship), in which I have daily interaction with senior management, VP in Ops and go to meeting with head of ops,etc. However, it’s still a 9-5 job with no financial modelling or analysis whatsoever. Therefore, I have some question about:

    1. If I want to land a full time IBD offer, what is the appropriate strategy to network inside that firm without offense my boss in Ops?

    2. I am in the team name “Project&Solution” under the “Globalization initiatives” in Ops. This bank is a custody bank and they have a big Ops division. How can I spin my story so that I can ignore “operation” when networking?

    3. I can stay on at school for another semester and try to network for next summer. THe down side is this bank will be my first experience on my resume, which is not as impressive as older experience on my resume (IBD, PE in BB,etc). Should I still stay on and gamble for another year?

    Thank you very much!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I am sorry to hear re your experience. It happens to the best of us!
      1. Be vigilant and sniff around for information to see which other desks are hiring. Network w the hiring managers and try to gauge you would have a working chemistry with him/her. You may even want to have a conversation w him/her re your interest in the role if he/she is interested in your profile. There is a risk your current boss will know, but you’ll have to take the risk in order to talk to people & switch. You may also want to network w people outside your firm
      2. Focus on how you’ve made an impact (quantify your results) and try to lead conversations to your experience in IB/ER
      3. This is hard to say. Staying another semester may not increase your chances of breaking in though it may help if you can use the time to network even more and gain an IB summer internship next year.

  131. Hi M&I,

    Thanks for your great site – I’m an avid follower and will continue reading in the future.

    I will be working in investment banking operations at a BB this summer – I’m wondering if you have any advice on how I can maybe leverage this sort of experience to get an investment banking internship in the future? Is there any interaction with the front-office managers in this sort of position, and any specific networking opportunities associated with IB ops rather than something like transaction clearing, etc.?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      This may be useful https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/middle-office-to-sales-trading/

      Network a lot. While you’ll have some sort of interaction with people in the FO, I think you’ll have to go out of your way and network w managers at the FO if you want FO roles…

  132. I did successfully make it into one of the top business schools mentioned above, and my pre-B School career was Bank IT.

    I will add that I had a killer volunteer/ community service pedigree and I can only guess that that helped a lot.

  133. Am a resent graduate and i got 2 job offers :
    1) Back office operations @ BAML
    2) A graduate program followed by front office job @ a local bank treasury.

    What job would you recommend me to go with (career wise) ?.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Hard to choose – which one do you like better? The people you work with are pretty important too. I don’t think 1 or 2 will really help you break into FO, though BAML’s name may help you in your career (in finance, but not necessarily in IB) going forward

  134. Hi,
    I am a Spanish 26 yo. I would like you to help me with a decision that i have to deliberate in 10 days. I am graduated in Bussines Administration and after that I ve been doin two internships, firts one in the BO of the largest bank in Spain and other in the Internal Audit also in one of the biggest companies over here.
    Recently I have an offer in funds settlement in one the the most important post trade banks in Europe at Brussels.
    Spain has one of the hightest unnemployment rates in Europe and I see my future over here grey.
    Would you accept the offer and try to keep looking for a FO position or you wouldn´t accept the offer.
    Note: i just turned 26 and i am starting to be seriously worried.

    Thanks

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Depends on whether you are willing to take the risk of losing that offer in Spain or not

      1. In 1.5 years since I finnished the university I have just found internships. With 25% of unenployment rate few people are working, for example from my class few people and nobody in a good position.
        At least taking the offer in Brussels I will be working in English and I will have the chance to learn french. Salary the are much highier that the wage that I can aspire here.
        The main risk, for me, is stay here and become one of the 5.000.000 people without job…
        http://www.tradingeconomics.com/spain/unemployment-rate

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          What is your question?

          1. Accept the bo offer will kill my future into IB?

          2. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Do you have better options? If not, its all in your head. And accepting the BO offer doesn’t mean you will kill your future in IB

          3. Thanks for your help.

            I find this website very helpfull and interesting. I will keep checking it.

  135. There are IT jobs that are on the development side that are front-office, in that they deal directly with traders. These are the creme de la creme of IT talent. There are also IT management positions, such as advancing to CIO/MD levels. However, this is a very different type of “IT” than I think you classify in this article, which seems much more geared to people wishing they were bankers who ended up as support staff. There is definitely a spot and advancement for those looking to be technical gurus or managers, and are compensated very well. I know of IT developers who went more front office after getting an MBA, but the really sharp top tier school computer scientists stay on a technical leadership or project management path.

    1. Also, top technical talent starts at 65k min. out of undergrad at any major corp or bank.

  136. If I ever find myself in a position where back office, or retail banking internships are my only options… would I take them or not?

    (I know if I was in a situation where I had to to pick between the two, I’d take BO.)

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      That depends on you, your goals and what you want in life.

      1. Say I want to make it to IB – FO?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Neither would really help honestly because the experiences are not directly transferrable; you may be able to increase your chances if you take the BO job and network a lot

          1. Oh I see, thanks!

            I was just thinking in the event that I may not be able to get FO internships. Which does seem very possible with all the competition.

          2. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Have a back-up option!

          3. Would the following be good back up options:

            – If I can’t land FO internships, then aim for other areas of finance such as internships for wealth management/insurance

            – Doing an MSc/MA in Finance

            ?

          4. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Yes. The latter might not guarantee a role in IB though.

          5. Thanks. Though mind you, I didn’t hinge on the latter being an instant passport. I only thought of it for the sake of networking. At most an extra prep if I don’t feel “ready”.

  137. Avatar
    Babsie in SA

    I work in the back office in SA all the above are so true; they gave me a very good and well deserved laugh but the big Corporations do give us generous bonuses. But I enjoyed your article.

  138. Avatar
    Nicholas

    I have a job working in Margins. We make/take calls with clients, book collateral, monitor credit risk, etc. Is this back office or is it middle office? Would a job like this be better for making the move to FO than IT or document support?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I believe this is middle office but at least you have interactions w clients. You can try to edge your way to FO (something like Prime Brokerage) if you can cover more clients (HFs)

  139. Avatar
    Which One

    I have the option of an internship with an Investment Bank either in compliance or in wealth management. The compliance role would be on Wall Street, and the wealth management role in Philadelphia. Which do you think would be the best experience for me (bearing in mind I want to eventually move to Investment Banking DCM/M&A and that I’m doing another internship within corporate finance at another firm). A lot of people are saying Wall Street would be better due to the location and the people I could potentially meet. However, I’m still a bit unsure as wealth management is a much more front office related role. I also know the Philadelphia office is much smaller than the New York one. I’m based in London, so would have to move for this and really want to get the decision right.

    Thanks

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes I think Wall Street may be a better option given the location and people you could potentially meet. Wealth m’gmt is def more FO related. If you like the team and firm in Phili and want to try out WM, I’d go for that role. If you prefer NY, I’d go with the one in NY.

      A few questions I’d try to figure out. I may not ask them upright given sensitivity of situation, but I think these are questions you should ask yourself:
      1. Any chance you can transfer to FO role on WS?
      2. Any chance you can transfer to NY after 1-2 years in Phili (if you prefer NY)?

      If you have another corp finance role at another firm, I think you might want to go w a team/location you like the most.

  140. Avatar
    DifficultDecision

    Dear Brian/Nicole,

    I have two job offers and am in desperate need of advice – experts who can objectively tell me which position I should take.

    The first offer is with a large mid-tier North American bank for a wealth management graduate position in London. They have a global presence and are a large bank, but it is most definitely not a BB and is not big in Europe at all.

    The second offer is with a boutique Dutch bank in Amsterdam which offers rotations in asset management, securities research and M&A whereafter I get to choose a position. The latter bank are considered a leader in the Benelux but are not known outside the region.

    Perhaps it is relevant to mention that I have done two internships, one wealth management with a BB in London (whose subsequent job offer I stupidly declined) and another with a small hedge fund. My aim is to move to a BB in London after this initial position.

    Which do you think is best?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      If you want to work in London/US, the large mid-tier North American bank might give you a bit more credibility since the Dutch bank is only renowned in Benelux? I may be wrong though. With the above being said, if you want to be exposed to various divisions the 2nd option may give you the breadth you need when you first start your career. Tough call. I think I’d choose based on 1) which team I fit in better with 2) which teams’ boss do I like better 3) which bank I like better, assuming you have no preference whether the program is a rotational one or not

      1. Avatar
        DifficultDecision

        Thanks very much for your quick response and the advice! If M&I thinks there is something to be said for both options then I know there is no ‘wrong’ decision. Really appreciate it, Nicole.

  141. I’ve not started university yet. However this question has come across my mind a lot of times.

    Say I can’t land a front office job, if I decide to go for the MBA route: I shouldn’t really aim for the “average job”?

    But rather anything more of the lines of the “prestigious job” or the “did something completely different”?

    Now one thing that’s confused me: isn’t accounting technically a job in finance? If so why is it classed as separately from the ‘finance’ class in the article? :S

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Accounting is not really finance per se.

      1. Oh I see.

        What about this part of the question?:

        ” Say I can’t land a front office job, if I decide to go for the MBA route: I shouldn’t really aim for the “average job”?

        But rather anything more of the lines of the “prestigious job” or the “did something completely different”? “

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          I don’t quite understand what you mean. Can you please rephrase your question?

          1. No problem:

            Say I’m in a situation where after university is done. I can’t land IB jobs at all.

            So I decide to work for 3 or so years and try for an MBA in a target.

            Would my chances be better if I went for jobs which are “prestigious” or or “something completely different”?

            As opposed to taking something “average”.

            I’m wondering as the article suggests that an ‘average’ job such as ‘accounting’ could worsen my chances with the MBA route.

          2. Probably slightly better for prestigious jobs, but not a huge difference. Something average / commonplace like accounting will hurt you the most, so avoid that if your goal is a top MBA program.

          3. So avoid ‘average’ for a top MBA programme, got it.

            Though for something more relevant for something close to my time frame. In terms of internships: if I can’t get any IB internships, like with the MBA route, would I be better off for aiming for something ‘prestigious’ over something ‘average’?

            Such as actuary/insurance over accounting?
            Or something ‘completely different’ like something in corporate law?

          4. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Huh?

          5. Much like doing “something average / commonplace” like accounting would hurt me the most, in terms of getting into a top MBA programme.

            Would the same principle apply with internships.
            For example would interning in accountancy, or for my local council, hurt my chances.
            My chances with IB firms, I mean.

          6. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            I don’t think it will hurt your chances but I think your time can be better spent elsewhere i.e. like getting an internship in Finance if you have that option

          7. Oh I see, thanks for the input!

            One final question:

            Originally I planned to add accountancy to the ‘list’ of possible areas of finance to intern for.
            Would that still be a wise option?
            (I’m wondering because initially you said accountancy wasn’t finance per se.)

          8. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Accountancy isn’t finance, but the two are related.

  142. Hi Brian/Nicole,

    Recently I got an offer from an investment fund. The fund just finished the first-phase of its fund raising process. The fund will run in a PE mode/structure, but the fund is bigger than the normal small PE house(most has 6 persons, or up to 10 in general).

    The role on offer is junior associate. At this stage I can give them my preference of working in middle/back office (functions are such as risk control, financial reports analysis, research and etc) or front office (lots of travel, customer contacts, project on-side investigation and etc). The FO role is definitely more exciting and interesting, however my concern is that I don’t have related PE experiences before. So was wondering from long term career perspective, should I start straight away from FO without any doubt; or I should work in MO/BO first gain the basic knowledge of how PE runs, financial modelling, risk control and etc and then after that seek opportunities to move to FO.

    Any comments will be much appreciated and many thanks in advance.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I understand your concern, but no! Start off in FO! Learn of the job. Challenge yourself. It will be way easier to move back to BO than vice versa!!

      1. Thanks Nicole, appreciate your response. I think I will take the FO role. Many thanks again!

  143. I was contacted to interview for an Ops position in the Latam group of a BB. I’m getting my MSF at a large state school and was wondering if it would be better to wait for something better (very possible) or try this Ops position for a year while trying to network into the Latam IB group. Should the fact that I speak native Spanish and intermediate Portuguese help me?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes.

  144. Avatar
    Difficult Decision

    Hi Brian/Nicole,

    In this article you wrote “It’s far superior to do banking or trading at a boutique than to do back office work at a large company.” Well, at the moment I am facing a decision for this upcoming summer between doing unpaid valuation work for a boutique firm in NYC vs a hard-earned compliance internship at a BB in HK. I’ve been losing sleep over this difficult decision. Want to hear your thoughts. Thank you!

    -K

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Don’t lose sleep! Are you a US citizen? If not and you want to stay in NYC (and can afford to be unpaid), I’d take the role in NYC. If you want a role in FO for a FT role, this internship will help you (vs the compliance internship). However, it does not guarantee you a role in FO though. If you are worried abt getting paid, take up the compliance internship…

      1. Avatar
        Difficult Decision

        Thank you Nicole for the suggestion. I think I will take the NYC position over the pay. It’ll probably be better in the long run. Many thanks!

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Anytime!

  145. Avatar
    Nitesh Gupta

    In your blog u mention that it is almost impossible to move from the back office to the front office, does this apply here as well, considering the profile?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      It can be challenging; so yes it does apply to you

      1. Avatar
        Nitesh Gupta

        thks :)

  146. Avatar
    Nitesh Gupta

    how can we distinguish between a back office and front office?

    i have an offer from a banks support service group, the work profile is of business analysis and planning, tax planning and statutory reporting and basel compliance..is this back office work or middle office?

    thanks in advance

    1. Avatar
      Nitesh Gupta

      how can we distinguish between a back office and front office?

      oops… middle office, the last word :P

    2. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      The work is back/middle office

      In simplistic terms, FO = divisions that generate revenue i.e. IBD, S&T ; BO = cost center supporting FO

  147. Avatar
    Prathipa

    Hi,
    I have been working in deutsche bank banglaore (india) for three years in back office without any promotion or hike in my salary. Wasnt satisfied. And i moved to product control in cognizant (our client is UBS an year back), Right now moving to Risk managemnt for product control in the same company..what are the chances to grow in risk management?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      It really depends on you – hard for me to comment cause I don’t know how you perform and what the structure of your team is like

      1. Avatar
        Prathipa

        Thanks

  148. I am about to graduate from a non target school and just got an offer from a BB IBank in the product control group. First question is this considered middle office, and what are my chances of transitioning into the front office after a few years of experience and MBA?

    1. Yes, that’s middle office. Transition chances depend on your experience there, how much networking you want to do, what area you want to go into (trading is easier than banking), and so on… do a search for “back office” on this site for more.

  149. Awesome site! I’m currently working in BO of a BB and have the chance to move internally to MO. However, I’m also thinking of switching to accounting at the big4. I have heard bad stories about working hours in big4 but I think ultimately the designation and experience will be more useful than doing MO work. Is this true?
    One possible downside is that I heard if it’s MO in a BB, it is easier to break into FO of a smaller firm. However, having big 4 experience opens more doors as well. Any advice? I need to make the decision asap. Thanks a lot!

    1. Anything client-facing at Big 4 is better.

  150. How hard would it be to go from summer intern at goldman sachs public sector investment banking (its within the ibd division somehow) to M&A investment banking at say Goldman or MS? thanks!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Depends on how you present yourself and your network. Sniff around and see if people leave/they need new hires etc – you can approach the team at that time to fill the gap. Firms usually prefer to hire internally vs externally unless they have a specific candidate in mind

  151. Avatar
    DerPraesident

    hi guys, very good page first of all. my question is: i have studied economy mathematics and i would like to do for example risk management. let us say it counts completely to backoffice and hours are good, near to 9-17h. i am thinking in the long range, what can my salary be a few years after starting or even later, say after 10 years on the job. can my position advance in risk management also with getting more salary? thanks very much.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I can’t comment on the salary part. I believe readers would have better suggestions

    2. well i can say that your salary will increase well and you will get good perks but it will be very less as compared to the corresponding position in front office.
      I am at an audit firm and regularly interact with back office people , compliance,accounts,administration etc

  152. Hi,

    I have received an offer for a intern position in back office in one of the world’s biggest pension funds.

    I have never had an experience in finance and I would like to eventually do Equity.

    As far as I have read, back office is not the way in but with limited finance experience and lack of “ivy league” names, I felt it was somewhat a good way to approach the environment (=to get started basically).

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes back office roles can help you get your foot in the door if you have no front office jobs on the table.

      1. Right, that is exactly ii. I mean, I have spent the past 2-3years applying for front office roles.

        I am european undergrad from a top uni in my country that is yet not a major one in Europe. I shot some attempts at bb banks in London etc, but some with the current job market and economy, some with the fact that I had never stepped into banking/financial firms before their replies were standard: “we liked your profile….bla bla….but due to high calibre standard of applicants….bla bla….we are sorry”.

        My reasoning was: better start somewhere than not starting at all.

        My plan is to complete this year-long commitment at that fund and then go on for a master of science, which is quite common in Europe.

        in the meantime, I thought that working within the field may be good to build a network, which might prove useful later on.

        Any suggestion or piece of advice?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Know how to be a master net-worker. Follow up. Build trust and genuine relationships. Build your credibility within the field. Figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are and which areas of finance you are interested in and why.

          1. Thank you, I will follow your advice to the best.

          2. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Let me know how it goes!

  153. Is Public Finance Capital Markets Underwriting (IBD)considered front office?

    Also do you have any advice for a student trying to transition from a bloomberg internship to an investment banking internship?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes

      Have basics of valuation/financial modelling before working in an IB

  154. Hi

    Is mortgage credit banking/underwriting for a major investment bank considered front or back office?

    Thank you

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d say front but I’m actually not quite sure

  155. Hi

    I recently got a year long internship in Fixed Income Research in London, would this be considered front or back office?

    Thank you

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Front not exactly back

  156. “If the front office is the guy who’s the center of attention at a party, the back office is like your nerdy friend who organizes the parties and sets up logistics, but never gets any girls.”

    Funny but its too sad to hear this cuz I work in an accounting team.T..T

  157. Hi All,

    After graduating with BSc honors from a US target business school, I had to move back to Europe before I could apply for bulge bracket analyst positions.

    Upon moving back to EU, I took a panic analyst job at my old employer – a premium automotive manufacturer, at their headquarters, within Group Treasury..BO. Now, my only objective is to get back on the bulge bracket track. However, I feel that I am in between a rock and a hard place with an automotive company on my resume for the past year.

    Moving into FO within the autocompany might be easier than finding FO analyst entry jobs at any bank with my background. However, via connections I might pull off an MO analyst position with a bulge bracket (Credit Risk)..would this be a good move? It would be in East EU (yes, I’ve read the article about East EU!) and I would drop 50% in salary…but I would do it if I could switch to a FO position at a London based bank after.. (long shot though, I know), any thoughts?

    All feedback would be appreciated!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d choose the job I enjoy the most. Not sure if it is that easy to move from MO to FO. Your call if you should sacrifice pay for the role.

  158. Hi All,

    After graduating with BSc honors from a US target business school, I had to move back to Europe before I could apply for bulge bracket analyst positions.

    Upon moving back to EU, I took a panic analyst job at my old employer – a premium automotive manufacturer, at their headquarters, within Group Treasury..BO. Now, my only objective is to get back on the bulge bracket track. However, I feel that I am in between a rock and a hard place with an automotive company on my resume for the past year.

    Moving into FO within the autocompany might be easier than finding FO analyst entry jobs at any bank with my background. However, via connections I might pull off an MO analyst position with a bulge bracket (Credit Risk)..would this be a good move? It would be in East EU (yes, I’ve read the article about East EU!) and I would drop 50% in salary…but I would do it if I could switch to a FO position at a London based bank after.. (long shot though, I know), any thoughts?

    All feedback would be appreciated!

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  159. Dear M&I,

    Is the CFO group within BoFA considered MO or BO, providing business proformance analysis for GWIM Business.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Middle office

  160. Avatar
    Toosoonjunior

    Hi there,

    If given the choice between a corporate actions role or a desk assistant for an investment advisor, which do you think would position me better to be a trader or investment banker? I am currently at a brokerage house in australia

    Much appreciated

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I don’t think it makes a big difference w the two roles if you want to be a trader/banker

  161. Hey (want to do IM) wondering if Portfolio Analytics Group at BlackRock (determining risk and exposure of portfolios for both PM and external clients) is a front or middle office role? The group’s based in the same office in London and has IT but also client interaction. Historically a lot of people have moved into the Portfolio Management Group(was the only route for grad hiring a few years ago). Do you think BlackRock name for IM is better or would you target a smaller AM firm for direct FO roles. Want to work in BlackRock finally. Am in my final year of undergrad with no IM interns but want to do IM in future.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’ve answered your question already. Please don’t post the same question more than once on the website.

  162. Hey (want to do IM) wondering if Portfolio Analytics Group at BlackRock (determining risk and exposure of portfolios for both PM and external clients) is a front or middle office role? The group’s based in the same office in London and has IT but also client interaction. Historically a lot of people have moved into the Portfolio Management Group(was the only route for grad hiring a few years ago). Do you think BlackRock name for IM is better or would you target a smaller AM firm for direct FO roles. Want to work in BlackRock finally. Am in my final year of undergrad with no IM interns but want to do IM in future.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d say more middle office

      It depends on your team and circumstances. If you haven’t received any offer yet, I’d apply to both

  163. Hi Brian,

    I’m glad to see your Resume editing service back.
    1 question for you… Would you edit a back-office folk’s resume so that it’d be polished enough for the applicant to get front-office interviews?
    I’m speaking from my own experience… yes I made a mistake working BO (even I had an excuse, it’s still a mistake).
    Finance background. No FO experience. Been in the job for almost 2 years. Want to get out of BO asap!

    Thanks

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Hi Phoebe, thanks for your question. We can edit your resume, but our edits will not guarantee you a role in the front office. We can, however, spin your resume to fit what interviewers in FO are looking for.

  164. Hi there. First of all, thanks for the site. I’m a third year law student with no previous finance experience who has (semi) broken into investment banking, in large part due to this site!

    I’ve landed a middle office internship at JPMorgan this summer. It’s in their “Operations” division; my understanding is I will be providing support for the institutional asset managers.

    I want to get to front office, and I have a question about one of your “exceptions” about taking middle office jobs, which was if it was an internship. I was wondering if you could elaborate on why it is easier to switch out of middle office from an internship, and provide some strategies on how to to do so. Also FYI, since I’ll be graduating this May, my employment (apparently they hired 80% of interns last year) would start in January.

    Also, please let me know if you want to write anything more specific on law students breaking into finance, as I have (I think) a pretty good finance resume coming from law school with no previous experience, and an interesting cover letter. I’d be happy to share my experiences to help others in my situation.

    Thanks and have a great day!

    1. It’s easier because internships are for testing out what you like at a bank rather than committing to something for years. So you see people move around a lot. There are some good tips on how to move from middle office to front office here: https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/middle-office-to-sales-trading/

      And sure, we could definitely use more material on law – feel free to contact us here: https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/interview-contact/

      Thanks!

    2. Hi Alex-

      If you could help with resume and cover letter, I’ve offered a job in HF with no prior experience, just grad student graduating this May.

      Forever appreciative, Mirela.

  165. Avatar
    MadeinBoston

    Starting in January I will be working Regulatory Reporting for Merrill Lynch. This is an internship and I will be there for 6 months. Although I will only be 20 years old, I am nervous that it will not open doors into front-office roles. How should I go about leveraging this great experience?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Network like crazy and congrats on your internship!

  166. Hi Brian,

    I recently completed graduation and got recruited for an ops role at a BB. Its been about 5 months here and i’m already planning to get out.

    I applied elsewhere and got a chance to start trading at a prop trading firm.

    Is this switch safe? Is joining a prop firm so early in your career considered risky? Or should i just take the plunge and join it and hope for the best?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Not necessarily but it depends on how good at trading you are. If you want it, why not take a risk?

  167. Hi M&I,

    After reading this article, I can’t help but feel a certain sense of doom. I am trying to break out of course, which is why I’m in this website anyways.

    I’ll keep in mind the Never say Never even if everyone is saying Never.

    I majored in Chemical Engineering. GPA is considered “Second Lower Class Honors”. Worked as a production engineer for 3 months, got tired of the low pay. Left for a night-shift Call-center job (back office) in Barcap that paid twice the amount. Worked long hours 12-14 hour days. Got offered to be ‘groomed’ as a manager, saw that the “manager” role worked 15 hour days. Got married, couldn’t take the night-shift. Afer 2.5 years at Barcap, I left for Risk Management (again, back office) in a consumer bank, taking a pay cut. My responsibility includes FX trading and Equity Leverage risk management for individual investors. It’s close to 2 years now, and I have been doing some serious thinking of my career. (I REALLY REALLY hate being stuck in a cost-center.)

    As opposed to a front line job at the consumer bank – sales/relationship management, I have been thinking about Advisory/Consulting, in the lines of Oil/Energy/Commodities, and in the long term, Investment Banking/Private Equity to rake in the big money.

    So,
    1. Should I even consider Advisory/Valuation jobs at the big 4 as a stepping stone?
    2. Should I consider studying, at least take the (i know you hate it) CFA level 1 to get an idea of finance. (or would CPA be more relevant for point 1?)

    An MBA is out of the question. I live in Singapore. A good MBA costs something like SGD100,000. Financially also, I can’t take a break from work. House, loans, etc etc. I’m 29 now and I really want to make the next switch a value-added jump.

    Really would appreciate your advice..

    1. 1) Yes, potentially a good idea but still not the easiest thing in the world to transfer. Probably easier to move into a smaller bank or a boutique trading firm and move into a front office role there first.

      2) You could do it but it’s really not relevant to trading and/or advisory/valuation. So don’t spend much time on it.

      1. Hey Brian,

        Thanks much for the insight. I will explore my options, but if you don’t mind further questions,

        1. what are the roles could I explore in the boutique firms?
        2. How about CPA? is it more relevant in valuation?

        I agree on the CFA. Spending another $3000++ and 1.5 more years to get the full charter (and is more for personal wealth management) is really out of point. I think a few firms in Singapore are already realizing that.

        From a HR perspective though – Looking for candidates with a CFA was probably the most efficient way to decide who to hire. It’s not a matter of whether the fella has good EQ or not, but rather HR covering their own asses by stating that “Hey, we interviewed the guy with the most paper, the most ‘smarts'”. But that just means that the firm has very weak HR policies.

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          1. analyst roles there – basically similar to analyst roles at IBD in BB just that you’ll probably exposed to different sides of the business cause boutiques are way smaller so you have more responsibilities
          2. No. CFA is more relevant than CPA. You want the person w the hiring power to want you, not HR. HR just facilitates and screens people. If the person w the hiring power wants you, HR won’t have much say

          1. Thanks very much again Brian, Nicole.

  168. Avatar
    Patrick Chan

    Hi Brian,

    I am currently working in the IT department in a BB. I have no problems with the reasons listed here except 2 and 3.

    2. Business Schools – so does it mean it will be difficult to crack into top MBA programs even if you work in say front-office IT support or you are involved in algorithmic trading and such advanced IT functions (as opposed to printer troubleshooting)

    3. Exit Opportunities – are they really that grim as you portray them to be? coz i have heard that many IT alumni transfer to top positions and managerial roles in tech firms such as Google, sungard, adobe etc. so wouldn`t IT roles in hedge funds also be within reach?

    thanks in advance!

    patrick

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      1. no, depends on your credentials, GMAT scores, essays etc
      2. IT roles in some HFs may be within reach – again it depends on what the firms are looking for, your chemistry w the team, etc. I can’t say because I don’t know you in person but I do suggest you to network a lot

  169. I’m currently working in a middle office role at a third party administrator for hedge funds. The position is client facing, which is nice, but not very interesting. The pay is also lower end of the scale. I’m really looking to get into a career at a boutique firm’s front office. I realize that it probably isn’t too realistic at this point to have one of the large banks take interest in me as an IB candidate since I’ve been out of school for a little over a year now. Do you have any good suggestions? I really want to be in a position that matters and feels rewarding and isn’t just the daily grind of administrative work.

    1. See everything under networking on this page – lots of case studies and stories on how to move from middle / back office to the front office: https://mergersandinquisitions.com/recruiting

  170. […] for you, though, back office people are not part of the investment process. If you want to make it to the front office, you need to prove that you can do the job. How do you […]

  171. I just started on a collateral management team at one of the major I-banks. My internship was in equity research at a boutique, and I mainly took this job because a. it was better than unemployment b. it had a prestigious name c.I felt I could quickly leverage this experience into a front office role.

    I now realize that work here is equivalent to working in a morgue, and my dreams of being in the front office may be harmed by this decision.

    What is your advice? Is it better to quit ASAP or work for 6 months and network. What is the soonest possible period for me to quit without looking like an idiot for taking the job.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d quit if (a) I really don’t like this job (b) I really feel that this job is affecting my ability and “mood” to find another job (c) I just want to travel and focus my energies on other things

      If its neither, I’d suggest you to give it some thought before quitting. You can always network internally and externally while working and find a front office job. You can also try to develop skills/knowledge that are relevant to your “dream” job while you’re employed too (unless your team requires insane hours).

      Follow your gut.

  172. I know someone who transitioned from the back office to IBD at a bulge bracket. I don’t work in the back office but I did ask him for advice on how to break into IB. He was very nice and very helpful but when I asked him exactly how he did it he played coy and said that he got ‘a lot of help’. After probing further, it turns out that his father is well connected and helped him get an interview with the CEO of the bank that he currently works for.

  173. This summer (junior summer) I worked in a middle office group within the Finance division at a BB. Really want to break into IBD for full-time, but unsure as to how I should sell my summer experience since the closest thing to client interaction I had was approving trades for Sec Div, and the rest of the work was either report-based or dealing with how to better understand the collateral flows from the transactions. Was wondering if I will even get interviews given the economic environment & the fact that banks already have summers to pick from – for full disclosure, I’m from a target where banks heavily recruit and am in the 3.5-3.6 GPA range with decent ECs.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Though banks do pick from their summer class for full time positions, there are slots available for peeps who didn’t intern in the summer. Yes you can get interviews. Your creds seem ok to me. I’d:

      A. Focus on the bank you interned w, network, and try to land a front office role there
      B. And…network w other banks. Your first task is to make it the “resume screening” cut (https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/investment-banking-resume-university-student/) so you land an interview w the banks. Then its up to you to pitch to the interviewers. In your interview, focus on the quantitative and qualitative skills you gained in your previous experience, and WHY you want the front office role.

      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/investment-banking-superday-interview-guide/

      1. Thanks! This was really helpful.

  174. I have an internship in Trade Clearing and Execution for a large custody bank in NYC (i.e. BNY MELLON or State Street) as rising junior (sophomore summer). I’m looking to break into IB and wonder how to best sell my experience this summer and how it will be received by interviewers.

    Any advice you can give is appreciated.

    1. Talk about how you helped them generate revenue, save money/time, or something to that effect, and how your skills might apply to real trading at a bank or even to deals (think leadership, teamwork, solving problems, etc.).

      1. Thank you very much. Do you think this experience will be viewed favorably in the IB recruiting process considering it was my sophomore summer?

        1. Yes it will still help somewhat

  175. Hi, the job role involves creating new systems/products. There is no IT work involved. It’s purely excel etc based.

    1. Then I assume front office without knowing the details

  176. Hi

    I recently got an offer for a Product Development Analyst position in Prime Brokerage at a BB Ibank. Can you please tell me if this is front/middle/back office? It was advertised as Front office FYI.

    1. If “Product Development” means doing IT stuff, back office. If it refers to actually developing financial products, front office.

  177. So here’s my story. Did an undergrad in electronics engineering so have more than enough quant and math on the CV. Worked as an an engineer in a leading IT services company for two years back in India. Left the job for a Master’s in Strategic Management at one of the leading business schools in the UK. Market was tough so ended up taking a Tech grad program offer from a BB bank Sept last year. My question to you is do you think it makes sense to stick around and complete 2 years of this graduate program if I want to eventually move into Sales & Trading/Equity Research & Strategy or maybe PE?
    My exit options here are apply again to grad programs for front office which seems like a great ordeal at the moment or should I try the consulting route apply for strategic consultancies, management consultancies etc.
    I should have mentioned I’m also giving the CFA Level 1 end of this year simply because I like portfolio management and wanted to get a bit of background about the different asset classes.
    Hoping you can help me soon.

    1. Should also mention ended up with a first for the Master’s which is a decent achievement in the UK. Also forgot to mention I’ve never really thought long and hard about banking and hence applied to tech since it seemed easier to get into.

      Thanks a ton for your help and this site is really amazing!

    2. I think the program would only help if you could take advantage of recruiting there to go for front office roles. So if that’s the case, yes.

      1. So continue on the same grad program for 2 years and network alongside?

  178. I’ve been working in the risk management division of the research department as an intern (I’m an undergrad) for two years. But it’s a really small quant company. I think that the heart of the company’s ability to generate revenue lies in the research department (which is where I’ve been working), not with the traders because I think that they just execute the trades the strategy tells them to. Am I deluding myself and if so why, and what are your thoughts? My goal is to become a quant trader though, not an I-Banker.

    1. It’s questionable but most places don’t respect research too much… it might help with getting into quant trading but you’re better off doing trading first to get there.

  179. I’ve been offered a BO role with RBS which involves processing trades, liaising with clients, utilising banking systems, and managing business operations and change! Do you think this is worth it with no degree?

    1. It’s OK but will be hard to move to front office unless it’s a trading role you’re moving into.

  180. Avatar
    BBDreams

    So after completing 2 yrs wrth of MO finance work at a top BB (in a rotational style program), I will be heading over to a top notch MSc Finance program in the UK this fall.

    I read in your other threads that MSc programs are usually for those without experience and I may be at a disadvantage applying for FO roles (primarily interested in banking/equity research/investment analysis).

    Do you think I will be severely disadvantaged going into my MSc Finance program compared to those without any full time experience? Any tips on how to land my desired roles once I arrive on campus? Should I be targeting smaller places or would I be reasonably competitive at BBs as well?

    1. Not really, but I would still spread your net wide and target everything you can… try to spin your MO experience as having more to do with FO and interacting with traders etc.

      1. Avatar
        BBdreamer

        Also, do banks usually ask for references from your ex bosses when you apply for jobs in the UK? I’m kind of scared becuse I know for a fact that my current boss is not happy with my recent performance (I lost motivation since I gained acceptance into the Msc Finance program, ie something better down the line).

        Do you think getting a Msc from a top school (my undergrad was a state school) and finding a job via OCR is a better idea than sticking in my current MO role and networking? Will be brand name of the school be beneficial down the road in my career?

        1. No I don’t think they do maybe just to check on basic facts but nothing else. Yes Msc from top school is a better choice if you don’t have a good name already.

  181. Hi,

    Basically, I’ve secured a position in a summer internship programme, for 2012, at a swiss investment bank. However, this position is in finance (They ain’t told us what particular position in finance just yet). Say if I then went on to get a job in the back office of the finance department. Do you think it would be better for me to go to a big 4 accounting firm rather than just stay in the back office for a few years at this particular investment bank? This is because I particularly don’t see myself doing a front office role.

    And secondly, is back office pay really low across the big 4 accounting firms and investment banking? or is it just low compared to what front office people get?

    Thanks for your help! Much appreciated!

    1. Yes I would say Big 4 is better IF it’s a client-facing role. Otherwise stick with the bank. Back office pay – base salary about the same but bonuses much lower / nonexistent.

  182. Avatar
    IB Back Office Exec

    Having held senior positions in a number of Top 5 Investment Banks I found your article, sadly spot on.

    However I do have 3 examples of transitions into Front Office as follows:-

    1. Back Office functions that are Relationship Management focussed. Bt creating a very strong reputation with Front Office I know 2 staff that moved into a Front Office COO Roles. They both then worked until midnight every night, but do have potential for greater income. Sadly one of them was let go, so the risks in the Front Office can be higher, so be careful what you wish for, and if stability and work life balance is important, don’t even think about it.

    2. IT Support function working with clients. This was an unusual client facing IT role, and a colleague then transitioned into a Front Office Sales role, and has been very successfull.

    3. Retire British Army Officer. If you sign up at 16, you can be pensioned off in your late 30’s, and this guy joined the firm as a Graduate entry. I guess starting salary was half of what he was used to, but in 3 years he will be offered senior roles that his 20 something peers may never have access to. Smart move but takes high self worth, drive and stamina.

    1. Yes that’s true, more feasible on the S&T side as well.

  183. Avatar
    Interested

    Ok, I will start out by saying I graduated in May from a non-target school, and had a GPA of 3.45/4 with a degree in finance and a minor in IT. I know I have an uphill battle landing all of the glorified analyst jobs already, I am just trying to see what makes the most sense for me right now. I have an interview with MS back office for a temporary operations position. If I do get offered the position, and nothing else seems to be coming back, would it be worthwhile to have the MS name on my resume? I would like my next step after this to be in some sort of equity research position. Would BO automatically disqualify me from these types of positions, even if it was a temporary position?

    1. If it’s just a temp position not necessarily the end of the world, MS name will help as well

  184. Hi there i am a recent economics graduate in the UK with a 1.1 at a top 15 university. I have been offered a role at deusche bank to be a global rates t+1 controller which i understand is a MO position the pay is reasonable at £21,000, however i am thinking more in prospective terms, with the current climate not that promising for graduates with litle or no experience (myself with no relevant financial experience), and with grad schemes increasingly more difficult to get onto… would you say starting with this job is a good starting point then transition elsewhere within 1-2 years? possibly the experience helping me gain admission onto a grad scheme? i eventually want to do the aca, eventually i want to become an investment banker… could you please suggest an appropriate route for me. Thanks much appreciated

    1. Yes probably Master’s program is the best option after that

  185. Hi Brian,

    I’m not sure if you still track the above article and comments, but I wanted to say a quick thank you (along with some other stuff…) I recently made the transition from operations to research at a BB and found M&I to be a very helpful resource. With that said, I realize sell-side research may not be your favorite, but I still found this move to be somewhat of a challenge. I definitely made the most of this site though, as the networking advice was priceless and the few success stories were encouraging.

    Now on to the other stuff…I’m faced with a bit of a dilemma and would appreciate your advice. As much as I don’t want to be the annoying kid that asks you to email me, I am not entirely comfortable discussing this here. Would the BIWS contact form work for that? Anyway, if you can help, great, if not, that’s cool too. Keep doing what you’re doing and thanks again for birthing M&I.

    1. Cool glad to hear it this was written years ago so I don’t even remember writing that. If you are a customer feel free to go through the BIWS contact form – otherwise, we don’t provide support for extremely detailed questions.

      Nothing personal, but this is a business and the focus is on supporting customers – unfortunately I would do nothing but answer emails for 12 hours per day if I let everyone ask detailed questions.

  186. Avatar
    Stephanie

    Not sure I 100% agree with this. I studied Aerospace Engineering at university, joined a bank on an IT grad programme and then 2 years after being there got offered a role Structuring in the Front Office….I wrongly chose another opportunuity in IT over this, but just to show it is possible to move if you’re determined and meet the right people!

  187. Avatar
    Rachit Kasera

    Hi Brian
    I will be working for an 3rd Party KPO soon. I would be doing financial modelling, Valuations, Comps. Will It be difficult for me to switch to IB roles?
    Thanks A lot !

    1. It will not be easy but it’s doable (see response on the other thread).

  188. Hey Brian,

    I have some questions about IM and IB.
    Is IM part of an investment banking? If it is, is it FO or middle office?
    Also, is it less competitive to get a job on IM than IB?
    Is hedge fund and private equity subcategories of IM?

  189. Hi,

    I turned down a front office internship working for a smaller firm and interned at one of the Big Banks (JPM) in NY in the back office (Operations). I moved from BO to MO into a finance role for a two year rotational program. I want to get into the FO either IB or S&T.

    I was told that I should work for 5 years then go back to business school is one option. But i believe that is too long and I could end up being branded as a MO person. Should I go back to BS sooner or should I try to navigate my way over to the front office in these next two years?

  190. I’m 3 years out of undergrad, working in prime brokerage client service at a BB. Pretty much the definition of this middle office you speak of. Would like to make a move to either equity sales trading or the PB desk but am working w/ nothing more than a state school degree at this point. upside is i’ve got a great deal of exposure to various desks and see clients on a somewhat frequent basis. any general advice as to quickest/best route to a desk at this point?

  191. Hi,

    Have been working in consulting (yeah, yeah I know :)) for 3 years – 2 in emerging markets and 1 in UK.

    Current plan is to get into IB (A2-A3 positions) and researching back-office to front-office transfers.

    Currently there is an opportunity to go to internal Strategy & Planning dept of a BB bank. Job spec says Corp Strategy, Planning, Corporate M&A, Corporate Investments etc.

    Job descriptions mention valuation, research, modelling and quant analysis as second bullet point (right after Supporting day-to-day workflow etc).

    Question: will it be possible to move to front-office (i.e. proper IBD – M&A Advisory) after working in such a position?
    Not necessarily at the same bank.

    Thank you in advance!

    1. Hard to say since it sounds like more of a middle office role. Possible yes but still difficult.

      1. Thank you.

        What about moving to the front-office of another bank after a certain amount of time?

        Is it feasible or will I have a “Middle-Office” stamp on my forehead in their eyes?

        1. Yes it’s possible but you you will have better luck going to the front office at a smaller bank

  192. Avatar
    Govind Mohan

    Hey,

    Great website. I have worked 5 years at the Big 4 (Audit – but in the Asset Management space – hedge funds, private equity funds, investment advisors etc.). I am taking Level III of the CFA in June because of my interest in portfolio management. I know all your posts are about back office to front office in IB but its just as hard to go to the front office in PM. Even with a CFA in hand. I am thinking of giving the top B-schools a shot (if I get in) because thats the only way I gather to get into a big Wall Street bank on the IM/IB side. You think I stand a bigger chance with my background of getting recruited into IB from a top B school or into IM (considering I will hopefully have my CFA)? In IB, will they still put me in as an associate though I have never been an analyst at an IB before?

    Thanks so much!

    1. Probably still have a better chance at IM if you have the CFA. And yes you would still be an associate in IB despite no previous experience

      1. Understood. Thank you. I know you have posts about why an MBA is used by a lot of people for a career change but the focus is on people in a completely different field (healthcare/manufacturing etc). If I will have my CFA, what really does an MBA at a Top 5 school give me in terms of an education that gets a BB to say “let’s see if he can be recruited in?”. I guess I am a little confused because we’d be trained in modeling anyway, the MBA program wouldn’t teach us that. It’s hard to break in without an MBA but I am questioning what really gets the banks excited about recruiting now that someone has an MBA vs when she/he didn’t. (Only talking about MBAs from top schools). Hope my question makes sense.

        1. It’s more just that the MBA is a huge commitment of time/money and that banks recruit from those programs out of tradition. But for IM I’m not really sure you need it, it’s more for people who want to do banking or consulting.

  193. Avatar
    j from Singapore

    I’ve been working in Finance at Barcap under the graduate programme for nearly 2 years now. Lots of training provided under the programme but ultimately I’m still doing BO work that’s really boring. Never felt disrespected by the traders but agree with all the other points.

    I jumped on this job offer in my final year of Uni cos of the big name (ignorance) but am now wondering if it was a right choice at all.

    If moving to an IB is going to be difficult, what about moving to consultancy? Any thoughts on that?

    Also, what about moving from BO to a boutique IB?

    1. I don’t think consulting would be much easier; boutique IB might be marginally easier. Your best bet is going into sales & trading from there. https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/middle-office-to-sales-trading/

  194. Hello, I’m a penultimate year student and just got an offer (summer internship) from Goldman Operations division and another from RBS sales/trading. I wanna go to the sales division but Goldman will definitely make my resume shine.. (my resume’s got only one big name, BCG). What’d you recommend?

    1. RBS sales/trading.

  195. How screwed am I if take BB SA BO position (controllers)?

    This was the only offer I got even after networking with alums (I didn’t know the technicals as well as I thought, so I didn’t do too well in the interviews they got me, I feel like an idiot, I know its completely my fault).

    I want to do IB and then PE, but I think I’m really scewed here. I didn’t do well in high school so I didn’t get into a target school (still top 35 overall in the nation though, so its not like I go to a terrible state school). I didn’t really have an interest in finance until this year, so my past internships aren’t finance related. Some alums said they’d help me out with FT recruiting, but those are all boutiques (and not the elite ones like Jefferies, Lazard, etc.) I’ll never get into a top PE firm.

    I’m confident I’ll be able to get a boutique IB job next year (well hopefully, I’m going to study my ass off to nail down the technicals), but even though there are BB alums from my school, I don’t think I’ll ever get anything at a BB right?

    1. You never know, really depends on whether you go for S&T vs. IB, whether the market recovers, and so on… plus other factors like MBA programs. If you do a search for middle office you’ll see some reader transition stories.

  196. Hi,
    I am currently working back office at a major Investment bank(top 2, take your guesses) working in Finance. What is the best route to move into the business side/front office. My previous mentor has advised me that easiest route is to make a name for myself in the middle office and network to a front office role. So far, everything I have seem to come across, is either PnL reporting or glorified break clearing roles. What types of roles are available in the MO, and which best prepare you for the FO. I think many people are in this type of situation and would like to know your thoughts of moving up.

    Thanks,

    W

    1. In this situation your best bet is to aim for sales & trading instead – there’s a good interview here:

      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/middle-office-to-sales-trading/

  197. I am interviewing for a legal analyst position at GS doing derivatives and commodities. Right now I am currently at a big law firm as a litigation/financial restructuring paralegal and I am looking to switch to investment banking or possibly S&T. I went to a target school and graduated in 2009 (not the best GPA though). Would it be worthwhile to take a position like this or should I continue networking to get into IB or S&T?

    GS has the “GS University course curriculum” which I’m not sure what to make of it. Perhaps I would be able to take courses in IB or S&T if I desired. Do you know anything about this? Would it enable me to have more mobility within GS if I had taken courses within the firm?

    Thanks for your help

    1. If you’re more interested in S&T I would go for that as you may be able to transition in; for IB I wouldn’t do it as it’s harder to move in from there. Don’t know about the GS curriculum specifically.

  198. Hi M&I,

    I graduated from college in 2006. I worked in a front office role at a hedge fund for 1 year and then took a middle office role at another hedge fund in NYC (with the expectation that I would be able to move to the front office). I have been with the firm for 3+ years and I am now in a senior role but still in the middle office (risk/portfolio analysis). Long term I would prefer to be in research & portfolio management. I started looking for a new position but have only been shown middle office roles by recruiters.

    Should I try to move to the front office at my current firm, continue networking/searching for a different role elsewhere or apply to b-school this year?

    I would greatly appreciate it if you could provide some guidance. Thank you.

    1. Spend 6 months looking for a role elsewhere and if that doesn’t work apply to b-school

      1. Great, thanks for the feedback. Much appreciated.

  199. Avatar
    shimme shimme

    been at a small boutique trading firm in NY and work at assistant trader for almost 5 yrs .. executing trades for senior dealers , booking forward and spot transactions with other banks and trading counterparts … very close to traders and customers but at the same time dooing lots of BO / MO work in the afternoons .. Average pay and much uncertainty where I sit . But definetely gaining exposore to FO and learning a hell of a lot about the specific market that we deal in ( commodities ) … Access to Bloomberg , live prices , talking to other traders and brokers in the process. Got an offer for a senior BO position at GS … paying double … what should I do .. Im in my early 30’s btw ???

    1. I would take that offer and then attempt to move to the FO at GS.

      1. Avatar
        shimme shimme

        thought you said that was impossible ; )

        Agree , bill will probably try to leverage the offer at my current place and get them to make me official trader and pay me respective salary … ?? do you think or just go to GS ?? !!

        very confusing

        1. It’s tough for IB but easier for S&T. If you’re 100% certain they will make you a real trader stay there, otherwise move to GS.

          1. Avatar
            shimme shimme

            thanks mate !

  200. Hi M&I,

    I’ve just been offered an internship in the Cross Divisional Projects department in Technology at GS, it’s the only offer on the table (I applied fairly late in the process) it is for a Business Analyst/Project Management role. I would be interested to hear your thoughts in regard to career prospects of the role in general as well as FO progression — I’m guessing since it’s in Technology which comes under the ‘Back Office’ umbrella, it wouldn’t see much posibility in a move to front office?

    Also I’d be interested in hearing where you think it ranks in comparison to Audit at one of the big four? (another possible option I was looking at) though I realise that is a bit out of the scope of this article.

    Thanks for this excellent article, and indeed the whole blog. Much food for thought.

    1. If it’s just an internship and your best option I would take it. I don’t really rank things but it’s probably not as good as audit since it’s back office but the GS name does help a lot.

      1. Many thanks for your reply.

  201. Avatar
    miro_smodlaka

    Hi M&I

    I have received a offer for risk/support role at one of the well known trading?brokerage boutiques.

    I have an MSc in Finance from well known UK Uni and further to that summer analyst experiance with equity derivatives front office at Deutsche.

    What should I do? Ideally I’m looking for Analyst role within FO (either research or sales).

    Thank you

    1. If you have nothing else, take that offer and then begin networking your way over to the front office… do a search for “middle office to sales & trading” here.

      1. Avatar
        miro_smodlaka

        thank you for your advice. I will keep my options open and I have decided not to accept the offer and wait for something else to come.

  202. Hi M&I,

    Is this a particularly an American phenomenon?

    I’ve just started in market risk in a BB in Australia, and there seems to be a well-trodden path onto the trading floor here. Having done engineering, I wasn’t acceptable for any FO roles straight out of undergrad, so the plan was to learn the business before heading to the US/UK for b-school.

    Have I branded myself ‘middle office’ now in the eyes of US banks/schools?

    1. https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/middle-office-to-sales-trading/

      In trading its easier its more of an issue in going to IB because little overlap with middle/back office and IB

      1. That I can understand. Should I try to push into trading from here, or use an MFin to make the change?

        Is a market risk background a disadvantage when applying to b-school, even as a learning experience?

        1. I would try to move into trading first without getting another degree as it’s expensive in terms of time/money. The background is not really a disadvantage but you won’t be viewed the same way as someone from a banking or trading background.

          1. That being said, the glory days for most traders are long over.

            The majority of traded money is made by computer, so most traders (with the exception of the props guys) don’t do much more than enter trades ordered by the sales guys.

            (it’s worth noting a lot of middle office guys earn dramatically more salary and bonus than you estimate here. 50%+ is not unheard of in the early years in market, and roughly double the salary. But that may be a recent development…and I still want to try the front office!)

          2. Prop trading is different from flow trading… do a search on this site for some coverage.

  203. Title : Full Time Attachment (Intern)
    Department : Research
    No. of position : 1
    Service Period : From March (2 months from starting date)

    Could you please tell me if this position’s in the front office??
    it simply says research so i can not tell if it is

    1. It sounds like front office but really not sure without further information

      1. thank you brian

  204. Hi,

    I am a Project Lead in a financial services IT company. I want to transition to a front office role from my current position. I have a Master degree in Financial Engineering from a top school in the Mid West.

    How do I go about the transition?

    1. Get to know people in the front office, work closely with them on projects, show yourself as reliable/competent, and then ask about moving over.

  205. How about working for a hedge fund administrator? I’m sure it would still be impossible to move into a banking role but what about moving from a HF administrator to a HF trading desk or equity analysis? Thanks

    1. Honestly not sure about that one – would have to do further research.

  206. I recently completed a masters in Finance from a top UK Uni and have been offered a place in Market Risk. I chose MR because of the quant nature AND stress-free life style. After reading your article, I have received the shock of my life. What should I do? :(

    1. It’s not the end of the world, search for the middle office to sales & trading interview here.

  207. I think this is a little misinformed. I currenty work in Technology for a BB in london. We dont really ‘take’ orders from anyone, and actually spend time developing new platforms and technology that improve the abililty of the bank against its competitors. Also I can give two examples from my group of people moving to FO.
    1. An analyst in tech for a year got a role in IB Enery and Power
    2. Another tech analyst who became head of a credit sales desk in under 2 years….

    Most people in tech are making good money, fair enough not as much as the bankers but a good deal better then others.

    1. https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/tales-from-the-back-office/ Yes its possible to move over but it’s not the best plan if you have better options e.g. front office finance work at a company, TAS at Big 4, and so on.

  208. How does MANAGEMENT Consulting in a big 4 stake up in MBA admissions and recruitment? I’m starting soon as a grad in the Finance Consulting division of a big 4 and while it’s not McKinsey it’s still strictly speaking management consulting. ALso, would you recommend big 4 consulting over Middle office (product development) and back office (operations) at a IB?

    1. It’s good but not as good as at a dedicated firm like MBB. And yes it’s still better than MO/BO at a bank.

  209. hey there,
    I was offered a position as an intern in Finance with an IB in London (not bulge bracket, but a major player none the less) and I was wondering how difficult it is to move from Finance to other areas in banking like risk management. I’m only interested in mo/bo roles and I wonder if I completed a 3 yr grad progamme in finance would I be totally boxed in (cima of cfa qualification completed).

    I like risk management because I study a very strong maths based degree and would enjoy the statistical element etc

    Is the above transition possible without significant luck?

    1. Not sure offhand but moving around the middle/back office is feasible, much easier than moving to front office.

  210. I have been offered a big 4 job doing CFO consulting (training contract, ACA or CIMA) and I was wondering how this would transition into being eligible for an Investment bank (FO or BO in a bulge or boutique bank) 3 years down the road when qualified. Would I be better off attempting to get into one instantly, or obtain my qualifications? I am final year and would prefer to work than do a conversion type masters, like finance or economics, especially seeing as I have an offer.

    Something to note is I come from a maths/science background with lots of hobbies and experiences, but sadly none of them are finance related.

    1. It’s always easier to get into IB straight away vs. waiting a few years. But if you don’t have any contacts / on-campus recruiting that’s probably not a viable option at this point since full-time recruiting is over.

      1. No I don’t attend a target university (but my grades would have been sufficient to get me into one) and haven’t really the required level of market knowledge to convince an interviewer I know what I’m talking about currently. So for back office positions (as realistically i don’t wish to work front office hours) would I stand a chance 3 years from now for acquiring one? Or should I accept that consulting is a route I am choosing and if I want IB then I should be going down the masters route?

        1. I would just do consulting and then a Master’s program

  211. Hi

    Thanks for your articles.

    I just got a random offer to intern in Finance back office at GS. I’m also applying for IB internship at Barcap. If I don’t get Barcap is it worth taking the internship at GS just to get the name on my CV or shall I stick with my front office internship in Big 4?

    Thanks for your advice.

    1. Probably GS to get the name though some would disagree

      1. Thanks very much.

    2. hi Dan, If i were you i would take the GS OFFER as even BO/MO of GS is worth putting on resume and is a stepping stone to front office endeavors. however if you get the front office offer from Barcap go for it eyes closed! hope this helps.

  212. Hi there. I am from Mumbai, India working in JP Morgan’s back office in the INVESTMENT BANKING segment.

    I would need say that it’s not the IT and Tech department and we have only non technical stuff to do in terms of allocating trades in their respective accounts. It also isn’t a BPO or a KPO either.

    Now when you graduate (or are in the process of graduating) in India, the process of getting into an IB firm or major financial institution is difficult. Not only that but you could also be in a good spot if you take most of the jobs that come for front office: Credit sales and insurance sales.

    When you land a job in the back office, the first priority that a company has before hiring externally is by checking their current pool of employees. So in a sense, getting your foot in the door of a company by working in their backoffice, is a lot more better than taking the lousy sales FRONT OFFICE jobs that other banks offer.

    Q1. So dont you stand a better chance at applying for that new opening in your company whenever hte profile opens up?

    Also I’ve noticed you asked someone to cancel their CFA aspirations in the comments. Can you please explain the rationality? Because net-world-over.. it’s known bout the value that CFA has and the weight it carries over a traditional MBA.

    If i’m already in a big bank…in the IB segment.. wanting to do a CFA.. wouldn’t that work better for the company and for me both ways?

    1. Nice to meet you.. I am working for JPM in bangalore.

      1. I didn’t completely understand your comment. Are you talking about an IJP within the company?

    2. https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/investment-banking-india/ Not everything applies to every country in the world. Most readers here are in the UK or US, so please assume that the advice applies to those regions unless otherwise noted.

      1. Hi Brian,

        Won’t the job of a BO analyst be more or less the same in India as elsewhere??….How about an IB internship with the Indian captive kpo’s of BB’s like the one mentioned above(JPMC)? I’ve got one such offer and I’m contemplating the exit opportunities after some work ex out there? Also, how do top B-schools look at “boutique IB wrk ex + BB captive kpo work ex”.

        1. I am really not sure as I have not worked in India before. Captive KPOs are probably better than true back/middle office work but not as good as real i-banking.

  213. Thanks for this article, I’ve got a question regarding a gray area–Administrative Assistant to a Managing Director or Senior Managing Director. Do you think there’s any chance in something like this rolling over into a front office position? The work is mostly back-office type work. Yet you are constantly interacting with the front office and often communicating with clients as something like a relationship manager.

    Please let me know your thoughts!

    Thanks!

  214. Hi,

    Had the shock of my life reading this article. I am currently working at J P Morgan for their treasury and securities division as an analyst. This is a back office job where we process transactions for the clients. Unfortunately, I come from a non target undergrad and I graduated in May. Been working for about 6 months here. I plan to do my masters soon. I have committed myself to giving cfa l1 in june 2011 (that was before I came across your site). Therefore I will not be able to apply for my masters till the 2012 intake (need to give gmat). What should my immediate course of action be given that I am working in the back office and have to bide time till 2012 for my masters?

    1. Cancel the CFA, take the GMAT, and apply to Master’s programs sooner rather than later. If you can’t do that then you can’t really do much, maybe just start networking more.

      1. Masters in 2012 wouldn’t work out then?

        1. That’s fine but you wanted to reduce wasted time. So 2011 is better if possible.

  215. Hi, thanks for a great site!
    I am really confused now. How about starting as a financial controller in a large bank then. Would it stand a chance for M&A or other Front office work? Is it worth at all in todays markets?

    Best regards!

    1. It’s not bad but it’s quite far from M&A or other front office work… so no, it probably wouldn’t be that great today.

  216. I’m a bit confused about all the BO/FO issues. Personally I’ve always wanted to work in technology in finance because the software and some engineering that’s come from it is pretty cool and the issues that it deals with (mostly speed and efficiency) is also interesting. Obviously the company has money to support this kind of research and multimillion projects for it.

    So maybe I’m misunderstanding what the BO actually does? I’m not even sure why there’re comparisons between the the BO and FO since the work they do is obviously totally different. BO doesn’t just do IT support, but there’s actual innovation going on in these finance companies for tech. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    And is the BO really paid THAT much less than FO, assuming that you move up vertically in BO?

    1. When you work at a company, you want to work in the area of that company’s core competency or focus. So at a software firm, you’d want to be in product development; at a bank you would want to be generating revenue. The problem is that lots of people assume that IT at a bank = investment banking at a bank, which is not true at all.

      While there is some innovation, overall you will not be treated well in IT. And yes, the back office is paid much less – bonuses are significantly lower and even at the top levels a VP in banking would probably make more.

      1. But aren’t the bonuses for IT in banking going to still be larger yet than working as a developer for 5-10 years at company whose core competency is developing? It seems to me like it’s still a good field to make money in, though not as much as the people actually closing the deals.

        What do you think about the fact that there have been claims that 70% of the deals made in the US are just calculated by the software that IT at these companies are producing though? (Read that somewhere today, can’t remember where though sorry – but regardless, a good amount of a call to close a deal is done with software).

        1. You might make more at a bank, but you might not – in Silicon Valley for example lots of companies actually pay six figure salaries to developers.

          I don’t understand your last statement, but I won’t sugar-coat things: you do not want to be in an IT role at a bank. It’s not the end of the world, but it is far better to be in the front office or to work at a tech company if you look at overall satisfaction / advancement.

          1. I totally agree on this. BO is full of shit. I am doing this for last 4 years since I moved to this country. I am trying to fix the damage by considering options such as Masters in Finance but dont know whether any good school would take me. BO is full of shit whether its large IB or some shitty HF

  217. What do you think of a position in the investor relations group of a bulge bracket bank? Is this considered BO?

    1. Also do positions in IR even exist?

      1. Yes but more so at external firms and buy-side firms rather than banks.