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TraderJoe
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Posts: 11048
Joined: February 1st, 2005, 11:21 pm

Back Office to Front Office

April 3rd, 2007, 9:28 pm

QuoteDo you dream of the glamour, power and cash that come with a front-office role, but find yourself languishing in the back?How to move to the front office from the back. Here’s how (and how not) to go about a move to the front office- Go internalFirst things first: if you want to move from the back office to the front, it’s best to do so internally – don’t count on a recruiter to help you out. "A move from back to front is not the sort of thing that happens through a search firm," says Shaun Springer, chief executive officer of search firm Napier Scott. Why not? It’s all down to the desire of recruiters to do what their clients have asked for. A recruitment firm that supplies someone with an operations background for a trader’s role is going to be frowned upon. ”If I did something like that, my client would question my methodology," says Springer. However, in order to make the move internally you’ll need to be (very) good at what you’re doing currently. "The best people in any department get headhunted by the front office," says Andrew Pullman, managing director of human resources (HR) consultancy People Risk Solutions, and former head of capital markets HR at Dresdner Kleinwort. Go for the middle office first No matter how good you are at what you do, some roles are a better springboard to the front office than others. The bad news is that you’re unlikely to leap out of a back-office role in, say, clearing and settlements, straight into a front-office role as a trader. This is particularly the case as settlements departments move out of the City to the likes of Bournemouth and Glasgow. "When you’re just a voice at the end of the line, it gets a bit harder," says Pullman. Instead, your best bet is to move into the middle office (eg, risk, or product control) and to try and catch the eye of the front office from there. One of the most common moves, according to Pullman, is from operations to desk assistant to a trader, and then move to full trader yourself. Product controllers, who often work closely with traders, also stand a better than average chance of becoming traders themselves. What you won’t be able to do, however, is to make a move from product control (or indeed any middle or back-office job) into corporate finance in order to become a high-flying investment banker advising on mergers and acquisitions. Barry van Rensburg, a consultant at recruitment firm Healy Hunt, says he’s seen plenty of accountants make the mistake of thinking a job in product control will be a back door into M&A: “I’ll have someone who aspires to an origination role, but he’s spent three years in product control and his career has stagnated,” he says. When and where If you want to make the move front office-wards, don’t wait too long to do so. “If people genuinely want to move from the back office into a front-office role, earlier will be easier,” says John Harker, head of human resources at Citigroup. “The shift from analyst to associate is a good time to make the move because it’s a natural transition period.” Harker also says it’s easier to move into a front-office role away from the leading financial centres of the City of London and Wall Street. "In a smaller office, employees have to be multi-skilled," he tells us. Don’t count on it A move into the front office may be feasible in principle, but in practice it happens very rarely. How rarely? “Once or twice a year,” the head of a European trading desk at one US bank tells us. And we don’t want to be discouraging but…our efforts to interview someone who’d moved from the back to the front office for this article came to nothing – we couldn’t find anyone who’d done it. Banks may well have been put off shifting back-office employees into front-office positions by Nick Leeson, the shamed chief trader of Barings Bank in Singapore. When it came to making the move, Leeson did everything right: he moved to Baring’s small office in Singapore, got a job as a manager of a new operation in futures markets, moved into trading – and went on to lose £1.3bn and bankrupt his employer. “Back-office functions should not report to managers who run front office,” says Pullman. “This maintains independence,” he adds. True, but it also makes it harder to catch the front-office manager’s eye. Anyone do it?
Last edited by TraderJoe on April 2nd, 2007, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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spice
Posts: 491
Joined: March 22nd, 2006, 11:53 am

Back Office to Front Office

April 3rd, 2007, 10:45 pm

Only if they weren't meant to be in back office in the first place. I have seen product controllers who come from elite schools with a 1st in pure maths and is (*slowly*) making the move.
 
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NShah
Posts: 95
Joined: November 15th, 2006, 12:49 pm

Back Office to Front Office

April 4th, 2007, 7:03 am

I have seen a few people do it (and by few i really mean a few), but what is almost always obvious is that the person making the move should never have been in back or middle office in the first place - they stick out like a sore thumb compared to their peers. I think a lot of people would like to work in front office but not so many are really willing to go the extra mile to make it happen. What is sad is that often the ones who are willing to put in the extra work and study are those who might not have the academic background or personality required to make the jump.
Last edited by NShah on April 3rd, 2007, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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migalley
Posts: 3696
Joined: June 13th, 2005, 10:54 am

Back Office to Front Office

April 4th, 2007, 8:35 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: TraderJoeQuoteDo you dream of the glamour, power and cash that come with a front-office role, but find yourself languishing in the back?How to move to the front office from the back. Here’s how (and how not) to go about a move to the front office- Go internalFirst things first: if you want to move from the back office to the front, it’s best to do so internally – don’t count on a recruiter to help you out. "A move from back to front is not the sort of thing that happens through a search firm," says Shaun Springer, chief executive officer of search firm Napier Scott. Why not? It’s all down to the desire of recruiters to do what their clients have asked for. A recruitment firm that supplies someone with an operations background for a trader’s role is going to be frowned upon. ”If I did something like that, my client would question my methodology," says Springer. However, in order to make the move internally you’ll need to be (very) good at what you’re doing currently. "The best people in any department get headhunted by the front office," says Andrew Pullman, managing director of human resources (HR) consultancy People Risk Solutions, and former head of capital markets HR at Dresdner Kleinwort. Go for the middle office first No matter how good you are at what you do, some roles are a better springboard to the front office than others. The bad news is that you’re unlikely to leap out of a back-office role in, say, clearing and settlements, straight into a front-office role as a trader. This is particularly the case as settlements departments move out of the City to the likes of Bournemouth and Glasgow. "When you’re just a voice at the end of the line, it gets a bit harder," says Pullman. Instead, your best bet is to move into the middle office (eg, risk, or product control) and to try and catch the eye of the front office from there. One of the most common moves, according to Pullman, is from operations to desk assistant to a trader, and then move to full trader yourself. Product controllers, who often work closely with traders, also stand a better than average chance of becoming traders themselves. What you won’t be able to do, however, is to make a move from product control (or indeed any middle or back-office job) into corporate finance in order to become a high-flying investment banker advising on mergers and acquisitions. Barry van Rensburg, a consultant at recruitment firm Healy Hunt, says he’s seen plenty of accountants make the mistake of thinking a job in product control will be a back door into M&A: “I’ll have someone who aspires to an origination role, but he’s spent three years in product control and his career has stagnated,” he says. When and where If you want to make the move front office-wards, don’t wait too long to do so. “If people genuinely want to move from the back office into a front-office role, earlier will be easier,” says John Harker, head of human resources at Citigroup. “The shift from analyst to associate is a good time to make the move because it’s a natural transition period.” Harker also says it’s easier to move into a front-office role away from the leading financial centres of the City of London and Wall Street. "In a smaller office, employees have to be multi-skilled," he tells us. Don’t count on it A move into the front office may be feasible in principle, but in practice it happens very rarely. How rarely? “Once or twice a year,” the head of a European trading desk at one US bank tells us. And we don’t want to be discouraging but…our efforts to interview someone who’d moved from the back to the front office for this article came to nothing – we couldn’t find anyone who’d done it. Banks may well have been put off shifting back-office employees into front-office positions by Nick Leeson, the shamed chief trader of Barings Bank in Singapore. When it came to making the move, Leeson did everything right: he moved to Baring’s small office in Singapore, got a job as a manager of a new operation in futures markets, moved into trading – and went on to lose £1.3bn and bankrupt his employer. “Back-office functions should not report to managers who run front office,” says Pullman. “This maintains independence,” he adds. True, but it also makes it harder to catch the front-office manager’s eye. Anyone do it?Still dreaming, TJ?
 
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jd1123
Posts: 191
Joined: May 24th, 2005, 7:04 pm

Back Office to Front Office

April 4th, 2007, 9:27 pm

I'll admit that I've made the leap. Takes lots of work, dedication and salesmanship. Article is pretty much dead on.
 
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TraderJoe
Topic Author
Posts: 11048
Joined: February 1st, 2005, 11:21 pm

Back Office to Front Office

April 4th, 2007, 9:43 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: migalleyQuoteStill dreaming, TJ?Of the day you die, to my hand, of course
 
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ppauper
Posts: 70239
Joined: November 15th, 2001, 1:29 pm

Back Office to Front Office

April 5th, 2007, 1:33 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: migalleyQuoteOriginally posted by: TraderJoeAnyone do it?Still dreaming, TJ?indeed, TJ remains a b.o.m.,and as the saying goes, once a b.o.m, always a b.o.m.
 
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TraderJoe
Topic Author
Posts: 11048
Joined: February 1st, 2005, 11:21 pm

Back Office to Front Office

April 6th, 2007, 1:21 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: ppauperQuoteOriginally posted by: migalleyQuoteOriginally posted by: TraderJoeAnyone do it?Still dreaming, TJ?indeed, TJ remains a b.o.m.,and as the saying goes, once a b.o.m, always a b.o.m.And you, as always, remain a halfwit.Once a halfwit, always a halfwit.
 
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jd1123
Posts: 191
Joined: May 24th, 2005, 7:04 pm

Back Office to Front Office

April 6th, 2007, 2:46 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: ppauperQuoteOriginally posted by: migalleyQuoteOriginally posted by: TraderJoeAnyone do it?Still dreaming, TJ?indeed, TJ remains a b.o.m.,and as the saying goes, once a b.o.m, always a b.o.m.I know this is intended mainly as trash talk, but for the sake of everyone reading, let me be a little more verbose and optimistic in responding. There are probably lots of people reading on without asking this question explicitly. While it is difficult making a move from back to front office, it is not impossible and you can greatly increase your chances of success with a positive attitude and work ethic as well as a lot of networking. It's important to take you job seriously and work as hard as you can because no one will want to hire marginal candidate. All the people I have seen who have done this (and I have seen perhaps 4 to 7 people in a two year span, but many external examples as well) have had several characteristics in common: very strong work ethic, the willingness to go above and beyond in their current role, an insatiable desire to learn about the business and the willingness and ability to go out of the way to network with people in the business. Also, try to go above and beyond to get noticed by everyone in the company with good ideas.It's hard to be more specific with advice about moving, but if you're serious about it, the abstract advice generally given should make perfect sense. You will be able to feel which are the right plays. Also, since you're serious, your voracious quest to learn more about the business should get noticed. When I was looking to make the move, my first point of advice were forums such as and including this one. Comments like these made me feel as if I had an insurmountable goal. Luckily, I'm not one to give up easily so I looked beyond forums for advice and information. I think anyone looking to make a move will be well advised to be extremely persistent, but not annoying.
Last edited by jd1123 on April 5th, 2007, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Rrolack2
Posts: 68
Joined: April 5th, 2006, 1:47 am

Back Office to Front Office

April 6th, 2007, 6:34 pm

QuoteI have seen a few people do it (and by few i really mean a few), but what is almost always obvious is that the person making the move should never have been in back or middle office in the first place - they stick out like a sore thumb compared to their peers. This is true in my experience as well. I know of only one guy who moved from ops to the front office, and he was so much better than his back office peers, it wasn't even funny.
Last edited by Rrolack2 on April 5th, 2007, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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TraderJoe
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Posts: 11048
Joined: February 1st, 2005, 11:21 pm

Back Office to Front Office

April 6th, 2007, 10:00 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: Rrolack2QuoteI have seen a few people do it (and by few i really mean a few), but what is almost always obvious is that the person making the move should never have been in back or middle office in the first place - they stick out like a sore thumb compared to their peers. This is true in my experience as well. I know of only one guy who moved from ops to the front office, and he was so much better than his back office peers, it wasn't even funny.What was he doing in ops then?
Last edited by TraderJoe on April 6th, 2007, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Rrolack2
Posts: 68
Joined: April 5th, 2006, 1:47 am

Back Office to Front Office

April 6th, 2007, 10:42 pm

QuoteWhat was he doing in ops then?I have no idea. Basically, here's how he made the move. He used to work on an ops team in London, and they brought him to the US to work on another ops team. At some future time, a whole London front office team moved to another bank, and they took this guy with him (since they knew he was good). The first bank tried to keep him, offering him a front office position, but as far as I know, they could match his salary offer at the new bank.
Last edited by Rrolack2 on April 6th, 2007, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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ppauper
Posts: 70239
Joined: November 15th, 2001, 1:29 pm

Back Office to Front Office

April 7th, 2007, 12:40 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: jd1123 I think anyone looking to make a move will be well advised to be extremely persistent, but not annoying.TJ tends to be annoying, so he might have a problem
 
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ppauper
Posts: 70239
Joined: November 15th, 2001, 1:29 pm

Back Office to Front Office

April 7th, 2007, 12:41 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: TraderJoeQuoteOriginally posted by: Rrolack2QuoteI have seen a few people do it (and by few i really mean a few), but what is almost always obvious is that the person making the move should never have been in back or middle office in the first place - they stick out like a sore thumb compared to their peers. This is true in my experience as well. I know of only one guy who moved from ops to the front office, and he was so much better than his back office peers, it wasn't even funny.What was he doing in ops then?indeed:was he in ops because he couldn't get a front office job the first time round ?
 
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jd1123
Posts: 191
Joined: May 24th, 2005, 7:04 pm

Back Office to Front Office

April 7th, 2007, 5:27 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: TraderJoeQuoteOriginally posted by: Rrolack2QuoteI have seen a few people do it (and by few i really mean a few), but what is almost always obvious is that the person making the move should never have been in back or middle office in the first place - they stick out like a sore thumb compared to their peers. This is true in my experience as well. I know of only one guy who moved from ops to the front office, and he was so much better than his back office peers, it wasn't even funny.What was he doing in ops then?Some people can't get FO jobs right off the bat. Others don't know what they're doing when they go for a job, land a BO job and are happy to be employed. Honestly, the very best people I've seen at an investment bank have done stints in a variety of different areas. Perhaps I'm biased because I've been all over the place, but working in BO, MO and FO gives you insights into running the business that you can't get elsewhere. I love my current job and wouldn't want to do anything else, but I am very happy I have experience in all areas so I have a good idea of what's going on throughout the whole dealing process. I know what happens before, during and after I make the trade. I like to have a bigger vision of what's going on throughout the company and all the moving parts.
Last edited by jd1123 on April 6th, 2007, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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