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. Heres 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, its best to do so internally dont 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? Its 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 traders 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 youll need to be (very) good at what youre 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 youre 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 youre 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 wont 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 hes seen plenty of accountants make the mistake of thinking a job in product control will be a back door into M&A: Ill have someone who aspires to an origination role, but hes 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, dont 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 its a natural transition period. Harker also says its 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. Dont 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 dont want to be discouraging but
our efforts to interview someone whod moved from the back to the front office for this article came to nothing we couldnt find anyone whod 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 Barings 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 managers eye. Anyone do it?
Last edited by TraderJoe
on April 2nd, 2007, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.