Back office vs Front office

Sorry, this has never been very clear to me. What kind of job titles are each, just so I know what to avoid in my job hunt? Is FO basically the guys that do the actual analysis type work, while back office is more of a support positon?

Essentially. In general, Front Office refers to the revenue generators of a business which would typically involve client contact. So yeah the analysis type of work would typically be done by the front office.

My understanding: Front Office guys do the financial and economic analysis and arrive at a decision to buy / sell shares in a company. The backoffice guys will ensure that records are kept of the purchase / sale and attempt to reconcile any differences between the parties to the transaction.

There was a good analogy I saw on one of these threads early about race car drivers and mechanics. I guess you could think of the front office as the drivers and the back office as the pit stop mechanics.

In general,

FO = people who directly conduct business activity.

BO = people who support FO.

There is also a grey area called “middle office”, where people also support FO, but get somewhat more interaction with FO than BO people.

Also, FO people usually have a support/business activity balance. That is, FO people usually do a bit of BO stuff as part of business maintenance. So, keep this in mind when looking at job descriptions. Titles like “analyst” do not tell you much about the job. You might need to read between the lines to determine which category of job it is.

Gotcha. That’s more or less what I was thinking. I definately see no appeal to a BO position.

What appeals to me is the low stress environment. Clock in, do your work, clock out and go home. Partners at my firm get roughly 250k-500k in comp, which I think is what the big banks pay their operations folks at the director level.

i would argue that there are some “middle office” positions that are probably more exciting with better opportunities than some front office roles at the juinor level… if you are interested in trading , some “trader assistant/ p&l accounting” roles draw a thin line between middle/front office and offer great launching points for other roles. (departments withing BO/MO are better than others)

The problem is that there is a ceiling for promotion in a lot of BO jobs. If you look at corporate titles for people in FO jobs, many people are “directors”. Basically, if you stay in one of these FO jobs for 5 or 6 years, you will get promoted, make more money, etc. It is less likely for a BO person to get promoted to the same corporate title.

True, but working in back office I’d still get to at least 6 figures in NYC at the VP level. I could live off of that forever (adjusted for inflation).

Title is not everything. I’ve seen titles such as Senior Derivatives Analyst. It sound pretty nice but then I read the description and it’s like a super back-office guy. I’ve seen simple title such as portfolio analyst where you end up developing new equity products, executing trades for PMs, helping in writing economic reviews, etc.

I was told by a director of back-office that you’re expected to work 2-3 years at most in the BO. Then you have to start looking at offers at the MO or FO (if that’s what you want) or else you get categorized as a ops guys forever.

That’s probably the route I am going to take. Enter in BO, work there 1-2 years and then look for opportunies inside the firm. BO work is better than NO work lol

We were talking about corporate title. It’s a way that companies use to categories people by pay scale. You can be a Senior Derivatives Analyst and also be a Vice President, for instance.

Back office can lead to a comfortable and less stress career, but you’ll always be on the back end, won’t make big money, the work is usually blah to kill-me-now, and just not fulfilling. Nothing compared to the front end

People don’t aspire to work in back office just like no one has dreams of being an accountant auditor

Front office has a back office salary with an extra Zero at the end.

I agree 100%. I too work in a “revenue generator” (for those of you who don’t work in finance: “revenue generator” is an aggrandized term for “sales”). I actually work in client service for a hedge fund. The other day, our BOM portfolio manager (back office loser who sits at a Bloomberg terminal and lacks my knack for business development) asked me to do something. As I raised the back of my hand to b**** slap him, he retreated into his office, clearly realizing that I, as a profit center, am his superior in all regards. Later that day, I called the BO guy after my computer crashed. While he tinkered with the computer on my mahogany desk, I fondled myself as I mocked his thickly accented English, superior technical education, and relatively minuscule paycheck. He left in disgust without repairing my computer. I spent the rest of the day staring at a black screen, unable to function. I could not perform my job and I certainly could not repair my computer. I realized that I am utterly useless without technology and personnel to manage and repair the technology. For a moment, I questioned whether the BO guy is actually superior to me – No way could I do his job; Could he be taught to do mine? If he is capable of getting a 3.6 gpa in computer science, could he not master the art of powerpoint and lying with statistics? The moment quickly passed, however. I looked at my Park Avenue shoes, thought of my bank account and proceeded to fondle myself.

^ I didn’t expect the swerves. Not one, but two.

Grass is greener on the other side I guess. By working in the back offfice, I’d at least have exposure to financial products on a day to day basis, even if that means reconciling trades and shit like that. Advising banks on compliance related matters while traveling from client site to client site isn’t exactly my cup of tea.