CFA's role in moving from BO to FO

I was wondering if people can share their experiences about moving from the back office to the front office as a result of obtaining either the CFA charter, or even by just passing the Level 1 and/or Level 2 exams. Also, was wondering about people who have passed Level 1 and/or Level 2, and are still stuck in the back office after attempting to move to the front. Please be specific - what types of roles are/were you in, and what types of roles did you move into, or are still attempting to move into. Also, if you care to share, name of companies/banks would be appreciated.

same question please, but substitute BO with DB please. DB=Discount Brokerage.

a colleague of mine moved from a BO to research after passing level 1. he’s a bit older though.

Frank, what DB are you at, I’m at Scott. Not to bogart your post…I like the question, working at a discount brok. through undergrad, I think initiative, desire, and self-made success proves alot when trying to break in.

Bill, if i may ask, was your friend an astute follower of the markets with a lot of knowledge on specific sectors? I suppose to get into research, you have to be top notch in terms of industry knowledge at the very least.

BO to FO does happen. I work in BO, althought maybe its a bit more middle, as there is client contact etc, we work with the taxation of client securities and reporting. So many of my collegues in my short time here (6 months) have moved into decent roles, many to work as analysts directly under an adviser in PWM. Another guy moved to be a dealer in Asset Management. A guy to standard and poors as a funds analyst. And a guy moved to work at a financial modelling company. And this is at goldman sachs by the way.

a position opened up, he applied and got in.

So have any of you, or do you know of anyone, who was able to move to the front after passing the level 1 exam? how typical do you think it is for the front office to look at a back office candidate more seriously after passing?

Usually the best a BO candidate can hope for after passing a level or two is a middle office role with some contact with either clients or the trading desk.

the CFA can only help, but I know so many people who have done this but without doing any additional qualifications. I have seen a couple of friends move from Markets BO positions to TA positions and are now full blown derivatives traders (all within 2 years of joining the bank) I myself started in Markets in a support position and then moved to Energy Origination and now work in Real Estate SF (bad timing I know). You just need to be confident and get yourself about. I contacted numerous MDs when trying to move to show that I could do the job despite not having the ‘correct experience’. All of these guys who have done this though do have good ‘relationship skills’. Probably the most important ‘extra’ considering everyone has a strong academic background in IB.

It can be done. It isn’t easy though. Don’t expect it to happen but if you work hard and get noticed in FO, you may land an assistant role in FO. Then networking and good work does the rest. Risk management is also an option.

Depends on what firm you are at and how cheap they are. Smaller firm that does not want to pay up for an employee will search internally and pull somebody from back office with half way decent skills, pay them a couple thousand dollars more a year, and be done with it. At first this employee is estatic because he just made it to the FO, but then you realize that your salary only increased a couple thousand and then that emotion has turned from happiness to what the hell. So a couple years go by, you prove yourself build your skills up, finish the CFA program, then comes your review. And look out they give you a whopping 6% raise, because they still look at you as the Back Office guy. Then you look for a new job.

why wait for a few years? once you get into FO you wait 9 months and start looking immediately.

Having worked in both research and in BO, I guess I don’t understand. What’s the stigma of the BO and why wouldn’t a qualified BO candidate be just as, if not more, attractive to the FO as anyone else out there (with internal candidates you can get a much better idea of work ethic, etc.)? For that matter, why wouldn’t a BO candidate be more attractive for an entry level FO role than a recent grad, given that they are bound to pick up at least a thing or two in the BO?

I reckon BO’s are great. They pick up heaps because if they are genuinely interested in the market, they have a lot of time to follow the markets, read all the firms and other research out there. I know when I was BO i learnt mroe about the markets then i ever had before because of this

Started in the BO, moved to MO shortly after, and landed a gig w/o any level of the CFA completed at the time. I also know of someone in the BO/MO (product control) with the CFA designation, not moving and still there. My 2c., you’re more likely to be successful in the transition not through this designation, but by networking and developing relationships with people in research who will bat for you at their firm.