Guest Comment: ops jobs to avoid

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Anton Murray casts a watchful eye on the back and middle-office job functions that will have a hard time in 2009.

The bad

A number of operations and middle office areas will remain slow throughout the year, or will be challenging if you are trying to secure work.

· Equity markets in general aren't fantastic at the moment, although we are expecting equity operations and middle-office opportunities to strengthen in the second half of 2009.

· Small fund managers and hedge funds will be quiet with hiring for most of this year. Many funds that were long equity in 2008 have performed poorly and are facing redemptions. They will be focused on turning performance around rather than bolstering their support teams.

· Trainee, operations and support roles within wealth management will be lean. If you aren't directly generating revenue within a private bank or financial planning business, try to lay low.

· Be cautious of small local offices of global investment banks. In these uncertain times, some IBs may close local operations and absorb them back in to their region hubs.

· Generally project focused roles aren't bountiful at the moment. Clients are focused on reducing teams that are not "core business".

The ugly

There are a few areas looking quite ugly this year. If you are working within these functions, you should be laying very low to avoid getting cut. If you are looking for a new position, you will likely find limited opportunities.

· This should be a given, but it is very challenging to secure a structured credit derivatives operations or middle-office role right now, given that every business wants to avoid this area like the plague.

· Anything stock borrow/loan related, especially on the sell side, is looking very lean. Securities lending on the buy side is a better place to look if you are out of work.

· If you are doing a role supporting strictly hedge fund clients, thank your lucky stars that you are still employed, and avoid taking long lunches until 2010.

· If you are a grad or a candidate with no financial services experience seeking to enter the industry, now is a bad time. Keep working behind the bar for another six months until the market improves.

· In this environment there is limited retail client appetite for complex derivative or structured products, especially within equity. Ideally seek to move toward more traditional, vanilla type products for operations or middle office work in 2009 if you can.

Anton Murray is the director of Anton Murray Consulting, a specialist financial markets recruiting business based in Sydney with a focus on funds management, investment banking, and wealth management.

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