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How to dress up your middle office CV for a move into the front office

So you work somewhere in the middle office (risk/finance/trade support), and you want to work somewhere in the front office (sales/trading/structuring)? What do you need to do to your CV to make this happen?

Firstly, a qualifying point. It is not that easy to move into the front office from a middle office role. It is especially hard if you are attempting to do so on the basis of sending your CV to recruiters. It is easiest to move from the middle to the front office if you do so at the firm you’re currently working for.

That said, what can you do to your CV to at least improve your chances?

1) Show that you have a genuine interest in working in the front office

A lot of people want to work in the front office. Fewer really understand the implications.

“Is it just the glamour of trading that’s attracting you, or do you really have a genuine passion,” says the head of prop trading at one bank in London. “Do you really want to live through the ups and downs, do you really want to see your life go past every single frigging day?”

If you do, you will need to demonstrate this in the manner that follows.

2) Show that you understand the products

“What we’re looking for, is someone who’s shown a lot of keenness and ambition in getting to know the products,” says Danny Kessler, managing director of MET Traders. “We want to know that they understand how the products trade, and the risks that they’re in. We want to know that when they were looking at trading positions, they understood what was good and bad about them, and why that was.

“On a CV you will need to demonstrate that you have an understanding of trading strategies,” he adds. “If you can mention butterflies and condors, it will show that you have an understanding of short term interest rate strategies, for example.”

3) Show that you have comparable academics to staff in the front office

“If you want to move into the front office, you will need similar academic qualifications to the front office guys,” says Trevor Symonds, head of quantitative analytics at recruiter Selby Jennings. “As a quant, you will also probably need to do some additional courses in C++.”

“We need to see that you have a strong maths and technology background,” says the head of prop trading.

4) Emphasise that you have engaged in tasks comparable to those in the front office

If you’re a quant with aspirations to move into the front office, Symons says you will need to have engaged in, “some pretty heavy modelling work.”

“If you’ve been a model validator and have only benchmarked models coming from the front office, it won’t be interesting. You’ll need to have taken front office models and improved upon them,” he says.

“To get out of the middle office pigeon hole, you will need to show that you’ve got some kind of experiences similar to those in the front office,” says Will De Lucy, head of Amplify Trading. “Even if you can stress that during your middle office role you helped traders looking at cable against euro-dollar, it will help validate your desire to move.”

If you want to be a trader, it will help to have traded your personal account. “If you’ve successfully traded PA, it will show that you have the aptitude and desire for trading,” says Kessler.

5) Show that you’re a disciplined risk taker

“You’ll need to show that you’re a natural risk taker,” says the head of prop trading. “You either have it, or you haven’t.”

“You need to show discipline,” adds Kessler, “that you have watched and monitored a trade, and have got out at the right time.”

Comments (7)

  1. 6) Show that you are in no way related to Jerome Kerviel.

  2. 7) Be aged <25

  3. ok, from someone that tried this and failed, take it from me the most challenging obstactle for someone in MO/BO who wants to make it into FO is the financial knowledge. And I’m not just talking about knowing definitions of various products, but how to make money on them. Its not just about coming up with various trade ideas, but how to hedge certain positions or limit risk on various exposures. This is something that you cannot really learn, unless your in front office. FO managers often look to shoot down MO/BO candidates straight away with questions that they know we wouldn’t be able to understand. And this also includes crazy maths/brainteasers that they also know we wouldn’t be able to understand.

  4. The condor – AKA the Cadillac spread

    Churnem Burnem Reply
  5. sarah be serious
    front people what ??????????????
    with the trilions they lost
    whashing up people are paying tax for their salary simply disgusting

    clearly if you are not an idiot u will not be there

    i do not know of any successful company created by city

    but many of them adviced by those spoiled boys went bust

  6. I would also add that candidates should be wary of moving to the ‘front office’ and not just dive in head first in to the role offered. They should think ahead and work out if the role will be beneficial to their careers in the long run.
    In some cases people who move to the front office are often left disappointed, as the role does not give them the scope that they first thought and they end up narrowing their skill set. This can obviously be detrimental when looking to move jobs again. I see this a lot when Quants working in Model Validation move to a front office quant team and get stuck doing a lot of coding and library work rather than actually doing the pricing and modelling that they want to.

    It may seem like a dream to be working with traders and structurers- just make sure that you put more emphasis on the role you play rather than the people you are in proximity to.

  7. Being from Oxford or Cambridge also helps, and yes the under 25 comment mentioned above is not far off the mark either.

    Most importantly though is making good connections with the FO, almost to the extent that they owe you a favour. I have seen people move to FO who I never would have guessed they would make it. Turned out they new someone, and that someone did them a favour.

    Apologies Sarah, but the 1-6 points are potentially a load of rot designed to make MO/BO staff gopher harder thinking there is some underlying formula for success, which if they follow to the letter, they will succeed too. Not the case at all.

    Thankfully I realised this years ago and have never looked back…..

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