The shrinking elite of front office bankers

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The shrinking elite of front office bankers

If you began working in banking in the past five years (which would make you an associate by now), then you will be very familiar with one thing: redundancies. Each since 2014, redundancies have happened, and this year they happened at a faster rate. 

The charts below show changing front office headcount in investment banks over the past five years. Over 7,000 front office banking jobs globally have disappeared since 2014, according to banking intelligence provider Coalition, a reduction of 13%.

Job losses were greatest in fixed income currencies and commodities (FICC) trading businesses and smallest in investment banking divisions (IBD). Whereas once FICC trading jobs were the most plentiful, today front office jobs are distributed more equally between fixed income trading, equities trading and investment banking (M&A, ECM and DCM).

Coalition's figures apply only to front office banking jobs, meaning roles which directly generate revenues and typically involve interfacing with clients. Nothing is said about the 'middle office jobs' like risk, compliance and technology, or the 'back office jobs' like settlements which are also integral to the way banks operate. Risk, compliance and technology roles have proliferated in recent years and may well be higher now than in 2014. However, as banks step up cost cutting plans, compliance jobs in particular are at the forefront of automation (it's no coincidence that Goldman recently promoted its head of surveillance analytics to MD) and are likely to shrink back in the next few years. 

What Coalition's figures say most of all is that if you have a front office banking job paying you $250k+ a year now, cherish it. You are part of a shrinking tribe. Every year, hundreds and hundreds of thousands of highly able students compete for a role like yours. And somewhere else in your organisation, some very bright people are thinking up ways you too can be automated away.

Photo by Vincent Garnier on Unsplash

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