Before artificial intelligence and quantitative finance became popular, risk careers were all the thing. In the aftermath of the 2008 crisis, people who’d occupied trading jobs in investment banks switched into risk jobs in order to survive. Michael Balzac looks like one of those people. And the move has more than paid off.
Balzac has just joined Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York City as a director-level senior risk manager on the global rates G10 FX and commodities desk. Previously, he spent eight years as global head of rates market risk at Credit Suisse, also in NYC.
Balzac’s move to BAML reflects the resurgence of macro trading desks as rates diverge globally. It also suggests the wisdom of jettisoning a traditional ‘front office’ banking career when a better offer becomes available in a growing support function.
Balzac himself has oscillated between the middle and the front office. He started his banking career in 2001 as a controller on the credit derivatives proprietary trading desk at Deutsche Bank before moving to Credit Suisse as a market risk manager in 2004. As trading jobs boomed in 2006 he moved to a VP level front office trading job with the Swiss bank for two and a half years. But when the crisis hit in 2009, he reverted to risk management. There, his career has gone to strength to strength.
Don’t assume that you have to gravitate towards the front office to get ahead. Sometimes it makes sense to leave trading behind. It worked for Balzac.