This section contains all our operations jobs in financial services firms.

Unlike the people working in the front office of an investment bank, fund manager, or alternative investment house, operational finance professionals don’t liaise with clients to generate revenues and profits for the bank. Instead, the operations division is a support function – operations professionals support people and deal flows in the front office to make sure everything works smoothly and the bank gets paid.

The main business of an operations job is clearing and settling trades. Clearing trades involves making sure that the records one bank has kept of the sale of a financial security match those of the bank or organisation it sold the security to. In most cases, simple trades are cleared automatically through huge electronic systems such as the Brussels-based Euroclear.

Settlements professionals ensure that stocks or shares bought and sold by the bank’s traders are exchanged for the correct amount of money. A settlements job is essentially a processing and controlling position. It involves matching instructions with counterparties, and arranging and monitoring payments.

Settlements covers everything from preparing the documentation required for a sale to making sure the bank has been paid for all the shares it has sold and bought. Settlements professionals also resolve any problems with counterparties if they arise, and they review unsettled trades to ensure timely completion. Many jobs require knowledge of systems such as CCASS, DCCASS and SWIFT, and Euroclear/Clearstream.

With financial services operations increasingly automated, most operations sector jobs involve intervening when electronic systems fail (so-called ‘exceptions’), or devising new ways of making technology systems and operations processes work more efficiently.

Clearing and settlements junior staff spend a lot of time dealing with the exceptions. Their role is to work out what went wrong. A large proportion of simple clearing and settlements work takes place in low cost centres such as Mumbai or the Philippines.

Closer to the trading floor is the role of the trade support officer. This can cover a whole range of different asset classes, from equities and bonds to commodities or derivatives. Trade support officers deal with any queries a trader might have – everything from reconciliation issues to any discrepancies between the various counterparties involved in the trades.

Advanced operations jobs higher up the hierarchy are more strategic in nature. Operations departments employ a lot of project managers and business analysts who look at, for example, ways of streamlining the exceptions process, or working with off-shored teams to determine how to make processes work more efficiently and (further) reduce costs.

It’s not only banks that employ settlements staff – hedge funds settlements professionals, for example, ensure trades are booked and reported to the prime broker/custodian.