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Graduates: Don't back off the back office

After a series of nerve wracking interviews and screenings, you have finally landed a graduate role in the back office of a top-tier global bank in Asia. But you're unsure if this is what you want to do, or how promising a vocation it will be. And one key question remains: will I be able to make a switch to the front office later in my career?

Banks understand the need to engage and retain talent, and most will highlight the varied future career options available to their intake of fresh graduates, says Jamie Tan, managing consultant, banking and financial services, Hudson.

"When banks hire a hot shot graduate who has aspirations of moving to a front-office position, they will need to manage that candidate's career carefully if they are looking to hold onto the candidate for the long term," adds Tan.

While it's always going to be tough becoming a trader, roles such as project management, client services and front-office sales assistants are sometimes available to back-office professionals as their careers progress. These jobs can provide front-line exposure to businesses within the bank and require a strong understanding of end-to-end trade lifecycles, which candidates develop during a stint in the back office.

But if you are still not convinced that you've made the right start to your working life - change your perspective. Think of your new back-office job as an opportunity to get your foot in the door of a good bank.

"Some new graduates are willing to start off in middle/back-office roles as a first career step as they are aware that this experience is necessary, and it also provides a positive inroad to help them move into the front office where often their career aspirations lie," says Jay Chan, head of recruitment & resourcing services, Singapore & South East Asia, ANZ.

And remember that many firms depend heavily on building up from within and encourage graduates to take charge of their own careers. "By helping our employees to make a job switch within OCBC, we provide them with the opportunity to develop their career with the bank, in line with their interest and capabilities," explains Jacinta Low, head, HR planning and employee communications, OCBC Bank.

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AUTHORAnanya Mukherjee Insider Comment
  • Ma
    Matthew
    1 October 2011

    I think you should elaborate on "roles such as project management, client services and front-office sales assistants are sometimes available to back-office professionals as their careers progress." because the reality is that this is a rarity. I have many classmates that choose the Back Office thinking it would be their entry point to trading, sales or banking. In five years working at bulge bracket firms with hundreds of colleagues I have seen just one person make the switch. He moved from the CFO analyst program to TMT Banking.

  • Je
    Jeyalakshmi Seetthapathy
    26 January 2011

    I have posted my resume in your website. Eventhough I have 5 years experience in Wholesale & Retail Industry and 2 years in manufacturing sector, I would like to switch over to Banking sector. But under current sector, I had to select trading only but my interest is to enter into another sector. There is no other column to indicate this. Will it not make my decision of posting my resume in e-financial careers get unnoticed? Please advise on this.

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