john_iqbal786
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I was doing engineering at Bristol and thought as IB as an alternate path to engineering career since the pay was better (more interested in middle or back office due to the work hours). I know investment banks do hire bristol graduates for Front office roles (not a lot but some) and they have specific target universitites for these roles. However, do they still have the same target universities for Middle and Back office roles? I am on the verge of going to ether Manchester or leeds and have started to worry about this fact. Could anyone offer some advice on this (being as brutally honest as possible). Would other finance and consulting jobs still be available for me or financial analyst (considering i have an engineering degree from these universities and not an economics one). I am considering just staying at Bristol and retaking the module I failed but I only now have a week to revise for it! Any advice would be appreciated
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john_iqbal786
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BUMP
Can anyone offer any advice? I am mainly interested in Middle office roles at a city BB
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AW_1983
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The short answer to your question is that any university is fine for the back office and most degrees will be fine too; I once had a colleague with a degree in Equine Studies. My own view is that unless you do a technology degree, no degree is going to be that useful in the back and middle office compared to the professional qualifications you get after you're hired. An accounting degree is fairly worthless compared to an accountancy qualification and economics is of limited importance unless you want a front office career etc. However, as someone who was sucked into back office finance 18 years ago your post worries me. A smart young person going to a top university to study engineering has been misled into believing they might be paid more to work in the back office of a bank. Unless you make MD, that is almost certainly untrue. Passionate, dedicated engineers earn several thousands of pounds more than I do and they also have a career they can be proud of. In contrast my job satisfaction is confined to being a bit pleased when I write a clever code in VBA. I was a History grad and this was the best I could do, but you can achieve more than that. Also, you might think you will be the one who makes it to MD and earn the good money. After all, you're a smart engineer right? Except the reality in back office banking is that you're mostly invisible and promotions tend to go to loud mouthed bull****ters who get noticed rather than smart, diligent people who get results. Chances are if you do something really good, your greasy pole climbing ******* manager will claim all the credit. You have to thrive in that kind of snake pit to make MD, being good just means being taken advantage of. You're what, 20? You have your whole life ahead of you. Give engineering a go. You could find yourself at 30 working on some incredible infrastructure projects here or abroad. And if it doesn't work out, 10 years down the line a firm like mine would bite your hand off to hire you anyway. The lessons I learned too late is that life is short and there is no reward without taking some risk. Before you have a family to provide for, take some risks and you might well be rewarded for it.
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john_iqbal786
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(Original post by AW_1983)
The short answer to your question is that any university is fine for the back office and most degrees will be fine too; I once had a colleague with a degree in Equine Studies. My own view is that unless you do a technology degree, no degree is going to be that useful in the back and middle office compared to the professional qualifications you get after you're hired. An accounting degree is fairly worthless compared to an accountancy qualification and economics is of limited importance unless you want a front office career etc. However, as someone who was sucked into back office finance 18 years ago your post worries me. A smart young person going to a top university to study engineering has been misled into believing they might be paid more to work in the back office of a bank. Unless you make MD, that is almost certainly untrue. Passionate, dedicated engineers earn several thousands of pounds more than I do and they also have a career they can be proud of. In contrast my job satisfaction is confined to being a bit pleased when I write a clever code in VBA. I was a History grad and this was the best I could do, but you can achieve more than that. Also, you might think you will be the one who makes it to MD and earn the good money. After all, you're a smart engineer right? Except the reality in back office banking is that you're mostly invisible and promotions tend to go to loud mouthed bull****ters who get noticed rather than smart, diligent people who get results. Chances are if you do something really good, your greasy pole climbing ******* manager will claim all the credit. You have to thrive in that kind of snake pit to make MD, being good just means being taken advantage of. You're what, 20? You have your whole life ahead of you. Give engineering a go. You could find yourself at 30 working on some incredible infrastructure projects here or abroad. And if it doesn't work out, 10 years down the line a firm like mine would bite your hand off to hire you anyway. The lessons I learned too late is that life is short and there is no reward without taking some risk. Before you have a family to provide for, take some risks and you might well be rewarded for it.
Thank you very much for taking your time to offer advice using the experience you've had. I was frantically posting about jobs in IB due to being lured by finance salaries. I am doing a subject I am passionate about and will definitely be looking into engineering as a my full time job, however I was just asking about IB so I can keep an alternative route open for me in case I find engineering jobs do not appeal to me once I graduate. If I got to the point where I couldn't find an engineering job I was passionate about then I would just go for a job which is mentally stimulating and has a good salary. This is why I was considering IB, I was thinking mainly of Middle office roles such as risk or technology which have starting salaries slightly higher than engineers(which doesn't matter that much), but the salary and career progression is much better and more layed out.

I believe with back office roles degree doesn't matter but with job roles in middle office I believe analytical degree subjects are desired (but not essential I think). From what I have been finding from digging around online is that engineers in the UK are severely undervalued and the pay is nothing in comparison to countries like the USA and Germany, ofcourse if it is something I love doing I will pursue it, but if I didn't really have a love for it then it would just be another job so I would prefer to go with the one that would pay more. Hope you get where I'm coming from. Once again thanks for your post
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AW_1983
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(Original post by john_iqbal786)
Thank you very much for taking your time to offer advice using the experience you've had. I was frantically posting about jobs in IB due to being lured by finance salaries. I am doing a subject I am passionate about and will definitely be looking into engineering as a my full time job, however I was just asking about IB so I can keep an alternative route open for me in case I find engineering jobs do not appeal to me once I graduate. If I got to the point where I couldn't find an engineering job I was passionate about then I would just go for a job which is mentally stimulating and has a good salary. This is why I was considering IB, I was thinking mainly of Middle office roles such as risk or technology which have starting salaries slightly higher than engineers(which doesn't matter that much), but the salary and career progression is much better and more layed out.

I believe with back office roles degree doesn't matter but with job roles in middle office I believe analytical degree subjects are desired (but not essential I think). From what I have been finding from digging around online is that engineers in the UK are severely undervalued and the pay is nothing in comparison to countries like the USA and Germany, ofcourse if it is something I love doing I will pursue it, but if I didn't really have a love for it then it would just be another job so I would prefer to go with the one that would pay more. Hope you get where I'm coming from. Once again thanks for your post
The middle vs back office is becoming a bit of a unicorn in finance today because of a combination of offshoring and automation. Whilst I did indeed start my career administering funds (basically bookkeeping) in 2001, if you did that kind of work now 50% of it would be done by a macro and the other 50% would be done somewhere like Mumbai or Manila. That's a good thing by the way, because it will spare you a couple of incredibly boring years! Nowadays a lot of roles are a mix between back and middle office, and mostly referred to as back office. Some teams supporting the traders will be called middle office but that is about it.

However, I think you might need a few extra pointers so you understand what your fallback option really looks like:

1) Salaries

These tend to look high because they are mostly in London. If you want to work in the back office then you need to like commuting because you won't be paid enough to live near your work. Mortgages typically top out at about 4.5 times salary and lenders tend to take commuting costs into account these days. A back office job is unlikely to pay you more than £80k including bonuses until you are in your late 30s and that age will likely rise as more back office jobs are automated away or offshored. So you'll be looking at a £360k mortgage in a city where average house prices are around £500k.

I contrast my situation to people earning less but living in the town I commute from. They have more money in their pocket because they don't have to spend £6k on a train ticket. Also, at a certain point in your career if you have a family this can be a real nuisance. Let's say you could earn £50k regionally (quite achievable for a half decent engineer) or £65k in your back office finance job in London. From that extra £15k you will pay £6,300 in tax and about £6,000 on commuting. So you'll only get about £2.7k more a year for not watching your children grow up. Oh, but saying that as child benefit is means tested you'll also lose about £1k in child benefit for earning too much for the first child, and £700 for each subsequent child. So once you have three children the difference to yourself will be about 3 hours of life lost on a train every day, just in order to miss out on some benefits and pay the government some more tax!

Luckily I now work in a regional office but that took a lot of experience and a huge amount of negotiation, and I have a niche skill that is hard to replace (not many people in the back office are hard to replace).

2) Working in Risk

Risk is probably a lot more interesting than other non-revenue generating roles and you are right that a numerate degree will normally help. I work in regulatory risk so I'm a rarity in the risk world as a holder of a humanities degree (albeit with skills in programming etc!)

However, I wouldn't say the roles are that interesting, at least not once you figure them out. Working out the VaR is not like working out how to build a bridge on unique terrain or coding some new software (or whatever engineering it is that floats your boat!) Essentially, once you figure it out you're done and you just have to repeat ad nauseam. And the chances are you'll just have to follow someone else's model anyway.

Take my advice and give back office finance a wide berth. If you want good engineering prospects with a nice fat pay cheque, then instead of thinking of fallback careers then think about fallback locations. Australia and Canada are both desperate for engineers and if you are interested in drilling or mining then you could quickly find yourself on six figures in those places doing something you actually like.
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