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Breaking Into Wall Street Sample Story Template From Back Office to Front Office

You can use this template if youre currently in the back office (or middle office, or other non-
revenue-generating role) and you want to move into the front office (i.e. the groups that
work directly with clients and generate revenue, with the exception of equity research). In case
youre confused, heres what that means:

You have been working full-time for at least a few months up to 1-2 years in the back
or middle office (accounting, risk management, IT, trade reconciliations) and you
want to move into a front office group, such as sales & trading, investment banking,
equity research, and so on.
You are not planning to go back to school (Masters program, MBA, etc.) in the near
future, and therefore you must use networking and recruiters to break in.

Admittedly, this is a very tough move to make. Its not impossible, but your chances are low
unless youre moving from something like risk management to sales & trading since theres a
lot of overlap there. If you want to move from, say, IT to investment banking, youre almost
better off going to a smaller firm rather than trying to move around internally.

In fact, its so tough to move into IB from the back office that were not even going to address it
in the example story here (feel free to leave comments / questions below on the site this
template if you want some tips on how to make this transition) and will instead focus on S&T.

Here are the key objections youll face:

Are you a reject? If youre so passionate about trading / front office work in general,
why couldnt you get in the first time around?
Can you work the hours and handle the stress? Were not in 9-to-5 land anymore,
Dorothy.
Have you been interested in finance for a long time? Or did you just suddenly get
interested when you realized that traders make a lot of money?

The challenge here is that some of these objections contradict each other #1 and #3, for
example, dont exactly make sense together. But you need to address these anyway, and explain
why and how you thought that the back / middle office would be a good fit at first, but later
changed your mind.

Bad reasons to say you that you want to work in the front office:

Anything about the pay, advancement opportunities, or the exciting pace of the work.
Saying you want to do more meaningful work or something similar.
Citing any other negative about the back office always focus on positives in
interviews.

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Better reasons to say that you want to work in the front office:

Youve enjoyed your work so far, but feel you could add more value by working
directly with clients / making trades yourself.
You want to understand how the entire deal / investment / trading process works
rather than contributing to only one part of it.
You want to develop relationships with companies (banking) or with institutional
investors (S&T) in addition to contributing to other divisions at the bank.

The 5 most important points of your story are as follows:

The Beginning: Educational Background + Back Office Experience


Front Office Spark: Deal, Trade, or Project You Worked On
Growing Interest: Conversations / Networking with Traders or Bankers
Why Youre Here: Your Background + Front Office = Success
The Future: Become a Trader / Advisor / Investor

You do not want to copy or memorize this template 100% word-for-word use it as inspiration,
but you need to change it around to match your own background.

Interviewer: Why dont you start by walking me through your resume?

Interviewee: Sure. I went to [University Name] for undergraduate, majored in [Major Name],
and started working as an analyst in [Middle / Back Office Division Name] at [Investment
Bank Name], after considering a few other options, including [Name-Drop Front Office Roles
at Smaller Firms If Possible]. It made a lot of sense at the time because I [Would Get Good
Exposure to Trading / Banking or Felt That Support Roles Were Equally Important].

It went well and I definitely learned a lot about [Skills Related to Banking Teamwork,
Analytical, Attention to Detail, Leadership, etc.] since I worked in a team that [Describe Your
Work].

I enjoyed the work at first, but over time I became more and more interested in contributing
directly to [Trades / Deals], and even found ways for [Traders to Save Money or Do Their Jobs
More Efficiently] on one big project, we had to [Revamp the Order Management System /
Upgrade the Risk Management System or something else major] and I got to meet a lot of
[Traders / Bankers] in the process. I ended up making recommendations that [Saved Traders /
Bankers $xx or xx minutes / hours per week], which was a big win for everyone.

Also on that same project, I saw some opportunities to make the system even more efficient by
[Teaching / Recommending a Variation to Traders / Bankers or by Suggesting Different
Trading Strategies] but since I was in a support role, I wasnt able to execute that part of the
project once my job had finished up.
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But I started thinking more seriously about moving into [Trading / Banking] after that, and
since I had always been interested in [Investing / The Markets / Deals], it fit in well with my
background even back in university I had [Traded My Own Portfolio / Followed Deals /
Participated in Stock or Investing Competitions], and I was realizing that that type of work
was a better fit for my personality. I started speaking with more and more [Bankers / Traders],
and they confirmed this: a few had even moved over from the back or middle office and said
that I was better suited for a front office role as well.

Dont get me wrong: Ive definitely learned a lot in my current role, but I feel I could add more
value by joining the [Trading / Banking] team and getting to implement my ideas and
contributing to the entire [Trade / Investment / Deal] process from beginning to end.

Ive done my homework and I know what Im getting into: Ive worked long hours before,
during university when I [Worked Part-Time, Took Classes, and Ran Student Clubs],
sometimes working 70+ hours per week, and I know I can do it again and Ive learned the
technical side of the job myself by [Taking Classes / Completing Self-Study Programs].

Im here today because I want to combine the skills Ive gained in [The Back / Middle Office]
and my insight into [Key Processes Involved] with what you do in [Banking / Trading] and
move into a [Client-Facing / Trading Role].

In the long-term Im excited about becoming a [Trader / Advisor / Investor] and working with
[Companies / Investors] in the future, and [Your Firm and / or Your Group] is the best place for
me to be.

Anything that requires your input is in bold. You can and should change around the specific
wording and expand on some of the points within, but always stick to 2-3 minutes max for
your story. In fact, shorter is better 60 seconds is great if you can condense it down to that.

You always want to hit on the 5 key points The Beginning, Your Spark, Your Growing
Interest, Why Youre Here, and the Future but beyond that, your focus depends on your
background. The story you tell here will differ substantially depending on whether youre
aiming for trading or investment banking roles again, its much easier to go from the middle /
back office to S&T than it is to go into IB.

A few other notes on the nuances and subtleties in the template above:

He notes in the beginning that he had other options when deciding on this offer this is
important social proof and its also good because he explains his rationale for choosing a
back or middle office role.

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Right after the spark, he explains that he had been interested in finance back in
university and has some experience there so this is not something that just suddenly
came to him and which he was never interested in before.
Even after explaining his motivation for wanting to move into a front office role, he
stays positive by mentioning, Dont get me wrong: Ive definitely learned a lot in my
current role going negative may work in political campaigns, but its not a good
approach in interviews.
He directly addresses the objections about the work hours and lack of finance
knowledge by pointing to a specific time in his past when he worked 70+ hours per
week, also noting how hes learned the key technical skills on his own.

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