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Generational issues and perceptions within the Wealth & Investment Management sector often mean that the move from Back Office into Front Office roles can seem unattainable for candidates. For a long time this move was seen to be almost impossible, however more recently some candidates have been able to make the move seem like a much more viable option for skilled candidates in this sector.
That is not to say the move is easy – it is far from it. But anyone who truly has what it takes – the intellect, drive and perseverance – to thrive in a Front Office role should not dismiss their chances of securing their dream job.
But what does it actually take to make the move into Front Office? We spoke to James Charlton, who is the past President of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) Liverpool, Chester & North Wales branch who has successfully made the move and helped me get to the bottom of how it can be done.
James explained that candidates that thrive in Back Office will not necessarily make it in the Front Office. Generally, Back Office candidates are incredibly process driven and do the job very well, however to be successful in Front Office they need to have something extra. To be considered for a move to Front Office, candidates need to be able to show they are aware and understand what it means to be client facing, and go above and beyond to show that they have the relevant skills and know-how to deal with challenging situations.
This is not to say that Back Office roles are not challenging. But I find that candidates that are likely to succeed in Front Office have something extra, a spark that makes them really stand out. For me, that is a candidate that has a full understanding of how the investment management life cycle works. Someone who is aware of the business outside of just their role, and also someone who is genuinely interested in the sector and shows it by keeping abreast of what is going on.
It is also incredibly important for candidates to be ambitious, know where they want to end up and to be extremely committed throughout. The interview process alone will be challenging, and that, alongside studying can often impact life outside of work. Roles in the Front Office generally require a much greater commitment than Back Office roles. The role often requires candidates to work unsociable hours due to market openings and closings and travel to client sites, so candidates really need to be absolutely sure it is the route for them before applying.
Finally, and possibly most importantly, candidates need to have a very open-mind. The Wealth & Investment Management sector is vast, and there are countless opportunities across many organisations to choose from. We regularly discuss options with candidates that they have never considered, so it is important to remain adaptable and open throughout the process. Our advice here would be for candidates to go into the process with a clear plan of what they want to achieve, and adapt that plan to suit the organisation or role that is best suited to them.
Whatever the situation, the move into a Front Office role is not going to be easy, so candidates need to really want it if they are going to stand a chance of making it. Candidates need to be absolutely sure a Front Office role is what they really want, and commit to getting it in any way they can. It is this commitment, ambition and determination that sets Front Office candidates apart and ultimately helps them secure a role they will thrive in and love.