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6 steps for transitioning from operational roles to the front office

​In the world of Banking and Finance, many professionals aspire to transition from operational roles to the Front Office. This move brings professionals closer to the investment decision making process and offers challenging and technical roles, exciting opportunities for career growth and higher potential salaries. In this article I, Julian Soames, Associate Director in Melbourne’s Banking and Financial Services team and Charlie Fitzroy, a Principal Consultant in Ambition’s Sydney office, share our tips for successfully making the transition from an operational role to the front office.

1. Position yourself in an organisation that has a front office

Not all organisations have a front office. If you’re working in a custodian or asset servicing firm then your options for career growth are going to be limited to roles within their operations or finance teams. Maybe investigate positions in a fund manager. Even if you have to make a sideways move into their operations teams at first, you will at least be well positioned to move into their front office in the future. It may also be that you get to work closely with various front office teams, which will increase your chances of making the transition.


2. Exploring relevant career paths

Try to find a role that offers a definite route into the front office. For instance, starting in the unit pricing space can serve as a stepping stone to progress into performance analysis and ultimately investment analysis. It’s a path trodden by numerous professionals and, by building your track record and skill set in these related areas, should you be seen as a top performer, you can establish yourself as someone who could be a stand out candidate for front-office roles when they become available.


3. Targeting smaller organisations for closer collaboration

Smaller organisations often provide excellent opportunities for candidates looking to make the transition from operational roles to the front office. These organisations are more willing to hire individuals with limited experience straight into the front office as they can provide more on the job support and training. By joining a smaller firm, it is also more likely that you will develop close working relationships with front office teams who it will be possible to learn from to enhance your won skills. If you become someone who they know, like and respect, then it is more likely that you will be successful when applying for roles.


4. Leveraging contract roles for advancement

Taking on contract roles can be a strategic move to accelerate your transition to the front office. While initially daunting, contract positions offer several benefits, including reduced competition, lower experience requirements, and increased internal mobility. Performing well in a contract role can lead to being sought after by other teams, often aligning you more closely with your career goals.


5. Building strong internal networks

Establishing robust internal networks is crucial when aiming to move closer to the front office. Cultivating strong relationships within your organisation not only increases your chances of being considered for relevant roles but also enhances your visibility and personal brand. Engaging with the front office through efficient and professional interactions, volunteering for projects, and participating in social and charitable events can provide valuable exposure to front office teams and senior management, aiding your career progression.


6. Upskilling for success

To successfully transition from operational roles to the front office, it is essential to upskill and acquire the necessary competencies. Investing in professional development programs such as a Toastmasters or public speaking course can improve interpersonal skills, which are highly valued in front office positions. Pursuing certifications like the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) can also increase your knowledge, skillset, credibility and chances of making the transition.


Transitioning from operational roles to the front office requires careful planning, strategic positioning, and skill development. Whether it's selecting the right organisation, exploring relevant career paths, leveraging contract roles, building strong networks, or upskilling oneself, these tips will pave the way for a successful transition.

Watch our Hot Tips & Insights video series discussing these points, in our video library. 

Reach out to myself or Charlie Fitzroy for further assistance with your career development as we’d love to help you achieve your goals.

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