GUEST COMMENT: What I hate about working in the middle office

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I am working in the middle office and I do not like it here. This is why I want to get out.

1) It's boring

On the whole the middle office is a mind numbing and even belittling place to be.

Every day is almost identical; the only difference is which system screws up.

2) The traders can be a nightmare

The worst desks to be on are at either end of the spectrum: those supporting the most simple, or the most complex products. Desks working with the most simple products are usually full of cowboys - the kinds of traders who couldn't read a quadratic equation, let alone solve one, and is probably proud of it too. Conversely, desks working with the most complex products are usually full of traders who know the price of everything - the risks, the pay-off curve - but the value of nothing.

On top of this, there's the occasional super-trader-wannable. This is usually a pedantic small fish who wants to be a shark.

3) Middle office colleagues are not motivated

What holds true for traders at either end of the spectrum often holds true for the middle office staff supporting them. The people supporting the simple desks usually have weak academics; people supporting complex product desks often come from good universities and have decent degrees.

The people working in the middle office are all nice enough. But the idea of becoming one of them scares me. I don't understand why anyone would want to be here unless they have some ambition to move into the front office. When I first started, I honestly couldn't figure it out. There are many who obviously wouldn't be capable of anything outside the middle office. However, there are also many from top tier universities, with good A levels, who seem happy enough to waste their lives away, scrolling.

Curiously, however, middle office MDs often tend to be more arrogant and self-important than front office MDs. Although they're paid less, they often enjoy similar non-monetary perks to MDs in the front office. This can clearly lead to delusions of grandeur.

4) Job satisfaction is limited

Related to point 1, there's little in the way of either recognition or job satisfaction to be had from a middle office role. The only time anyone will usually comment is if something, usually related to a data feed, has taken longer than expected to deliver.

5) The hours are equivalent to, or longer than, the front office

Traders on UK trading desks are usually out by 5pm. The same can't said for the middle office staff who back them up. They usually work from 8am to 6pm or 7pm. Given the lower earnings and general lack of job security, this is a questionable exercise.

6) There's no career path

A middle office career offers little in the way of incentives for progression. Given that it's really an admin job where certain basic rules must be remembered, it's questionable whether it can even be called a career. What can a middle office MD with ten years' experience expect to earn? Xk. And if he steps up from that in 5 years time? Maybe Xk +20? Hardly anything to shout about.

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