The operations team in an investment bank is responsible for the processing and settlement of financial transactions executed by the customer service or front-office teams.
The latter include trading desks, corporate finance specialists and client service managers handling investment and commercial banking functions.
Operational investment bankers, more commonly referred to as operations specialists or operations managers, are tasked with ensuring that all financial transactions initiated by front-end teams are logged and processed accurately and within prescribed timelines.
Operations personnel are also involved in developing automated systems for fast and accurate transaction processing, reviewing the entire process and initiating process improvements, as well as ensuring that each transaction is cleared, settled and reconciled according to regulatory and internal control requirements.
Salary & benefits
Operational personnel in investment banks may not be paid the kind of salaries earned by front-end investment bankers, but their compensation packages are very generous when compared with operations professionals in other industries.
Starting salaries are in the range of £25,000 and £50,000, while experienced professionals (two years or more) can expect salaries between £80,000 and £150,000.
Benefits include annual bonus payments based on individual and bank performance, health insurance, pensions and 25-day annual paid leave.
The operations division in an investment bank is usually open 24/7 to cater to financial transactions undertaken in overseas markets in different time zones.
Hence, graduate trainees and junior-level staff work in rotational shifts, including weekends and holidays. Work hours for mid-level and senior managers are more standard – ten hour days over a five day-week.
Project managers within the operations division may have to put in extra hours with approaching deadlines, or when carrying out systems testing and implementation during non-peak hours, so as to avoid disturbing regular work activities.
The standard requirements for entry-level graduate jobs are a 2:1 degree in any discipline, and strong grades at GCSE and A-level education.
Candidates must be able to demonstrate a history of consistent academic and extracurricular achievements, strong communication and articulation skills, a detail-oriented, methodical approach, a creative and logical thought process and high levels of commercial and financial awareness.
Training & progression
Graduate trainees are recruited as analysts and complete an initial one- to two-year programme of formal learning and ‘on-the-job’ training. Training includes administrative and business skills along with intensive training on the software systems and technological platforms used in the bank.
This provides a detailed knowledge of various financial products and services offered. Relevant professional qualifications, administered by the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI) also need to be completed, such as the Investment Administration Qualification (IAQ) or certificate and diploma-level programmes in investment banking operations.
Career progression is mainly driven by performance, with increasing responsibility levels covering team management, process control and improvements and budget planning.
Employees can also move into lateral functions as specialists, particularly in IT and project management.