By Elizabeth Ryan

In this article our Manager for Banking Operations, Elizabeth Ryan, details what it takes to become a Trade Support Analyst, and what you can expect from a typical day.

1.    What is the starting salary range for this role?

Starting salaries can vary, depending on the organisation, but typically entry level roles at a Tier 1 investment bank start at £40,000. Some banks will offer to pay for additional qualifications, in which case the salary may be slightly lower to reflect this.

2. How do you enter this field? 

Numerical/scientific or business degrees are helpful, ideally with a 2:1 degree from a top 50 University as a minimum. Further qualifications that help include the Investment Operations Certificate (IOC), though organisations will often support candidates gaining this through their graduate schemes, or permanent employee development plans. A top tip would be to make sure you are developing advanced Excel skills, including VBA, throughout your degree or with additional courses. Strong technical skills, especially coding, will put you at a distinct advantage against your competition.

3.    What does a typical day in the office look like? 

Typical days in the office involve managing trade breaks and client queries, depending on the product/market and ensuring operational risk is effectively managed. Employees will manage time depending on market and regulatory deadlines/cut-offs, which may mean focusing on APAC in the morning, then EMEA and The Americas later in the day. Department & team responsibility structure vary from bank to bank. Any reconciliation breaks have to be escalated and resolved promptly, so employees will be working closely with the trading desk and wider operations teams, or the counterparties/clients to problem solve. A further part of the role tends to include process improvement work of existing processes, using strong Excel skills to automate these, or working with IT to implement more strategic enhancements. Employees are expected to use their initiative to see where improvements can be made, then engage relevant stakeholders in the business to ensure they are implemented successfully, without operational risk. I actively encourage candidates to sell on these skills and to talk about previous examples of process improvement in interview.This is now a minimum expectations, where the market has moved away from hiring “doers” and will expect candidates to be demonstrative an innovative skill set and adding value from day one.

4.    What is the most challenging aspect of the job?

The most challenging aspect of the role is managing multiple stakeholders, across different time-zones and ensuring operational risk is effectively minimised. This requires strong time management and prioritisation skills, as well as transparency in communication to ensure everyone is aware of any issues and they are resolved accurately and promptly. Trade support touches many areas of an investment bank, so employees are expected to gain an understanding of the inherent risks associated with their asset class, which can involve many different risk categories, including credit, market, operational and regulatory risk to name but a few. Strong candidates understand these and quickly build relationships with relevant internal and external stakeholders in order to resolve issues promptly.

5.    What is the most rewarding aspect of the job?

One of the most rewarding aspects of the role is working across projects and process improvements and seeing how your ideas and initiative can make a difference. Whether it’s improving automation and STP, or controls to mitigate risk, the recognition you receive from management will be fulfilling. In addition, by building cross-business relationships, employees will reward you both in the short term within your immediate role, but also in the long run. As careers in operations develop, experts gain a very strong understanding of what makes an investment bank operate effectively and efficiently within ever-changing market and regulatory circumstances. There is a strong strategic element to this career path and different challenges on a daily basis, which ensures there is constantly variety and new problems to solve, or processes to improve.

6.    What skills are the most important to perform well in this kind of role?

The ability to use and apply initiative!

7.    What advice would you give to someone looking to apply for a similar role? 

Banks always expect potential operations candidates to have done their research and be able to confidently articulate their motivations to build a career in trade support/operations. It is common for candidates to think they can use a role in trade support as a stepping stone to a role in the front office. This is an instant turn-off for hiring managers, as not only is this not very common, it demonstrates a lack of interest and commitment to a career path within operations. Hiring managers want to hear candidates aspiring to become subject matter experts in the business area they are interviewing for.

Advice would include researching the market and asset classes relevant to the role you are interviewing for, as well as the organisation. Ensure you go interview with as many examples as possible of problems you have solved, difficult customers/clients you have appeased and processes you have improved. Strong Excel skills are highly sought after, so if you have experience of Macros (VBA) and are comfortable in manipulating data, this will support your case.

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