Should I work in Product Control? – Work-life reality, exposure & exit opportunities
In this mini-series, we explore some of the most talked about Accounting & Audit exit opportunities to uncover what work-life reality is really like, what it can do for your career trajectory & the available exit opportunities. Articles in this mini-series include:
- Should I work in Big 4 Financial Due Diligence (FDD)?
- Should I work in Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A)?
- Should I work in Equity Research?
- Should I work in Big 4 Valuations?
- Should I work in Restructuring?
- [THIS ARTICLE] Should I work in Product Control?
- Should I work in Internal Audit?
In this article, we’re covering Product Control – a team that resides within an Investment Bank’s Middle Office.
Have you ever wondered:
- What Product Control is actually all about?
- Is it real Investment Banking?
- How does Product Control differ from Sales & Trading?
- Will I get to sit on the trading floor?
- What clients, teams, senior partners etc. will I get exposure to?
- What is the work-life reality like?
Let’s start from the top…
Why does the Restructuring team exist?
Traders are often so busy keeping up to speed with market movements, chatting with potential clients & worrying about their year-end bonus, that they don’t leave much time to file their paperwork (related to the trades they’ve made) and keep on top of their financial reporting.
Yet, for an Investment Bank (and their regulators), measuring risk and ensuring traders keep within various thresholds is critical to preventing the collapse of the bank and ultimately the entire banking system (not to mention fraud / insider trading, which is illegal). The trader herself will also want to know that her profits have been reported correctly (remember the year-end bonus!).
That’s where the Product Control team comes in.
You’ll typically be supporting the trading floor (or a particular trader) in their transactions on a daily basis.
Work life reality & client/senior exposure
- Product Control is basically an Accounting team that is part of the Investment Banking “Middle Office”, meaning you don’t directly get involved in trading / liaising with clients (that’s the “Front Office” and job of Sales & Trading), yet you’re not quite just a data monkey with no interaction with the Front Office (that’s typically the “Bank Office”).
- Ultimately, you’ll support a particular trader / product and be responsible for analyzing their portfolio P&L, checking they’re not trading above certain risk thresholds (set by the risk team & the Trader’s boss), reconciling the P&L across various business systems (sound familiar?).
- It’s basically a pure Accounting role.
- Most of the time, the Trader will just see you as their admin assistant who takes care of all the non-profit making activities they need to do. You’ll probably get sworn at a fair bit (when trader’s are under pressure, as I experience personally – PC was my first job!), and then given lots of attention at month-end when they need to check their profits are nice and juicy in their P&L.
- Sadly, this role is where most recruiters will push any qualified accountant who says they are interested in Investment Banking in the false premise that it’s a gateway to the Trading Floor. It’s not.
- Your team Director will hold the relationship with the biggest (most profitable) trader(s), and to begin with you’ll likely support one small trading account/trader, but you will be the sole person responsible for that relationship and interacting very regularly with the person you are supporting.
- Having said that, you very likely will not be based on the trading floor. It’s prime real estate and typically reserved for non-admin, front-office staff.
- One of TheSwiftExit Co-Founders held a Product Control role for a 6-month internship at JP Morgan and their boss (who was friendly with a successful trader who ended up opening up his own Hedge Fund) ended up joining the hedge fund as Head of Operations. He is a very rare example of a Product Control employee getting a nice chunky pay-check and gaining slightly more strategic oversight (although it’s probably more to do with his networking skills and mixing with the right people/traders, than the skills he developed on the job).
- Hours are not as long as pure Investment Banking (more like 9am to 6pm), but you typically won’t have anywhere near the pay perks (ultimately this is a low-risk, low-reward type of job).
This mini-series intended to give you a quick and dirty overview to some of the most talked about Accounting & Audit exit opportunities. This particular post covered Product Control – a team within Investment Banking Middle Office, with other roles coming soon!
Now if this is an area you’re considering, I strongly encourage you to check out our map of the landscape of Accounting & Audit Exit Opportunities, including Product Control to find out:
- How does Product Control compare to other roles in the Finance realm?
- What are my accounting & audit exit opportunities after spending time in Product Control?
- How does the career trajectory in Product Control differ from others I’m considering
- Are there other post-audit career paths suited to me?
- And more…!
Exit Options | Mapping the post-accounting & audit landscape
A lot of the clients we coach ask about moving into more strategic & commercial roles after spending time in traditional accounting & audit, but don’t know where to start or even what opportunities exist …so-much-so that we’ve put together a map of the landscape of accounting exit opportunities, which I encourage you to check out!
Spice up your CV/Resume for the post-accounting & audit world
We’ve created a digital guide specifically to help those of you applying for more commercial & strategic roles. Our straight-talking CV/Resume advice for Accountants/Auditors is the only guide that is highly-specific to the traditional accounting & audit background: we give you real-life good & bad examples for showcasing your experience for strategic roles, the best structure & content to win over recruiters, a strategy for distributing your CV/Resume, interview advice, and more!
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