Outsourcing Wall Street?s Front Office

by Derek Loosvelt | August 12, 2008

For many years, the largest investment banks on Wall Street have been outsourcing back-office operations to India and other nations where labor and overhead are cheap. Recently, these same firms have been increasingly outsourcing other operations such as research and financial model building. And soon, some industry insiders believe that everything but the deal-closing handshake will be performed in places like Mumbai and Manila instead of New York and London.

Yesterday, The New York Times reported on this growing trend that could, in just a few short years, change the face of investment banking from the bottom all the way to the top. The Times pointed to several firms’ growing off-shore operations such as Credit Suisse, which has 6,500 employees in countries like India, Poland and Singapore, 500 of whom perform “high-value” jobs. In addition, according to the Times, Credit Suisse will double its investment banker and private banker presence in India within a year.

This can’t be comforting to would-be bankers or to those whose banking jobs seem insecure. Wall Street firms are still getting hammered in the U.S. and need to raise capital and cut costs, which means more job reductions; they also need to concentrate on thriving markets like Asia. Of course, the U.S. markets will come back, and when they do, banks will need to again add bodies to take care of the work. But when that happens, why wouldn’t banks look East where the salaries and bonuses are lower and spreadsheet numbers just as solid?

What do you think? Is this off-shoring of front-office operations a real threat to U.S.-based banking jobs? Is it possible that in the near future analyst and associate classes will significantly dwindle in the West and grow in the East?

Let us know what you think by commenting below.

Filed Under: Finance


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