What Duties Are Carried out in the Middle Office?

C. Mitchell

Duties carried out in the middle office usually include risk analysis, client management, and monitoring and maintenance of information databases and integral systems. In the business world, the “middle office” is a somewhat amorphous term encompassing employees who fit somewhere between the public-facing front office and the operations-focused back office. Most duties carried out here are hybrid. They involve some creative thinking and outside contact, but also blend elements of analysis and technical reporting. It is usually the case that staff in this middle area are the conduits of information from the front to the back and vice versa and also help to keep the company efficient and up-to-speed.

Middle office employees may be tasked with client management and risk analysis.
Middle office employees may be tasked with client management and risk analysis.

Not all corporations actually break out middle office duties, but almost always perform them in some respect or another. Companies do not usually do well with only front and back operations. The front and the back usually need to communicate, and that communication needs to be orderly, reasoned, and intentional. Middle office duties fit this bill.

Most of what happens in the middle office is related to management and maintenance. Workers are often trained analysts who spend their time keeping tabs on the work of front office employees. Front staffers reach out to clients, but it is usually middle-based employees who manage client files and keep communications open. Setting goals with respect to things like client demographics and portfolio diversity also frequently stems from the middle.

In many respects, it is the middle office that keeps watch over all of the front office functions. These employees are usually responsible for amalgamating data that relates to overall corporate statistics and health. A company’s success is in many respects the responsibility of those in the front. It their goals are not properly aligned, however, it can mean the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful business.

Risk analysis is one of the most important duties of the middle in this respect. Employees in the center strata keep tabs on what front activities are costing, and how much they are bringing in. This enables reasoned advice about what direction the company should take when it comes to setting benchmarks and boundaries. Ideas for new product development, streamlined client communication techniques, and enhanced use of social media technologies often all begin in the middle office. They are implemented in the front office and are supported by the back, but they originate and are supported in the middle.

Communication with the back office is usually integral, as well. It is usually the job of the middle office workers to help translate their ideas and data into objectives that back office staff can efficiently execute. Many corporations look at the middle as the spokes connecting the wheel rim to its axle. Ideas flow up and down, keeping things in constant, steadied motion.

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