So, what's the right ratio of people in the front office to people in the back and middle office?

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If you're a client facing, revenue generating, high earning front office banker, you may begrudge sharing your production with swathes of people in operations, risk, IT, and accounting.

It may please you, therefore, to learn that rationalisation remains in vogue.

Citigroup and Deutsche have been doing it. Now SocGen's doing it too. According to Jean Pierre Lambert, an analyst at KBW, the French bank is undergoing a rationalisation process to reduce its current 2.5:1 ratio of back/middle office to front office staff in its corporate and investment bank.

2.5:1 does seem fairly high. At BarCap the similar ratio is closer to 2:1

Bob McDowall, European research director at consultancy Tower Group, says a 2:1 ratio is currently fairly standard. However, he also says the ratio's falling - and not because there are more traders and M&A bankers to accountants and risk professionals.

"More and more risk professionals are being moved into the front office," says McDowall. "Regulatory pressures mean trading desks need an instant vision of risk and counterparty exposure. You need that risk profile immediately, and the only way you can get that is by make risk a front office function."

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