Effective product management is quite valuable in the financial services space. Strong project management is the differentiator for business development in fintech. Luckily, that's a prime aspect of the finance product manager job description.
If you're interested in leading a team at a financial services firm, read on.
In this article, we'll look at what a finance product manager does, their typical job responsibilities, and how you can become one in 2021.
Let's get into it.
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Finance Product Manager Job Overview
A finance product manager helps conceptualize, develop, test, and launch new financial systems and products, while overseeing the marketing and progress of existing products.
They typically lead product teams in developing the product strategy, create a complete product roadmap for the teams, and manage all activities throughout the product lifecycle.
However, some product managers may be dedicated to a single aspect of the product lifecycle.
For example, one product manager may only be concerned with new product development, while the product marketing manager takes care of promotion and research.
Responsibilities of a Finance Product Manager
The actual responsibilities of a finance product manager may vary from company to company.
However, there are some standard roles and responsibilities that come with the job.
Here are the 10 basic responsibilities that every product manager in a financial firm will have to undertake:
1) Product Strategy Development
The product development strategy is the backbone of a product from inception to completion, and a product manager is responsible for developing and implementing it.
Since the financial product lifecycle involves more steps than a typical consumer product, the strategy has to cover a lot more aspects of development while still maximizing profitability.
Some companies may even have a dedicated position that prioritizes and focuses on product strategy.
However, for the most part, a product manager in a financial company will be significantly involved in strategy, among other things.
2) Managing Product Development
Once the strategy is set, the product enters the early stages of development.
This is where the product manager comes in to define both the problems associated with the product and the most viable solutions. They do this by analyzing the market during the strategy phase and cultivating customer feedback.
A product manager may also function as a product development manager (PDM).
Financial technology companies often make this distinction to separate the strategic side from the development side in company operations.
3) Collaborate with Analysts and Experts
Unlike companies that make tangible consumer products, financial firms don’t have engineers or a manufacturing staff.
Product teams in financial firms consist of analysts, experienced bankers, legal experts, and other project stakeholders, all of whom collaborate with the product manager during the development process.
They keep the product manager informed during the entire product lifecycle and report any delays or breaks that occur during the developmental stage.
Additionally, product managers work with legal experts to determine how compliant the product will be. More on that below.
4) Maintaining Regulatory Compliance
Product management in smaller firms involves oversight of regulatory compliance, especially when it comes to product specifications, cost management, and adherence to local, state, and federal laws.
These laws pertain to customer financial safety, ethical business development, impact disparity, and market stability, among other factors.
A product manager will ensure that none of the product’s features or long-term capabilities harm the livelihood of the customer.
5) Assisting with Product Marketing
While marketing oversight is the responsibility of a product marketing manager and their team members, a product manager almost always works with them on every campaign.
This is because the product manager becomes the de-facto subject matter expert during the development and the pro-launch phase. They know the product inside out and can help marketers explain the product better to potential customers.
Furthermore, the product marketing strategy is part of the overall product strategy.
Because of this, a product marketing manager may find themselves reporting to a product manager.
6) Liaising with Distributors and Vendors
Financial products designed by a firm are often distributed by various establishments such as banks, credit unions, and lender associations.
A product manager acts as a liaison between the host company and the distributor with regard to the product.
They often dictate the terms of the distribution agreement, help the senior staff decide the pricing, and even build detailed distribution plans.
If a distributing party partners with the manager’s host company, they usually become the point person for all the product details, from its features, offered solutions, and market viability, to its possible future iterations.
7) Listing Potential Risks and Liabilities
A major part of product management is listing down all the possible risks and liabilities that are associated with a specific product.
Technically, this is a part of developing a strategy. However, sometimes the product is offered in multiple stages, such as a multi-stage loan.
In this case, the manager will need to consult with the relevant stakeholders and brainstorm the risks in order of when they might arise.
Additionally, they’ll need to review typical customer personas and analyze all the possible customer-centric risks. These will help design an even better product.
8) Meet with Existing and Potential Clients
Startups and smaller firms are often understaffed and every manager has multiple responsibilities there.
Product management in the financial sphere is exactly like that. Only in this case, the product manager has to sometimes meet with potential and existing customers as well.
This is because some clients, such as other firms (for B2B products), often insist on speaking with a managing authority, instead of customer assistance or a sales representative.
Furthermore, since they’re the authority on all things product, they meet with customers when they need to provide a much more comprehensive description of the product.
9) Pitch Product to Partner Firms and Vendors
While the marketing team takes care of pitching new ideas to customers, the product manager often has to pitch ideas to partner firms and vendors.
The reason lies in their intimate knowledge of the product’s long-term viability and projected profitability, which any vendor or partner firm would like to know before formally taking the product onboard their platform.
Product managers are also likely to collaborate with their counterparts in partnering firms for projects, in case those firms also have people in similar positions.
10) Branch Out Products (Create Spin-offs)
If one product does great, there is a high chance that a company will create another one that’s similar to it, has more features, or is just an advanced version of the successful one.
The product manager will be the one leading the iteration charge, banking on the success of an initial offering.
If a firm has a string of successful products already in the market, the product manager could try to expand the portfolio by offering a more diverse range of products. To do this, they would need to discuss the idea with the top brass during pitch meetings.
Required Skills for a Finance Product Manager
Just like individual responsibilities, the required skills for a finance product manager will vary depending on employer specifications.
However, there are some requisite skills for the position that every full-time product manager needs to possess.
- Excellent research skills are necessary to discover the viability of a product in a current market. Since the product manager will be heading the research and coming up with research-based milestones, they need to be exceptional at collecting and analyzing data.
- Effective communication skills will enable managers to convey the product strategy and developmental ideas to the team in as few meetings as possible. It'll also allow them to better conceptualize the product in the minds of early testers and development staff.
- Efficient project management helps product managers stay on top of progress and reach each developmental milestone without any unnecessary breaks or delays in the process.
- Working knowledge of product management software is a given for agile managers. All the major financial firms such as PayPal, Goldman Sachs, and even various investment banking startups have either their own management software or use established SaaS systems such as Jira.
- Experience in financial firms as a trainee project manager will prepare jobseekers for a position such as a senior product manager or even a CFO/Vice President of Operations.
- Product management certification offers skills that a potential manager would need to spend years at a job to learn on their own. The One Week PM certification is an example of these credentials.
In addition to these, it’s important to have up-to-date knowledge of the trends and news around the financial industry.
This is due to the ever-shifting nature of the economy and the financial situation in general.
Finance Product Manager Job Specifics
According to Indeed, the average salary for a finance product manager is $158,763 (New York average).
How to Become a Finance Product Manager in 2021
The basic route to becoming a manager depends on the industry and the company you’ll be operating in.
Here are some of the things you can do to become a successful finance product manager.
Get a Product Management Certification
Product management certification courses are an effective way to gain relevant industry knowledge without having to study redundant subject theory.
Since most certifications are geared towards making an individual industry-ready, they help you get a job sooner. In addition to that, they act as valuable credentials that you can show off on your resume.
Work under a finance product manager
The easiest way to learn on the job is to work directly under the position you’re looking to progress to.
In this case, you should try getting a job as a full-time junior manager or product owner.
Get a bachelor’s degree in project management
A product management degree is the most relevant set of credentials for this job.
However, the intangible nature of financial products means that you’ll be better able to manage them if you treat each one as less of a product and more as a project. That means you will have to get a project management degree accordingly.
Network on LinkedIn
Get to know what the product marketing landscape is like by following subject matter experts on LinkedIn and a few other business-social sites.
Once you have some knowledge of how the experts operate, you’ll find out which direction the industry is headed towards. You can then network with these people and improve your image as a viable candidate for a job, or even an expert authority on the matter.