First time PM - Now What?

Monkeys - 

Fortunate enough to have landed a PM role. I'm excited about the opportunity - but also have a bit of jitter. 

Any current PMs have advice to give? Things you wish you had known starting out, any tips for getting started, etc.?

Thanks in advance and look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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Comments (21)

Most Helpful
Mar 12, 2021 - 11:45pm

Yeah. Being a PM and analyst are two different skill sets. It's easy to fall back on what got you here, which is being a good analyst. It's a bit of a crutch. Even now, I oftentimes find myself focused on analysis because it is easier to think about some bullshit analysis than it is to make portfolio decisions. 

You have to trust your analysts. It's a strange transition because up to this point, you have been responsible for your own work. But you just have to trust that your analysts are smart and capable and do good work. If you can't let go, it is really hard to be both a PM and an analyst. You will not be set up for success. 

Something that I did not actively think about after becoming a PM was how much to shield the analysts from what is going on in the portfolio. My friend runs a fund and doesn't provide his analysts with much visibility into the portfolio. He says he does this so they are less distracted and can just focus on their own names and what is in front of them. So in a way, he shields them from the daily stress of the portfolio. I grew up in a fund that was just the opposite. It was an open book. But if my boss (fund's founder) was not having a good day, he made damned sure nobody else had a good day. I didn't realize it but giving your team full transparency is incredibly stressful and distracting for them. It's almost like passing along part of the burden of your own job onto them when they have other things to worry about. Just something to consider. 

Feel free to PM. I'm not sure why these are the three things that immediately came to top of mind for me.

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  • Senior VP in HF - Other
Mar 18, 2021 - 12:53am

Interesting perspective. I've only worked at places with full transparency - frankly I'm not sure I'd want to work somewhere without it but maybe that is because I haven't experienced what that is like. I think it would be extremely frustrating to not know how the portfolio was structured and see daily P&L, allocations, etc. Curious if can have further insight into this and how the team responds as its just such a radical perspective relative to what I'm used to. 

Mar 19, 2021 - 7:43am

Agreed, just goes to show the sheer diversity of HFs types and ethos... What may work at your fund won't work elsewhere so I feel that a lot of advice may only be applicable to similar setups as the one you're in

Mar 19, 2021 - 6:16pm

I agree, many quant groups are set up like this, and the purpose is to underpay analysts by making their knowledge useless. After a while the analysts realize this and become disengaged.

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Mar 13, 2021 - 7:20am

Start small and cautiously. It sucks to start off losing money, it can undermine your confidence and snowball into huge stress and bad decisions.

Also, force yourself not to look at the tape all day or you will never do any real work. Only look at the tape at the open, close and every couple of hours or something like that. This will reduce anxiousness and greatly improve your productivity.

Congratulations and good luck.

Mar 13, 2021 - 10:27am

Was about to echo the same- take your time.  Hopefully after your months of garden leave and what I assume was an extended hiring process they will give you the appropriate time to build a book (call it 12-18 months to fully ramp if starting from scratch).  

Similarly, don't overtrade.  That seems to be one of the most common errors I see in new PMs I've worked with (and most that ended up making little to no money) but of course this depends on what asset class(es) you're trading.  

I like Hominem's post justifying keeping your analysts largely in the dark on book construction/macro thoughts- I never really thought of it in the way he articulates but it's spot on.  

Mar 17, 2021 - 12:10pm

really depends on the type of strategy...if you make several trades a day and avg time horizon for a position is measured in minutes to hours.....this is not reasonable.

just google it...you're welcome
Mar 13, 2021 - 3:29pm

As an experienced PM, Id definitely say keep your analysts out of the book unless they are very senior. Definitely focus on not losing money too soon - youre new in the seat and in the first 2 years, you're trying to prove that it wasnt a mistake giving you this promotion. But paradoxically, also enjoy it - very few people get this opportunity do despite the stress and pressure, find a way to de-stress and to maintain a life outside of the book.

Mar 14, 2021 - 2:03pm

It's a big step going from analyst to PM. If you don't have prior trading/PM-esque experience, here are some tips to get started:

  1. Don't stare at charts or PnL all day. You're going to have shitty days, don't let them undermine your confidence. Instead, focus on your process, make sure your pieces are working, and resist the urge to scrap everything. 
  2. Delegation and trust is key. Your analysts I'm sure are smart, but they are not going to give you a workable idea every time. In fact, if 1/4 of the ideas they bring in are workable, that's a good starting point. Give them (and yourself) the space to fail gracefully. 
  3. Stay on top of your positions and catalysts. Block out 15-20 minutes every 2 hours to review what's going on in the portfolio. This should be systematic and very cursory -- things like daily pnl, price action or volatility, etc. (e.g. stuff that you want to know but wouldn't drive a thesis change).  
  4. Do some cardio every day to relieve stress. 

Best of luck!

Mar 16, 2021 - 2:04am

I wonder how many years it would take for a PM to realize they have absolutely zero expertise in generating superior returns and that their investing decisions are nothing more than pure chance.

Mar 24, 2021 - 4:55am

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Mar 17, 2021 - 12:40pm

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