Product Strategy in Alternatives - Blackrock

Hi all,

I currently have an offer for a Product strategy role in the Alternatives (PE/HF/ Infra/ Real Estate) division of Blackrock in London, as a grad. 

While I went through the interview process I still struggle to understand some topics and people from the team I spoke with seemed reluctant to give away too much info:

  • Hours. How much should I expect? 50h on average? 60? 90 on peaks? 

  • Compensation. I know the base is now 54k GBP as an analyst. How much is the bonus and can anyone provide a rough overview of the total compensation once you (hopefully) climb the ladder (ASS/VP/MD)? 

  • Career development/exit opportunities. While I think that Blackrock is that kind of place where you can stay for your entire career I do not want to be stuck in a position if I will eventually get bored after 3/4 years. Would I have the opportunity to exit to PE, VC or startups later on (strong preference for VC/startups)? 

  • Daily tasks. I've heard that as a junior most of the time is spent in answering LPs requests. Does that help me in gathering any transferrable skills? Is it just answering questions to investors or is there something else? How does your daily job change as an Associate/VP/ Director/MD? 

I would really appreciate it if anybody could provide any direct or indirect experience. 

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Comments (9)

Most Helpful
  • Works at BlackRock
Sep 21, 2021 - 10:54am

Do you know which group you're interviewing for within Alts? There might be a couple product strategists who work at the Alts level but most are assigned to a single group (PEP, BAA, Infra, etc.)

For hours, I think you should expect 50-60 typically. I'd be hard pressed to imagine you'll ever hit 90 in product strategy (investment teams, yes). 

On comp, I don't know the UK numbers. In the US, base numbers are something along the lines of Analysts are 75-90, Associates are 105-120, VPs are 140+. Bonus can vary wildly (think 20-100% of base). 

I think it would be difficult to exit from a product strategy role to an investing role, but you could probably find your way into something at a fintech. I have seen people make the switch internally from product strategy to investing.

Daily tasks... yeah, you're going to be mostly answering client requests, helping with RFPs, updating pitch decks for potential clients, etc. You're building a client-facing skillset. "Product strategy" at BlackRock is quite frequently just investor relations. 

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Sep 21, 2021 - 11:25am

Thank you a lot, the role is for a specific group that you mentioned. Think about PEP, Infra or RE. Is there any difference among them? 

What kind of exits have you seen in the past? What kind of internal career is it possible, instead? 

  • Works at BlackRock
Sep 21, 2021 - 12:14pm

I think it's probably unlikely that there's a difference in the role across the groups but in the U.S., the culture varies across the groups as they're all run like little fiefdoms (and there's a decent amount of geographic spread in the U.S.). There may be a little less variation in culture in London since you're all under one roof but they're still all very separate business units which definitely creates the conditions for disparities in culture.

Exit ops for more senior people are generally to IR roles elsewhere. As an analyst, I think there's more opportunity for you to do something different on exit and getting an MBA always allows you to reset and change careers/roles. At the end of the day, you're building a client-facing financial skillset that can be transferrable to anything else that's client-facing, fintech, etc.

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Oct 3, 2021 - 8:36pm

I answered a similar question in a previous thread, comment copied below. Feel free to PM me if you have questions. I would be pretty suprised if you ended up pulling 60 hours a week in product, unless BlackRock works their product team rather aggressively. In terms of prospects, most AMs that have their act together will pick up on junior talent that wants to take on a more buy-side role. Absent other offers, I'd get in there, work hard, impress people and see what happens. There's no shortage of opportunities at a shop like BlackRock.

With that said, you need to know where your bread is buttered - if you're hired into Product, you report to them, need to prioritize them and obviously, don't walk in saying you don't see yourself in Product in 5 years time.

Product Management will vary to some extent from shop to shop, but a few of the things I've seen product guys do include: 

  • Generating/developing thought leadership/marketing materials to make a product look good. E.g. "Why 2021 is a great time to be investing in Equity Value"
  • Presenting at conferences to pitch a product to investors (typically when PMs/investment personnel are busy and/or when the conference isn't that important)
  • Acting as a technical salesperson that (per the above), sits somewhere between marketing and the investment team. 
  • Liasing with investment personnel to answer technical questions relating to a product asked by a client/prospect (e.g. Why did the portfolio downweight tech this month).

There's also a degree of competitor analysis/assessing the viability of new and existing products.

Product sits in a bit of a weird no mans land. The upside is that you tend to get a lot of leeway to try and add value, however at the same time, they tend to be very unstructured roles that have fairly fuzzy responsibilities.

If you're the kind of person that likes to take initiative and you have a reasonable technical knowledge, it can be a very visible role that lets you interact with a lot of interesting people. It also tends to have a pretty good work life balance and is a lot less eat what you kill then straight marketing/sales. However, if you're the kind of person that isn't always organized and/or motivated, you'll probably find the unstructured nature of the role pretty tough. 

A bit like marketing/sales, good product people are worth their weight in gold, but tend to be far and few between. 

Oct 15, 2021 - 1:08pm

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