Questions about getting a job as a PM

sheperd99's picture
Rank: Senior Baboon | 188

Hey everyone.

I'm in a top target undergrad and my goal is to eventually become a PM at one of the top AM firms (Blackrock, Fidelity, JPM, UBS, Wellington, etc).

Would anyone who's also on this track know the general way to get to the PM level? I've heard it described as simply as Top Undergrad -> Top Firm -> M7 -> PM, is this generally true?

Generally is recruitment out of undergrad harder or about on-par with IB recruitment?
What is the compensation generally like for PMs starting out and midway through their career?
And finally, is working as a PM generally "safer" than other high finance jobs like PE and IB where job security is relatively low?

Thanks!

Comments (18)

Most Helpful
May 21, 2018

I am aware of exactly ONE individual who made PM before 30. He stumbled into a tiny shop where he got promoted to it (with shit pay) then the shop got bought, and he wasn't an asshole, unlike his bosses. He ended up leaving for a Cap Markets role.

Honestly, aiming for PM as an undergrad is like aiming for President of the US right out of a poly sci degree. It is the stops in between that matter. I am fine with never making PM, my role is the broadest in the department, and people frequently turn to me as a trusted resource. (including the current PMs, as I think that they are of the opinion that I know more about the fund mechanics than they do)

    • 4
May 21, 2018

I don't think anyone becomes a PM before spending time as a researcher or trader

May 22, 2018
sheperd99:

I'm in a top target undergrad and my goal is to eventually become a PM at one of the top AM firms (Blackrock, Fidelity, JPM, UBS, Wellington, etc).

Your goal should be to get a job at a top firm, which means you'll be starting as analyst in a banking role or associate at an investment manager. Success in any of these fields will be preceded by excelling at your first job. Don't put the cart before the horse.

sheperd99:

Would anyone who's also on this track know the general way to get to the PM level? I've heard it described as simply as Top Undergrad -> Top Firm -> M7 -> PM, is this generally true?

Nobody becomes a PM because they went to a top MBA program. Many successful PMs do not even have MBAs. You become a PM by proving yourself to be a successful analyst over many, many years and then being in the right place at the right time.

sheperd99:

And finally, is working as a PM generally "safer" than other high finance jobs like PE and IB where job security is relatively low?

No senior role in financial services is ever safe. There will always be strong competitors and people gunning for these jobs. You can say the same about consulting, banking, corporate finance, accounting, law, etc. The idea that you can reach a certain level then coast until retirement is a fallacy.

    • 3
May 22, 2018

So glad you pointed out "right place, right time". Most people here don't appreciate how large a factor that is more often than not. Plenty of brilliant and capable people out there who will never reach PM because try as they might, they weren't in the in the right seat when some other PM was fired or retired.

    • 1
May 22, 2018

If many people don't make it as a PM, what does the career path of the average IM look like if he chooses to stay at his firm?

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May 22, 2018
sheperd99:

If many people don't make it as a PM, what does the career path of the average IM look like if he chooses to stay at his firm?

Most analysts remain career analysts. Becoming a PM is about not only being a great analyst, but also being at the right place and right time - either a spot opening up at your firm, or getting recruited away to start a similar product at another firm. Neither of those opportunities happen very often.

You can still make several million a year at a top firm as a career analyst. Additionally, there is generally less stress and some people don't want to deal with, or are not good at managing, the extra responsibilities of being a PM such as marketing, client relations, managing a team of analysts, etc.

    • 1
May 23, 2018

All too often I get this question when interviewing potential hires and it makes me wonder what they teach people in business schools.

Echoing what a few others have said, experience and skills matter. A good PM needs to be a great analyst, a half decent manager, and if you are managing third party assets in separately managed accounts you need to be a great salesperson for you product and investment process. If you are thinking PM means top comp that isn't always the case and career analysts isn't something to shy away from.

Analyst jobs tend to be sticky for reasons mentioned. PM jobs are all about performance. A few bad years and you could be out as PM. Which in my mind makes the PM role top of the stress pile most of the time. So you need to be able to handle that too.

May 28, 2018

two PMs at my shop came from an audit background (about 10-15 years before they started as PM)

May 30, 2018
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