What is product strategy in AM

Trying to figure out the function of product strategy team in AM (blackrock...etc...)

It's a bit of hybrid(client engagement and analytics).....is it middle office????

TIA if somebody has experience on this....

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Comments (7)

May 31, 2021 - 8:05pm

You'd likely be focused on bringing new products to market and managing existing ones.

What that means in practice will vary but an example might be assessing demand/feasibility for a new strategy launch or running competitive analysis on the pricing of your existing funds. Asset gathering is pretty important to asset managers so you're starting to see dedicated teams trying to optimize the product suite a firm brings to market.

It's not an investment seat obviously but you've got line of sight to revenue contribution which is key.

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Jun 1, 2021 - 5:57am

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).

Ravena hit the nail on the head that 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. 

Jun 1, 2021 - 8:53am

At BLK, you'd definitely be able to transition into their core PM team after being on product strategy. Know that at BLK, core PM is basically just an operational role that clicks a button to rebalance their portfolios to the actual portfolio manager's targets (It would definitely be difficult to get into one of their alpha teams), as well as use basic coding skills to help automate some of their reporting responsibilities. Product strategy works as an intermediary between the client/sales team and the portfolio managers.

This is not meant to sound as negative as it is. The guys on both teams are pretty good to work with and you could have a pretty good life of work/life balance there.

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Jun 2, 2021 - 12:55am

The answer is maybe. I certainly wouldn't walk into a product interview saying that you want to be a portfolio manager, but you're right in that the exposure you get to investment management teams puts you in a good position to transition later on. In many respects I think this is going to be quite firm dependent, but I've always taken the view that good firms will recognize and make use of talent. 

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