Product School

Break into Fintech as a Finance Product Manager

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Carlos González De Villaumbrosia

April 03, 2024 - 15 min read

Updated: May 6, 2024 - 15 min read

So, you've set your sights on the dynamic world of fintech, aiming to become a finance product manager? You're onto something big! The finance sector, infused with technology, isn’t just about numbers and algorithms; it's about creating impactful fintech solutions that transform the way we handle money. 

At the heart of this transformation you’ll find finance product managers who combine industry insights with product expertise to drive innovation. 

A finance product manager guides the creation, testing, and introduction of new financial systems and products. Beyond the launch, they continuously monitor the marketing and performance of financial products, making sure they meet user demands and adapt to changing market trends.

Want to become a finance product manager in the world of fintech? You're in the right place. In this post, we’ll dive deep into the intricacies of a finance product manager's universe, discover more about their core responsibilities, and lay out the roadmap for you to step into this pivotal role. 

Blog image 1: Finance

The Finance Product Manager Role 

With the meteoric rise of financial technology or fintech, the need for skilled finance product managers has never been more critical. If the idea of spearheading innovative projects and leading dynamic teams in financial services gets your pulse racing, you're in for a treat. 

Blog image 2: FPM

As a finance product manager, you are at the heart of a product's success. Your market insights ensure that the products you oversee are perfectly tailored to current demands. You're not just thinking about the present; your strategic vision allows you to anticipate market shifts and adapt product strategies for long-term relevance. 

It’s your responsibility to blend the technical with the business side, making sure that products are top-notch and align with the company's goals. One of your pivotal roles is in risk management: you're on the frontlines, identifying and maneuvering through potential challenges in the financial area. 

Your dedication to the customer ensures that the products you manage resonate deeply, ensuring their satisfaction and loyalty. Keep in mind that it’s your leadership in fostering teamwork and commitment to the product's evolution post-launch that makes you indispensable. 

A Finance Product Manager's Core Responsibilities

Fintech Product Strategy and Development

A Finance Product Manager orchestrates the lifecycle of fintech products from discovery to launch, acting as a bridge between domain experts, software developers, growth teams, and marketing personnel. 

Finance PMs are tasked with crafting a strategic vision for the product, informed by industry trends and customer needs, and translating this vision into actionable plans. Collaboration is key, as they must ensure that all stakeholders are aligned and that the product development process is agile and responsive to market demands.

Regulatory Compliance

In the highly regulated financial industry, Finance Product Managers must navigate a complex web of regulations and ensure that all products comply with legal standards. 

This involves staying abreast of current and upcoming regulations, liaising with legal teams, and embedding compliance into the product design from the outset. Their role is crucial in preventing legal risks and ensuring that the company operates within the bounds of the law.

Managing Risk and Liability

Risk management is a critical aspect of the Finance Product Manager's role, encompassing both the business's and the consumers' perspectives. They must identify, assess, and mitigate potential risks associated with the product, including financial, operational, and reputational risks. This requires a deep understanding of the financial landscape and the ability to foresee potential challenges and liabilities that could impact both the company and its customers.

Market Research

Conducting thorough market research is foundational for a Finance Product Manager. They need to have their finger on the pulse of the market, understanding customer behaviors, preferences, and pain points, as well as keeping an eye on the competitive landscape. See more on research under the Skills section below.

Building on Existing Products

The Fintech industry thrives on iteration. Enhancing and expanding existing product lines is key. Finance Product Managers must continually assess the performance of current offerings, gather feedback from users, and identify areas for improvement or expansion.

The Finance Product Manager’s Key Skills

Financial skills

The world of fintech is where the heartbeat of innovation pulses rapidly, merging the age-old finance sector with the dynamism of technology. If you're aiming to be a finance product manager in this vibrant sector, understanding the financial intricacies is non-negotiable.

Finance, especially in the context of product management, is a mosaic of elements: from consumer banking, both traditional and digital, to the modern spheres of personal finance tools, lending platforms, payment gateways, and even international money exchanges. Each of these segments brings its own set of challenges and opportunities.

For instance, let's consider digital banking. Remember when Monzo, a UK-based digital bank, burst onto the scene? Unlike traditional banks with their brick-and-mortar branches, Monzo focused on delivering everything via an app. 

But the true genius was in understanding the user's financial needs and behavior. Their real-time transaction notifications, easy-to-set budgeting tools, and 'freeze card' features were not just tech innovations; they demonstrated a deep comprehension of modern-day financial challenges and user expectations. This is where a finance product manager's expertise becomes invaluable.

However, understanding the market is just one part of the puzzle. You also need to be empathetic towards your product teams. Be it the technical hurdles of integrating multiple APIs or the conceptual challenges of defining a product's USP in a saturated market, you're guiding them.

In essence, being a finance product manager isn't just about knowing finance; it's about intertwining that knowledge with technology, user behavior, and team dynamics. 

Check out this speech from ProductCon London 2024 about the challenges inherent in collaborating on the development of financial products from Carlo Bruno, VP of Product at Adyen: 

Data analytics

Ever wondered how some finance products just seem to "get" their users? How do they evolve quickly, stay relevant, and consistently meet the changing demands of their market? A lot of that magic boils down to effective data analytics.

As a finance product manager, it's essential that you don't just appreciate data but truly harness it. Why? Because finance products are no longer just about fulfilling a financial service; they're about anticipating needs, simplifying complex processes, and ensuring users feel valued.

Take the story of Revolut, for instance. This fintech giant didn't just rely on traditional financial models. They obsessively tracked user behaviors, identified patterns, and optimized their services based on real user feedback. It's no coincidence that they were among the first to introduce instant spending notifications, budget breakdowns, and crypto integrations. They saw a trend in their data, recognized a demand, and acted on it.

For you, this means going beyond just looking at numbers. Dive deep into how users navigate your product. Which features resonate? Which ones don't? What's the churn rate, and more importantly, why? When you pinpoint the exact moment a user decides to trust your product or abandon it, you uncover a goldmine of opportunities.

Yet, keep in mind that data isn't just about quantity; it's about quality. As a finance product manager, you'll be swimming in a sea of numbers from various departments. You’ll need to weave these numbers into a coherent story. One that not only guides your product's evolution but also informs stakeholders and teams about where to steer next.

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Research skills

In financial product management, diving into the market without research is akin to navigating unknown terrain blindly.

Blog image 5: finance

Let’s take the example of Square. Square recognized that small businesses were overlooked by major payment processors. Through targeted research, they discovered these businesses needed an affordable, easy-to-use solution for credit card transactions. 

Having identified an important gap in the market, Square introduced its compact card reader, tailored for small-scale operations. By directly addressing this niche, Square transformed from a simple idea into a game-changing tool for countless small business owners.

As a financial product manager, here's how you can harness the power of research:

  1. Know your audience: Dive deep into understanding the demographics, behaviors, and needs of your potential customers. Tools like surveys, user interviews, and focus groups can be immensely helpful.

  2. Spy (ethically) on the competition: Understand what your competitors offer, their strengths, weaknesses, and any gaps. Competitive analysis tools can give you an edge here.

  3. Stay updated: Financial markets and customer preferences change rapidly. Regularly revisit your research to stay aligned with the current scenario.

  4. Test and validate: Once you have a product idea, validate it. Prototype testing and A/B testing can save resources and ensure you're on the right track.

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Strategic thinking

Imagine standing at the start of a maze, with several paths branching out in front of you. Each pathway promises a different set of challenges and outcomes. Now, if you had to choose one, which would it be? The shortest route? The simplest one? Or the path less traveled? As a finance product manager, such choices are a daily affair, and it's your strategic thinking that will determine the outcome.

Harnessing the power of strategic thinking means not just looking at the immediate next step, but viewing the entire journey from a bird's eye perspective. It's about anticipating challenges, spotting opportunities, and making decisions that align with the long-term vision of the product and company.

Take the classic example of Netflix. In the early 2000s, they were a DVD rental service competing with giants like Blockbuster. But where others saw DVDs, Netflix's leadership envisioned streaming. Their strategic foresight led them to pivot to a digital model long before most of their competitors, giving them a significant head start in the market. They prioritized a future need, anticipated a shift in user behavior, and strategized accordingly.

Now, imagine if they had focused solely on optimizing their DVD rental system. The story would be very different, wouldn't it?

For you, this means developing an ability to analyze market trends, assess competitive landscapes, and deeply understand customer pain points. More importantly, it means aligning these insights with your company's strengths and capabilities.

But here's the catch: While it's essential to be forward-thinking, don't get lost in the clouds. Balance your strategic visions with on-the-ground practicalities. Always validate your hypotheses, be ready to pivot when needed, and remember that a great strategy is agile.

Risk management skills

You're standing on the edge of a cliff, preparing to launch your product. The design is flawless, the conditions seem perfect, yet there's a nagging thought at the back of your mind: "What if it crashes?" That's the risk element every product manager faces when launching a new product. As enticing as the potential rewards are, the shadows of risk loom large.

Think of Apple's AirPods. Before their launch, there were numerous risks associated. What if they easily got lost due to their size? What if the wireless audio quality wasn’t up to the mark? Apple anticipated these concerns and countered them by offering features like the 'Find My AirPods' function and ensuring superior sound quality. By addressing potential threats head-on, they turned a risky venture into a global phenomenon.

Your role as a finance product manager requires you to constantly weigh the scales of potential rewards against risks. From understanding customer pain points to assessing the product-market fit and keeping a vigilant eye on competitors, your proactive risk management can be the thin line between a product's success and its downfall. 

Negotiation expertise

Picture yourself at a grand bazaar, surrounded by vibrant stalls, each offering something unique. You spot an artifact you want, but there's a catch – the price isn’t right. Now, do you walk away, pay the asking price, or negotiate for a better deal?

Being a product manager often feels like being in that bustling bazaar. From stakeholders pushing for their features to development teams juggling priorities, your role sits at the epicenter of these dynamic interactions. The ability to negotiate effectively is your key to navigating this maze.

Consider the creation of the USB standard. Tech giants like Intel, Compaq, and Microsoft came together, each with their own interests, to create a universal standard. Through skilled negotiations, they developed a solution that reshaped how devices connect, benefiting the industry and consumers alike.

As a product manager, your negotiation skills will be tested time and again. While the temptation to find a middle ground will be strong, it's crucial to base your decisions on hard data and remain steadfast in your product's vision. After all, a successful negotiation isn't about winning; it's about crafting a solution where everyone feels they've achieved something of value. 

Time management mastery

Whether you're launching rockets or finance products, effective time management remains a universal challenge. Elon Musk's time blocking approach to his busy schedule at Tesla and SpaceX underlines the importance of not just managing but mastering time.

So, you’re at the helm of a major fintech startup. The marketing team wants your input for the upcoming campaign, the dev team has hit a technical snag they need you to address, a critical stakeholder is on line one, and oh, there's a product launch next week! Sound overwhelming? That's a day in the life of many product managers.

There are many ways to better manage your time. One of them is the 2-minute rule from David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” methodology. If something takes less than two minutes, do it immediately. It's a simple, actionable strategy that can declutter your to-do list faster than you might think.

Here are some other practical tips to enhance your time management skills:

  1. Prioritize with purpose: What are the most pressing tasks that align with the product's core objectives? Those take precedence.

  2. Delegate decisively: Recognize that you can't do everything. Allocate tasks to team members who have the specific skills to execute them efficiently.

  3. Guard your time: Block periods in your calendar for focused, uninterrupted work. If meetings are essential, ensure they have clear agendas. And always question: "Is this meeting truly necessary?"

Agile knowledge

In the unpredictable waters of financial technology, where customer behaviors and regulatory landscapes evolve rapidly, the ability to be nimble is invaluable.

Let's consider Revolut again, a successful fintech startup. Initially, they entered the market offering no-fee international currency exchanges. As they collected data and feedback, they began to notice a pattern: their customers were looking for more. With agile methodologies in its toolbox, Revolut swiftly expanded its offerings, adding features like cryptocurrency trading and business accounts. This agility allowed them to cater to their customers' evolving demands, propelling them to the frontlines of the fintech space.

To build on your agile skills and mindset make sure you:

  1. Embrace change: Agile is about adaptability. Recognize that change is not a disruption but an opportunity.

  2. Collaborate constantly: Agile emphasizes cross-functional collaboration. Foster a culture of open communication with developers, designers, and other stakeholders.

  3. Focus on feedback: Use sprints as a chance to collect real-time feedback and iterate. It's about delivering value incrementally, learning, and adjusting.

  4. Celebrate small wins: Since you're breaking tasks into smaller chunks, celebrate those mini milestones. It boosts morale and keeps the momentum going.

Finance Product Managers’ Career Path and Salary

The world if FinTech has seen stunning growth over the past decade. According to McKinsey Financial Services, publicly traded fintech companies were worth a combined $550 billion in 2023, representing a 2x increase in four years.

Suffice it to say, the industry has presents room for growth. Finance PMs can follow the same career path as any other PM, going from an Associate Product Manager to a CPO with specialization in Financial products.

Check out this talk on revolutionizing the banking industry from Finance CPO at Monzo Fernando Fanton: 

Salary expectations for Finance Product Managers

Finance Product Managers in the US earn a salary of $140,000 on average. Salaries vary substantially by country, region, and company.  

How to become a Finance Product Manager 

If you’re dreaming of a role that marries finance with product management, here's your roadmap to achieve this sought-after role.

Blog image 5: FPM

Shadow a Finance Product Manager

Remember the age-old wisdom, "Experience is the best teacher"? Seek opportunities where you can work closely with or under a finance product manager. Roles like junior manager or product owner can serve as stepping stones, providing firsthand experience of the nitty-gritty of the job.

Make LinkedIn your best friend

Networking is more than just coffee meetups. Dive into platforms like LinkedIn. Start by following industry stalwarts and immerse yourself in their shared wisdom. This not only keeps you informed about the industry's trajectory but also positions you as a keen learner and potential candidate. Engage, share, comment, and let your passion shine through. Before you know it, you might be rubbing virtual shoulders with the who's who of the industry.

While these steps provide a blueprint, your journey will be uniquely yours. Blend these strategies with your passion, persistence, and personal touch, and you'll be on the path to becoming a finance product manager in no time!

Dive into a Product Management Certification

There’s a sea of knowledge out there, and getting a product management certification can act as your lighthouse. These programs don't just pile on theory; they equip you with industry-specific insights and practical skills. It's like getting the keys to the kingdom – a faster route to landing that job and a gleaming highlight on your resume.

Learn more with Product School

If you are considering beefing up your credentials to become a finance product manager, our Product Manager Certification (PMC)™  designed by successful Product Managers can help you build the specific skills of this role while offering the hands-on experience you need to lead product teams.

Take the first step towards becoming a strategic, successful, and influential Product Manager. Schedule a call today to find out more. 

Updated: May 6, 2024

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