Our previous post provided insights into building an innovation centre of excellence (CoE) at a financial institution (FI) through a strategic partnership with a FinTech. To co-create innovative products, innovation drivers at FIs work in close co-ordination with product managers at FinTechs. These product managers typically serve as a single point of contact from the inception of the alliance to the roll-out of the products in the market. The third post in our careers series discusses the emerging and dynamic role of product managers at FinTech firms.
The typical job description of a product manager at any financial service organisation talks about envisaging a product roadmap to meet customer needs and collaborating with technology teams to implement the same as per timelines. This goes hand in hand with assessing strategic alliance opportunities in collaboration with on-field business development representatives to foster the sustained adoption of the co-created products. While a product manager at a FinTech is expected to perform all these functions, the size, scale, nature of business, and lean operating model of the firm make the role especially challenging and exciting. Two such dimensions of this role are discussed below:
As per PwC and Startupbootcamp’s ‘FinTech Trends Report India 2017’, several interesting opportunities have arisen in the FinTech space.1
Most promising FinTech opportunities for a product manager
A product manager can envisage the product roadmap along the most suitable themes and roll out differentiated products in the market.
Given the lean structure of a FinTech, the product manager, along with the internal product development team, is expected to actively participate in business development discussions and pitches at incubator and funding events. This adds a very strategic dimension to the expectations from the product manager.
A highly strategic role – both internally as well as externally
The product manager plays a huge role in driving sustainable innovation at a FinTech firm and generating brand visibility in the ecosystem. To achieve these goals, s/he has to typically put multiple pieces together and balance internal and external priorities.
Balancing multiple demands and propelling the FinTech forward
The critical success factor of the role is creating a win-win situation which is sustainable over the long term for all stakeholders. The FinTech firm should manage to move up the ladder in terms of visibility, adoption and innovation culture. In case of partnerships with FIs, the partners should witness an increase in the number of customers adopting the co-branded and developed solution.
A candidate is expected to possess the following skill sets in order to successfully lead the product life cycle at FinTech firms.
Driving product development and sales at FinTechs
As FinTechs are pioneers of innovation, a product manager is expected to develop products by adopting unconventional techniques. For instance, while scouting for trends and new technologies, a product manager needs to look beyond traditional databases and research reports and collaborate with educational universities, research laboratories, and accelerator programmes to come up with new ideas. Similarly, s/he has to evaluate innovative product development approaches adopted by new age firms in other industries and bake in the best practices for the FinTech firm’s products.
An innovative mindset, customer empathy, unconventional techniques and relationship management are critical for a product manager to drive the growth story of the FinTech firm.
All the players in the ecosystem are assessing multiple ways to enhance their customer offerings and create a differentiated positioning for themselves. The product manager can help FinTech firms provide an unparalleled customer experience through innovative product offerings.
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