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How to become a product manager in fintech

Working in fintech means getting to work on a variety of interesting and innovative products in the financial space. If you're an aspiring product manager, it also means that you should - theoretically - get to work on more creative projects than in traditional finance. 

Becoming a fintech product manager isn't easy. Michael Abdul a fintech recruiter for recruitment firm Volition in London, says that “product managers for the fintech market are one of the most niche skillsets to find.” 

This is what Abdul says you need to know about getting a product management job in fintech.

Know your industry (and your products)

Operating in the middle ground between technology and finance, fintech often finds itself in the midst of a tug of war for supremacy between the two industries. Some believe finance is the best stepping stone into fintech, some believe the opposite.

In truth, it's both... and neither. The fintech space is so diverse that there is no singular right path, it all depends on the company you want to work for.

Take Stripe, for example. The payments giant operates in the consumer space and so has a lot more in common with FAANG firms. "There’s a lot of crossover there for shipping a great product at Amazon to shipping a great product at Stripe,” says Abdul.

Stripe's hiring reflects this. Multiple heads of product at Stripe have FAANG backgrounds. These include head of product for money movement and payouts Archana Kannan who was head of product for AR experiences at Google, and Denise Ho, head of product for banking as a service, who was previously product lead "for the shopping vertical of Google search."

B2B fintechs work a little differently. Thought Machine, a cloud infrastructure provider based in London has banking clients like Standard Chartered. Atom Bank, has a greater presence of finance alumni in its product ranks. Michael Hoodfar, head of product for core banking at Atom, spent eight and a half years at Deutsche Bank, where he worked as a product manager for market conformity control.

If you've not got your heart set on a particular fintech, look around the market for startups doing something new in the space you work. Abdul says, "find the companies that are building tech in your market. If you’re an FX trader, find the FX Fintechs.”

Know your code (at least a little)

Another tug of war occurring specifically for product managers is between technical and non-technical backgrounds. Abdul says "to be a PM you can come from a tech or business background, it’s not cut and dry as to what background makes a good PM."

However, unlike engineers who can rely on their technical expertise, product managers need something extra. They often need domain experience to add value quickly, says Abdul.  

Product managers also need to know at least the basics of coding. “Product managers without software backgrounds are expected to learn how software is shipped," says Abdul. "They’re going to come in and work a lot with engineers, so showing that aptitude to learn and willingness will make a difference."

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AUTHORAlex McMurray Editor

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