Product Management and Fintech

Interesting topic of a recent conversation. What is Product Management? Specifically within the context of fintech?

What is it?

Many people view the role of Product Manager as being akin to Neo in the Matrix. The "One" sent to save the firm from the mess they are in. So a Product Manager is supposed to design the product from a UX or CX perspective, work with Sales on pre-sales, work with marketing on messaging, work with development on product build, work with support on resolving user issues by modifying the product, produce PnL forecasts and more generally save the world. 

Plot spoiler: it didn't work well for Neo and it won't work well for you...

What is it?

I've consulted to several firms in a Product Manager role. I've always advocated this:

"The role of a Product Manager is to manage the process"

What is it?

Consider a well-funded start-up working on product X. There are multiple functional groups - sales, marketing, support, on-boarding, development and management. 

Who decides what goes into the product? Product management? NO!!! This is the mistake many make.

The Product Manager is there to manage the process of weighing-up the many voices that want to be heard.

"We can win client Z if we deliver feature Q, I work in sales - so, build feature Q! Now!"

What is it?

Here's the problem...

A sales person is generally incentivised on selling things. Not actually on profit. That means that there is an inherent, unpleasant, bias to build stuff. Build Q and your sales person gets paid. Does that generate enterprise value or sales commission? 

Enterprise value is good, and so is sales commission, but the commission should (arguably MUST) follow from enterprise value.

What is it?

Customer support report that many clients are impacted by issue Y and they want this fixed. 

But if issue Y is actually by design, then is fixing it a good idea?  

Again, good people trying to do their jobs, but if everything they want is delivered then the running costs of the firm are increased - is that going to create enterprise value?

What is it?

Marketing say that feature D will really resonate with a core target demographic and it's needed. 

That's great - but where is the evidence to back this assertion along with some A/B testing of delivery of D versus non-delivery.

What is it?

Onboarding say that prospective clients love the product but the process of onboarding to meet regulatory requirements is causing delays and can that be eased?

Really? You want to do something in 2020 that is contrary to your industry regulator?

What is it?

Front-end development have found this really get UX library that is like Angular only better, so let’s switch over.  And back-end development don’t like the slightly outdated data persistence technologies in use and want to move to a bleeding edge tool. And the DevOps guys want to upgrade the Jenkins installation and potentially replace Gradle.

Right – but how do any of these changes impact enterprise value?

What is it?

Management want new good stuff now.  Often without an understanding of how or why, but it’s all agile so this can be done quickly with high quality and a low price can’t it?

Well, the software engineering trade-off of speed vs quality vs price hasn’t changed any time recently..

Is it!

The Product Manager should take all of these voices, document the requirements, elaborate on the engineering trade-offs and propose options for the product roadmap that deliver enterprise value.  It’s all about the £££$$$€€€…

Drive the process of reaching a settled, high probability of execution solution that is within reach of the team (don’t suggest having a working fusion reactor by next Tuesday, be realistic).  Once a decision is surfaced and stress tested then the role becomes to execute that vision and bring it to market to drive enterprise value. And repeat.

Remembering at all times that no plan survives first contact with the enemy, hence ongoing management and benchmarking achievements versus plan and steering course on an ongoing basis.

The result should be Epic…


  1. Absolutely brilliant! And I just found a classic for my workout mix.


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