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"Product managers in banks are glorified PowerPoint monkeys"

I'm a product manager. I spent the past decade pursuing a career in financial services and worked in various leading banks in London. However, I now switched into another sector and I won't be working in banking again. 

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The financial services sector is blighted by regulatory complexity. It's not simply about designing the best products but designing products that fit with regulations. This is a challenge, but banks' response to regulatory complexity is dysfunctional: they typically throw bodies at it, which creates additional complexity and more points of failure. 

In combination, I found that this creates a Byzantine structure which absorbs all your time. Product management in banking seems to be about managing up and creating endless PowerPoint presentations that understate the real issues - there were several times that I wanted to highlight something as a risk, but I couldn't because of the political sensitivities. A lot more effort is devoted to making sure no one can be blamed when things go wrong, rather than making sure that things don't go wrong in the first place. 

The push for Agile methodology doesn't help. Too often in banks, it ends up meaning "constant transformation" with no real outcome. We seemed to churn through managing directors (MDs) and just when an outcome was in sight, a new MD with a different idea would emerge.

I went into financial services expecting to work hard, but not like this. I want to build great products, not to navigate great bureaucracies. My new job is already much better: I work fewer hours, am paid more, and am remote. The bank was asking us to come back into the office more and more days each week. 

Douglas Moreno is a pseudonym 

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AUTHORDouglas Moreno Global Editor
  • Cu
    CuriousPrgmMgr
    24 April 2024

    What industry are you now in. Please do share.

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