In this age of technological advancement, the most successful companies are centered around products. Product management, as a function, means different things in different organizations because every company is in a different phase of the product lifecycle. So, how has product management evolved in fintech? This week, ProductTalk host, Neha Shah, interviews Marqeta VP of Product Management Archana Prasad on how fintech and product management interplay.
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On key qualities of a product manager
Product managers are responsible for a myriad of things within a company. Not only are they responsible for addressing customer pain points, but they also must facilitate growth and innovation in their design, product, and engineering teams. In any organization, PMs need to have certain abilities in order to be successful. Here are some key qualities that product managers need to excel in the role:
“If you have an open mindset that you can be part of the lifecycle of product management, and add meaning and value to the success of the product, then that would result in your success.”
“A very important trait in product managers is cross-functional team collaboration. The job of a product manager is pretty broad, right? If you want to really make a product successful, you have to make sure that everybody within the organization is supporting it. So, having that mindset of working with people, and having the ability to influence without the authority of a broad set of groups, is a very important trait.”
“They need to have a very wide variety of skills, which would be love for product design, and a mindset to solve a customer problem and not just solve it, delight them. Then, some technical background and understanding the operational piece of the product as well.”
On how product management has evolved in fintech
Thanks to the digital revolution, we are now able to use technology to solve our financial needs. Digital banking, lending, insurance, and investment software are all examples of fintech. These products have allowed us to interact with our money in an entirely new way, and they have put the power in the hands of the customer. Financial services organizations were not always focused on building customer-centric products. But by 2015, almost all financial services realized how important product management as a function was and transformed themselves into fintech organizations. This is how product management has evolved in fintech:
“So, many years ago, this function did not exist in financial services organizations. It was called business analyst solution consulting, or sales engineering. They didn’t realize how important it was to differentiate the product, to build customer-centric products.”
“By the middle of 2015, almost all financial services had realized how important product management as a function was. And that might have given rise to fintech because the product is front and center of everything, and the customer is front and center of everything. When customers feel taken care of by your product, they use it more.”
“FinTech, from the get-go, was very product focused because most of the people came from the technology sector. They had been like most of the organizations who either are fintech or have transformed themselves into fintech.”
On what drove the change in fintech
So much has changed in the past 10 years. Technology has changed the way the world functions and in many ways has improved our quality of life. More often than not, end users are looking for a quick and easy experience with minimal interaction. For this reason, fintech companies have changed the way users interact with their products and services. These are some of the things that drove fintech to change its focus:
“So, if I look at financial services, products, and services, the underlying product has largely remained the same. For example, how we settle, how reconciliation happens, and how the money is moving. However, the way the products are delivered to the end users, and how end users are consuming those products have changed significantly.”
“The first one is really changing customer behavior in general. Everybody wants digital experiences. The second one is how people consume information. Everybody is participating and sharing information on the web. Consumers can read, write, and execute on the web. So, if you think about how information is being shared and consumed in the market, it is also changing how financial products need to be delivered to them.”
“The third one is how technology and advancement have happened. You have cloud and many new technologies that have changed how the product needs to be built and delivered, and rise of SaaS business model.”
On top challenges of product management in fintech
Challenges can arise when attempting to balance scale and customer delight. The success of the company and the happiness of the customer are of equal importance. With the migration of technology to the cloud, and the advancement of technology, the product world and market are ever-shifting. Fintech companies face particular challenges in the financial services sector. Check out what Archana had to say about the product challenges in fintech:
“So, there are people who know the payments and banking industry really well. But most of them come from legacy technology. But everything is now happening in the cloud. So, most of the developers and product managers, if you want to get their expertise, that is all in your technology.”
“So, the major challenge is how do you find a good [PM]? How do you build a team that has a good combination of domain expertise? How do we create a product that’s so seamless that you don’t even realize you’re using the product?”
“So, try to build a team where you can bring good domain expertise, as well as have a good understanding of product lifecycle and modern technology. Building the right team will result in a product that not only delights customers but also drives scale.”
About the speaker
Archana Prasad is a growth-minded product management executive with strong experience in building products and businesses from scratch and scaling them thru organic and inorganic growth. Currently, she is the VP of product management for banking and global money movement products at Marqeta, enabling digital banking and embedded finance experiences. She has been in the payments and financial services industry for over 18 years building payments, banking, and money-movement products on a global scale. Her prior experience includes Visa, Silicon Valley Bank, Capital One, and Capgemini. She has an engineering degree from India and an MBA from Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley.