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What is a fund manager?
Fund managers are investment experts: they work for fund and investment companies, pension funds, banks or insurance companies and invest their customers’ money as profitably as possible.
To do this, they make investment decisions that correspond to previously defined fund or investment strategies and risk levels. For example, a fund manager with a specific fund can only invest in certain forms of investment, aim for long-term or short-term investments, pursue ethical standards or rely on sustainable investments.
Either way, the fund manager analyzes the past and learns from it, but above all he looks to the future. He deals with numerous possible questions that can influence the investment: How will the market develop? What is the probability that people are less active on social media? When will people buy less plastic and what alternative packaging or business models will benefit?
In order to answer such questions and make the right investment decisions, fund managers spend a large part of their working hours discovering new investment opportunities. In doing so, they must also take current developments in the world economy or politics into account. Because Brexit, punitive tariffs, change of government, low interest rate policy etc. affect markets and companies and must therefore be observed and taken into account.
In addition, fund managers travel a lot and visit companies. In the case of companies in which investments have already been made or in which they want to invest, they speak to the management on site and get a precise picture of the situation for themselves.
In carrying out his daily tasks, the fund manager is supported by a team of specialists who, among other things, prepare market analyses, calculate key figures, carry out transactions and prepare presentations and appointments. As a leader, a fund manager must allocate and clearly communicate these tasks and monitor the quality of the work.
Fund managers and digitization
Digitization — especially the quick and easy communication channels as well as analysis programs and tools — makes the work of the fund manager and his team easier. They allow you to create company analyzes faster, display results in charts at the push of a button or easily compare different investments.
However, some developments also harbor risks because the fund manager cannot control them himself and can sometimes be difficult to track: digital financial channels and the resulting increasingly complex banking and financial world make it more difficult to keep track of developments.
Fund managers can be compared to jugglers because they have to keep a lot of balls in the air at the same time: They have to know the markets and investments, keep an eye on opportunities and risks and always act in a concentrated manner. At the same time, they must meet the expectations of their investors and their employer, motivate their team and visit companies.
The pressure is enormous at all times. Because fund managers are responsible for a lot of money from other people. Her clients rely on her and have high expectations that the fund manager aims to fulfil.
The most important things in 5 seconds
- Education: Degree in economics with a focus on finance or a degree in mathematics and statistics
- Starting salary: €60,000
- Top salary: €200,000
- Opportunities for advancement: CFO, CEO, interim positions
What does a fund manager do?
- product-responsible and holistic management of funds and ensuring proper business operations
- Determination of the investment and financing strategy at fund and asset level
- Review of and compliance with the fund or investment and risk strategy, investment limits and liquidity planning
- Determination and definition of business plans at fund and asset level
- Control and ongoing business plan analysis of fund and asset performance using target/actual comparisons as well as development of measures in the event of target deviations and monitoring of implementation
- Creation of performance, portfolio and deviation analyzes as well as profitability calculations
- Procurement of financing and monitoring of the performance of the capital service and delivery of the key figures and reports agreed in the loan agreement
- Checking and approval of invoices as well as execution and monitoring of payment transactions and account management
- Lead management of the annual financial statements of the fund companies as well as support and assistance with annual financial statement audits
- Coordination of initial and subsequent valuations as well as share values
- Responsible for the creation of fund-related reporting, creation and documentation as well as monitoring the collection and implementation of shareholder resolutions
- Interface function to all partners involved (including asset management, trustee, general partner, management)
- Review and further development of reporting and optimization of fund-related processes
- Participation in special projects such as B. product development, transactions
Analyzing external, economic and political factors and taking them into account in the investment strategy:
- sentiment parameters market
- trend parameter
- psychological market parameters
- current monetary policy of global banks and central banks (ECB; IFW; FED; BIS)
- Quantities of money and relevant real economic parameters
How do you become a fund manager?
Fund managers spend around 50 percent of their working time analyzing world markets and political and economic developments, because geopolitical and strategic imperial behavior (USA) as well as political changes can destabilize entire markets. The fund manager must also know and internalize the big waves and global economic cycles. Therefore, a general interest in such topics as well as a basic economic and political understanding is required. In addition, fund managers are typically expected to have the following qualifications:
- Completed economics degree with a focus on finance or mathematical and statistical studies
- several years of relevant professional experience alongside a fund manager
- Very good MS Office and programming skills in VBA and SQL
- Experience working with databases
- Programming skills in Python, R or VBA are a plus
- Good knowledge of German and English, both spoken and written
- good financial knowledge/knowledge of the capital markets
What does a fund manager earn?
up to €200,000
Fund managers usually start their professional career alongside an established fund manager in order to gain experience. During this time, the salary range is between € 60,000 and €90,000 gross per year. As the fund manager with sole responsibility, the gross annual salary then quickly increases to between € 150,000 and €200,000 per year. In addition, there is a relevant proportion of performance-related bonus payments: the better the performance of the managed fund(s), the higher the bonus. Further training or special qualifications such as CFA, CEFA, CIIA or MBA not only improve job opportunities, but usually also have a positive effect on salary.
As part of Brexit, many financial institutions are relocating from London to Europe (in many cases to Frankfurt am Main). This creates a number of new jobs, intensifies the competition for good fund managers and increases salaries.
What do you expect from the fund manager?
Fund managers have a demanding job because they bear a great deal of responsibility: If they make mistakes or make the wrong decision, it can sometimes cost their clients a lot of money. Therefore, the success of the fund manager requires a cool head and well-considered actions, as well as a very structured and conceptual way of working and strong analytical thinking. If you want to meet this responsibility and withstand the daily pressure, you should be comprehensively fit and resilient.
Fund managers are curious, cosmopolitan and interested and have a feel for the trends and developments of tomorrow. They find it easy to make decisions after analyzing the situation and identifying opportunities and threats.
In addition, good fund managers are performance-oriented and committed, but at the same time do not take too much risk. Fund managers must also have communication skills and a confident demeanor in order to build relationships with customers and market participants and to be able to confidently communicate investment decisions. Ability to work in a team and leadership qualities complete the profile of a fund manager.
Opportunities for advancement as a fund manager
Fund managers are very familiar with evaluating markets and (company) key figures, which is why good fund managers are sometimes sought-after candidates for CEO or CFO positions in companies.
Consulting jobs or interim activities in companies are also conceivable. However, such developments are not desirable for every fund manager, because the work of a fund manager is exciting and demanding at the same time, so that many fund managers are happy to stay with their job.
What is more common is a move to a different industry or asset class. Here fund managers can breathe new life into a company and also broaden their own horizons.
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