Mutual Fund Portfolio Managers
Exploring this Job
There are many ways to learn about mutual funds, careers in the field, and the business world. First, read newspapers and magazines such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Forbes, and Financial Times to learn more about companies, business practices, and specific industry sectors. Publications for the typical investor—such as Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and Money—will provide you with a good introduction to stocks, bonds, and other securities, as well as investment strategies. Books such as Mutual Funds For Dummies (For Dummies, 2018) and Competitive Advantage in Investing: Building Winning Professional Portfolio (Wiley, 2020) will also be helpful.
Work to develop your stock-picking skills by participating in investment competitions during high school and college. The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania offers the Knowledge@Wharton High School Investment Competition (https://kwhs.wharton.upenn.edu/competitions), a free, global, online investment simulation for students, ages 14–18, and teachers.
Conduct research about stocks and learn how to develop a stock pitch, a two-minute explanation of why you would recommend a particular stock (a common task of entry-level portfolio manager associates). The Investor's Podcast offers some helpful tips on creating and delivering a stock pitch at a job interview: https://www.theinvestorspodcast.com/stock-pitch-job-interview.
The famous stock investor Phillip Fisher once said, “The stock market is filled with individuals who know the price of everything, but the value of nothing.” Luckily, portfolio managers exist to help average investors grow their money to meet financial goals such as saving for college or retirement. Portfolio managers oversee both actively and passively managed funds (both of which contain stocks, bonds, and other securities). The manager for an actively managed fund takes a very hands-on approach. He or she chooses the types of stocks, bonds, and other assets that comprise the fund and then manages the fund based on the goals (growth, income, value, etc.) outlined in its investor prospectus. For a passively managed fund, the portfolio manager sets up a fund that attempts to replicate the performance of a particular stock market index (e.g., Dow Jones Industrial Average, Standard & Poor's 500 Stock Index, Nasdaq Composite Index) by investing in the stocks that are part of this index. Job duties for portfolio managers vary by the size of the firm, its investment strategies and financial products, and other factors but typically include:
- working closely with clients to help them find an investment fund that matches their financial goals
- meeting regularly with investment analysts, researchers, and product designers to assess market conditions, discuss portfolio allocations, and the creation of new funds
- meeting with representatives of companies to collect information about its products/services, management structure, finances, and other areas
- assisting with trading and rebalancing of client investment accounts
- working with risk management professionals to identify issues that may negatively affect fund performance
- analyzing current economic and stock market trends and applying this information to the management of their clients’ portfolios
- preparing daily reports on fund performance for upper management
- identifying group or individual target investors for a specific fund and educating them about the merits of the fund
- performing or evaluating research, such as company or industry analyses, to inform financial forecasting, decision making, and valuation
- managing investment funds to maximize return on client investments
- selecting or directing the execution of trades
- evaluating the potential of new product developments or market opportunities, according to factors such as business plans, technologies, or market potential