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10 Essential Roles for a Banking Product Manager

Banking Product Manager

Business and consumer loan products, deposit account products, treasury management products and services, and your institution’s website are all examples of “bank products,” and all these bank products deserve a product manager. This week, we are taking a look at 10 essential roles for a banking product manager.

The problem is that institutions’ marketing departments focus on marketing “all products” but there is no operational owner for the individual products. Therefore, products are like orphans. They are birthed and then are left on their own to go through life. While that may be a drastic analogy, that is exactly what happens with products at most financial institutions resulting in product failures, no accountability to maintain products, or no one knowing each product’s profitability.

The Marketing Committee (if you have one) is a great place to start the discussions of individual product management. Although it’s a good idea to work together as a team on the marketing of products, each product needs and deserves the attention of one non-marketing person accountable and responsible for managing the product through its life cycle.

We recommend formally defining the role of a Product Manager.  What does it entail to be the banking product manager for a specific product or line of products?

Let’s study the overall responsibilities of a Banking Product Manager:

1. Solve Customer Needs with a Solution

Product Managers ensure that it’s always all about meeting customers’ needs! They survey customers and research what’s available in the market as well as competitors’ offerings.

2. Product Ideation and Creation

Once a Product Manager knows what customers are asking for, the next step is to answer the question: Are you going to create/develop a new product or are you going to see what the market already offers? Most institutions don’t have the resources to develop products internally, so they look at market options.

3. Define a Clear Target Market

Product Managers know exactly what type of customer (business or consumers) will buy your new product before launching new products. Furthermore, to sell business products, knowing who inside a business is your target “persona” helps you create a “personalized and customized marketing approach.”

4. Manage Vendor Relationships

Product Managers select the right vendor whose product will integrate best with your core system and is a critical step in the implementation process. Additionally, they must follow the vendor due diligence established on your Vendor Management Program.

5. Manage Product Profitability

For some reason, in the past, community banks and credit unions have offered products that they believe account holders expect for free. Yes, there are some products that, unfortunately, because every other financial institution offers for free, then you feel obligated to give it away. However, you must be very careful to study the actual product cost of development and ongoing maintenance. This includes what the core system provider or third-party vendor charges your institution on an ongoing basis. Once again, bank product management ensures profitability.

6. Collaborate with the Marketing Team

The Product Manager should hold a seat on the marketing team and ensure a marketing plan for each product exists. They can also assist the marketing team with messaging for similar products such as Remote Deposit Capture and Mobile Deposit and educate your customers as to which may be a better fit for them.

7. Ongoing Surveying and Communications

The Product Manager continually requests feedback from product users. That is the only way to continue improving products. Similarly, it may be the only way to discover a specific product is no longer needed/wanted and needs to be sunset. Sometimes you may decide to switch vendors and the existing product will have different functionalities or a new look.

8. Product Reporting

The Product Manager collects data and report to the Marketing Committee as well as to the leadership—especially if the institution made a significant investment in a new product. There should be an ROI for each product.

9. Product Life Cycle Management

Product Managers ensure the product is launched successfully, monitor the life cycle of each product, and recommend if, at any time, it’s time to end a product. Often, retiring an old product and creating a brand new one gives the institution an opportunity to create awareness about services that your existing clients didn’t even know you offered.

10. Product Training

Product Managers are responsible for making sure the sales and operations teams are fully trained in each product. Everything from results, benefits, features and onboarding procedures need to be trained to the staff.

Bonus Item: The Right Talent

Banks and credit unions need to allocate the right talent and experience to fill the position of a Product Manager. Some of the key talents needed are project management, leadership, ability to communicate with customers, peers, technical staff, operations, and sales teams. In addition, you need someone who can handle multiple priorities and work with the various teams on different parts of the project simultaneously.

Many financial institutions see the Product Manager position as an expense because they don’t necessarily bring sales to the institution. However, having a Product Manager will ensure that your institution is on top of new products, that your products are solving customers’ problems, and that products get the individual attention they deserve to live through the life cycle successfully. Defining, developing and staffing the Banking Product Manager role shows your institution is trying new things and continuing to look for solutions to your customers’ needs.

Looking for ideas to expand your Treasury Management reach to new business customers? Look into the TMClarity Framework, our comprehensive and transformative training and Treasury Management business management system that leads to greater sales success, higher margins, and increased customer retention in a competitive marketplace.

Outsourcing HR in a Hybrid Work Environment - Part II

Outsourcing HR in a Hybrid Work Environment P2

In Part I of this two-part blog on outsourcing HR in a hybrid work environment, we focused on what activities to outsource and why. In Part II, we now focus on what functions to keep in-house and the benefits.

A key component of a strong Talent Management Program is talent development. And that’s what gets sacrificed when institutions keep their entire HR operations in-house. As I shared in Part I, when I was the Director of HR, administrative tasks such as payroll and benefits administration consumed most of my time. I couldn’t do my favorite part of Human Resources which is to develop the talent we had. Part of the development includes some of the activities we recommend handling in-house.

Below is a list of activities that you can (and should) keep in-house:

  • The “people side” of the hiring process: Someone in HR reviews the resumes to screen candidates. Then the hiring manager along with the HR representative interview the top candidates. For senior executive positions, typically the president/CEO of the institution and the senior leadership team conduct the interviews either in-person or via a video call. You must always check the references provided. Lastly, follow up after interviewing as a best practice. We recommend deploying automated systems around the hiring process, such as human assisted, but automated resume reviews, candidate tracking and emailing thank you letters or next steps, so candidates know what to expect. There are many quality applicant tracking systems out there so it is hard to make a recommendation on this one. However, we always recommend pairing your tracking system with the applicant screening system from Wonderlic.
  • Establish a career path: The performance review process is one of the best times to discover your employees’ aspirations for future career growth. The manager can then coach the employees on how to get there. The leadership team provides growth opportunities and needs to work with HR on a path based on the jobs the employee is interested in.
  • Establish a mentoring program: Most small community financial institutions do not have a mentoring program in place (formal or informal) and don’t know where to start. One of the best places to start is by making it part of your succession planning process. Many community financial institutions are experiencing turnover due to “legacy employees” retiring. This is the perfect opportunity to pair up the retiring employee to mentor the successor. Establishing a successful succession plan takes time and resources as well as careful thought process. Communication is key for all parties involved.
  • Develop a personal development plan: In addition to a career path, employees need to develop personally as well. What does this entail? Developing the soft skills which includes leadership talent and management skills training, negotiation skills, time management, presentation skills, and presence. Managers work with HR to develop personalized development plans for your employees. Talk about a retention strategy!
  • Provide internal (or outsourced) emerging leader training and leadership development for established leaders: Your institution can choose to create an internal plan but there are plenty of leadership institutes to send your emerging leaders to. Don’t forget to also continue to develop your seasoned leaders. Their needs are different, and they may be looking for different types of development such as networking with peers in the industry to stay on top of their fields.
  • Culture: Lastly, do not delegate but instead, own the culture training for your institution and intentionally select ways to maintain it – even with remote staff. You need to preserve your culture as your organization grows to ensure your employees do everything “your institution’s way.” In the end, it’s all about how you treat your employees who in turn work with your customers! Preserving your culture is how you retain top talent and top customers too. Don’t know how to define culture? Maybe start with your core values. We recommend reading the book The Core Value Equation by Darius Mirshahzadeh for help in documenting and shaping your core values.

As you can see, when you Centralize your HR outsourcing to one main third-party service provider and outsource HR administrative tasks, your HR team has time to focus on attracting, retaining, and developing your talent.

Books by Marcia Malzahn