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Q&A: Fund Management

Megan Brown is a vice president in funds management at J.P. Morgan Asset Management

How did you become a VP in funds management?

After college, I worked on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange for a convertible arbitrage firm. I loved the challenge but wanted to expand my career to a larger firm. In 1998, I joined Bear Stearns as an institutional equity trader. I enjoyed equity trading but wanted a client facing role and found that institutional equity sales trading provided the best of both worlds.

In 2005, I joined Bear Stearns Asset Management, working in sales but in a consultative role, focused on high-end clients covering third party distributors. In 2007, I was appointed head of third party distribution, covering registered investment advisors (RIA). Last year, after 10 years at Bear, I began to transition my clients through the merger process with J.P. Morgan.

This January I became vice president and director of national accounts for J.P. Morgan’s institutional advisory business. My work is focused on RIA’s, where I make sure our products – ranging from equities and fixed income to non-traditional strategies – are accessible to advisors via the open architecture platforms at numerous firms. This entails marketing our products to specific divisions within these organizations, such as 401(k) groups.

What’s a typical day like for you?

I spend a lot of time dealing with challenges my clients are facing. I carefully determine which strategies fit within the framework of each client’s end goals. If a client is interested in utilizing a specific product, I’ll set up presentations to outline these tools and services. Next, I’ll work with the client to explain how the strategies work.

Today, firms want to understand more than a portfolio manager’s strategies or how a mutual fund management team works. If they’re considering adding a mutual fund to their platform, they’ll want to speak to our traders, compliance, and legal team to understand how the pieces fit. Additionally, I’m responsible for managing our internal sales desk, which, since it deals directly with the RIA’s themselves allows me to see the entire business cycle from placement of our products on a platform to their selection by an advisor.

What are the most important skills for a career in fund management?

Most important is the ability to listen to clients. This allows you to determine which products are best suited to helping them achieve their goals.

Since my day is often split between reacting to client requests and proactively speaking to them about products, it’s important to stay focused and organized. This enables me to multi-task; whether I’m coordinating a large finals presentation, working with our legal department about contract issues or with a client to ensure our strategies are available on the proper platforms at key firms.

A career in funds management has always been challenging, but even more so today, one has to be focused and passionate about the business. The hours are demanding and require a delicate work-life balance.

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