Working as a mutual fund or portfolio manager can be an extremely satisfying
career. Mike Ward manages portfolios for high net worth individuals and small
institutions. "It differs [so] much on a day-to-day basis," he says. "You
really need to be flexible and enjoy following the markets."
A mutual fund manager manages stocks and bonds for clients. Clients can
include individuals, groups of investors or institutions such as banks and
pension funds. Managers can also specialize in a particular area. Some of
these are fixed-income securities, small or large cap stocks and international
or hedge funds.
It can be a difficult career to get into. This is particularly true if
you try to make a mid-career change. If you have an interest, pursue it as
early as you can.
Market trends generally determine job prospects in this field, says Neil
Feinberg. He is a portfolio manager.
"Get involved with stock market clubs," he advises. "Try and get a summer
job at a firm that invests in stocks or bonds."
According to a recent article in National Business Employment Weekly, the
mutual fund industry "may be opening its doors just a crack to outsiders."
"There is always a demand for great stock pickers. But to be a great portfolio
manager takes lots of dedication and education about the stock market," says
"Math is essential to be good at. [The] ability to work under pressure,
a healthy skepticism towards information and independence of thought are highly
desirable," says Sunil Vidyarthi. Vidyarthi is a chief investment counsel
for an investment firm.
Feinberg agrees that math skills are important. So is logic. "Confidence
is important as well. The ability to make a decision is essential when you're
buying and selling stocks."
"Read the business section every day," advises March. "If this is interesting
stuff for you, you have the inklings of becoming a successful investment advisor,
stockbroker or portfolio manager someday.
"Dabble in the market -- better to do it on paper. That way you can experience
the thrill of picking a great stock or fund, and during the downtrends avoid
actual monetary losses."
Analyzing companies and financial statements are important parts of the
job. "It's a field where you can be judged directly on your performance. It
is very competitive," says Feinberg.
Once you get in, working conditions are very good. You may not have the
top office, but you'll be close to it. You can expect to work more than 40
hours a week, including some odd hours to accommodate clients' schedules.
Janet Miller is a partner at an investment firm. She says the flexibility
of her job is a benefit. "It's not the kind of work that necessitates punching
a time clock," she says.
"One doesn't have to be anywhere in particular to competently do the work
of security analysis and engineering portfolios, which brings a certain amount
of freedom to life. It's not where you are or even how much time you spend.
It's what you do that counts."