Poor people want to be rich, and rich people want to see their wealth growing, year after year. In this vicious cycle of modern society, Asset Managers play an indispensable role. They take care of the money of the rich, changing them for bonds, equities, real estate, commodities and other assets, simply for things that grow in value instead of loosing it–which happens to be the inevitable destiny of cash.
Speaking honestly, you do not need to be the next Warren Buffet to excel as an asset manager, or to get another job in an investment company (associate, analyst, etc). Even Warren does not beat the S&P 500 most years with his investments nowadays, and the fund managers and investors who beat the major stock indexes have often more luck than skill.
The Asset Managers of 21st century must be first and foremost an excellent salesmen and relationship manager. On the top of that, they need a knowledge of different tools and opportunities on the investment market, and how to match them with the financial goals of a client, and with their attitude to risk. Let’s have a look at some interview questions you may face while interviewing for this job.
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Why do you want to work as an Asset Manager?
Because you want to work with the rich, risking their capital instead of yours. You prefer a fixed commission from each deal you close (or an excellent salary), regardless of whether it ends profitable for your clients.
The clients may win or lose, but you will always do well. As an analyst, sales associate, customer relationship manager, portfolio manager, or any other figure in a well-establish asset management company, you cannot really lose. Well, maybe this the real motive of your job application, but as you can certainly guess, you should not point it out in an interview.
Speak about your passion for investing, and for growing capital. You’ve been always interested in the stock market, you’ve made your own investments, learned what you could, and now, once out of school (or school of life), you cannot really imagine working in any other field.
You can also emphasize some strengths that make from you an excellent candidate for the job in asset management. Sales skills, interpersonal skills, and CRM—if you opt for a role in distribution (sales), or analytical skills, attention to detail, and impeccable Math skills—if you apply for a role in investment.
What’s more, you understand that keeping cash in a bank means burning cash, because 0.1 interest rates on current accounts and 1-3% interest rates on saving accounts will hardly beat the 3% inflation (or the 10% we see right now in many countries), even if banks did not charge the outrageous fees they charge for playing with our money.
Summarized and underlined, you see the meaningful purpose in this job, have passion for investing capital, and believe to have the right skills to make something big happen in the field.
I’ve done a lot of selling in my life. I feel like a fish in the water on the phone. I enjoy the negotiations, the adrenaline one feels in the meetings, and the great satisfaction when you close a big deal, after two months of work, when you get a huge client onboard. This isn’t an easy job, but once you have passion for sales, and I do have it, you see it as the best choice. What’s more, I’m more into B2B sales, and that’s the reason why I opted for a career in asset management, instead of other relevant field.
Can you tell us more about your education and experience?
You should focus on your strengths. If your degree from Finance or Management or an MBA, or a CPA or CFA stands out, talk about it, and point out two or three principal courses that should help you to kick-start your career in asset management. You should adjust your choice to the exact job you hope to have with them—be it in distribution, investment, or support.
The same applies to your experience. Remember that people know each other in the field. If you did your internship under the mentoring of some skilled analyst or associate, you should definitely mention their name, and point out one or two things you learned from them (can be about the technique of work, but also about their attitude to work, and to problems they faced in the office).
On the contrary, if you didn’t excel at school, or even didn’t go to any, you should focus more on your practical experience with investing money, and turn the attention to the excellent training program they run for new hires. As long as you understand what is a bond, stock, index, and fund, and are ready to work 60+ hours a week, you are good to go for some entry level jobs in the field.
Anyway, if you have any experience with sales, customer service, or finance, you should mention it. Try to connect the duties you had in your past jobs with the duties you’ll be responsible for in your new role. For example if you did some financial analysis, or reporting, if you were selling something to someone in your past job, you can benefit from such experience while working in an investment company…
As you can see on my resume, I’ve done an internship at [name of the company], under the guidance of [name of the person who led you in your program]. It has been an eye opening experience for me. Now I understand the amount of work, and the scope of data one has to work with, to make a successful career in asset management. During my internship I had a chance to understand different channels, asset classes, regions, and roles in the team. It helped me to find my calling—I’d like to work as a portfolio manager, specializing primarily on low-risk investments [or any other specialization]. And I feel ready to make this happen.
Would you like me to elaborate more on my typical day as an intern, or on anything from my education?
* May also interest you: Why should we hire you? Learn how to answer one of the most dreaded interview questions.
How important is the relationship with clients in your view?
You should give relationships the utmost importance. We speak here about B2B sales, and you will be in contact with top managers, and people who sit on huge pillows of money. Such deals are rarely closed over the phone…
Unless you meet with the clients face to face, and keep the relationship warm over the years, with regular meetings and updates, unless they trust you, they won’t give you with their millions to invest—regardless of whether we speak about their own money, or some pension fund they respond for in a company.
Ensure the interviewers that you want to maintain excellent relationship with the clients. If you neglected this aspect and focused only on working with the assets, you’d lose the clients quickly to competition. And that’s certainly something you want to avoid at all costs.
You can even talk about acquiring new clients, because in some cases and models in asset management, it will form an integral part of your job. If it does, they will typically ask a separate question about your client acquisition strategy…
I consider them very important. Clients do not necessarily have to know about every move we make, they do not have to see behind the scenes. But it is important to keep them in the picture, so they know how their investments are performing year over year, and we should also invite them to events and VIP gatherings, just to demonstrate how important they are. People enjoy doing business with friends. If they feel good in our company, if they enjoy the events, it will help us to retain them over the long run.
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What is your attitude to risk? How do you manage it?
Hint: You should be neither a gambler, nor a coward. Say that you have a neutral attitude to risk. You look at it without emotions. What matters for you are the preferences of your clients–whether they want to take risks, and perhaps earn more as a reward, or they opt for a conservative investment strategy.
You, as an excellent asset manager, or analyst, have plans and suggestions ready for each scenario. Trying to understand the financial goals of the client, the worth of their assets, and their attitude to risk, you are ready to pick the most suitable investment opportunity, or portfolio. It can be real estate, gold, S&P 500, stocks of some emerging tech companies, or even drinking water–maybe soon the most precious asset of all, and the reason no. 1 for conflicts in the world…
I do not have any particular attitude to it. I simply accept it as a part of the game. When we invest money, some risks are always present, and clients should be aware of them. My goal is to match their expectations, and their level of risk aversion, with the right investment or portfolio. I can assure you that I do not wake up in the middle of night, soaked with sweat, after having a bad dream of losing some money in a short run. I can live with the possibility of losing money.
What role does reporting and forecasting play in your work?
You should definitely give it some importance. Trying to stay on the top of the game, and retain your clients, you do reports on a monthly or quarterly basis. This helps you to decide about the best moves, but also to stay in touch with your clients (how often you send them anything depends on your strategy and preferences), and ensure them that their hard-earned money are in good hands.
This will help you maintain their trust in difficult times, when the economy is struggling and the assets are losing value. And that’s obviously not only a goal of each Asset Management company, but also one of the conditions of their survival. If clients started to leave in masses, the company would bankrupt…
I have been always very diligent with my reporting. Internally, I do reports on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, and I often use them as a reference when trying to decide about something in work. What’s more it’s a good way to learn about trends over the year, and a mirror you can look into anytime, to judge your results. Having said that, I prefer to send reports to clients only once a year—unless they explicitly request the report. In my opinion, when they are in for a long run with their investments, it makes no sense to stress out about some volatility in the market—which is, of course, ever present.
Tell me about an obstacle you overcame
Life’s not a walk in a park on Sunday afternoon. Each of us faces all kinds of obstacles. And while not all barriers can be crossed–sometimes we have to accept them and move on, or even step backwards, it’s your attitude to overcoming obstacles that interests the interviewers. Because you will face obstacles while trying to close a big deal, or make an investment of your life…
Are you ready to make sacrifices when trying to achieve something in life? Can you step out of your comfort zone when situation demands it? Do you give up easily, or do you never give up? And when you finally overcame the obstacle on your way, didn’t ten other obstacles appear in front of you?
That’s what they try to find out with this question, and the situation you narrate should demonstrate your never-give-up attitude, and readiness to face challenges the job in asset management presents.
I do not like the word obstacle. In my opinion, most limitations and obstacles are self-imposed. One can achieve whatever they want to achieve, especially in asset management. It’s just about having ambition and dreaming big, regardless of what the others are saying. Sure, not everyone is born into a good family, having resources to study and to pursue their dreams. But even if you are lucky, just as I was, you still have to overcome your laziness, step out of your comfort zone, and stick with one thing long enough, to eventually succeed, and become no. 1 in your profession. That’s what I’ve been trying to do up to this point, and that’s what has brought me here, to this interview with your asset management firm.
* You can also download the full list of questions in a one page long PDF and practice your interview answers anytime later:
Other questions you may face in your asset management interview
- Imagine that we are under-performing, and didn’t beat the stock market in a given year. How would you announce the news to the clients?
- Which asset class would you like to specialize in and why?
- You are participating in a networking event in a city, and see a VP of a middle sized company running a pension scheme for their employees. they do not work with any asset management company at the moment. How will you approach them?
- Tell me about a time when you showed initiative at work (or at school).
- Describe a time when you struggled to build a relationship with someone important. How did you eventually overcome that?
- Give us an example of an occasion when you used logic to solve a problem.
- Describe the situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone.
- Sell me this pen (or any other object on the table).
- How many cabs are on the streets of London at this moment?
Conclusion, answers to all questions
You will typically compete with many other applicants for any position in asset management, including internship roles. What’s more, may face a variety of tricky questions, including behavioral questions, brain teasers, and role play. We can certainly label this interview as difficult.
Try to prepare for each question from this article, read the job description carefully, and do not forget to do a quality research about your prospective employer–what sort of clients they have, what types of investments they specialize in, what corporate values they promote, etc.
And if you are not sure how to deal with the questions, or how to stand out from then rest of the applicants, have a look at the eBook I wrote for you, the Asset Management Interview Guide. Multiple brilliant answers to all tricky questions will make your life much easier in this difficult interview. You will find some great sample answers directly on the eBook page, so it makes sense to check it out even if you do not plan to purchase anything…
Thank you, and I wish you good luck. You will need it :).
May also interest you:
- Wealth manager interview questions.
- Financial Advisor interview questions.
- Why do you want to work in Finance?