March 15, 2016

Kara Kennedy: Product Managers Need to be Creative Internal Entrepreneurs

Kara Kennedy

Kara Kennedy


You arrive at the train station, use Uber to book your taxi and then another app like Airbnb to book a room. This may not be everyone’s idea of an organised holiday but it shows how disruptive technology has transformed the leisure industry. And many think that the financial services industry is at a similar inflection point. It is captivated by innovations such as blockchain, open APIs (application program interfaces) and real-time payments that demand market-leading client solutions. Product managers within large financial institutions are both competing and collaborating with their counterparts in the nascent fintech industry, where there are bold ambitions to deploy nimble product development techniques to disrupt the industry.

There is no doubt that over the last decade the product management and development functions within financial services have been subject to increased scrutiny; a natural response to high-profile cases of product misselling and underperformance. A higher bar than ever before is now required to be met by all participants in the product development chain: product, legal, risk, compliance, sales and marketing – as well as external regulators. Documentation and procedural requirements have increased exponentially, requiring product managers to become more disciplined in their role as creative internal entrepreneurs.

These additional checks and balances can certainly appear as strong headwinds to execution of ground-breaking innovation strategies. Project risks are naturally higher when there is no market precedent in existence and it is often simpler to say ‘no’ than ‘yes’. Conversely, product managers must also be mindful that it is often easier to hear ‘yes’ than ‘no,’ and be prepared to recognise that all feedback, good or bad, can have a valuable impact on product design and development. Large organisations have no innate barriers to building inclusive, effective product development teams where members have a shared investment in success. As long as the focus remains on delivering a constructive, commercially-viable solution for clients, the chances of success will increase.

As an institution which has been innovating in financial services for over 200 years, BNY Mellon has a long history of sustainable, enduring and successful product development for its clients. As the speed and ambition of our industry accelerates, I look forward to being part of the next chapter in our evolution.

Kara Kennedy, Product & Innovation Manager for Depositary Receipts at BNY Mellon, is a panellist at the Product Innovation Summit in Dublin on March 15, 2016.

The views expressed herein are those of the author only and may not reflect the views of BNY Mellon. This does not constitute investment advice, or any other business or legal advice, and it should not be relied upon as such.