Man with thought bubble exploring career options - Kaplan Schweser

Posted By: Kaplan Schweser
Updated: July 10, 2018

Do you have what it takes to be a successful portfolio manager? Portfolio manager jobs are expected to grow 12% over the next decade, making it an attractive career option for new finance professionals. In this career, you work closely with other analysts and researchers to conduct company research, monitor trends in investment, and make market predictions that guide business and individual investment decisions (we have all the details here). If you are considering becoming a portfolio manager, to help you out, we have counted down the 9 skills you need.

#9. Communication

It is no secret that portfolio managers spend a lot of time working with complicated data. To be a successful portfolio manager, however, you must be able to communicate your analysis and recommendations to business leaders in a way that makes sense to them.

#8. Tenacity

Being a portfolio manager can be a brutal job. The hours are long, and handling investments for businesses or individuals is demanding. It’s also hard work staying on top of the news and market fluctuations. To do this job well, you must have a lot of drive and desire to succeed.

#7. Anticipation

A portfolio manager’s day often starts with checking the news in the morning for major developments around the world. Being able to anticipate how a major event will impact the financial markets will help you make good investment decisions.

#6. Analytical Ability

Portfolio managers sift through lots of research every day. You’ll have to do a lot of scenario analysis and plan for a range of outcomes. To be a successful portfolio manager, you must have a mind built for that kind of analysis. You also must be able to see trajectories and connect how events could impact market activities.

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#5. Decisiveness

Once you have analyzed the data and formed conclusions, you must be decisive in your investment recommendations. You could second guess yourself all day long when making predictions. Once you’ve done the research and made an informed recommendation, you must accept that’s the most certainty you’ll have and trust your judgement.

#4. Competitive Spirit

Portfolio management is a competitive field. You will always be looking for ways to get a competitive edge over others by finding promising new investment opportunities. A competitive spirit will keep you motivated to take calculated risks and stay innovative. You never know when you’ll uncover a lucrative new investment option.

#3. Strong Emotional Control

An emotional decision-maker would be a disaster in this industry. Markets fluctuate constantly, and having strong emotional control will prevent you from panicking and making poor investment decisions in the heat of the moment. Operating on logic rather than emotion, and not worrying too much about intra-day fluctuations, are keys to success.

#2. Ability to Work Independently

Portfolio managers need to be able to work autonomously and think for themselves. A portfolio manager who succumbs to herd mentality will only do as well as everyone else. The secret to success is identifying new ideas that may provide you an edge in investing.

#1. Humility

As a successful portfolio manager, you must recognize your limits. You are, after all, making predictions about the future. It is dangerous for someone in this position to be overconfident in their abilities. No matter how good you may be at analyzing and interpreting data, it’s important to recognize all the ways you could be wrong and be willing to accept and learn from your mistakes.


Now that you know what skills you need to be successful as a portfolio manager, does this sound like the right career for you? If so, find out the steps you need to take to become a portfolio manager.