The role of marketing director is a vital one in an investment management firm. Ultimately, the marketing director is responsible for setting the tone for asset-management communications collateral that is distributed to potential investors. In addition, the marketing director often spearheads shareholder communications in investment firms that do not have a separate director for those purposes. While the career ladder to becoming a marketing director is a potentially long one, it is often a challenging and rewarding journey.

Difference Between Marketing and Sales in an Investment Firm
From the outside of an asset management firm, the roles of sales and marketing may appear quite similar. Inside most companies, however, there are distinct differences. The marketing department focuses on creating the communication messages that are ultimately distributed to potential investors by the sales department. In doing so, the marketing director lends valuable support to the sales force by leading the team that crafts the arguments sales advisors later use to sell investment products.

The marketing director must develop a marketing strategy for each of the various channels of communication. These channels include hard-copy communications such as brochures, educational pieces, white papers and fund product updates. Additionally, over the past decade, online communications including the company's web site and email campaigns have fallen under the aegis of the marketing director. Finally, in many firms, the marketing team often develops the presentations that sales advisors rely on when they pitch asset management products to potential investors.

The Path to Becoming a Marketing Director
The path to becoming a marketing director within an investment management firm often begins with establishing a career within the marketing department. Entry-level marketing associates must learn the ropes of the profession as well as the specifics of their particular company. Unlike many other areas of investment management, however, breaking into marketing or sales is often a way to get your foot in the door without having an unduly strong background in economics.

This is due to the crucial communications component of the marketing field. If you have studied writing or journalism - and often if you simply have a strong liberal arts background as a college undergraduate - marketing may be a way to begin to establish a career within an investment management firm without having to study finance, accounting or having a science-related background such as engineering. Once you do get your foot in the proverbial door, however, acquiring investment management knowledge will become mandatory. (For related reading, see Trying On Potential Employers.)

Often firms will hire an entry-level marketing associate right out of college with a background in journalism or literature and require that the associate demonstrate an increasing level of knowledge about asset management. This is often accomplished by passing the Series 7 and/or Series 63 exams. Many investment management companies, however, will further demonstrate their confidence in a marketing associate by paying for the associate to attend preparatory classes as well as paying the fees for these exams. (To learn more, read Succeeding At The Series 63 and Putting Licenses To The Test.)

Once marketing associates begin to prove their knowledge of the field - in addition to their communication and writing abilities - promotions will likely follow. Many firms have increasing rungs of officer-level promotions that include: senior marketing associate, junior marketing vice president and senior marketing vice president. At each of these levels, there will often be many others that share the same title. The marketing director, however, is the pinnacle of the career journey within a marketing department of an asset management firm as he or she runs the entire marketing operation. The marketing director still answers to the president and CEO of the firm.

A Day in the Life
The marketing director interacts most frequently with the staff of his or her department. Each director of a department within an investment management firm is responsible for managing every member of the department. As a result, the marketing director spends a great deal of time going over the projects that each marketing department staff member is responsible for at any given time.

In addition to monitoring and setting the tone for the work of their own departments, however, marketing directors interact heavily with the sales and product development departments as well as with the president and CEO of the firm. The marketing director often does this through regular meetings. In any given day, for example, the marketing director may meet with several members of his or her staff individually, including the director of sales, the head of product development and the president and/or CEO of the firm. These meetings range from discussions of the nuts and bolts of individual marketing campaigns to broad, sweeping marketing and branding strategies for the entire firm.

Conclusion
If you believe that a potential career as the marketing director of an asset management firm may be for you, consider applying for a job as a marketing associate. This entry-level experience will give you an idea as to whether climbing the marketing department ladder will be a plausible and enjoyable journey for you. If you are still an undergraduate in college or graduate school, you might want to consider interning with the marketing department of a large investment management company during the summer or over the course of a semester. There is no better way to determine what career may suit you best than to experience it for yourself.

To related reading, see Finding Your Place In The Financial Industry.

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