What is product control and what does a product controller do?

Product control, often considered part of the middle office in the financial services sector, is a function which is responsible for the daily recording and monitoring of trade activity in the front office. The role exists to provide accessible daily performance data and ensure trading is within acceptable limits

Product controllers work closely with the front office, its traders and risk and valuation units. They complete all of the financial and accounting reporting for the bank's trading desk in a daily P&L which is compiled by the product controllers and assessed by them for abnormalities. Controllers also analyse the P&L for risk and market trends as well as product performance, providing an objective and contextualised assessment of how well the trader is performing.

Key responsibilties

Responsibilities will include:

  • Preparing a daily Profit or Loss and analysing movement in the Profit or Loss for trading desks
  • Producing monthly and quarterly financial reports
  • Understanding the business of the desk in order to provide commentary on large Profit or Loss movements on a daily and monthly basis
  • Performing Independent Price Verification where required
  • Advising the front office on all financial and accounting matters relating to new business, products and structures
  • Ensuring a strong and efficient control environment to minimise operational risk

Why are they important?

The product control function allows financial institutions to analyse trading activity and mitigate risks. It also acts as an independent control department, contributing to the integrity of an organisation’s financial statements.

Skills needed for this role

Product controllers need to be confident, proactive, logical and have excellent attention to detail. Relationship building skills are essential in order to achieve the trust of the front office and other colleagues. Flexibility and the ability to cope with ever-changing market conditions is also highly beneficial in this role.

Strategic Professional Options examinations linked to this role

Advanced Performance Management

Career opportunities presented by this role

The product control role offers excellent career prospects as skills are highly transferable. The role can be seen as a valuable gateway from practice into the investment banking environment.

Competencies

High level competencies required include:

  • Corporate and business reporting

    A. Prepares financial statements, corporate financial and integrated reports for external stakeholders using appropriate technology.

    B. Leads effective decision making through analysing, evaluating and communicating performance and position of entities.

    C. Prepares financial statements for groups of entities using appropriate technologies.

    D. Monitors, critically evaluates, and advises on the relevant accounting standards, regulations, conceptual and financial reporting frameworks.

     

  • Governance, risk and control

    A. Evaluates organisational structures and governance to protect the long-term interests of stakeholders.

    B. Recommends appropriate strategies to ensure adherence to governance structures and application of best practice internal controls.

    C. Identifies and manages risk appropriately.

    D. Uses risk management for the best interests of an organisation and its stakeholders.

    E. Monitors and applies relevant legislation, policies and procedures.
     

  • Stakeholder relationship management

    A. Positively develops relationships with internal and external stakeholders.

    B. Communicates and gains commitment from internal and external stakeholder.

    C. Uses emerging technologies to collaborate and communicate effectively with stakeholders.

    D. Applies professional and ethical judgement when engaging with stakeholders.

    E. Aligns organisational strategic objectives with stakeholder needs and manages expectations.