What it is:
Investment management has two general definitions, one relating to advisory services and the other relating to corporate finance.
In the first instance, a financial advisor or financial services company provides investment management by coordinating and overseeing a client's financial portfolio -- e.g., investments, budgets, accounts, insurance and taxes.
In corporate finance, investment management is the process of ensuring that a company's tangible and intangible assets are maintained, accounted for, and put to their highest and best use.
How it works/Example:
An investment management company serving as an advisor to a client has one overriding goal -- to substantially grow its client's portfolio. Investment managers are often hired by institutional investors like pension funds, corporations, and financial intermediaries, as well as high net worth individuals.
Investment managers conduct interviews, research, and statistical analyses of companies, markets, and trends to determine what investments to make or avoid on behalf of their clients. Investment managers do not generally need a specific "investment manager" license, though the firms that hire investment managers often require registration with one or more exchanges and/or the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD).
In corporate finance, investment management requires finding ways to maximize company value by managing long-term tangible and intangible assets to be more reliable, efficient, or cheaper -- including evaluating asset financing options, accounting methods, productions operation management, and maintenance schedules.
Why it matters:
Although most financial jobs don't carry an official "investment manager" title, the truth is that nearly everyone in the finance world uses investment management to some degree.
As a result, most financial professionals are judged on their ability to successfully manage investments -- either directly or indirectly. Proficiency in investment management makes the difference between a mediocre and a stellar performance at both the individual and corporate levels.