Baseball’s Best… and FinTech Relationships?

The premier slugger and center-fielder for the Los Angeles Angels is an eight-time All-Star and three-time American League MVP — winning the award in 2014, 2016, and 2019 while finishing second in the 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2018 votes.

According to ESPN, he’s the best player going into this new season, based on his record for nearly a decade.

So, how did Mike Trout fall to the 25th pick in the Major League Baseball draft in 2009?

*And yes, I am still a die-hard RedSox fan… hello Big Papi!

Sure, there were some can’t-miss prospects alongside him. The Washington Nationals pegged Stephen Strasburg to be their ace — and selected him with the first pick. He’s no slouch himself — 112 wins, three All-Star games and a World Series title later, the organization has no regrets.

But back in 2009, 24 names were called before Mike Trout, this once in a generation player, heard his. Many of them never reached the majors, let alone Trout’s level.

Professional sports’ drafts are all about taking risks, dreaming big and building for a franchise’s future. These decisions ultimately impact wins, losses and financial futures of organizations for years to come.

For those charged with improving their teams, technology and delivery models, the implications of Mike Trout’s draft should give you pause. With so many technology companies stealing headlines these days, the question about “who’s next” in the financial technology space parallels what baseball teams go through each year.

Ask yourself: How do you and your colleagues look at what’s available? How do you evaluate a future potential fit? How do you commit to another business that can propel you forward, or leave you lamenting what could have been?

So much of a bank’s future depends on its leadership team’s ambition and appetite to take chances today. Inevitably, I find business leaders returning to two basic questions when it comes to a new potential business relationship:

  1. How can I drive new revenue with their support?
  2. How do I become more efficient with their help?

A baseball appears to have two seams; in reality, they’re 216 individual stitches. Similarly for banks, multiple small decisions add up to a big picture.

Just as baseball teams need to be realistic in terms of allocating capital, so do financial institutions when considering their tech spend. No financial services company can choose a relationship that guarantees success.

Like any good general manager, a banking leader needs to prioritize what’s the right fit for the team. Some banks and credit unions may modernize back-office technology, which has the potential to improve efficiency, reduce errors and free up resources for growth. Others may look at solutions that improve customer experiences or drive sales.

Regardless of where you are in your current approach to technology, you need courage to take the first step — and the discipline to take the next. While your team might miss on a Mike Trout, take comfort that there is more than one way to build a team.

Doing your own homework on who’s out there might just net you an MVP.

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