The Pulse

Wealth & Asset Management Outlook…Through The Lens Of A Youth Baseball Coach

Mike Lee offers his perspective on how the successful strategies for wealth and asset managers can be compared to his experiences coaching young children in baseball

by Mike Lee, EY Global Wealth & Asset Management Leader.

I love sports – and am particularly passionate about baseball.  I’m also a fan of finding commonalities across various experiences or approaches we take to manage interactions in our lives. Whether as a parent, child, spouse, sibling, coach, participant, leader or employee, there are common attributes – mutually developing expectations, authentic interest, meaningful listening and understanding perspectives – that are consistently critical in achieving success, however defined.

In reflecting upon our recently published Global Wealth and Asset Management Outlook[1], I recognized a few parallels from what I have learned as a youth baseball coach relative to the insights we offer in six key priorities to drive the execution of successful strategies for Wealth & Asset Managers:

  • Reorientate around clients
  • Digitize distribution
  • Reimagine investment propositions
  • Maximize growth
  • Transform business models
  • Leverage inorganic opportunities

How does this translate into how leaders in the financial services industry manage their businesses for success? The following examples come to mind:

1.) Building Teams – Enhancing New Capabilities And The Power Of Flexibility

Over the past dozen years, I’ve had the opportunity to coach baseball for a bunch of enthusiastic 10-year-old teams multiple times and, not surprising at that age, on each team some were more advanced athletically and/or demonstrated a higher baseball IQ; a few were pretty solid skill-wise, while others needed additional attention to understand the basics of the game better. Although our coaches worked with the entire team, I tended to focus a significant amount of my time with those in the last category. My focus was on elevating kids’ confidence not only in how they played the game, but also in how they contributed and interacted with other team members.

At this level, you have 12 on the team and nine on the field. As a coach, you want all 12 to be engaged and you need all nine players on the field to contribute to reach your team’s full potential. Realistically, not every player will contribute equally so you need to find where each can bring a skill or quality to enhance the overall team. Whether it’s deeper skill at a particular capability (e.g., baserunning, bunting) or ability to play multiple positions, you need each player to give 100%, feel their contribution in the success of the team, rely on each other and be equally engaged in every aspect of the game – players who want to be there and participate in the process.

The parallel that I draw from our Outlook is concepts within maximizing growth and leveraging inorganic opportunities. For example:

  • Increasing exposure to growth areas and new capabilities – developing depth and breadth reflects diverse strength in the ability to execute (don’t always rely on the same people, look to others who may be able to bring a different competitive edge).
  • Improve flexibility and modularity – the ability to “plug and play” and flex as circumstances change is paramount to address the accelerated pace of change organizations are experiencing today and will in the future.
Investing to grow the business, developing new capabilities and having the ability to be flexible in order to successfully execute your strategy is what’s top of mind for successful firms...

Although not an exact parallel, investing to grow the business, whether organically or externally (e.g., using M&A or partnership effectively to drive growth), developing new capabilities and having the ability to be flexible in order to successfully execute your strategy is what’s top of mind for successful firms.

2.) Making The Complex Digestible

At the 10-year-old level in baseball, rules change: players can now lead off and steal bases like big league players. There’s both an art and science to being a successful baserunner. I won’t go into all the details about leading off, stealing and running the bases that we taught our players, but suffice it to say, there’s an interconnectedness and complexity to the process. Not surprisingly, each player needed nuanced coaching to understand these concepts and how they all fit together. This required active listening (sometimes not too easy with 10-year-olds) and adjusting how I taught the process (e.g., one concept at a time, repetition, simplification – speaking in their terms, not mine).

At this age base coaches are incredibly important in supporting and instructing the kids when they’re on base. A key tenet of learning how to lead off is always knowing where the ball is so you don’t get picked off. During practices one of my favorite approaches to teaching this concept (i.e., listen to the coach but keep your eye on where the ball is) was to call out the player’s name “Paul, Paul, Paul” to see if they’d look at me. In early season practices this “game” usually ended up with the player looking at me. But over time, the players learned – in fact they’d keep their eye on the ball and say “what do you want Coach”?

How does being a better base runner relate to our Outlook? I think it’s reorientating around your clients.

The terms “customer centricity” and “hyper-personalization” are tossed around a great deal, but what do they really mean? The parallels that I draw are engagement, learning, trust and loyalty in addressing client/customer (i.e., player) needs. Active listening (e.g., voice of the customer), making complex more understandable (e.g., gamify to educate, emphasis educate; nudge to make smarter choices), building trust and loyalty (e.g., keep coming back for more).  Some may question that this differs between retail and institutional elements of the industry. However, we’re working with traditional B2B organizations by applying B2C concepts to their operating approaches – client experience officers, new client segments and personas based on roles/responsibilities rather than types of organizations/lines of business, and design principles to alleviate pain points along a client lifecycle.

To be fair, there are approaches from business experiences that I’ve leveraged in coaching – establishing mutual, objective goals up front, defining measures for success and encouraging innovation, to name a few. Lessons can be learned from so many different and diverse experiences. Whether it’s evaluating peers in your industry, market leaders in other sectors or even youth baseball coaches, there are synergies and experiences to lean into when navigating the execution of successful strategies.




The views reflected in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the global EY organization or its member firms.