Profits Over Growth
The last few weeks have been a whirlwind for banking. As bank stock indices plummet and investors make bets about which bank will fail, I’m headed to one of Bank Director’s most important conferences.
But the agenda isn’t packed with discussion about investor and depositor panic. Experience FinXTech on May 9-10 in Tampa, Florida, is for bankers and technology company leaders who want to make connections and learn from each other. Still, the news headlines will be on people’s minds. I’m thinking about how the new environment is going to impact banks and technology companies.
Two years ago, a consultant to tech companies said to me, “The last five years have found that you don’t have to be profitable to be a company.” Tech founders focused on growth, not profitability; and once they had market share, they went public or sold to a bigger company, taking their billions in equity to retire at 30 on an island in the Caribbean.
The times are changing.
Some banks may pull back on planned tech implementations. I think some fintechs will be forced to sell. Venture capital deals fell 60% in value in the fourth quarter of 2022 compared to a year prior, according to the news site PitchBook. Banks are choosing a vendor or partner while also considering the company’s financial stability. Banks don’t want their partners and vendors to disappear or be gobbled up by larger companies that disinvest in the platform.
But the current environment is not all bad for partnerships, either. In a contrast from two years ago, fintech founders tell me they’re concentrating on profitability these days and not just growth. The good news is that fintechs in general have gotten leaner, more focused and driven to create successful partnerships.
Bankers still need to act like private detectives and investigate those fintechs. Bank Director Managing Editor Kiah Lau Haslett explores due diligence in Bank Director’s recently released FinXTech report, “Finding Fintechs.” But I’m convinced a group of fintechs focused on bank success — rather than growth for its own sake — can only be good for banks.
• Naomi Snyder, editor-in-chief of Bank Director