It can be hard for banks to invest in changing their operations, especially when new systems or vendors are involved. Unlike loans or accounts, assigning a price tag to the value banks get from improving their operations is far from straightforward.
With this in mind, Bank Director looked at how three fintechs — Cinchy, Empyrean Solutions and INETCO Systems Limited — have helped three financial institutions streamline data sharing, financial modeling and real time transaction modeling.
Cinchy, a data collaboration platform that manages data as a network and enables banks to build their own business applications, won Best Solution for Improving Operations at Bank Director’s 2020 Best of FinXTech Awards in May. Modeling platform Empyrean Solutions and transactions intelligence firm INETCO Systems Limited were finalists for the category.
Cinchy: A Tool to Build Tools
National Bank of Canada wanted to custom build a tool that would integrate and easily share internal information and documentation with data scientists and business intelligence teams to support its big data efforts. Some solutions on the market were focused more on governance, rather than data pooling and aggregation — which was like “buying a plane to get a bicycle,” says Sebastien Beaulieu, senior manager of data, business intelligence and analytics strategy at the bank.
Enter Cinchy. Cinchy’s customization and flexibility gave various internal stakeholders a way to collaborate within the bank’s ecosystem to build the right tool. Beaulieu calls it “play dough.”
The Cinchy tool sits on top of the bank’s SQL (Structured Query Language) server. Implementation took six months, but Beaulieu says it could’ve taken as little as three.
While he wasn’t authorized to share specific performance metrics, he says there has been “tremendous value” from having a centralized, federated data lake. It used to take up to 200 days to integrate a new data source into the bank’s previous Oracle tool; with Cinchy, it now takes 10 days.
Empyrean Solutions: Modeling Everything
Pinnacle Financial Partners was preparing to grow over $10 billion in assets and knew its existing asset-liability management (ALM) platform wouldn’t meet the heightened regulatory expectations that come with crossing the threshold.
It learned about Empyrean Solutions from the recommendation of several larger peers. Today, the $29 billion bank uses the modeling platform for “just about everything,” says Brian Gilbert, the bank’s asset liability manager.
The Nashville, Tennessee-based bank uses Empyrean to model ALM, credit, funds transfer pricing, non-maturity deposits, contingency liquidity and net interest margin forecast. The bank is also using it to calculate its allowance under the current expected credit loss model, or CECL. Running 17 scenarios on the platform now only takes 17 minutes, he says. Such pulls can take hours to run at other banks; the time saved allows him to focus on the inputs in each situation and create multiple scenarios.
Gilbert couldn’t devote continuous full days to the implementation but estimated that a dedicated team could do it in a week. The platform doesn’t connect to a bank’s core; instead, users load data and financial information directly into it. These data sets can then be made available for any modeling, reducing the amount of raw extracts that Gilbert needs to perform.
“It’s hard for me to say how many more people we would need to have on my team if we didn’t have Empyrean. We would need more than four people to run interest rate forecasting,” he says.
INETCO Systems Limited: ATM Oversight
Boeing Employees’ Credit Union, or BECU, relies on its fleet of ATMs to deliver a large percentage of its financial services to members. It’s not unusual for one of its ATMs to have 14,000 transactions a month. So it’s a big deal when one goes offline and needs to be repaired or serviced, says Shirley Taylor, digital channel manager at the Tukwila, Washington-based credit union.
The $22 billion credit union wasn’t finding out about ATM outages or errors in a reliable or timely manner, in part because machines would occasionally go offline. Its ATM vendor introduced the credit union to INETCO, an operations intelligence platform that monitors transactions.
The credit union liked that the platform created alerts when there was an interruption in an ATM’s normal activity or when transactions failed to process — signs of a problem. Those alerts mean that fewer ATMs stay out of commission, allowing members to use its machines instead of sending them elsewhere. The fintech also generates potential fraud alerts and helps Taylor generate regular usage reports much faster. What used to take four to six weeks and involved reaching out to three other colleagues for data now takes an hour, she says.
Changing bank operations is never easy. But Cinchy, Empyrean Solutions and INETCO Systems Limited show how bankers can improve their institutions, saving employees valuable time and reducing the number needed to conduct essential operations.