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40 Years and Counting; From a PC DOS Solution to Today’s Cloud-Based Financial Performance as a Service

by Graham Goble on October 22, 2020

I have been working in the financial services sector for more than 40 years now and during that time I have introduced four commercially successful software products to the market.

All four software products did the same thing, they extracted data from core banking systems and made it available to management in the form of reports, dashboards, and performance analysis. The main thing that really changed over 40 years was the underlying technology. What started in the PC DOS days of the 1990s progressed through the introduction of Windows, SQL Server, and HTML web-based applications in the 2000’s to the current day deployment of a browser-based application delivered via a public cloud infrastructure.

One effect of the current pandemic is having on the current pace of technology is the acceleration of trends that were already underway. Whether this is the progression of online shopping or the acceleration of staff working from home what has also become clear is the need for cloud-based financial applications has become ever more apparent in banks , credit unions and the microfinance industry.

The BankBI story started in 2013 and at that time we made a bet that cloud-based financial reporting and performance applications were the right way to go. Seven years ago, not many banks and credit unions were using financial applications hosted in the public cloud, but the economics seemed so obvious that the inevitable movement of hosting financial applications into the public cloud would become the natural trend. Seven years later with 60 customers in more than 40 countries we believe the model has proven itself and is now quite mature. The success we have been having in the US market has attracted much interest from both the banks and credit unions and has also resulted in BankBI aligning with an investor for the credit union market.

What was also obvious was that simply moving legacy business intelligence and performance management applications to a cloud infrastructure would never get to the economic model that would really drive down pricing and create the value for our customers. To be successful we were going to have to design and develop an application from the ground up. By starting on a journey based purely on cloud technology over the last seven years we have been able to continuously re-engineer components of our software solution as the cloud and its services have evolved. This journey has led us to our BankBI solution today, a true multi-tenant highly scalable application delivered as a software as a service application using the latest serverless cloud features and functions.

What distinguishes today's cloud applications is whether they are delivered ‘as a service’ as opposed to just being hosted in the cloud. The keywords ‘as a service’ is synonymous for functionality or applications that deliver true value. At BankBI we focused on delivering performance management to the office of finance in banks, credit unions and the micro finance industry. We realised that to deliver true value we needed to integrate into our application several key areas of functionality that traditionally had previously been delivered as separate siloed applications.

So by integrating financial reporting with actionable daily insights, with budget and variance analysis, with peer analysis and with regulatory reporting we have managed to create an application that combines a lot of value in a single subscription in a pay as you go commercial model. The result is ‘financial performance as a service’. This ‘as a service’ commercial model is especially important in today's economic climate because it allows banks and credit unions to operate the BankBI solution within operating expenditure and not capital expenditure. Because there is no hardware or software licencing to be concerned about, we can all focus on delivering the application and the value proposition with the rapid time to value.

Measure + Monitor = Manage

The true value of financial performance as a service is to provide a unified application that accelerates what has historically been month end reporting into daily dashboards of actionable insights. With light touch data integration taking general ledger and loan and deposit portfolio snapshots data sets into the application we can implement a solution in days and not months.

Our focus will be to continue to expand the functionality within our application and so in doing so continue to expand the value proposition that BankBI has to offer. Our philosophy is to offer an out of the box application that allows you to measure the right metrics and to monitor them on the right frequency which allows you to better manage your business. We believe by focusing on the three M’s that is measure + monitor = manage; this is the winning formula for success.

Into the hands of the executives

To truly make a difference to help executives better run their financial institutions we believe we need to put an interactive application into the hands of those executives and not simply deliver flat reports monthly by email. In today's world with government financial stimulus packages, changes to the balance sheet are happening very fast. Simply relying on financial reports prepared at the end of the month end looking back at the prior month is no longer sufficient. To run today's financial institutions executives need daily information presented in a way that makes sense to them in an application that is easy to use on any device anywhere and anytime. Gone are the days of spreadsheet based management and board reports, what is required today is full end to end automation of daily dashboards and the automated production of the management board reports that the executive team rely on to continuously manage the performance of their financial institution. In addition to automating management reporting the integration of budgeting and peer analysis is also a key component of the application.

Regulatory Reporting

It is well understood that regulatory reporting requirements continue to be a high overhead for financial services institutions. The ability to meet these requirements with manual reporting spreadsheet processes is fast running out of steam. What is required is the ability to integrate the regulatory reporting requirements within the same application as the financial management reporting. Given that both internal and external reporting are based on the same source data what is required is the ability to map that data to different chart of account structures for both internal and external reporting. This is simply the natural evolution of the automation of financial reporting within the finance department.

Banking as a Service

Whether it be neo banks, new challenger banks or FinTechs disrupting financial services, banks and credit unions are having to find ways to adapt their business model to maintain their competitive edge. By adapting their current offerings unpackaging them and re-packaging them as banking as a service some of today's banks and credit unions are finding ways to work hand in hand with the new FinTechs. By commoditising the provision of banking services and taking care of all of the regulatory components required such as know your customer and anti-money laundering requirements banks are increasingly able to deliver the foundation services of banking as a service to this new FinTech layer. To truly deliver this in a cost effective way those providing banking as a service not only require a fully componentised and API based technology stack but they will also require the agility of measuring daily performance on a day by day basis as it is occurring and not simply after the fact and after month end.

Tech Nation 3.0

And so, with the recent recognition of being included in the UK's Tech Nation 3.0 cohort BankBI is poised we hope for an exciting future. Having been selected in the last month as being included within one of the top FinTech companies in the UK we are excited to now push on for the next phase of our evolution and continue to deliver more and more value for both our existing and new customers. After forty years and counting I believe that ‘financial performance as a service’ is the flexible model for banks, credit unions and the microfinance industry both now and the foreseeable future.

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