Analytical Firepower for Webster Bank’s Credit Team
Decentralized Data and Analytics
Chief Credit Officer Jason Soto joined Webster Bank in 2015, bringing with him a wealth of experience for decision-making and understanding credit risk from his years at GE Capital. In his role at Webster, Jason oversees all things credit-related, including reporting, approval, policies, and procedures, making him a key decision-maker and consumer of information.
Upon joining the bank, Soto saw an opportunity to improve the existing reporting system and have more meaningful reports to drive effective decision-making and credit-management strategy across multiple lines of business and hundreds of team members. Information needed to become more easily accessible to help Webster better prepare to make prudent credit decisions.
In order to keep growing and manage risk, a more efficient reporting system that allowed staff to access this information quickly was needed. “For me, it was about being able to collect broad financial and other key data and utilize it to produce robust analytics, and also start to perform quicker and more detailed trend analysis,” reports Soto. Under his leadership, Webster moved to an automation system for the entire credit department to equip it with the tools needed to manage an ever-growing and more complex portfolio and strengthen its data-driven decision-making.
Solution: Bringing the Credit Department Onto One Platform
Stakeholders across the institution were on board with the automation and flexible reporting that a unified system could provide. But with scores of users, multiple lines of business and various categories of customer information, the move to automation had to be deliberate and inclusive in order to be successful.
Soto explains, “Early on in the process, we formed a project team across lines of business with one or two representatives from each line and key stakeholders. When we were putting together the request for information and reviewing vendors, everyone had a chance to voice their opinion throughout the process.”
The team distributed the RFI and considered multiple vendors for the credit automation project. In addition to technology capabilities, Webster Bank needed a partner that could support them through such a significant process. “Outside of functionality, the biggest reason [we] went with Sageworks was a commitment to ensuring we got the product we were looking for,” Soto says.
After selecting the Sageworks technology from Abrigo in June 2017, the team at Webster Bank kicked off a phased implementation. The implementation included making some Webster-requested enhancements and rolling out the technology by line of business. It also meant Abrigo and Webster Bank working together on ongoing training to ensure there is an appropriate understanding and ease of use associated with this new technology.
“Our employees embrace change, and our thoughtful onboarding plan allowed users of all skillsets to quickly embrace the technology and move forward in a confident manner. This ensured there was a positive experience for our bankers to increase their knowledge and expand their customer relationships,” Soto said.
For example, intensive training programs allowed bankers to have real-time sessions to understand how to best utilize the technology. Another has been to create super-users, people who could champion training and triage training-related questions within their respective teams, which has improved adoption.
Results: Faster Turnaround for Reports, Better Analytics, and More Controls
Soto and the team at Webster Bank identified key performance indicators to measure adoption of the software, including workflows set up, approvals, covenants created, documents uploaded, etc.
For Soto, “We’re able to use the data in the system to help make better informed decision-making, further elevating our risk management and generate growth for the Bank.”
An additional benefit of Webster Bank’s automation is that it enabled the creation of control reports that provide additional support to ensure the data in the system is accurate and produced in a timely manner. Soto explains, “We now have reports that give us real-time information to make business decisions that work better for everyone. The reporting available will allow the Bank to move forward with loan administration and monitoring in a more efficient manner.”
Soto adds, “If you are going to be a lender, specifically to more complex lines of business, you have to have the right level of sophistication. You not only need the people who have experience, but the systems and data to support them. You also have to monitor the data, especially in the aggressive environment we are in today. Analytics is a must.”
“We are very excited about the future and the potential use of all the Sageworks data,” Soto concludes.