Chemung Canal Trust Company | Needed Scale to Grow
The Challenge: Maxed Out Credit Team
Chemung Canal Trust Company of Elmira, New York, emphasizes serving its local community, and the institution was successfully growing the loan portfolio even before they subscribed to our credit solution.
With the additional loan volume, the institution’s loan processing systems were going to be put to the test. Many steps in the life-of-loan process were handled in disparate systems, which meant lenders, analysts and loan administration officers were having to manage multiple spreadsheets and programs that introduced risk of manual data-entry error and—more significantly—risk of inefficiency that would dampen their ability to grow. Without a centralized risk rating system, the institution was also concerned with the reliability and objectivity of risk ratings that were assigned to credits, especially when it came time for external audits, loan reviews or examinations. “You always get the person that says, ‘It feels like a 4…’” says Lucimar Foo Siam Escudero, VP & Commercial Credit Manager at Chemung Canal Trust Company. Without an objective risk rating matrix, it was more difficult to justify and test that gut feel.
The institution started looking for a solution that would allow their loan process to be more uniform loan-to-loan and would increase the speed and ease for analyzing new loans and administering the existing portfolio.
From among several solutions, Chemung Canal Trust Company chose the Sageworks solution from Abrigo, including modules for Credit Analysis, Risk Rating and Loan Administration, which are used exclusively in the commercial loan department. The institution also chose to use Sageworks ALLL within their loan review department for the allowance calculation.
Within 90 days, the institution had each product up and running; they elected to implement all the solutions at one time. While concurrent implementation required a bigger change for the bank to work through, it allowed them to see the benefit of the interconnected system sooner, said Escudero.
To get started with Risk Rating, the bank chose to run Abrigo alongside their internal system for a while to fine-tune risk matrices. Then, they began using Abrigo for all commercial risk ratings.
A big test of the Abrigo system was how the commercial loan risk ratings held up in annual reviews and exams, and Escudero says there haven’t been any significant changes recommended from either auditors or regulators. She explains, “That’s a good sign, meaning that we are on target with the matrix that we developed, and Sageworks is a good practice to use.” Sageworks from Abrigo also provides robust documentation so risk rating decisions are well supported in reporting.
The institution also uses Loan Administration to streamline borrower communications, as Escudero and her team prep mailings and requests for financials. “We don’t just have to do a mail merge and hope that it works…” she explains, and customers aren’t getting ten letters with requests but one document that consolidates all the necessary requests for that borrower.
Within Credit Analysis, the technology has allowed the staff to complete their analyses and write ups more quickly, which helps shorten turnaround times for loans. Because Sageworks from Abrigo is web-based, the platform also allows Chemung’s Albany, NY, office to review the credits at the same time, cutting down on version-control issues and potential bottlenecks. Even the Mortgage and Retail areas of the bank have read-only access and can login to see a borrower’s exposure since global relationships are tracked within the technology.
Recently, Chemung Canal Trust Company expanded their Abrigo technology to also include Credit Analysis for Nonprofit Lending, which helps their credit staff accurately and concisely analyze the $60M in outstanding loans the bank has to nonprofits.
Because of their decision to use Sageworks, Escudero says, “We are more uniform, and we are embracing a process that follows through.” With a streamlined and consistent process in place, the bank is equipped to continue growing the loan portfolio and scale without adding a lot more personnel resources.