In order to increase processing speed and efficiency for small business loans in the 24 Caribbean countries it serves, Toronto-based Scotiabank (U.S. $266 billion in total assets) needed to automate its financial processes. Often, it took the bank up to seven days to process each manually issued small business loan, according to Jonathan Deletsu, Scotiabank's director of business banking, international banking.
Customer service was neglected, Deletsu continues. "Our goal when we started looking for an answer to our problem was to deepen our relationship with our customers while improving the bank's overall performance, as well as fostering long-term shareholder value," he says.
A Perfect Fit
Following demonstrations of five vendors' products near the end of 2002, Scotiabank purchased CapitalStream's (Seattle) FinanceCenter 7 front-office commercial finance automation platform in early 2003. "It provided the best value for our dollar, and we liked its efficiency and flexibility," explains Deletsu, who declines to name the other vendors. Further, unlike the other products the bank considered, FinanceCenter 7 is Web-based, so Scotiabank did not need to purchase new hardware to support the platform, he adds.
Scotiabank began the FinanceCenter 7 implementation by customizing and standardizing its workflows and navigation, and branding its data entry template. Further customization was necessary for each country in which the software was to be used.
Scotiabank business developers then designed a test case for a one-month user and acceptance testing period. Next, the bank launched a pilot program in the second quarter of 2003 with two key branches in Jamaica; six months later, FinanceCenter 7 was rolled out to every Scotiabank branch in the Caribbean.
According to Deletsu, the Web-based process automation and business analysis provided by the FinanceCenter 7 platform allows Scotiabank to evaluate, originate and manage financial transactions rapidly. As the availability of commercial credit scores in many Caribbean countries is limited, the platform allows the bank to implement custom scorecards that improve risk management when credit bureau information is limited or nonexistent, he explains. Further, the front-office team now can enter, maintain, view and analyze all customer, contract, credit and asset information instantly using a Web browser, Deletsu adds.
In 2004, Scotiabank upgraded to FinanceCenter 8, which expands upon version 7 by accelerating day-to-day banking operations, such as credit applications, according to CapitalStream. Deletsu relates that a key reason for the upgrade was that FinanceCenter 8 is available in Spanish. After going through the same rigorous testing as version 7, the Spanish version now is being piloted in Costa Rica, he notes, and in 2006, Scotiabank plans to roll out the version to El Salvador and the Dominican Republic.
"We believe this initiative will not only generate more business, but also enhance our ability to reduce overhead and manage risk," Deletsu says. He explains that FinanceCenter is increasing the bank's processing efficiency by reducing paperwork and improving turnaround time for loan approval to less than 24 hours. As a result, the new platform frees bank employees to devote more time to meeting customers' needs, which, in turn, has led to an increase in small business customers, Deletsu adds. --Vicki Gerson