In a Nutshell: Financial firms compete for relevancy and market share in a dynamic global marketplace. Acuity Knowledge Partners provides analytics, intelligence, and tools to help more than 500 financial clients gain an edge. Solutions include the BEAT front-office technology platform, which optimizes lending operations to help US banks and credit unions position themselves for the future. More than 5,500 experienced Acuity specialists work on a case-by-case basis with clients to make financial services work better for everyone.
Financial services providers look out on a landscape transformed by digitization and challenged by new competition. For example, commercial and regional US banks and credit unions compete not only with each other but also with much larger traditional banks and fintechs.
As a result, smaller banks and credit unions expand operating models and gain efficiency in their search for more creative ways to drive revenue. The challenge for teams is gaining the perspective to make the best moves confidently.
Acuity Knowledge Partners works with more than 500 global financial clients to provide that perspective and help them make positive, future-focused choices. Acuity Knowledge Partners lending solutions can help US banks improve speed to market, enhance customer service, manage operations more effectively, and access flexible staffing to handle service spikes and special projects.
Acuity Knowledge Partners helps through the digital transformation process, provides human resources to get the job done, and replaces fragmented bank systems with solutions that meet client requirements.
Smaller financial institutions may also struggle with tightened underwriting and credit monitoring standards and face economic instability due to inflation, supply chain disruptions, and rising credit and energy costs.
Experienced, accountable Acuity Knowledge Partners team members systematically assess each client’s unique challenges and goals before building a custom solution that considers all relevant factors.
“We support corporate and commercial banks across the lending value chain, from administrative support to underwriting and loan origination support across asset classes and portfolios,” said Rajul Sood, Acuity Knowledge Partners Senior Director of Lending Services. “And we keep learning from every bank we onboard.”
Consultation to Create a Competitive Edge
Acuity Knowledge Partners has more than 5,500 trained team members across the globe and partners with corporate and investment banks, private investment firms, consultants, and researchers, in addition to commercial and regional banks and credit unions.
It draws employees from markets with abundant academic talent and organizes itself on a pyramid basis, putting the most experienced people at the top to ensure quality. Teams are available on a 24/7 basis to address concerns, answer questions, and meet unexpected challenges.
Although clients are dispersed geographically and vary in size and market, they each receive the same attention to detail and a results-oriented approach designed to increase ROI.
“We provide banks with domain experts to help them standardize and centralize,” Sood said. “While front-office teams focus on customers and on running the engine, we do the non-client-differentiating work in alignment with each client’s strategies, policies, and compliance demands.”
That requires focusing on fundamental research but also calls on process and system knowledge. Acuity Knowledge Partners understands popular loan management systems, including nCino, Moody’s, and Loan IQ, so more clients can expedite digital transformation initiatives without spending months hiring, training, and onboarding.
Infusing expertise provides additional bandwidth to the bank and helps digitization move faster. The result is less impact on the front-office teams running the engine. Customers and end users notice their service experience proceeds according to expectations, but they don’t see where the increased impetus is coming from.
And they may not know how Acuity Knowledge Partners applies the knowledge it gains from each new client relationship to improve service across the board. The more Acuity Knowledge Partners integrates with financial services, the better it can serve individual clients.
“We’re able to benefit smaller banks with best practices from some of the bigger banks,” Sood said.
Managing Risk and Generating Efficiencies
Acuity Knowledge Partners’ lending services portfolio includes corporate and commercial customers that have reached out for additional help with consumer lending. Retail lending solutions from Acuity Knowledge Partners address the entire retail banking value chain, managing risk and generating efficiencies from origination through processing, underwriting, closing, and post-closing.
Originating and processing services include generating and reviewing loan estimates, loan setup, contract and fee reviews, bank statements, and credit report validations. Underwriting services include borrower verification, credit report, income/cashflow analysis, and credit approval routing.
And at the close, Acuity Knowledge Partners provides services around disbursement analysis, escrow, title recording and closure, regulatory compliance, loan servicing, settlement analysis, and closure and lien release.
Acuity Knowledge Partners’ BEAT suite of business intelligence and automation tools helps analysts do their jobs faster so they can do more with less and pass on the savings.
“We’re trying to do more with our current staff by improving efficiency,” Sood said. “We’re not a fintech, but we want to bring in technology and innovation as we grow our banking relationships.”
Examples of what that can mean for firms came in the US during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns, as banks and credit unions processed applications for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Acuity Knowledge Partners regional bank clients were among the best-performing institutions processing PPP loans.
Acuity Knowledge Partners takes the same systematic approach across the board with the BEAT suite, which includes tools for automating financial statement spreading, creating better covenant tracking mechanisms and streamlining credit underwriting packages.
“These are some of the critical tasks banks ask us to do, and we are looking at introducing workflow solutions at every stage,” Sood said. “That creates transparency regarding timelines, how banks allocate work to us, how we respond to it, and how we utilize our teams.”
Acuity: Building Foundations for Growth and Change
Working units in retail lending include consumer mortgages, personal loans, credit cards, and auto loans. Across its lending portfolio, Acuity processes 50,000+ loan applications, manages more than 300,000 documents, validates 125,000+ loan conditions, and fulfills and onboards more than 30,000 deals annually.
Acuity Knowledge Partners brings positive ROI and impact to clients across its portfolio with its tools, services, and dedication to customization.
One client experienced inconsistent financial spreading at the branch level caused by imprecise processes and methodologies. That resulted in slow loan approval, irregular monitoring, and reduced front-office productivity. Acuity Knowledge Partners solutions resulted in cost savings of more than $6 million and a 27% efficiency gain.
Another client, a top-15 US commercial bank with a well-diversified loan portfolio, struggled with slower market response time, inadequate client-facing time for portfolio managers, increased regulatory pressure, hiring challenges, and higher average costs. Acuity Knowledge Partners produced $12 million in savings and an 18-20% increase in client-facing time.
On the horizon for Acuity Knowledge Partners is more service automation, aiming at a hybrid model of technology and people delivering digital service solutions. The goal of digitizing its solutions is to give more value.
One area in need of better tracking mechanisms and dashboards is compliance. Today when regulators ask questions, credit teams may need to consult directly with their relationship teams to determine what happened in a particular situation. Soon, Acuity Knowledge Partners will enable credit risk officers to consult a dashboard, making discussions with regulators much more efficient.
Additional services on the horizon include better trade finance documentation to take advantage of an Acuity Knowledge Partners skillset honed over time.
“There is a discipline required to do this work,” Sood said. “Banks look at us as strategic partners to leverage our skillset and talent and the way we approach each solution.”