Chief Risk Officer, Balmoral Financial
Balmoral Financial hits the jackpot with 1,400% ROI on SAS solutions
Harnessing powerful predictive analytics to maximize profitability by adopting a smarter lending strategy
Balmoral Financial specializes in providing affordable loans to help customers avoid financial stress and provide financial wellbeing. To reduce bad debt to acceptable levels, the company requires a robust approach to risk management.
Manjeet Blah, Chief Risk Officer at Balmoral Financial, explains: "Like any banking institution, we need to get our lending strategy right by ensuring that we lend exclusively to people who are likely to repay the loans that are offered. Lending to customers who later miss payments or fall into arrears, could cause irreversible financial losses that will adversely impact profitability. This is the fate met by many payday lenders, which recently suffered huge losses when customers defaulted on their debts.
"We help many people who are unable to obtain credit from their banks by giving them a much more affordable option than turning to payday lenders. Lending to a higher risk category can lead to defaulting on debts, so it's vital for us to get our risk calculations and strategies right.
In the past, Balmoral Financial managed risk using spreadsheets. However, heavy reliance on manual processes made risk calculations very time-consuming, prone to human error and more importantly were not addressing the right questions to make an informed decision.
We’re confident that SAS represents a sound investment in the future of our business.
Striking gold with SAS
Spurred into action, Balmoral Financial set out to find a better way of working. The company decided to deploy SAS® Visual Analytics, a sophisticated solution that allows employees to perform complex analyses on massive data sets, and explore the results using eye-opening charts and graphs.
"An expert team from SAS deployed the solution and showed us how it works, what it can deliver, and how best to use it," recalls Manjeet Blah. "SAS even used some of our own data to give us examples of the kinds of reports we can produce, delivering unprecedented insight."
Deeper understanding of customers
Powered by SAS Visual Analytics, Balmoral Financial is developing a deeper understanding of its customer base. Using historical data, the company is able to analyse customer demographic and financial behaviour that affects the risk appetite through delinquency, write-offs and provision charges.
Manjeet Blah remarks: "SAS Visual Analytics has enabled us to paint an accurate picture of the risk profile of applicants that apply for loans. With those insights, we can fine-tune our lending strategy and make sure that we offer loans that allow us to meet our risk targets. By minimising our losses, we can offer more competitive interest rates to borrowers.
"What's more, an analyst would have needed to spend 1.5 weeks writing the code needed to discover those findings – but SAS performed the calculation in just two hours."
Unearthing golden nuggets of insight
Next, Balmoral Financial began using the SAS solution to pinpoint untapped market potential.
"When we used SAS to study our customer base, we discovered that there were target markets that we had not considered lending to," comments Manjeet Blah. "By launching targeted marketing campaigns to boost brand awareness among those populations, we have successfully generated new business."
Cracking down on fraud
Building on its success, Balmoral Financial turned its attention towards fraud detection.
Manjeet Blah explains: "Many lenders fall victim to first-party fraud – for example, when customers take out a loan and cancel the direct debit before the first repayment. Using SAS, we have identified the typical characteristics of these individuals, so we can contain fraud.
"One of the most compelling benefits of SAS is a rise in analyst productivity. Previously, our risk analysts spent around 70% of their time producing reports and 30% analysing them. Today, that ratio is closer to 25:75 – so analysts are devoting 45% more of their time to meaningful analysis of the figures. With such a sharp hike in productivity, we expect to uncover even more valuable insights in future."
Developing smarter marketing
Impressive results from using SAS in the risk department have encouraged the marketing team to follow suit.
"By studying internet traffic using SAS, we can see which types of people apply, how far they go down the application process, and which people terminate the process early," elaborates Manjeet Blah. "We discovered that we require only limited information to identify people whose applications are likely to be successful."
Balmoral Financial promotes its services via several channels, including comparison sites, search engine advertisements, and results from queries on search engines. Now, the company is using SAS to examine the volume and quality of applications triggered by each channel.
"With SAS, we can see which channels attract the most trustworthy borrowers, and retarget our efforts," says Manjeet Blah. "As a result, we have significantly improved the number of successful applications we receive. With insight into the effectiveness of various marketing channels, we can also target our advertising spend to where it will yield the greatest return.
"By reducing losses, spotting new commercial opportunities, cracking down on fraud and honing our marketing strategy, we have achieved a 1,400% return on our investment in SAS in just three months."
Next, Balmoral Financial plans to develop applicant scorecards using SAS Enterprise Miner – enabling it to focus on the variables that drive risk, while avoiding the cost of purchasing third-party scorecards.
Manjeet Blah concludes: "We've come so far with SAS in such a short time. We're confident that SAS represents a sound investment for our business."
To minimise loss rates, Balmoral Financial aimed to fine-tune its lending strategy by working out which customers make the most trustworthy borrowers.
- 1,400% return on SAS solutions in just three months
- 45% less time spent creating reports, freeing up resources for meaningful analysis of the figures
- Predicts which customers are most likely to repay loans in full, driving smarter lending