Banking on high-quality data

CWB Financial Group used SAS® to improve the quality of its data, enabling a foundation that will help boost its business prospects and advance the bank’s compliance with Canadian standards

In 2014, Canadian Western Bank (CWB) began a project to become an advanced international ratings-based bank (AIRB), which would free up capital through improved credit risk management. But in order to do so, the bank must meet regulatory requirements from the Canadian Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI).

“Addressing OSFI’s regulatory requirements by improving our data quality will increase CWB’s profitability,” said Damien Iggiotti, Senior Assistant Vice President for Enterprise Risk Management at CWB.

Iggiotti arrived at CWB with lengthy experience in the European banking industry. He applied valuable lessons from the first wave of data quality regulations in Europe, where banks faced similar requirements. 

One key takeaway stood out for Iggiotti: data is king.

Addressing OSFI’s regulatory requirements by improving our data quality will increase CWB’s profitability Damien Iggiotti Senior Assistant Vice President for Enterprise Risk Management

“All these risk models are great, but without consistency in the data, there is no show. There is no game,” he said. “The models would be almost useless.”

CWB’s eagerness to reinforce its risk management processes with high-quality data led it to focus on BCBS 239, which is the Basel Committee’s standard for ensuring banks adhere to a set of principles governing the accuracy and completeness of data.

“Our AIRB application is not dependent directly on BCBS 239, but we realized that none of this would even be applicable if not enabled by a compliant data architecture,” Iggiotti said. “That’s what led us to choose the SAS solution.”

CWB built its own data warehouse tool to handle data analysis, but chose SAS® Banking Analytics Architecture as a scalable foundation to verify and manage data, as well as enable the bank to move forward with related initiatives – from enterprise risk management to customer intelligence.

“The other vendors we talked to didn’t have that,” Iggiotti said, adding that BCBS 239 capabilities also factored heavily in its choice. “Where SAS won out was that its data model was more extensible and flexible for what we needed.”

Robust data from the inside out

All of the data CWB collects in managing the bank’s lines of business must be verified and transformed into information and, ultimately, insight. “Business managers are baking the cake, while our data governance team is ensuring the quality of the ingredients,” said Ian Beleznay, Assistant Vice President of Information Management at CWB, in charge of the enterprise data warehouse and data governance.

SAS makes it easier to automate standard business data checks using a centralized set of rules, said Beleznay. “It’s easy for us to build those. We no longer need to manually build these components, which has been very time consuming and slow. Now we’re able to drag and drop onto the canvas and quickly deploy reports.”

In the future, CWB plans to build on the success it has already experienced with SAS, expanding the product’s scope.

“Opportunities going forward that we spoke about during the RFP included the notion of a 360-degree view of the customer and improved enterprise risk management,” said Beleznay.

The bank is working closely with SAS to build scenario-based models and multidimensional views atop SAS Detail Data Store for Banking, creating new business perspectives that will give it extra insights into its data.

“Although we’re initially investing in SAS Banking Analytics Architecture for compliance purposes, there is a lot of rich information in there that marketing and sales will benefit from in the future,” Beleznay explained.

Together, SAS and CWB are creating a foundational project for a fast-moving bank with its eye on the prize.

CWB Financial Group


CWB wanted a robust data verification system to support its AIRB compliance effort.


SAS® Banking Analytics Architecture


  • CWB will be able to pursue AIRB compliance with SAS and dramatically boost its profitability.
  • SAS Banking Analytics Architecture enables CWB to extend its data model, increasing its flexibility.
  • CWB can now automate standard business checks using a centralized set of business rules to guarantee accurate, consistent data.
The results illustrated in this article are specific to the particular situations, business models, data input, and computing environments described herein. Each SAS customer’s experience is unique based on business and technical variables and all statements must be considered non-typical. Actual savings, results, and performance characteristics will vary depending on individual customer configurations and conditions. SAS does not guarantee or represent that every customer will achieve similar results. The only warranties for SAS products and services are those that are set forth in the express warranty statements in the written agreement for such products and services. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional warranty. Customers have shared their successes with SAS as part of an agreed-upon contractual exchange or project success summarization following a successful implementation of SAS software. Brand and product names are trademarks of their respective companies.