Written by the Slalom Team.
At a glance
Lead Bank is a community institution with national aspirations. Slalom partnered with Lead Bank to implement a cloud-based platform that positions the company to become a digital leader in the community banking space. Now it can more intelligently analyze and monitor data, partner with FinTech service providers, and offer innovative digital solutions to its expanding customer base.
A mission to empower communities.
With nearly 100 years of history in Kansas City, Lead Bank views community investment, service, and empowerment as the core of its community banking ethos.
“Our mission is to be at the heart of the success of our communities, and we take that very seriously,” says Lead Bank CMO Melissa Beltrame. The bank’s guiding values of compassion, openness, imagination, and nimbleness push it toward a view of community that expands beyond location. “We define communities not solely by geography but also by the people we serve.”
With those values in mind, Lead Bank wants to expand the borders of its communities by becoming a leader in digital banking. Traditionally, brick-and-mortar banking has grown by acquisition—particularly acquisition by large banks and financial institutions. They buy up smaller banks, branches, and businesses.
The digital banking landscape, however, offers forward-thinking community banks the opportunity to compete and expand exponentially through financial technology (FinTech) services and digital partnerships. Where an institution like Lead Bank would previously need a large physical footprint and a healthy investment of capital in order to grow, internet banking affords it the ability to acquire customers across the US by partnering with companies that offer FinTech services—like car loans, life insurance, and bill negotiation—and by offering digital direct services to its own customers at a fraction of the cost and infrastructure.
“There are not very many community banks our size that are playing in that digital space,” says Lead Bank CTO Mike Beattie. “That goes back to our name and the way it calls us to leadership. The value opportunity for us as an institution is there. By building a cloud environment and leveraging FinTech service partners—their technology and brand awareness—we can reach a much larger audience and continue to find those underserved communities that are the core of a community bank.”
"We may be one of two community banks in the country to have a footprint in our own API services in a public cloud environment and to be using a revolutionary data platform like Snowflake." Mike Beattie, CTO, Lead Bank
Laying the foundation for growth
Lead Bank’s ambitions were limited by its technology infrastructure. It had a talented but small IT team, and all its systems were on-premises. It also had limited experience with cloud processing and no data warehouse. Our Slalom team brought extensive knowledge of the cloud and data engineering space to facilitate Lead Bank’s transformation to become a banking-as-a-service (BaaS) and FinTech leader.
A smarter, more secure data option
Leveraging AWS and Snowflake, Slalom provisioned a stable and scalable data warehouse that securely aggregates information from multiple sources into a single 360-degree view of the client. Whether a client relationship comes from a FinTech partnership, a BaaS partner, a digital direct customer, or a customer that walks into a Lead Bank branch, that information is collected and accessed in one place. There are two key benefits:
Lead Bank teams utilizing this global view of the client can analyze data more cohesively, producing unparalleled business intelligence throughout the bank. “Having a single customer record across all sources so that we can have a 360-degree view of the client will be tremendously fruitful in the future,” says Beltrame. “Data becomes knowledge and knowledge becomes power.”
Lead Bank can also more securely aggregate and monitor sensitive data using a single source of truth for client information. The digital trust of a customer is paramount, and Slalom ensured appropriate monitoring tools to facilitate account control, monitoring, anomaly detection, and several other security components. When open-banking regulations inevitably hit the US in the future, the data warehouse foundation leaves Lead Bank positioned to react to new data regulations with speed and flexibility.
This data warehousing foundation is built with future scalability in mind: “The beauty of Slalom is that they helped us build so that it will be significantly lower effort downstream,” says Beattie. “We did a lot of work up front, a lot of creating the railroad tracks. We created a repeatable process that has some flexibility built in, but it’s very easy for us to make those updates and changes and facilitate a slightly different stream with a handful of templates.”
A new ecosystem of partners
Slalom also helped Lead Bank develop its first FinTech partner API. “Migrating to a cloud platform enables agility in expanding Lead Bank’s partner ecosystem,” says Tony Graham, a director at Slalom.
Using native AWS services like Lambda and DynamoDB and a continuous build and deployment process, this API guarantees scalability and enables a new line of business for Lead Bank. The API layer allows Lead Bank to seamlessly partner with a range of FinTech providers, offering digital services like life insurance, bill negotiation, car insurance, and credit improvement. Now it can “partner with a variety of different FinTech companies to do all these really creative projects outside of their brick-and-mortar foundation of just servicing the Kansas City area,” says Slalom solution owner Jon Scherer.
Upskilling the Lead Bank team
What’s the fun in getting a new toy if you don’t know how to use it? Our teams collaborated to ensure that Lead Bank’s IT team had a significant knowledge base with which to operate the new data warehouse and FinTech partner API. We also introduced scrum execution methodology and worked to guarantee the Lead Bank team a strong foundation with this model—positioning them to help the bank scale and grow around the new platform for years to come.
A platform to transform the future
The new platform is already reshaping the way Lead Bank works.
“We may be one of two community banks in the country to have a footprint in our own API services in a public cloud environment and to be using a revolutionary data platform like Snowflake,” says Beattie.
With its new cloud infrastructure, Lead Bank can securely aggregate and monitor sensitive information while transforming data into incisive business intelligence. With an API layer in a cloud environment, Lead Bank has dramatically grown its partner ecosystem. It can now offer a scalable selection of FinTech services through its digital partners and more convenient banking to its digital direct customers.
With a bold vision of BaaS and a strong foundation on AWS and Snowflake, Lead Bank has claimed a leadership role in the future of digital community banking.