British Arab Commercial Bank (BACB) has begun using a new IBM data analytics system to flag lending risks in real-time, instead of relying on spreadsheets.

BACB is a London-based wholesale bank that specialises in providing trade and project finance for Arab markets in the Mediterranean region and Arabian Gulf, working with exporters and contractors.

Like most banks, BACB has a number of different business units that deal with specific operational aspects such as core banking, trade finance, and derivatives. With increasing demand for better management information, the bank decided to look for a business analytics solution that could access and analyse data from a variety of disparate sources.

BACB is now using IBM Business Analytics software to streamline and automate operations and reduce liquidity risk in a rapidly evolving business and regulatory environment. The new functionality has proved vital for the bank in increasing visibility to hidden exposures and risks, it said.

With real-time analytics the bank can review credit worthiness and process loans and other trade transactions while maintaining regulatory compliance. BACB is using the analytics software to visualise its current assets, liabilities and commitments and compare them against "what if" scenarios to make business decisions.

“IBM analytics software has helped reduce the bank's exposure to risk by eliminating its dependency on spreadsheets which were subject to inconsistent data due to human error,” said Crispian Denby, chief financial officer at BACB.

“Our confidence in the accuracy of our information has led to faster, more responsive decision-making which ultimately helps us maintain our leading position in the Arab trade and project finance market.”

The system can report on credit risk for each customer and flag high-risk customers in order that immediate action can be taken to minimise exposure. Built-in email alerts enable users to identify problems quickly rather than having to review detailed underlying reports.