Automated Financial Systems, Inc.: Value-first Banking Agenda

John Shain, President, Automated Financial Systems, IncJohn Shain, President Over the last decade, the transformation of bank operations and core platforms that provide the foundation for the banking and financial services industry has been palpable. The economic downturn that sparked newly enforced regulations caused banks to shift the focus from making strategic to tactical investments for compliance adherence and reporting. Now, as the economic landscape enters a new realm of potential growth and competition continues to climb with financial technology companies coming to the forefront, banks of all sizes must hone in on their value proposition delivered to their customers. As a leader in lending and risk management solutions, Automated Financial Systems, Inc. (AFS) continues to provide banks the scale to profitably go after growth opportunities in the ever-evolving marketplace with agility and flexibility made available through cloud.

"The cloud allows us to deliver additional points of value, which provide greater agility with more responsive and flexible growth potential"

Founded in 1970, AFS has a long-standing history of enabling clients in the financial services sector through innovative systems and technology solutions that go far beyond basic software needs. John Shain, President of AFS, explains, “While there is a similarity in the way operations flow in banking, banks differ greatly by the customers they serve and the unique needs those customers have. We work to ensure we have the flexibility to configure a solution that is specific to each bank’s business strategy, the lines of business they offer, and the experience their customers demand.” AFS has developed a robust cloud-based solution to meet these needs head on, helping banks serve multiple verticals in a market that is now focused on growth as the top priority.

Driving Value in Commercial Lending

As the trends indicate a shift toward revenue-generating activities—including enhancing the customer experience, allowing for digital and mobile integrations and access, and expanding to new and profitable industry segments—AFS has consistently delivered the support necessary for banks to drive value from various lines of business with unprecedented control. Shain explains, “When AFS was founded, the banking industry overall was not consolidated, nor was there a standard across the industry for business accounting in credit. There was an opportunity to provide standardization and structure to the market then, and we continue to offer that now through our solutions.” A significant amount of activity in commercial lending is taking place, as well as growth in syndications, commercial real estate, and construction lending. AFS is one of the only companies that can provide consistent backing of these different lines of business and its track record of supporting multiple business lines is now made possible through cloud capabilities.

The AFS suite of cloud-based technology solutions allows banks to become more nimble in how they compete in the marketplace.

AFSVision is an enterprise-wide technology tool, which is configured as a fully digital solution to give banks of any size an integrated processing capability for their lending portfolios. The solution provides origination, fulfillment, loan servicing, and processing of multiple lines of business in a real-time environment. AFSVision also enables the efficient management of credit facilities, collateral, and exception tracking functionality that commercial lending requires. Shain states, “AFSVision is a cloud-based solution where AFS hosts the platf orm, completes the processing of transactions, provides access on a 24/7 basis, and ensures that clients have the most up-to-date software version in the cloud.” Unlike a traditional licensing model, the private-cloud from AFS gives banks the ability to get up and running quicker and deploy the software by business line or enterprise wide, as they see fit, in line with their overarching business needs and ideal customer experience requirements.

We take ownership of quality, delivery, and support of what we offer our customers

With the help of AFSVision, banks are able to pursue growth opportunities in current and future markets by automating the origination process and combining the workflow for approval of credit. The solution also offers real-time processing for accounting of loan portfolios, across multiple languages and currencies, laying the foundation for expansion in other geographical markets. Reporting of loan activities is made simple due to the integration built into the system, including a focus on data integrity throughout. AFS customers have the ability to view the performance of multiple portfolios and analyze the trends that help drive strategic decision-making. Shain states, “The cloud allows us to have a different relationship with banks than under a traditional licensing model. AFS is able to deliver additional points of value around pricing, risk, cost, and customer experience, which all provide greater agility with more responsive, flexible growth potential.”

AFSVision stands out in commercial lending cloud technology as a private solution, having invested considerable capital in providing a secure, state-of-the-art system, most recently migrating to IBM z Systems Cloud Managed Services. The AFS Private Cloud solution affords AFS the ability to work with banks to take on controlling both the expense and cybersecurity concerns that come with a significant technology investment. Instead of an open network where data is constantly surrounded by security threats, AFS focuses on security as a priority inherent to its cloud-based solutions. As a top provider to the financial service industry, AFS is highly regulated, just as its customers are. The company is not only examined by federal regulators consistently through audits and other activities, but it also has independent third parties involved in penetration testing and invites clients to participate in yearly Disaster Recovery tests to ensure data is protected against cybersecurity threats. The banking customers that rely on AFS for their cloud-based solutions also perform current-day security audits on a consistent basis to meet this ongoing need. AFS works to update its cybersecurity staff to stay ahead of what’s taking place in the market and the company invests heavily in products and services that allow for added protection for customers and their customers’ data.

Leading the Growth Trend

In the last year, AFS achieved a key milestone that marks its position in the commercial lending marketplace.

Shain states, “We process over 500,000 loans per night in our cloud-based computing model, all in the commercial lending space, such as syndicated, middle market, small business and commercial real estate loans—making us the largest commercial loan processor in the industry.” AFS is able to efficiently process more loans than any other commercial lending cloud-based technology because the company has invested in high-powered infrastructure to support its integrated, real-time platform based on decades of experience and expertly designed and flexible solutions. When comparing AFS cloud banks to others, recent statistics show that these customers are growing three times faster than the rest of the market. Similarly, syndications have grown by an impressive 30 percent, commercial real estate at 40 percent, and smaller banks at 20- 30 percent faster than non-AFS customers.

Shain attributes the exponential growth of AFS bank customers to the company’s focus on the overall experience. He states, “In today’s marketplace, the customer experience from a cloud-based offering needs to deliver 24/7 access, not only from an information perspective but a transactional perspective as well. Nearly half of the transactions in commercial lending are happening outside normal business hours through digital and online device access, and banks must meet these unique needs to affect growth.” AFS provides a real-time access model to mimic customer preferences while managing the growing volume of transactions in commercial lending by putting data integrity above all along the way.

Part of AFS’ success can be directly correlated back to its team of industry experts. Every employee with AFS is encouraged to continue his or her education constantly, striving to find new ways to make the overall customer experience better and more secure. Shain states, “We ensure that through our company culture, it is reinforced daily that our staff is tasked with providing the best quality service and the most knowledgeable capabilities to our customers. That means we take ownership of quality, delivery, and support of what we offer our customers.” Each developer within AFS engages with their clients to understand how they are using the AFS software so that they can continue to build a better product and that engagement is what gives AFS its upper hand in the market.

Moving forward, AFS will continue its investment in the security realm of its cloud-based solutions while focusing on the growth trend in commercial lending. As new opportunities arise for customers, Shain believes that the ability to find the right alliances will help catapult the growth potential for banks and AFS as an organization. The partners AFS has already worked with allow the company to offer a broad, comprehensive environment of services, as well as the ability to implement product offerings in an effective and streamlined way. Shain states, “Our alliances can help bridge the knowledge gap between AFS and the customer, and the experience and accountability that brings to our product allows banks to make change and influence change rapidly.” As the banking landscape continues to shift with a strengthening economy and clearer focus on taking advantage of growth opportunities, AFS stands to continue its position as a leading cloud-based technology solution provider that drives value for commercial banking institutions based on current and future trends.