Risk management services: SQL Power

The company is helping central banks to automate banking supervision conveniently and cost-effectively

Sam Selim
Sam Selim, SQL Power

Underpinning SQL Power’s platform lies a very simple philosophy: leveraging the power of innovative technology to help financial supervisors and central banks do more with less. This has been an effective approach that has helped improve resilience and efficiency at multiple central banks.

“We support a complete, end-to-end, risk-based central banking supervision process,” Sam Selim, SQL Power’s president and chief innovation officer, tells Central Banking. “What separates us from our competitors is the integrated nature of our platform. We automate every aspect of banking supervision – from licensing to data collection to inline analytics and onsite examination. [We] can automatically load any set of collected data into an analytics database for further analysis without the need to build any costly data warehouse infrastructure.”

A senior director from one central bank SQL Power has been working closely with says the vendor’s solution helped save a lot of resources in terms of manpower, which could then be redirected into “more critical projects that required more hands-on analytical work”.

“The solution SQL Power provided also helped us to eliminate a lot of the risk and duplication that was present in our very manual processes,” the central bank director adds.

This particular central bank also appreciated the flexibility, service support and affordable pricing SQL Power was able to offer.

“We’re a small institution with a relatively small budget, so we often have a hard time finding service providers that can offer the kind of solution that we need at the price we can manage,” says the director. “We were then able to make tweaks and adjustments to suit our needs, so that flexibility was very helpful to us.”

Bank of Namibia

One project SQL Power has recently executed was for the Bank of Namibia, which enlisted the technology vendor’s help to move away from a lot of manual spreadsheet-based processes. This included data collection, workflow process and managing ‘know-your-customer’ requirements.

Selim says SQL Power developed more than 80 different business intelligence reports and dashboards for the central bank – “everything from analysing the risk of a single bank to drilling down into specific asset classes in order to compare the financial health of a group of banks”, he says.

Engagement with Bank of Namibia began in September 2020, at the height of Covid-19, with implementation in 2022. Since then, SQL Power has been working closely with the central bank to support the continued development of the framework. This has included raising awareness of the new platform and how it works, both within Bank of Namibia and among market participants.

Working with Bank of Namibia on this project proved especially challenging during Covid-19, since everything had to be done remotely and it was not possible to send teams to the country.

“Co-ordination was that much harder,” says Selim. “Documents had to be shared in advance. We had to be very responsive to all the different questions coming in. At one point we were hosting virtual sessions almost every other day. It was a lot of work. Yet we managed to successfully implement the project within 12 months of initial requirement sign-off.”

SQL Power has implemented several similar projects for other central banks around the world. SQL Power is also hoping to expand its presence in Africa, using the work it has done for Bank of Namibia as a blueprint.

“Our system replaces the need for central banks and supervisors to develop costly custom-made bespoke solutions,” says Selim. “The platform has been battle-tested in many jurisdictions across many case studies, so it’s very stable. It’s also very easy to make adjustments as models and requirements change.”

Integration Hub

SQL Power has been in operation for nearly 35 years. The development of its automated risk management tools has been an iterative process that started 15 years ago. It began as a simple validation tool, and then morphed into a much larger suite of products that now includes sophisticated analytics functionality and automated data entry tools.

Further enhancements are still being made to the system, too. The latest tweak is Integration Hub, which allows legacy databases to plug directly into SQL Power’s analytics tools, thereby speeding up implementation times.

“We have been able to automate the entire extraction and data migration process using Integration Hub, without the need to build any custom [extract, transform, load] ETL processes,” says Selim. “It’s like a Lego set. As long as the legacy data resides in a relational database, it can be extracted and mapped to the entire form. The online form is then auto-populated and auto-submitted to our Analytics platform.”

This goes to the heart of what SQL Power is trying to achieve for its clients – simple efficiency combined with a powerful solution that can be customised to different needs.

“Every central bank wants to do things differently, so giving clients the option to configure and tailor the platform in the way they want has been key to our success in the market,” says Selim. But clients also appreciate “the out-of-the-box processes that we provide, which they can use as a starting point”.

The Central Banking Awards 2024 were written by Christopher Jeffery, Daniel Hinge, Dan Hardie, Joasia Popowicz, Ben Margulies, Riley Steward, Jimmy Choi and Blake Evans-Pritchard.

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