NatWest Markets partners with Google Cloud to boost its data capabilities
By Leandra Monteiro
Natwest’s risk applications were originally set up on a high-performance computing grid managed by a central technology team at NatWest Group. But in 2019, faced with the need to process larger volumes of data at speed and on ageing servers, NatWest Markets decided to migrate Risk platforms to the cloud.
“As the volume of data, we need to process continues to increase, the regulators become more demanding and customers expect faster services, it became clear that it wasn’t enough for us to speed up processes and carry on as usual. We instead needed to transform the way we do things,” explained Chris Conway, Head of Risk and Finance Technology, NatWest Markets. Deciding to migrate to the cloud instead of refreshing and buying new servers, Conway and his team used the momentum to research tools that could be integrated with a serverless infrastructure to help the bank to adapt long-term, selecting Google Cloud Platform to power this digital transformation.
Google Cloud is the ideal solution for us because it provides on-demand scalability, analytics capabilities that broaden the possibilities of what we can do for our customers, and automated services that free up our team from managing infrastructure to focus on our customers instead,” Conway explains. “We had clear, but challenging objectives, and with our partnership with Google Cloud we were able to achieve them.”
Speed is key in financial markets, especially at a time when global systems are being impacted by market volatility. News about price fluctuations and interest rates, for example, can all affect the risk appetite of a company within seconds. NatWest Markets knows the importance of being able to support its customers by collecting signals from a diverse set of data points and interpreting them to enable timely business decisions. So, when laying out its cloud migration plan, moving data processing workloads to BigQuery to turn data into insights quickly and cost-effectively was a priority.
“Traditional data warehouses aren’t designed to handle today’s financial data growth, run advanced analytics, or scale quickly and cost-effectively. As a result, many financial institutions are burdened by operational complexity and are unable to innovate,” said Conway. “As a modern and truly serverless data warehouse, BigQuery addresses our current analytics demands with blazingly-fast, real-time, predictive insights while scaling as our data needs grow.”
To build cloud capabilities within the company, NatWest Markets invested in training 1,100 employees on Google Cloud Platform throughout 2021, with almost 100 of them becoming Google Cloud certified. “We speak with the Google Cloud team continuously as the efforts in our progression have to come from both sides. It means a lot for us to be able to get the support and training to empower our engineers to think differently, use tools they enjoy, and play an active role in driving our cloud migration forward.”
With its migration journey well underway, NatWest Markets has already seen a significant reduction in the overall time to complete business-critical pricing and risk management activities. “By simply migrating from on-premise to BigQuery, we’ve already noticed a 60% improvement in compute time for overnight batch processing of risk simulations and calculations,” Conway explained. NatWest Markets is using multiple Google Cloud products to achieve these outcomes including Compute Engine, Google Kubernetes Engine, Cloud SQL, Cloud Storage, BigQuery and Dataproc.
Meanwhile, compliance with regulatory requirements and effectively managing regulatory relationships remains critical to the ongoing success of NatWest Markets, so the company is also leveraging the ability to streamline regulatory reporting with unified data on BigQuery.
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