13 Dec '21

Looking back on the first Snowflake Financial Services Data Summit

‘Financial Services organisations are inherently data driven. Consequently, they are sitting on significant volumes of data, however many cannot or do not know how to fully leverage this gold mine of data.’

The sentiment in the above statement was a constant theme throughout the first ever Snowflake Financial Services Data Summit on Wednesday 22nd September 2021. Along with some of their key technology partners, Snowflake announced various ways in which they plan to address this issue.

Financial Services organisations have generally been slow in their Cloud Adoption given their, perfectly justifiable, concerns about security. But now, with security concerns addressed and the emergence of the Snowflake Data Cloud, could this be the perfect time for these organisations to take the plunge? Let’s find out.

The Core Platform

In a world-first, Snowflake announced during the summit that in an assessment conducted independently by KPMG, they were the first organisation to operate successfully against the new Cloud Data Management Capabilities (CDMC) framework set out by the EDM Council, of which DTSQUARED are one of a group of selected authorised partners.

The CDMC framework is a collection of 14 key controls and automations designed to protect sensitive data as it is moved to the Cloud. To do this, the EDM Council brought together over 100 companies and 300 professionals comprising leading financial industry companies, major cloud and technology service providers, and leading data management advisory firms including DTSQUARED. The framework represents a world-first for effectively managing data in the cloud.  

Snowflake also announced some other key changes to their core platform that were of particular relevance to Financial Services:

  • Tri-secret secure, whereby client managed encryption keys can be added to the data encryption process in Snowflake so that if access to these keys is ever revoked, all data in Snowflake will be inaccessible.
  • Virtual Private Snowflake, a single tenant dedicated instance of Snowflake, is now being extended to participate in Data Sharing. 

Financial Services Data Cloud (FSDC)

In addition to the significant capabilities of the core Snowflake platform, their new ‘Financial Services Data Cloud’ offering delivers Financial Services aligned capabilities in two main areas: Solution Delivery and Industry Data.

  1. Solution Delivery

This component of the new offering centres on adding functional capability that each organisation would either need to build themselves or engage another vendor to deliver.

New Customer 360 for Personalised Banking Accelerator

  • Will allow disparate data sources to be harmonised
  • Cross-channel, cross-product, cross-previously siloed data
  • Powers personalised customer experiences based upon a holistic view of their activity
  • Will facilitate analysis with 3rd party data sets for demographic and global trends

Snowflake ‘Open Data Model’ for Financial Services

  • Designed to facilitate seamless collaboration
  • Free to use and available for extension
  • Over time, will be incorporated deep into Snowflake

At the summit, only the above capabilities were discussed and only at a very high level, therefore it is not yet clear the extent to which these capabilities will be generally available. Building this kind of common capability that will underpin banks and allow them to focus on their differentiated offering seems like a very sensible step by Snowflake though. Further details and capabilities will no doubt be added here in the future to delivering more common Financial Services capabilities over time, e.g. Reg Reporting, if this ‘solution delivery’ construct proves to be successful.

  1. Industry Data

New data sets are constantly being created, and analysts need access to them to facilitate decision making. If making the data available is expensive and slow, e.g. requiring bespoke ETL work, then this ‘friction’ in the organisation inhibits analysts and in turn the organisation, e.g. delaying opportunities for new revenue. This has been an issue in many industries for years, so are we nearing a solution? 

The ‘Industry Data’ component of the FSDC builds upon Snowflake’s data sharing capability to address this issue. Analysts no longer need to wait for or craft ETL to access new data sets, instead they just ‘accept a share’ and continue working.

Some of the specialist vendors within Financial Services data that are already available in Snowflake include: 

  • FactSet
    • Specialist in aggregating and cleansing third part data and providing to clients
    • Operating for over 40 years with approximately 10,000 employees
  • Acxiom
    • Specialist in providing data for supporting people-based marketing activity
    • Data about people’s work life and consumer life can be brought together to deliver huge value
    • Operating for over 50 years with approximately 5,000 employees
  • S&P
    • Top 3 ratings agency with a wealth of other data, e.g. ESG Evaluations
    • Operating for over 160 years with approximately 10,000 employees

Snowflake’s ability to share data between customers is second to none. A demonstration by Entelligent at the summit showed how they can now provide third party content from FactSet to their consumers within mere seconds using the Data Cloud.

Wrapping Up

For us, the vendor that pulled everything together perfectly on the day was our partner, DataIku.  They showcased their product using data from the Snowflake marketplace to augment pre-existing data in Snowflake, creating a training set of data, then trained an ML model against this data to be pushed into Snowflake as a Universal Disk Format (UDF) so it could be accessed directly as a function on the platform. This was all achieved within just a few minutes.

To paraphrase the Chinese proverb about trees, the best time to adopt Snowflake was six years ago, and the second-best time is now.  If you’re a Financial Services organisation that is not yet using Snowflake to deliver business value, then we believe you should be. Whether starting out on your cloud journey or migrating from another platform, our highly skilled Snowflake team can provide the expertise your company needs to fully harness the power of its data in the cloud.
For more information about Snowflake and to contact our team, please look at our dedicated Snowflake page.

Get in touch with our data experts

Get in touch for a free session with our data experts