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nCino's role at the heart of Salesforce's retail banking cloud solution

Angelica Mari Profile picture for user angelica_muri February 15, 2018
nCino is a third-party app with a special role at the heart of the Salesforce financial services cloud for retail banking

Bank lintel above columns © Pefkos -
Two years ago, Salesforce introduced its first cloud application for the financial services industry. Last October, it launched Financial Services Cloud (FSC) for Retail Banking. But few realize the significant role that specialist software vendors, most notably nCino, have played in rounding out the functionality of these Salesforce fintech products. Salesforce prefers to emphasize how its proposition will "help banks unlock their full power to strengthen customer loyalty."

According to Rohit Mahna, Vice President and General Manager of Financial Services at Salesforce, the retail banking product has been gaining considerable traction so far, with customers including Transamerica World Financial Group, Portfolio Solutions and Principal Financial among its adopters.

Salesforce doesn’t disguise its willingness to partner with independent software vendors to extend product functionality. Mahna acknowledges this has been a key factor in making FSC more attractive to retail banks:

We feel the future of financial services will be an ecosystem of partners and this is core to our strategy. We are continuing to expand our partner ecosystem to ensure we are meeting the evolving needs of our customers.

Long-term relationship with nCino

Pivotal among those partnerships is Salesforce’s continuing close relationship with nCino – the banking software startup which last month received a $51 million round of venture funding led by Salesforce Ventures, bringing its total funding to date in excess of $140 million.

Originally developed by bankers at Live Oak Bank in Wilmington, North Carolina, nCino spun out as an independent software business in 2012. Built to run natively on the Salesforce CRM platform, it was a natural fit for Salesforce’s own ambitions to develop a vertical offering for the financial services industry. Within a year, nCino became one of a select few ISVs that have become Salesforce OEM partners – a deal that puts nCino’s application at the heart of Salesforce’s retail banking solution.

The recent investment in nCino by its venture arm increases Salesforce's commitment to the ISV as part of a long-term strategy, says Mahna:

The investment from Salesforce Ventures is the latest evolution in our strong partnership, and we’re thrilled to help fuel nCino's global growth and innovation. It will further fuel [nCino's] global growth initiatives and accelerate the continued development and innovation of its bank operating system.

Enhanced Salesforce-native offering

nCino extends the functionality of the Salesforce retail banking platform by enabling banks to provide the kind of personalized, streamlined experience that digitally savvy customers have come to expect. Marketed by nCino as the Bank Operating System, its product sits alongside a bank's core systems and combines customer relationship management, deposit account opening, loan origination, workflow, enterprise content management, digital engagement and real-time reporting.

Built natively on the Salesforce platform, nCino works directly with FSC to provide functions including retail customer account opening and lending. Mahna explains:

If a customer is interested in applying for a personal loan, a banker can start the process directly within Financial Services Cloud. Together, FSC and nCino create a rich, seamless retail banking environment natively on the platform without any overlap in functionality.

Because nCino's technology runs on top of and extends the Salesforce platform, it can easily accommodate specific demands from banking clients, says Mahna:

It is rather a robust solution that drives innovation and allows institutions to operate efficiently. With the Bank Operating System built on the Salesforce platform, financial institutions are equipped with a scalable, flexible and secure solution that delivers the speed and digital experience customers expect, backed by the quality and transparency bankers need.

Single digital banking platform

The nCino technology also brings integration of third-party solutions as well as relationship, loan, product and service data from existing bank systems. This means disparate systems can be replaced with a single digital platform that covers both the banking institutions and their customers, says Mahna:

Integrations provide insight through data, and nCino’s system makes data actionable for financial institutions, complementing or adding product functionality.

Customers can apply for loans and deposit accounts online, gain transparency into the status of loans, easily correspond with their institution and upload required documentation.

The FSC interface includes all of the Salesforce Lightning platform’s support for rapid adoption, including its on-demand training tool called Trailhead, explains Mahna.

Because nCino directly integrates with Financial Services Cloud, there is no need to toggle between different systems. If Salesforce users need additional training, they can visit Trailhead and take guided learning paths that help them to navigate the product.

Challenges adopting the cloud

When rolling out these products, any difficulties are more related to a cultural change rather than technical complexities. A paradigm shift is needed among banking sector clients if they are to take advantage of a sector-specific digital offering, argues Mahna:

The challenges are more based on initial adoption of cloud technology and understanding the characteristics of cloud from a security, data, integration and compliance perspective. Financial Services Cloud and nCino are all based on real-time system configuration through administration, not development.

Banks must adjust their internal IT operations to account for a cloud governance model, align their data architecture for those elements that will be managed within a cloud service and standardize their integration methods so that they are open and real-time.

My take

As banks feel the pressure to seize of the opportunities of the digital economy, platforms that provide greater agility at lower cost are needed – especially when, like nCino, they have been developed from the ground up by bankers.

The upsides of cloud-based systems are obvious, but integration with legacy systems has been cited by many user organizations as a core hurdle to adoption. Nevertheless, the transition from ancient infrastructure to cloud can be seen as a time to solve for basic fundamental problems, invest in automation of base functions and adopt systems that can enable even the most traditional banking institutions to cater for the modern customers of today.

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