Wintrust funds $3.3B and approximately 11,000 loans with the help of Adobe

Financial organizations, like all other businesses, had to think fast and pivot quickly in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

In the United States, the crisis has resulted in both state and federal responses working to provide immediate assistance to businesses and individuals experiencing hardship. Many financial companies have had their hands full over the course of the past few months helping people stay afloat.

Case in point: Wintrust Financial Corp. When COVID-19 began to spread quickly throughout the United States in early March, Wintrust, a commercial and personal banking service provider in Illinois and Wisconsin, was carefully monitoring the situation. Teams began meeting for daily check-ins to plan their response to inevitable stay-at-home orders.

Like many companies, the organization was concerned with how it would operate remotely, beef up its network infrastructure, and more. But COVID-19 also triggered the rollout of the Small Business Association’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a loan that helps businesses continue to pay their workforces. That meant Wintrust would need to put in place a responsible way of handling these loans for its small to midsize business customers.

Wintrust responded by constructing an online portal built on Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) — the company’s existing Web content management system. The challenge would be getting it up and running in a matter of days.

“We knew automation was going to be the solution here,” says Michael Limjoco, SVP of Business Line Information Systems at Wintrust. “But since we had to wait for some time on clearly defined requirements for these loans from the SBA, we only had a few days to stand the portal up. As you know with development, constantly changing requirements are the enemy of automation. If you can’t provide the requirements, you can’t actually build a process and automate it.”

Adobe to the rescue

The Wintrust team built a single-page application using Adobe Experience Manager Forms. This required a lot of validations, as well as making real-time API callouts back to middleware and master data management platforms in the Wintrust network to get customer information and make sure the person filling out an application was actually who they said they were.

A servlet on the back end was taking all of that information, doing an immediate pass-through to another server to push that information over, while at the same time moving the data into Adobe Campaign. In turn, Adobe Campaign would trigger an email response to customers to confirm their loan applications were successfully accepted and would later notify them whether and when their loan was approved.

“What worked really well for us in the SBA portal was the fact that the page had all the components built,” says Paul Drago, VP of IT operations at Wintrust. “We were able to stylize a page very quickly and focus most of our attention on how are we going make this happen, rather than what does this look like? It was one of the key benefits that AEM brought to the table.”

Because Wintrust uses AEM to power its overall website experience, the company was also able to quickly and seamlessly make updates to its website in order to keep customers informed about all matters COVID-19. Both AEM (websites) and Adobe Campaign (marketing automation) proved critical communications tools for the Wintrust marketing department, who facilitated quick communications to reassure customers during this difficult time. Communications also were around-the-clock, with some emails and website updates getting sent late in the evening and during the weekends to deliver up-to-the-minute notifications to customers.

From the SBA portal perspective, AEM enabled Wintrust to collect file inputs from users and pass that all into the rest of the loan-origination process. This might not sound like a big deal, but the SBA form is packed with a lot of conditional logic. It’s not just a standard form with five or six questions — it’s made up of 32 questions that a user may or may not see, depending on who they are and how they answered questions in the form.

Both AEM and Adobe Campaign then passed information into a downstream Loan Origination portal, and onward into the core banking provider to fund the loans.

From an infrastructure standpoint, Wintrust worked with Adobe Managed Services to ensure servers stayed up on high-traffic days.

“Having the ability for them to quickly scale up our network and our system was a critical part of us being able to stay afloat and keep everything alive. Our traffic was up many hundreds, if not thousands, of percent above our normal traffic,” Drago says.

Using the SBA portal, Wintrust secured approval of $3.3 billion and approximately 11,000 loans. In a little less than two weeks, Wintrust administered nearly 50 times the number of SBA loan applications through the PPP program than the company processes in a typical year.

“We got a lot of good feedback and goodwill from the community with respect to how responsibly executives at Wintrust handled the PPP program,” Limjoco says. “We took just enough loans. We weren’t greedy. The real objective and the real winner here was the American public because we really just wanted to provide a critical service during this unprecedented time in history.”