Equitable Bank

Equitable Bank: Reimagining How Customers Interact with a Branchless Bank

Business Objective

Launch the myEquitable customer portal to elevate the customer experience of mortgage borrowers and create operational efficiencies through digital automation.

Our Challenge

Unlock the customer data stored in core banking legacy software and build a modern digital experience for mortgage borrowers.

myEquitable Portal

Our Solution

Developing a modern Mortgage Service Portal with the customer in mind.

Blanc Labs’ multidisciplinary team collaborated with Equitable Bank’s business and technical teams on the design and development of the Mortgage Services Portal (MSP) solution. We advised the bank on product strategy and technical architecture. Then, our agile teams designed and developed the solution. Together, we reimagined the user journey and brought the product to life.

In this case study we are sharing our approach and how we accomplished this mission.

Collaboration and Design

We first needed to understand the problem: what we were solving, for whom, and why. At Blanc Labs, we use the design sprint framework to understand the customer and strategize the product roadmap in a weekly period. The mortgage borrower and their needs became the main focal point of the MSP solution. During this stage, we engaged the bank’s business stakeholders in discovery and design workshops. Using design thinking principles, our design team was able to reimagine the mortgage borrower journey and build the product prototype. We then validated our design through user testing.

Based on the results of the design sprint, we created the project epics, product backlog, and user stories. We used agile tools like Jira and Slack to effectively communicate with the MSP project team. The MSP team were very open to using our tools and embraced our agile project management approach.

Blanc Labs is collaborative and a joy to work with.  There’s a synergy between our teams that allowed them to capture and bring to life our vision of a clean and simple yet sleek and sophisticated solution that keeps the user experience at the forefront.

Aviva Braude
VP of Mortgage Services, Equitable Bank

Technical Architecture

Every financial institution has their own IT infrastructure and data silos. Equitable Bank had made the decision to implement an enterprise service bus to consume data from various data sources and make it available to contemporary digital systems and other applications through API endpoints.

Blanc Labs’ enterprise architects collaborated with the bank’s IT team in order to design and implement the service bus middleware and required endpoints for the MSP using the MuleSoft Anypoint Platform. In this architecture, the MSP solution had to comply with certain security and compliance needs and interact with several enterprise software systems.

Mortgage Services Solution Architecture

Agile Development

After completing the design sprint, Blanc Labs’ software engineering team assembled two agile pods to work on the MSP customer and employee products. Each pod included front-end developers, back-end developers, QA, and a scrum master. Blanc Labs’ product managers and UX/UI leads worked closely with the bank’s business team to present bi-weekly demos and take feedback for the next iteration.

Blanc Labs’ agile development approach is beneficial to financial institutions that need flexibility in project scope while maintaining team velocity. During the development sprints of the MSP project, both technical and business stakeholders discovered new needs. We also encountered scope changes in security and product requirements. Using our agile methodology, we effectively reprioritized the backlog and accommodated the bank’s needs without impacting the project throughput.

More importantly, we were able to develop a strong chemistry with Equitable Bank’s team and maintain the agile culture during the project cycles. During the development sprints, teams from both sides worked in unity with high velocity to bring the product we imagined to life.

Delivery and Launch

One of the most delicate steps in enterprise-level banking software development is the delivery stage. During this phase, Blanc Labs’ engineering and DevOps teams worked closely with the Equitable IT team to ensure the QA and production environments were set up for the MSP solution’s smooth deployment. The software code handoff was done through code repositories.

Having bi-weekly product demos and sprint-based QA significantly helped us reduce defects and made the User Acceptance Testing (UAT) smoother. During the UAT sprint, Blanc Labs’ agile team worked closely with the bank’s QA and business teams to resolve any issues. Our teams worked in unity to make sure the environment-related issues were addressed.

The Result

On the first day of the public release, the myEquitable portal had great user adoption. The product had a soft launch under the top bar of the bank’s website. Users easily found the link, created their account, and linked their mortgage load numbers. The product was so intuitive that users immediately started using it and submitted requests online.

The Mortgage Services Team was ready and trained on the back-end employee portal and processed the user requests. All system integrations through the enterprise service bus operated smoothly. The system continues to grow its users.

Equitable Bank plans to further expand the MSP product in collaboration with Blanc Labs. Both parties have already started new initiatives to add new product feature sets.

One of the biggest learnings for the Blanc Labs team was realizing the level of impact that they can make in a financial institution. If a bank has a progressive digital mindset and an innovative product vision, Blanc Labs can play the end-to-end innovation partner role to fill in the advisory and execution gaps. We facilitated a collaborative team environment in order to co-create with the Equitable Bank team. We transformed a customer-vendor relationship into a partnership, where we became one team. That team continues to innovate and change how digital banking is done.