Natwest Transforms Its ESG Analytics and Data Culture

With Snowflake, NatWest has lowered costs and reduced its carbon footprint while equipping customers with social responsibility insights that help them transition to net zero.



Reduction in total cost of ownership and carbon footprint


Year saved during migration

Two professionals collaborating on a project on a tablet device
Financial Services
London, England

New climate data pressures create opportunities for change

With origins dating back to 1658, NatWest is one of Britain’s largest and longest-standing retail and commercial banks. Its ESG team delivers climate and social responsibility insights to help the bank comply with regulations and help customers transition to net zero.

In 2019, the Bank of England began stress-testing major financial institutions to understand the impact physical climate risks would have on liabilities and investments. Simultaneously, NatWest senior leadership also started reporting on TCFD regulations for emissions across sectors. 

Since climate is a central pillar of the bank’s 2030 goals, NatWest’s ESG data team needed to provide data insights to meet a wide spectrum of climate analytics use cases across lending, investment and compliance. It also needed to support unique requirements for dynamic discovery, multilevel aggregation, end-to-end controls, real-time analytics and bank-wide distribution of data. NatWest’s existing on-premises systems weren’t equipped to handle these requirements or the large, varied data sets ESG reporting demands. 

As a result, NatWest wanted to build a new IT culture based around cloud solutions. “At the time, cloud adoption was quite minimal at NatWest,” says head of ESG cloud solutions Kaushik Ghosh Dastidar. “We knew that we could do a lot more by thinking differently and trying new things in the cloud, but there was no established pattern — so we’d need to show the benefits of our approach every step of the way.”

Story Highlights
  • A new cloud technology culture: NatWest has proved the value of new cloud use cases and setting a cloud migration model for other teams to move systems off premises, and reduce costs and carbon emissions.

  • Improved control and data governance: Working with Snowflake engineers, NatWest developed new frameworks to improve data quality controls and governance.

  • Faster analytics help customers reduce their carbon footprint: With more ESG data delivered at speed, NatWest can offer industry-leading apps like Carbon Planner, which helps customers make a net-zero transition with bespoke, data-driven insights and recommendations.

Rapid deployment, prototyping and collaboration powers innovation

NatWest’s ESG team began assessing cloud vendors to build a long-term analytics solution for ESG data. As the business uses a mainly Microsoft-based technology stack, the decision leaned toward vendors with SQL-friendly platforms that would help employees get up and running quickly. 

The new cloud data platform also needed to offer rapid deployment and testing, so the ESG team could quickly prototype new features to prove the value of its ideas and secure buy-in. Once deployed, the system would also need to offer a data mesh across multiple clouds, so all business domains could access data without having to continuously copy files. 

Fortunately, many data providers used by NatWest were already part of the Snowflake ecosystem, and those that weren’t could be quickly onboarded. Now NatWest can instantly access live data from third-party providers such as FactSet and S&P on Snowflake, a process that used to take months using traditional approaches such as SFTP.

Quick migration and legacy system decommission save significant costs

With Snowflake’s Data Cloud, the NatWest ESG team has been able to prototype, test and deliver innovations faster. “The speed at which we’ve delivered wouldn’t have been possible with other providers,” Ghosh Dastidar says. 

line chart on a screen

“When you add up all the time taken to migrate to a cloud system like this, I imagine we may have taken an extra year to do this with anyone other than Snowflake.”

Kaushik Ghosh Dastidar
Head of ESG Cloud Solutions, NatWest

NatWest has also been able to reduce costs across its infrastructure and staff development budgets. With Snowflake, the bank’s 40-strong ESG team was productive within two weeks rather than the traditional three-month onboarding period experienced with alternative solutions, which equates to approximately $750,000 in salaries and cost of training staff. NatWest’s ESG team was also able to quickly decommission legacy on-premises systems, reducing both its costs and carbon footprint by around 80%.

New features enhance data governance

Now that it has solved its data ingestion and sourcing challenges, the ESG team is investigating further possibilities — such as using Streamlit to enable interactive analytics for senior managers, or SageMaker on Snowflake to improve data scientist productivity and power near real-time analytics solutions. 

The team has also worked with Snowflake Professional Services and dbt to develop the Data Guardian Framework, a configurable controls mechanism for profiling and managing data quality. Now, the bank can assess the quality of the data before it enters or leaves its systems. 

Snowflake’s Data Cloud also offers NatWest a major governance advantage with its granular access controls.

Industry-leading analytics and smaller carbon footprints

After proving the value of its new ESG data platform, the NatWest ESG team has showcased the value of cloud data solutions and secured extensive buy-in across the bank. “Over the last 18 months, there were lots of things that were seen as impossible,” Ghosh Dastidar says. “We’ve proven that assumption wrong many times now. And a community that was previously skeptical is now fully on board with Snowflake.”

With greater support for Snowflake and a better understanding of its platform, NatWest is now delivering customer-facing applications such as its Carbon Planner tool, which offers customers meaningful suggestions to help reduce carbon footprints in near real time. 

The Carbon Planner is just one part of NatWest’s plans to help customers become greener and reduce their costs. And the ESG team and its Snowflake platform is at the center of all these planned initiatives.

NatWest looks to an even more efficient, collaborative, data-driven future

Having already found greater efficiency in the Data Cloud, NatWest is ready to make further use of Snowflake’s data science and collaboration tools. 

The team is looking at Snowpark to help analysts deliver even more innovative models — and they’re eagerly awaiting updates that will add support for unstructured data. They’re also keen to integrate Snowflake more closely with the bank’s AWS infrastructure, so data scientists can power these models seamlessly with new data pipelines. There are also plans to use Snowflake’s collaboration tools to establish data clean rooms across NatWest. 

Arguably, the benefits that the ESG team have achieved will multiply over time. Having established a culture and architectural framework model for ESG data, other business units in NatWest will see how Snowflake can help them achieve their migration goals. And that means the cost, efficiency and data governance benefits will only increase across NatWest as more teams embrace the Data Cloud. 

“Snowflake and AWS have been key partners in our climate and ESG data journey,” says Andy Ruocco, NatWest’s head of climate data and technology. “They’ve helped deliver an all-cloud source of truth for ESG data across the bank, they’ve supported our efforts to show customers their climate impact, and they’ve empowered us to create reusable patterns that deliver cutting-edge climate insights and help NatWest’s customers decarbonize.”

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