ArcNews Online

Spring 2007
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SNL Financial's Information Portal for Banking and Financial Services Built with GIS

Visualization Helps Customers Make More Informed Decisions


  • Business intelligence clients required spatial analysis.
  • GIS delivers a market analysis and visualization portal.
  • Banking and financial services clients benefit from online mapping service.
  click to enlarge
SNLi's customers can see and use high-quality maps for making business decisions.

Information is power in today's business environment now more than ever. The right information, however, can be the business advantage that puts a company ahead of the competition. Savvy business owners understand this and look for specialists to aggregate the data they need every day to make sound decisions.

SNL Financial of Charlottesville, Virginia, is a leading provider of business intelligence for users in some of the United States' top companies and financial institutions. SNL collects, standardizes, and disseminates specialized business information for the banking, financial services, insurance, real estate, and energy industries through a Web portal called SNL Interactive (SNLi).

SNLi ( features in-depth news, data, and analytics for a comprehensive view across each of the target industries for which SNL provides business intelligence. This includes real-time news updates, industry newsletters and news archives, specialized documents, and other business tools.

As a result, leading investment banks; investment managers; corporate executives; ratings agencies; government agencies; consulting firms; law firms; and media, including the New York Times, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal, rely on SNL Financial for the best possible information on the companies in these sectors.

SNL Financial is always seeking to balance its clients' demands for high performance and customizable functionality with effective design and usability. A key challenge is distinguishing the needs of a small group of important clients from those of its customer base as a whole.

Some clients began requiring detailed GIS and analytical functionality. SNL recognized it could do this by integrating an easily customizable Web mapping server that supported the open development standards employed in the rest of the SNL site.

SNL Financial chose ArcIMS software as the basis for SNLi Mapping, a part of SNLi that provides an online information resource, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for the business sectors covered by SNL. More than 12,000 financial clients subscribe to these Web services and make heavy use of the market indexes, rates and yields, event calendars, corporate summaries, mergers and acquisition details, etc., provided within SNLi.

ArcIMS allows SNLi Mapping to offer intuitive market analysis and visualization tools. Subscribers can identify locations of assets, perform competition searches, and generate other in-depth or ad hoc analyses as needed.

SNLi Mapping is intuitive to even non-GIS-savvy users thanks to online tutorials that walk clients through the mapping process. The system uses a number of geographic and demographic datasets from Esri, including community, demographic, and national data layers that act as a map backdrop.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) bank branch data was geocoded by Esri Business Partner Tele Atlas/TomTom North America, Ltd. Users can plot their company branch locations, display competitive branches, and retrieve market information by clicking on any area of the map. More advanced functions include the ability to add or modify layers of information, create radial rings around a branch to understand market potential, and thematically map an area or market territory based on demographic characteristics.

SNLi Mapping has proved popular with subscribers, and SNL is delighted with the success of the online mapping service. "Most of our customers are not familiar with mapping as a tool," says Sara Hyland, project manager, SNL Financial. "Clients find visualizing demographic data on a map to be very useful. By combining and overlaying other data layers, the information they need really pops out at them."

SNLi customers are now able to make more informed decisions when evaluating mergers and acquisitions because of SNLi Mapping. They are able to perform their own market analysis and integrate demographic data with geographic information, such as major cities or interstate highways, and company footprints. Many often use SNLi Mapping for presentation purposes because the mapping capabilities ArcIMS offers are of such high quality and offer easily accessed, detailed data. "Having all this information integrated really makes it easy for them to understand market valuation and why a particular location or company may be more attractive than another," says Hyland.

More Information

For more information, contact Sara Hyland, project manager, SNL Financial (tel.: 434-951-7627, e-mail:

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