Model Bank

Introduction to the Model Bank awards

Model Bank is the main award that a financial institution (FI) can win from Celent. It is awarded for best practices of technology usage in different areas critical to success in banking.

Celent’s Model Bank Program seeks examples of best practices in technology usage in different areas critical to success in banking. Every year we invite banks to nominate their technology initiatives. We review all nominations and recognise a number of them with a Model Bank Award. Each year we present up to 25 awards.

In 2017, we introduced specific named awards with a single winner for each award. We reserve the right to revisit the awards during the judging process and there is no guarantee that the awards will be same in future years as in the past.

Since 2012, we have been recognizing one initiative every year as the overall Model Bank of the Year, the top honor. Model Bank of the Year is not a specific category and banks do not nominate themselves for this award. Instead, Celent judges select one initiative from those already submitted.

There are no specific criteria for Model Bank of the Year. However, typically, the winning initiatives deliver distinctively impressive business benefits to the FI, while also exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics:

  • A radically different (or a step change from the existing) technology platform and operating model (e.g. Fidor Bank).
  • A transformation of the institution’s capability to innovate (e.g. Eastern Bank).
  • The creation of a lasting social impact (e.g. Commercial Bank of Africa’s m-Shwari initiative)
  • Demonstrate focus, commitment to innovation, creativity, and tenacity to transform an incumbent institution (e.g., CaixaBank, Bank of America, Citi).

We appreciate that submitting a high quality nomination takes quite a bit of effort. However, being recognised as a Model Bank is great PR for both the financial institution and associated individuals. The FIs tell us they view Celent Model Bank as a distinctly prestigious award. The awards are focused on banking, yet span a full spectrum of technology initiatives rather than being narrowly focused on one (e.g., mobile). Competition is global and fierce, and the selection process is rigorous. Award winners are in great company and are proud of such association. Past winners include banks and credit unions across the asset tier spectrum from all parts of the globe, such as Barclays, Citi, Commercial Bank of Africa,Credit Union Australia, DBS, Mashreq Bank, mBank, Scotiabank, State Bank of India, US Bank, USAA, and many others.

Applying to the Model Bank awards

Eligibility to Apply

The awards are available to retail and commercial bankscredit unionsthrifts, and card issuers globally. Model Bank awards are not available for investment banking, capital markets, trading, or wealth management initiatives. Celent operates separate award programs for Model Wealth Manager and Model Risk Manager.

Any FI can apply, irrespective of whether it has any prior relationship with Celent. Celent does not charge any fees to banks or vendors to participate in the Model Bank process.

Any IT related initiative, regardless of the date when it was executed, is eligible for a Model Bank award. The initiative must be in production at the financial institution, though we consider some exceptions which can be found in the “Judging Criteria and Evaluation Process” section. We want to see a very clear impact on customers, i.e. how the initiatives can help the banks provide their customers a better product or service experience, make them feel more secure, or do all of the above more efficiently while better managing risk.

In the early days of Model Bank, we recognised a few initiatives that we would describe as “purely technical.” Such initiatives may be focused on changing the hardware platform which runs a particular application, or improving how IT is managed and delivered within the bank, for example, changing the application development and testing environment. They are important initiatives to the bank and have clear business benefits, usually reducing the IT cost. However, it is much harder to demonstrate the direct impact on customers, and as a result, we no longer recognise such initiatives with a Model Bank award.

Vendors are not qualified to receive a Model Bank award, but are welcome to assist their FI clients with their nominations, or nominate on their behalf with the bank’s full consent. All nominations MUST include bank contact information, and all follow-up will be done primarily with the bank.

Model Bank winners are featured in Celent case studies. If a financial institution is not prepared to participate in the case study process or share details of its initiative publicly, then it (or its vendor) should not apply. When we receive a submission, we reserve the right to confirm with the FI that they are happy to participate, and may disqualify the submission if we don’t receive a positive confirmation directly from the FI.

Application Process

All nominations must be submitted online via the Celent website. Please look for the 'Submit Nomination’ button on this page.

Submissions for our 2024 program are now closed.

Yes, absolutely, we encourage you to submit all the initiatives that you are proud of.

If the improvements relate to the same solution (e.g. different functionalities to your digital platform), we would recommend submitting a single application and highlighting them as key features why you believe your platform merits an award. We expect competition to be fierce, and by fragmenting your platform functionality into discrete components, you run the risk that none of them individually will be strong enough to win. Remember, it’s about quality, not quantity.

Yes, please upload the material via the Additional Material section of the nomination form.

We will send an email confirmation to the FI and, if applicable, vendor contacts listed on the submission. If you haven’t heard from us within a few days of your submission, please contact us at


Protecting the confidentiality of the firms with whom we have a relationship is an obligation we take extremely seriously.

We may use anonymized data from any submission for research purposes. We will not, however, publish or disclose any information about the nomination that could be directly attributed to you. We will ask your permission before mentioning your company by name in the context of your Model Bank submission.

If your nomination wins an award, we will work with you to publish a case study of your initiative. Your firm will be mentioned by name, and we will publish the case study only after you have reviewed it in a timely fashion and given your approval. Once published, we may refer to the case study again in other publications as an example of good practice. Please refer to the section “WHAT HAPPENS IF WE WIN A MODEL BANK AWARD?” for more details on this.

No, we will never disclose the fact that you submitted a Model Bank nomination, unless we recognize you as a Model Bank award winner. In the event that we wish to refer to your nomination in another context, we will contact you to obtain permission before doing so.

Judging Criteria and Evaluation Process

While the Model Bank process has evolved somewhat, one thing has remained constant through the years: the evaluation criteria. We continue to judge the initiatives on three criteria.

Business Benefits
The most important of the three evaluation criteria. We are looking for initiatives with a clear and sustainable impact on the FI’s business, so make sure to include quantifiable business benefits. We appreciate that some benefits are hard to quantify, but vague statements about expected benefits from the business case will not be sufficient. We also appreciate that you don’t want to divulge potentially competitively sensitive information. If you are not comfortable sharing absolute figures with us, feel free to talk about relative performance (for example, percentage revenue increase or cost saving).

Degree of Innovation
This measure looks at how innovative the initiative is in using technology to improve sales or service results, reduce risks or costs, or improve business processes. The initiative doesn’t have to be the “world’s first,” although that obviously helps. We are interested in how you experiment with emerging technologies to drive your business. However, innovation doesn’t only mean “bleeding edge” technology; often it is about how you apply technology to enhance your customer experience or to transform the ways of working.

Technology or Implementation Excellence
Some initiatives are noteworthy for their extreme difficulty, complexity of technology, or implementation excellence. Have you just done a “heart transplant on an in-flight plane”? Was it an integration nightmare? Did you roll it out around the world? Did you find a really interesting way to collaborate with a FinTech player or another third party? Have you woven a complex ecosystem to deliver the solution? If so, we want to hear about it, and such an initiative will score highly on this dimension.All Celent Banking analysts are involved in the judging process, although the exact approach should perhaps remain “a secret sauce.”

Yes, with one important exception. Historically we only awarded “live” initiatives, which are already delivering demonstrable business benefits, and this remains a core requirement. However, we also invite you to submit initiatives that seek to make use of emerging technologies, which might still be at the proof-of-concept or pilot stage, or share your efforts to improve innovation capabilities. We want to hear about expected impact on the business, although recognise that it might be difficult to demonstrate quantifiable business benefits at this stage.

Over the years, our Model Bank program has grown increasingly popular with financial institutions and has become fiercely competitive. In each of the last few years, we had over 150 applications and recognised 20-25 institutions with an award. We hope and expect a similar level of competition again this year.

No. Some of the nominating firms, and many of the eventual winners, are or have been clients to Celent’s retained advisory service. However, we never give preference to clients in the selection process, and always ensure that Celent was not directly involved in the creation or deployment of any of the initiatives that have been recognised. To do otherwise would mean compromising our values and risking the reputation we have taken such great care to build.

If you are considering entering your initiative, you must be proud of what you achieved. Make sure it comes across in your submission form. Clearly tell us what you did and why, and why you think what you did is unique and deserves recognition. Focus on essential points, but don’t skimp on detail.

You would be surprised how many entries suffer from lack of clarity; it’s as if some candidates think that if they bamboozle us with technology acronyms, we will be more impressed, or if they twist their arguments into a knot, we will award them just for sounding clever. Your initiative might be brilliant, but if we can’t understand it, you won’t win. Clarity of your submission is crucial!

Consider including internal documentation (for example, documents you may have used to socialise the initiative internally). We welcome additional materials to supplement a well-written application.


Submissions for our 2024 program are now closed.

Application delays inevitably delay the judging process and are unfair to all participants. However, in exceptional circumstances, we may allow extra few days to submit an application. If you expect that you would not be able to submit your nomination in time, please contact with an explanation for why you require additional time.

We expect to notify the award winners in November. We will send an email to the individuals with contact details on the submission form. If there is a vendor involved and contact details are available, we will copy the vendor as well.

We will also email all nominees who did not win the award, typically a few days after we communicate results to the winners.

What happens if we win a Model Bank award?

Privileges and Responsibilities of Model Bank Award Winners

Winning the Model Bank award gives the institution a number of privileges including a published case study featuring the award-winning initiative available to all Celent research subscription clients as well as an invitation to the awards ceremony.

Celent will ask all Model Bank award winners to:

  • Support Celent in writing the case study and recording a video interview bout your initiative. Typically, this involves one to two telephone interviews and/or a few emails interchanged with the analyst authoring the case study, including your review and approval of the case study and video.

Yes, we will ask all Model Bank award winners to observe the following timelines

  • Acknowledge within 24 hours the receipt of our email informing that your initiative won the award.
  • Unless you inform us otherwise, this acknowledgment will confirm that you are happy to accept the award and oblige with the winner’s responsibilities.
  • Identify relevant executive(s) for case study interview(s) within one week of the original email.
  • Confirm the executive that will accept the award as early as possible.
  • Approve the case study for publishing – as early as possible, but no later than two weeks prior to the awards ceremony.
  • Participate in, and approve, a short video interview that complements the case study – as early as possible, but no later than two weeks prior to the awards ceremony.

Of course, even with the best will in the world, things do not always go as planned. We will work with you to manage the process along the way as closely as possible. At the absolute minimum, we need to have the case study written and approved by the FI, in order to still proceed with the award.

In the extreme scenario, if the bank does not support the case study or doesn’t respond to an email congratulating them on winning the award, we will have no choice but to disqualify the initiative. Over the years we only had to do this on a couple of occasions, but came close a number of times.

Case Study Support

A Celent analyst will be responsible for writing the case study. The analyst will be identified and introduced to you via email informing that your initiative has won the award. He or she should be your first port of call for any additional questions you might have about the Model Bank program. Of course, if you are an existing client, your account manager will continue to serve as the primary point of contact at Celent.

The information you will have supplied in the application form will serve as a great starting point for the case study. In addition, we ask all award winners to support us by:

  • Helping us arrange one or more interviews with relevant FI executives familiar with the initiative to get more details.
  • Supplying any available visuals (e.g. screenshots, charts, etc.) helpful to illustrate features and benefits of the solution.
  • Reviewing the draft and managing any necessary internal approvals to allow us to publish the case study.

The whole process should not take much more than several hours of your time.

The case study is typically 5-8 pages long and covers the following topics:

Brief description of the company, usually from corporate literature.
Brief synopsis of the award winning initiative.

Pain points or business opportunity – why did you launch this initiative?
Market and competition, or anything else relevant to understanding the case study.

What was built/ developed?
How? Over what period?
Who was involved?
What is unique about the solution/ initiative?
What were the biggest challenges?

Results and Lessons Learned
Quantitative and qualitative information of what the company achieved because of the initiative.
What are the future plans – e.g. geographic expansion, new functionality?
What were the most critical success factors that made this initiative successful?

The interview questions would broadly follow this outline.

While the analyst is “putting pen to paper”, you are always in control over what specific information you share, and you decide what should be included in the case study. We are not asking to disclose anything that’s confidential and would not publish anything before your explicit approval.

Note that it is somewhat common for published case studies to include less rigorous metrics than those conveyed in the Celent Model Bank nomination. Said another way, don’t hold back when nominating since all nominations are treated confidentially. You can edit out sensitive information, if needed, when you review the case study.

We expect to publish the Model Bank during Innovation and Insight Day on March 21, 2024.

Yes, you will receive a final copy of your case study in a PDF format, irrespective of your client status. If you are a Celent research subscription client, you will be able to access all Model Bank reports just like any other Celent report.

Yes, you can view an example case study from Celent’s Model Bank Awards here


Celent publicly announced all Model Bank award winners during the Innovation & Insight event award ceremony on March 21, 2024. Reports featuring the case studies were also published the same day as well.

Yes, Celent supports and encourages Model Bank award winners to issue a press release announcing this achievement. However, in order to ensure accuracy and consistent messaging across all of our winners, we ask that each company wishing to issue a release send it to Celent’s PR team at for review and approval.

Yes, we have prepared simple guidelines which can be accessed here.

We ask that you keep the news under embargo until we publicly announce all Model Bank award winners. If you want to issue your own press release, we recommend doing so on the day following the award ceremony.

Yes, but you must purchase redistribution rights from Celent first. Please contact us.

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