Building an investment profiling tool and calculations engine
- Solutions A modern investment profiling tool
- Country Isle of Man
Founded in 1999 by father-son team of Peter and Anthony Long, Capital International Group (CIG) has grown quickly from the early days of offering custody, nominee and stockbroking services, to now providing a full suite of financial solutions. Today, CIG employs 220 staff across offices in the Isle of Man and South Africa, working with a broad spectrum of professional firms, advisory businesses and private clients.
To support their continued growth, the company needed a fully online and interactive investments profiling tool to be built from the ground up to replace their in-house tool, which had reached the extent of its capabilities.
As the company grew from family run start-up to international competitor, they knew that to keep their offering ahead of the curve, they would need to invest in the necessary systems to support their vision and provide advisors and eventually clients with ultra-modern financial tools to administer their accounts.
In the early days of CIG, the extant investments profiler was suitable for a small client base, but as the company grew it became apparent that for the Investment Managers to be able to do their jobs effectively and efficiently, and to ultimately make the profiler available to external financial advisory firms and IFAs, they would need to build from the ground up a solution that would be scalable and handle their future needs.
With their internal development teams dedicated to the launch of their new, Isle of Man-licensed online bank, CIG turned to Curbsy to build their new investments profiler, which we all simply called the Profiler.
The project comprised of multiple components:
- Thorough documentation of the current system so that no knowledge would be lost.
- Using the calculations from the profiler, a new calculation engine using modern tools that produced results in near-real time.
- As this is a tool for estimating investment returns, a graphing solution supporting multiple types of graphs.
- A new website, first for internal investment managers but with the intention of opening the doors to IFAs, with multiple user groups and integrating with CIG’s internal user-management tools and CRM.
- A back-office admin for managing the data feeding the algorithms in the calculation engine.
- A middleware API to handle the flow of data between the database, back-end calculation engine and any third-party systems that might in future use it.
- The Profiler’s end product was a set of PDFs, which were sent to clients to illustrate the future possibilities of their chosen investment options and to update on past progress.
2-3 full-time developers
1 part-time project manager
1 part-time data analyst
Investing in Tech
For the first few months of the project, the Curbsy team documented every aspect of the extant solution, in particular the calculation engine as this was the foundation for everything else the Profiler would be built around. With no calculation engine, there was no Profiler, so ensuring the team had a complete understanding of the mathematics involved in the engine and how it had been constructed was crucial.
With input from CIG’s CIO David Long, the original calculation engine was re-created in C# as a standalone library within the project that could be referenced as required by the back end. Curbsy’s in-house mathematician worked closely with the team’s developers to ensure the translation to C# covered all scenarios. This data was then passed to the front end and used by a new graphing package, which had to produce charts that looked similar to the old charts, but surpassed them in functionality for future scalability.
A major aspect of the Profiler involved the creation of PDFs for clients which included the various charts. To maintain the security of the data being passed into the PDFs, a bespoke server-side chart engine was built in Node.js.
A middleware API was built to handle dataflow between the back end and any core repositories connected to the database, which allowed for additional security.
Client, advisor and firm information was handled by an external CRM provided by CIG and an API was created by their in-house developers that allowed the Curbsy team to hook into and pull relevant information either on an individual profile basis or via client search.
During the project lifeline, Curbsy adopted a strategy of releasing Profiler versions on a bi-weekly basis using Dockerized containers hosted in Kubernetes environments. This meant new features could be pushed to the various testing and live environments in a timely manner.
The project was managed with two-week Agile sprints, often with a release at the end of the sprint. A demo every two weeks allowed for the investment management and development teams to see the work in progress and discuss new features. Jira and Confluence were used to organise the project and provide a communication platform for the teams to collaborate.
Capital International Group’s old investment profiling tool was holding them back from being able to bring in new business and administer existing business effectively. They needed to provide advisors with a modern solution, and with Curbsy’s help, they now have this. The new Profiler allows multiple advisors from multiple companies to administer new and existing clients effectively, efficiently and securely. It retains the underlying tried and tested calculations, now presented with a user-friendly UI, with data and charts that expand upon the original vision to give users a more interactive experience with much more valuable information.
The work Curbsy has undertaken on this project not only successfully encapsulates everything CIG asked for and then some, it also provides a solid foundation for the Profiler to be scaled up in correlation with the group’s continuing growth.