NML

Nedgroup Investments Secure Site

Custom Software Development, CMS

A secure, multi-tier fund management platform for brokers, financial planners and individual investors to transact and manage and analyse their portfolios.

Building Nedgroup Investments' Self-Service Investment Portal

Problem: Financial planners and investors need an online system where they can manage their portfolios, generate reports, and access the investment tools they need on a daily basis.

Solution: A self-service investment portal with robust security and powerful tools designed specifically for financial planning.

Project Overview

(NGI) approached us to design and build a secure and user-friendly self-service investment portal for their clients.

Our solution allowed investors and financial planners to manage investments, generate reports, make projections, transact, inspect data, and access the financial tools they need, all from within NGI’s secure client dashboard.

Our agile approach and experience in financial technology meant that we were able to help NGI quickly get to market and respond to their clients’ needs.

We built custom investment tools straight into the platform itself, with a robust back-end that can handle thousands of on-demand data queries and plug into various data-sources in a secure environment.

The entire system was designed to equip financial planners with the information they need to make informed and accurate decisions.

We helped Nedgroup Investments reach their goal of offering an online self-service application with powerful security and a user experience that made it a joy for financial planners to use every day.

Feature Highlights

  • View the real-time status of your investment portfolio
  • Transact, switch funds, and make withdrawals directly from within the client interface
  • Generate custom reports and projections
  • Built-in tools and calculators for financial planners
  • Morningstar integration
  • Auto-scheduling of email reports and statements
  • Auto-creation of PDF forms
  • User-access and client-access security levels
  • Built-in Capital Gains Calculator
  • Built-in Regulation 28 Calculator
  • Built-in TER Calculator
  • Built-in IRR Calculator
  • Adobe Analytics to measure and improve the user experience track user activity, and report on user patterns
  • Market Data Charts
  • Portfolio Risk Analysis Tools
  • Portfolio Benchmarking Tools with International Indexes

Technical Requirements

A Focus on Industry-Leading Security

Financial services businesses require a no-compromise approach to the quality of their software. Security and reliability is of utmost importance, and attention to detail is critical in every stage of development. These were the requirements in the development of NGI’s investment portal:

  • Industry-leading security
  • 100% up-time and reliability
  • A fast and responsive user-experience
  • A user-friendly client interface

Technology

An Attention to Detail

Our extensive experience in building financial software has earned us a deep understanding of the various tools, platforms, and technologies required to deliver enterprise-ready solutions. From understanding the user and client needs, to understanding the technical foundation required to build a fully secure and reliable system, our team ensures we remain ahead of current technologies.

The NGI investment portal was built using the following tools and best practice:

  • ASP.NET MVC v4
  • KnockoutJS for a dynamic front-end
  • NUnit, QUnit, TeamCity and Selenium for automated testing and continuous integration
  • SQL Server for data storage
  • SOAP web services integration with the back-end
  • Entity Framework 4 for interaction with the database via a code-first data model
  • Microsoft Unity for dependency injection
  • Automapper to translate models into view models

We chose ASP.NET MVC v4 as our development framework to give us the best foundation to work from. ASP.NET MVC v4 is Microsoft’s preferred choice and is one of the most secure and reliable frameworks available today.

We used SOAP web services for our back-end integration. While SOAP is generally a very challenging protocol for some developers to work with, it’s security features are unmatched.

To achieve the level of stability we needed, it was important to us to maintain an attention to detail throughout development. NUnit and QUnit testing gave us the granular approach we wanted and it allowed us to run every single line of code through a thorough security audit. We set up our automated testing with TeamCity and Selenium for continuous integration to greatly speed up development time while still maintaining a high level of detail in our testing.

Our approach and our choice of technology allowed NGI to get to market quickly, while still delivering on a product that was stable, efficient,and secure.

Architecture

Building a Strong Foundation

The success of a software solution lies in its architecture. The way various technologies are brought together, the way databases are accessed, and even the location of the information is critical to the end-user experience.

The NGI Investment Portal is a multi-tier system that integrates various technologies to deliver on its speed and security. Our challenge was to design an architecture that combined NGI’s existing infrastructure with new, modernised solutions required by the system.

Architecture

Architecture Highlights:

  • External authentication with Tivoli TIM/TAM
    • Integrated into front-end’s Asp.Net forms authentication workflow
  • Local database for site content and security information
  • Use of middle-tier web services to retrieve data
  • Reporting services provided by middle-tier using a data warehouse
  • Data Power devices handling additional hardware-level caching and security
  • Load balancer distributing load as well as handling additional security checks
  • Integration with Morningstar and user’s own financial data

Technical features:

NGISS

Details of the technology stack led by object oriented and service oriented design patterns:

  • Makes use of Microsoft Asp.Net and MVC 4
  • Manager Pattern to handle various data source integration points (web services, SQL database)
  • Website-level data caching strategy
  • Pattern to handle tab containers for grids
    • Easy security validation
    • Ease of adding/removing tabs
  • Strong separation of concerns
    • Ease of refactoring and unit testing
  • Complete Continuous Integration stack:
    • Database re-built from scratch on each build.
    • Complete suite of unit tests.
    • Selenium-driven integration tests
    • Manual testing
  • Caching
    • All data retrieved from services is cached to reduce network traffic
    • Administrator has full control over cache
Application architecture

Security Model and Function Units

Central to the system is the concept of a Function Unit – a single logical function that the user can perform. It is used primarily for security purposes but is also able to provide context sensitive FAQs, help information and to drive the display of menu items based on the user’s permission levels.

Function Units are aggregated into Function Areas, allowing for both coarse- and fine-grained security as required.

Domain Model

Domain model
A simplification (for illustration purposes) of the Nedgroup Investments Domain Model

Design

The Nedgroup Investments Secure Site allows people from both business and client perspectives to view their investment portfolios.

It provides the business, the brokers and the individual investors access to their portfolios. A complete re-build of their existing site, improving on look & feel as well as performance. 

View differs based on your current role (Investor, Financial Planner, Business owner, NGI staff

Landing Page for investor
Regiotration
The site now allows users to register and login without needing intervention from call center using wizard-driven approach.
Grid based design
The site uses grid-based design to provide consistent layout and display of data.
Navigation
Revamped navigation control structure that is configurable by site administrator – combination of menus and drop downs.
PDF downloads
Prepopulated PDF downloads based on user perspective

Capital Gains Tax Calculator

The new capital gains tax calculator allows financial planners to experiment with portfolios and see how much gain/loss would be taxable when they withdraw money from their portfolios.

Regulation 28 Calculator

The Regulation 28 calculator allows financial planners to experiment with new portfolio compositions, but making sure that the new portfolio would still adhere to the new Regulation 28 legislation.

Bulk Report Scheduler

The powerful Bulk Report Scheduler tool allows financial planners to configure automated jobs that execute at specific times (i.e. at the beginning of every quarter). These jobs execute and generate statements and emails the statements to investors on behalf of the financial planner.

Bulk Report Scheduler

Enhanced Statements

The new statement generation framework generates statements consistently across different browsers, and in the same format as physical printed statements sent out by Nedgroup Investments to their clients.

Enhanced statements
Enhanced Statements