#Strategic and #lean #thinking in private investment and asset portfolio participants part 2

There are several types of on boarding that relate to both business and investors structure and size, their specific purpose for investing and their local regulatory constraints.

The Main Participants

I will be focusing on four main participants in this post financial advisers (FA) and investors (I), either or both of these may be constituted by companies, funds or individuals and para planners (PP), local office administrators (external or internal) (AD), company back office administrators (AD). Other participants are traders, local regulation, international treaties, company regulation, regulatory reporting, trustees, product managers and the security services.

Financial Adviser

The role of the financial adviser is shaped by the organisation they work for both by its nature and its size. As a general rule, the smaller the firm, the more the adviser is likely to be involved in the process of client management. They will be managing their calendar, running segmentation reports, and getting to know the systems their firm uses. An adviser in a larger firm may spend more time on face-to-face client interaction and will delegate other tasks to administrators and Para-planners. They will be an avid consumer of research, but might have summaries prepared by para-planners. The adviser’s use of online tools and services will vary, but this is an attitudinal variable and is less correlated to the size of firm. They may view online tools as essential to helping perform well on behalf of their clients, in which case they will be a demanding and sometimes critical user. Alternatively they may be wary of disintermediation, seeing online servicing as a threat and something that could devalue the relationships they have carefully cultivated with their clients.

Financial Advisor High Level Processes by Karl Smith
Financial Advisor High Level Processes by Karl Smith

Para-planner

Para-planners are usually younger than advisers, and probably use online tools more frequently during the average working day. They will often carry out tasks for example, creating illustrations or portfolio models on the instructions of a financial adviser or as a way to show capability for the next step in their career. Although the Para-planner often carries out similar tasks to the administrator, their context of use differs. They may be an aspiring adviser herself, and their tasks are usually part of a larger, open-ended activity, such as research, where they help shape the approach. This means that although Para-planners often make use of process-heavy features, they are less process-driven than administrators. For Para-planners, attitudes to technology may be less behaviour-defining than for advisers: not at a sufficiently advanced career stage to make decisions on behalf of the firm, and will make use of the technologies available. Finally, they are likely to be heavily involved in the planning and aftermath of client review meetings, even if they do not attend them. They will play an essential role in meeting preparation and in executing any follow-up actions agreed with the client. In this sense they are a key resource for the adviser, and will therefore value any tools that help them work more rapidly and more effectively.

Para Planner High Level Processes by Karl Smith
Para Planner High Level Processes by Karl Smith

Investor

Of all the participants the investor is most subject to variation. The main reason for this is that, while other participants are shaped to a certain extent by their job roles and the responsibilities, constraints and priorities these involve, investors are strongly defined by attitudinal factors which vary from individual to individual. One key factor that defines how an investor interacts with the product company is their degree of financial mediation, with discretionary investors on one end of the spectrum and self-directed investors on the other. The differences between these extremes are so significant that, these will need to be defined as distinct participants later. Other factors that will strongly shape investor behaviour include risk tolerance, investment horizon, degree of financial engagement & sophistication, the amount of time devoted to financial matters, and the way online information is located and used (this last factor is important even if an investor is entirely discretionary). It is also important to remember that the investor participants as well as the product company’s business goals relating to them are heavily affected by the stage of their relationship with the product company and with their adviser.

Investor High Level Processes by Karl Smith
Investor High Level Processes by Karl Smith

Administrator

The roles carried out by administrators can vary significantly based on size of firm and the age or career ambitions of the administrator. Some administrators see the job as a transitional stage before attending university and receiving a financial qualification others might be called “career administrators” and might have been working in this role for many years. Some administrators especially career administrators may have become experts in the systems they use on a daily basis. In smaller and mid-sized firms, these administrators will probably be the company’s leading expert on these systems, and there are real-life examples of administrators who have created manuals for asset management systems which are used to train new staff. These experts can sometimes be most resistant to changes, even when the changes represent a tangible improvement, as they have invested so much time becoming familiar with the old system. Resistance to change is less pronounced among administrators who are younger, less experienced, or who do not intend to stay in the role in the longer term. Administrators are not key decision-makers in an organisation, but they are key users, if a system frustrates them and reduces their efficiency, their firm will suffer.

 

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#Information #Architecture (IA) is not another name for #User #Experience (UX)

IA is not another name for UX

User experience (UX) and Information Architecture (IA) are very different and have separate skill sets, processes and outputs.

I often talk to people who add IA on the their CV as if it’s some simple skill;

IA is actually more complex and difficult than UX

IA is also hundreds of years old as an activity while UX is less than twenty in it’s current form.

  • Information architecture is involved in the classification and structure of information.
  • User experience is involved in; defining who the audience is, what they can do, how they can do it and matching the aspiration of the content provider with the desires of the audience.

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#Information Architecture (IA) the #classification of #information

A simple website may only include 8 top level pages, 50 secondary and perhaps only 300 tertiary labelled (taxonomy) navigation elements, that’s only 358 entities. However, Information Architecture tends to be associated with the structure and classification of websites, intranets and software that accesses in excess of 100,000+ separate entities to be classified. I have worked on several huge taxonomies for Government, Publishers, Colleges, Universities, Insurance Companies and Banks involved in trading that involve between 1,000,000 and 25,000,000+ entities.

An Information Architect embarking on a new project will investigate if there is a standardised ontology for the project domain and conduct a content audit.

An ontology is a formal naming and definition of the types, properties, and interrelationships of the entities that really or fundamentally exist for a particular domain.

For example, if the project is a United Kingdom, Government project then there is a standard ontology and a classification of entities within a taxonomy.

If a standard exists the task is relatively simple but highly time-consuming as it then involves matching the in use ontology with the standardise one. If no standard exists a standard needs to be created. Creating a standard ontology is done through domain research. How do other’s of the same domain describe things, at this point it is worth considering ownership of language in the form of brands, trademarks, patients and de facto standards as a source of information, terms and potential restrictions.

Once the entities have been defined with their attributes and all the potential interrelationships then this is combined with or overwrites the content audit to define the new system taxonomy.

However, there may be multiple audiences looking at the same content from different perspectives. For example in educational publishing the audiences could be;

  • Distributors
  • Sellers
  • Institutions
  • Teachers
  • Pupils
  • Parents

Each one of these groups will have a very specific context of use when looking for content, the descriptions they use and understand to find it and their underlying purpose in doing so. In this case, they will each require a separate structure around an entity and may require their own version of the ontology.

Additionally there are criteria that operated as informational facets (now commonly associated with faceted search) which act as secondary entities;

  • ISBN
  • Bulk price
  • Unit price
  • Country standards
  • Regional standards
  • Education level
  • Education target
  • Education skills
  • Education method
  • Exam board
  • Exam year
  • Pupil/student age
  • Content subject
  • Content brand
  • Content group
  • Content purpose
  • Language
  • Language Tone of Voice
  • Media type
  • Media format

The above entities enable the audiences to find the content assets that meet their specific needs. It is very important at this stage not to confuse entities with hierarchies. Hierarchies are the structuring of entities in a direct or indirect relationship that are above or below (immediate superior or subordinate) this also includes cross related relationships. As previously mentioned there may already be standard hierarchies in the domain in question that should be observed.

But how do you find these entities in any domain?

Taking the above example the standard hierarchy in publishing is ISBN a review of several entities within a single ISBN item will reveal many of entities above. To get the rest research is required (it cannot be done any other way);

  1. Find out who the audience is and what is their objective?
  2. Find out what are the rules, laws and governance?
  3. Find out who buys, distributes, delivers, services, resells and what their relationship is to the originator?
  4. Find out specifically who the audience is currently, competitor and target audience?

Define ‘What is the smallest component of viable (useful) information?’ and use that to model the information system. I have worked with several huge education providers and universities and the questions I ask is, ‘What is a course?’;

  • A course has a title
  • A course has duration, with a start and an end
  • A course has a subject
  • A course has a level
  • A course has prerequisites
  • A course has an outcome, which leads to options
  • A course has a delivery mechanism

I also ask, ‘Who is a student?’, ‘Who is a tutor?’, ‘What is an outcome?’ even ‘What is a college?’, if a course has a regular location then this creates a secondary set of entities.

  • A location has an address, telephone number, email address
  • A location has facilities
  • A location has transportation links
  • A location has a community
  • A location has accommodation

And it goes on and on, this is Information Architecture 101.

This is a repost from an article first published in 2007.

About the Author

Karl Smith is Computer Scientist or as he describes himself a Creative Scientist. He has a BA in Design from the 1980’s and an MSc in Interactive Technologies for E-commerce from the 2000’s. His MSc was technically focused with a large portion given over to Transformation and Very Large Databases, data warehouses, Data Mining, online analytical Processing (OLAP), web browsers and search engines, optimisation, recovery and backup, database connectivity technologies. Including writing SQL.

Karl Smith is an acknowledged leader in the field of Human Centred Design, User Experience and Usability and has been honoured with a Fellowship by the British Computer Society. He is also the Founder of several organisations including The Human Centered Design Society.

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