Interactive Blockchain Lectures at Hult International Business School

In November the Hult International Business School in London  invited Al Sherriff of CBoxx and David Taylor from OCP  to deliver an interactive lecture on “The Strategic Implications of Blockchain” to undergraduate students on the four year Batchelor of Business Administration course, run by Jamie MacAlister. Together we prepared a lecture that aimed to be factual, engaging, cautionary and encouraging.

Al first covered “How does it work?” followed by a section on the volatile history and colourful characters of Bitcoin and blockchain technology. David then explored the strategic angles and industry use cases. Our first lecture had to compete with the news just an hour or so earlier that President Trump had been elected but despite that, the students were attentive and a pleasure to talk too. Several were already well versed in this area and asked searching questions, while others were clearly clicking through the possibilities for innovation in their mind.

Hult has a reputation for producing entrepreneurs and that was evident in some of the discussions both during and after the lecture sessions on the economics, research and opportunities in this field. Jamie astutely framed the day when he coined the question “What is the cost of trust?” – future research for the students perhaps?

More Projects Successfully Delivered

CBoxx are pleased to announce that two more significant UK financial services upgrade projects, supported by CBoxx consultants, have gone live recently:

Origo Options Service Upgrade

The market leading Origo Options Transfers service has just had a major update to bring it in line with the latest UKFMPG Market Practice for Re-registration using ISO 20022 messaging over the Swift network plus the rollout of a set of new features and enhancements such as:

  • The incorporation of intermediate unit holders (third party administrators) into the re-registration process;
  • Support for a broader product range, including pension wrappers;
  • Wider coverage of asset types;
  • Richer data capture.

CBoxx played a key role in analysis, design and development for this project; utilising our in depth knowledge of the industry market practice and ISO20022 messaging standards to ensure that the business process and message workflows conformed to market practice, whilst designing and presenting a concise, informative, easy to use user experience.

Upgrading St James’s Place Wealth Management to Time4Advice CURO 2v0

CBoxx provided Agile project management services to Time4Advice for the delivery of a project to comprehensively upgrade the St James’s Place Wealth Management CURO CRM system. SJP are a leading FTSE 100 UK wealth manager with over £70 billion funds under management. CURO is a financial advice specific customisation of Microsoft Dynamics CRM used by an ever increasing proportion of the SJP adviser network, known as the Partnership. The year long project delivered:

  • An upgrade of the underlying Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 to the very latest, cutting edge CRM 2016 version;
  • This required upgrading, with no data loss or degradation of working hour services, through three intermediate versions of Dynamics;
  • T4A worked closely with SJP UX specialists to deliver a fresh new UX design that was incorporated across the whole system;
  • All SJP systems integrations were fully upgraded and tested;
  • Functional enhancements were designed and delivered across the system;
  • T4A also worked closely with SJP business systems to deliver a whole new set of scalable, performance tested, secure, cloud based production and test environments on Amazon Web Services (AWS).

CBoxx provided Agile project management services from the initial scoping phase through delivery of every phase of work to the live launch process and then post implementation support. Essential to the success of the project was fostering close communication between all project stakeholders throughout, coupled with thorough but flexible planning and the maintenance of detailed records of all works conducted. Technically, the massive volumes of data involved and links to critical systems required extremely careful testing, attentiveness to data security and risk management throughout.

CBoxx in Money Marketing magazine

CBoxx MD Alan Sherriff took time out from his projects to make an appearance in Money Marketing magazine in July, to write about our 2016 technology research theme: blockchain (distributed ledgers): “The revolutionary technology set to power the advice boom”

This article was based on our futurology whitepaper that you can read here: Financial Planning: An Optimistic View of the Future

Blockchain White Paper on the Future of Financial Planning

Based on our collaborative research in 2016, CBoxx and OCP have co-authored a new white paper that offers an optimistic glimpse of the future for financial planning with particular focus on the possible effects of blockchain technology on the underlying investments industry stack.

We begin with a “Day in the Life” of Fara, a young financial planner in the 2020’s, followed by a broad outline of how the industry could evolve to that point from today …

CBoxx OCP White Paper Financial Planning Optimistic Vision of Future v10

Moving into 2016 …

Moving into 2016, CBoxx find ourselves in familiar territory working hard on exciting, forward thinking, ambitious and currently highly confidential financial services projects that I can’t say much about! We hope to reveal more later in 2016 as these projects move from development to live. Suffice to say that our project delivery and architectural skills are being fully exercised.

But it always pays to keep looking ahead and our ongoing research program has been focussing on simplification of the financial services stack, revisiting territory last examined by us about three years ago but this time armed with our growing knowledge and experience of the newly emergent distributed ledger technology (aka blockchain).

Working with OCP, we have been conducting a series of informative meetings and exchanges of views on the subject of distributed ledgers and infrastructure simplification with leading industry participants – third party administrators, platforms, global services providers, standards organisations etc.

We have discovered and perhaps even helped to fuel activity in this area at all levels of the stack and will soon start preparation of a fresh research report / white paper on the subject. It does look certain that transformational change really is coming to the incumbent administration systems and all companies providing trusted third party services need to take a very careful strategic and technical look at this area. Of course, we’re happy to help.

CBoxx update on Blockchain and Financial Services

Since my previous article and white paper based on our first impressions of blockchain, CBoxx has been keeping tabs on developments and in particular researching the permissioned ledger flavour of this technology, as described here by Richard Gendal Brown (previously of IBM, now of R3). This article on LinkedIn Pulse sums up our current view…

CBoxx update on Blockchain and Financial Services

Is Blockchain Technology fit for Financial Services yet?

“How seriously should you take this? I would take it about as seriously as you should have taken the concept of the Internet in the early 1990s. It’s a big deal. And it is going to change the way our financial world operates.”

Blythe Masters on the Significance of Blockchains in Financial Industries, 3rd June 2015

Impressively putting her money where her mouth is, on 25th June 2015, Digital Assets Holdings, lead by Blythe Masters, promptly purchased Hyperledger a finalist in the SWIFT Innotribe startup challenge and one of the companies included in this CBoxx research white paper, before we’d had time to finish proof reading it!

The paper published here aims to take a measured view of whether Blockchain technology, or more specifically, the Permissioned Distributed Ledgers variant, has a place in UK Financial Services technology yet. We anticipate that it will soon become a serious new consideration for any business case that is built around the economies and benefits of introducing a centralised hub.

The big banks are already testing the technology, so should major UK product providers, platforms and members of their technology ecosystem being doing likewise?

Click here to download the White Paper (PDF)

CBoxx White Paper – Estimating Complex Software Projects Can Be Easy

This CBoxx white paper is based on our experience drawn from delivering UK Fintech projects.

It looks at the common pitfalls of estimating complex software projects and explores three key areas that can deliver improvements: Scope, Measurement and Communication. It investigates how a change from the usual time-based estimation approach to size-based could make the daunting problems of accurate estimating solvable through the application of straightforward good management practice, with potential to unlock even wider business benefits …

Click here to download the white paper (PDF)

A fresh start and a new direction for CBoxx in 2015

Welcome to the brand new CBoxx website. After spending the last few years completely engrossed in some rather complex projects for Origo and Time4Advice (and their client St. James’s Place) we’re now taking a little time to look up from the laptops and refresh ourselves.

At our slightly belated 10th birthday celebration meal, the directors decided it was time for a change and that change is taking shape now as we are updating our systems and reviewing what we have really excelled at over the years – which is delivering projects.

We have worked on many different projects since 2003, all within UK Financial Services. Some have been commercially successful and some not. One very consistent pattern that we can now recognise is that when CBoxx get hold of an IT project, it gets done, without fail!

Over 2015 we are therefore shaping our Project Delivery Services into a packaged proposition and taking that out to a wider audience. Do of course get in touch if you need our services …