Nedgroup Investments, DVT partner on SA leading self-investing platform


Sep 26th, 2018

Software development and testing company DVT teamed up with Nedgroup Investments to assist with the testing of its newly launched online investment platform, ‘Extraordinary Life.’  DVT’s Global Testing Centre played a pivotal role in the success of the platform, which was named Banker Technology project of the year in the Banker Tech projects Awards 2018, backed by Financial Times.

Extraordinary Life is a digital, automated savings platform, one of the first end-to-end digital journeys in the South African market that enables a customer to be able to receive an investment recommendation, detail on the tax savings and returns, on-board himself, invest and see his holdings without submitting any paper in less than 10 minutes. This also includes digitally setting up retirement plans – a South Africa first.

The platform was created via collaboration between technical experts from South Africa, India, Czech Republic and United Kingdom and integrates artificial intelligence, chatbot, investment algorithms, web and API development.

“We’re happy to be partnering with DVT. The team was highly committed, energised and professional. The results were real – a 70% reduction in testing time and development to implementation with test automation,” says Donna Barnes, Head: Direct Clients at Nedgroup Investments.

“I’m not a fan of front-loading an initiative with resources so when discussing testing, I was adamant to bring the team in later. However, after having met with the DVT team, I realised the important part they could play in ensuring our new digital product was robust and market-worthy,” notes Barnes.

Mario Matthee, Head of SQA Architecture and R&D at DVT’s Global Testing Solutions says, “This was definitely one of the most exciting and fun projects that I have been part of in a while. The fact that this project won an international award is a great example of what can be achieved when you have the right people in the right positions for a project, working towards a common goal, and along the way challenging how projects are delivered.”

The Solution

DVT included test analysis from the start of the project, and test automation followed soon after Behaviour Driven Development (BDD) was introduced to ensure test automation covered the acceptance criteria as defined by the team.  BDD is an extension of Test-Driven Development (TDD) that emphasises developing features based on a user story and writing code that provides a solution to real problems.

“The most complex part of the test automation was not the scripting but rather the architecture and strategy. Test automation played a critical role in the overall test strategy, executing against all environments, even production,” says Matthee.

According to Matthee, every project has its challenges, and in this project the biggest one was the re-use of test data, catering for complex investment models, responding to changes to the functionality and chatbot conversational flows.

How does Extraordinary Life work?

  • Extraordinary Life utilises an intelligent chatbot front end that collects information from the customers in a convenient and conversational way, which helps with trust and simplicity.
  • It calculates amounts needed for particular goals such as retirement and education, cleverly making use of a cloud-based algorithm that guesses the age of humans based on facial recognition and Google APIs to pinpoint education institutions and their corresponding fees respectively to enrich the engagement
  • It enables hyper-personalisation that works not only on investment but also tax recommendation algorithms, which allow customers with various needs to invest in the right portfolio at various stages of their life, using intelligent automation.
  • It has advanced investment algorithms, built using in-house stochastic models from our asset management team (with 1 000 000 data points over 1 000 future scenarios) integrated into a recommendations matrix as opposed to deterministic models used in an average robo-advisor.

Lessons Learnt

“This project had the luxury of working directly with the business product owner, Donna Barnes. Donna was part of the delivery team: answering questions, helping remove impediments, testing as functionality was released, logging defects, retesting fixes, informing project sponsors of the progress and providing motivation to the team to mention a few,” says Matthee.

The other positives according to Matthee was a team commitment to deliver and the fact that everyone participated in the quality assurance component of the project. “Everybody did testing, including the scrum master, solution architect and even the IT Executive, George Ambler.”

The Benefits

There are no administrative or advice fees and costs are kept especially low by making use of passive investments. Unlike most robo-advice platforms, it doesn’t only take into account investment advice but also tax optimisation to allow people across the wealth spectrum in South Africa to maximise their savings and investments.

“We wanted to offer the emerging middle and middle to upper class individual, which has historically been underserved with advice in South Africa, a cutting-edge investment user experience with low fees and high transparency,” concludes Barnes. “Thanks to a team effort and technology partners like DVT, end users now have a completely frictionless digital experience when investing, and they have access to a qualified financial advisor at no cost to review the platform’s investment recommendations.”