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Financial Industry Regulatory Authority

Easing the audit burden for securities firms

The Challenge

FINRA is the largest independent regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States. In support of this mission, FINRA performs recurring audits of securities firms. To facilitate this process and ease the associated record-keeping burden, FINRA began developing a new application to provide a secure communications channel for internal investigators and compliance officers.

Securities firm audits and other FINRA requests for information require a high degree of communication and exchanged documentation between FINRA and the given firm. Accordingly, the primary challenge for the application was to provide a highly usable and lightweight tool to replace the existing communication channels, which were not trackable or easily managed. User adoption was a particularly critical concern so the new application needed to be as intuitive and easy-to-use as an email client.

After 6 months working internally to develop a set of wireframes to meet the demanding specifications for the new enterprise application, FINRA engaged LookThink to engineer the application’s user experience.

The Solution

LookThink engaged the FINRA team in a series of intensive discovery sessions where user expectations, application flows and functional requirements were reimagined and reconsidered from the ground up. The sessions produced a completely new set of wireframes - reducing the original 14 screens to 5 and streamlining process flows for both FINRA and external users.

LookThink continued with the development of a clickable prototype built in HTML, CSS and Javascript. This prototype provided FINRA stakeholders with a vision of the completed design to test with users and win support from key stakeholders. It also provided the internal development team with a usable interface codebase for their backend coding effort.

The Result

With LookThink’s work, the FINRA project team was able to increase overall speed to development and win stakeholder and user buy-in. Additionally, FINRA project managers were so pleased with the LookThink user experience process that they have incorporated it into planning for future enterprise application development.

LookThink was able to quickly come up to speed on the complex requirements that we were trying to resolve. Their level of usability and interface design expertise was critical to achieving a far more elegant software solution than we would have otherwise. The results of this effort have really raised the bar for our enterprise application efforts.

-James Parks, FINRA Business Solutions Group

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