Lancaster University Investement and Finance Society


01 Apr 2018    6 mins read.

About

[Website @: https://lancasterifs.com]
The Lancaster University Investment and Finance Society is a student led society aiming to build the financial knowledge of its members, and increase awareness of varying opportunities available in the sector. It is one of the largest society at LUMS and organised events have included visits from professionals at HSBC, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, UBS and more.
I initially joined the society as a member during my first year at university, following the recommendation of my accounting lecturer. Wanting to do more and contribute to the society’s growth, I joined the executive team the next year as its IT exec. My goal was simple; leverage my background in Computer Science and programming to help the society achieve its mission. With this goal in mind, the first actionable (and somewhat obvious) step was to build a website for the society.
At first, the website purely served an informational purpose. Later on, when I came back to university after placement year and re-joined the exec team as Vice President-IT, I extended the functionalities to include reporting and event management.

Requirements

Without going in to too much detail, I’ll discuss the high level requirements of the website. In addition to serving an informational purpose, I wanted the website to be leveraged to play a pivotal role in the society’s growth and general reputation (i.e: how people from outside see us).
This would mean working with various different teams (Sponsorship, marketing and communications) to ensure the site is good enough to become student’s one-stop infosearch.

Solution

After careful consideration, my mapped out solution involved building the following main pages:

- Home, About and Contact page

These pages would contain all the informational content a student or prospect might need. This needed to be succinct and presented in a way that emphasises clarity.

- Events page

This page was to contain a list of upcoming events being organised by the society. The implemented design/layout should be similar to the page at http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/events
Other functionalities for the page:

  • An option allowing external users or society members to subscribe to a calendar feed. This will allow automatic addition of events to their personal calendars (be it google calendar or apple iCal) of users who do not have to constantly check the website for upcoming events.
  • A filtering tool giving a user the option to filter events by type and date.

- Newsletter / Blog / Market report page

This section (depending on what the team decides to do) will be the recurring communication point of the team and its members. Its layout would be similar to that of a blog offering insights into the financial industry. (I recommended opening positions to society members if no one in the exec team was willing to do it on a recurring basis as this section has the potential to play an immense role in the growth of the society and its reputation).
Once the team had been established, user accounts for the personnels allowing them to write and publish articles directly to the societies website would be setup. This will ensure that authors are properly credited and do not have to rely on me and my team each time they needed to publish an article. (To ensure credibility and quality is maintained, each posts might have to be proof-read and approved by other members of the team. [This is optional])

- LUIFS Ghosal Fund

[Website @: https://fund.lancasterifs.com]
The LUIFS Ghosal Fund is a selective subdivision of the LUIFS, offering members the opportunity to have first-hand experience of equity investments and to gain exposure to real-life situations related to the buy side of financial services. Its activities closely mirror those of a real-life asset manager. Having gained a lot of value in experience for being one of the handful of analysts during my final year, I deducted that offering more insight of the fund’s activities to the wider members of the society could increase their membership value. Although the fund’s activities (i.e research, selection and stock pitching) are exclusive to the fund members, insight into our processes could be efficiently delivered through our site.
The built section for the fund was to be purely informational with regular updates. I decided this was going to be a subdomain as we needed to have some form of separation between the two websites (much like in reality).

Tech stack

The IT team during the first year I joined the exec team was just me. As I would be building the site on my own, the need for a suitable framework which would allow me to easily achieve the requirements listed above was apparent. To save time from not having to build everything from scratch, developers regularly use software frameworks for their projects.

In computer programming, a software framework is an abstraction in which software providing generic functionality can be selectively changed by additional user-written code, thus providing application-specific software. It provides a standard way to build and deploy applications and is a universal, reusable software environment that provides particular functionality as part of a larger software platform to facilitate development of software applications, products and solutions. [Souce: Wikipedia]

After some research on suitable CMS frameworks, I settled on wordpress. Starting off from a theme, I tweaked and built functionalities to arrive at my desired final solution. When it came to hosting, I hosted the site on my personal server and the only expense incurred by the society was for the purchase of a domain name. Later on, the hosted site was virtually contained on its own using docker1.

Get in touch

Serving as the Vice-president IT for the LUIFS was a great learning experience due to the myriad of things I got to do. From improving my web-development skills to managing, collaborating and working with a diverse group of people.

As always, please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions regarding this portfolio entry.


Footnotes:

  1. Docker is a set of platform as a service products that uses OS-level virtualization to deliver software in packages called containers. Containers are isolated from one another and bundle their own software, libraries and configuration files; they can communicate with each other through well-defined channels. [Souce: Wikipedia]