Brexit - Creating a UI to easily re-paper thousands of legal agreements

For years, international investors sought firms in the UK as a launching point to trade all over Europe (and, likewise, European firms to trade in UK), but due Brexit, that will all change on March 29th, 2019.

Once Brexit is finalized, thousands of legal agreements will need to be transferred between various brokerage firms’ legal entities operating either in the EU and the UK, which will be formally different as of March 29th, 2019 when the UK leaves Europe. Because this is new and unique problem the world hasn’t faced before, it required a new and unique solution.

Problem

Let’s say you’re an American hedge fund. You want to trade within Europe markets, so you sign agreements with firms based in the UK or Europe.

But with Brexit looming, and agreements with UK based firms will no longer be valid for European Business. As a result, thousands of firms will switch the legal entities of their agreements to countries that can still do business in the EU. Rather than complicating things further by changing the terms of the deal or recreating existing agreements manually, most would rather just transfer the agreement to a legal entity within their firm based in a more beneficial country.

Our task was not only to create a platform capable of repapering thousands of these agreements at scale, but also to devise an interface to make the task flow as painless as possible. On top of that, because we were dealing with legally binding contracts, we needed to make sure the platform’s documents were legally compliant for every country. All that, with an end of year 2018 deadline - to give firms time to transition before the March 29 cutoff.

Approach

Working with the legal teams with firms around the globe, we aimed to develop a protocol flexible enough to accommodate everyone. That was easier said than done — the requirements continuously changed as more firms were brought on.

We determined that the tool had to do 3 things well - let firms opt-in to the transfer protocol, allow them to actually transfer the agreements, and then review what had been transferred.

Throughout the project, I worked hands-on with the users representative of our target market. To truly understand the people on the other side of the screen, so I spoke with our users every two weeks during our our regular focus groups. This allowed us to discuss what they wanted and expected from the platform, and to align our understanding as best as possible given the unpredictable and unprecedented business environment Brexit had created.

Transition Tool

Transition Tool

At these meetings, I’d often present concepts via Powerpoints or InVision prototypes, collecting feedback as early and often. There was little precedent to this kind of project, so this was the best way to minimize uncertainty. Until designers talk to real-life users, everything is just guesswork — it’s the user feedback that reveals the best path for the design process to take.

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Then there was the legal facet, which, for this particular project, had millions, if not billions, of dollars at stake. Our team collaborated with top lawyers from various firms, across various countries, to ensure compliance. It wasn’t enough that the design worked; above all else it needed to be legally compliant.

Solution

As created by the design team and fine-tuned from user data, the final protocol and transfer tool was solidified. There was also plenty of feedback to identify new additions that resonated with our target users, like an interstitial window on login to generate more opt-ins.

In the end, Docs was a profound success, meeting then exceeding the team’s expectations. Brokers from different countries can now seamlessly transition the entities of their Give Up agreements, circumventing at least one of the disruptions from Brexit. Our platform single-handedly saves firms countless hours of busy works and millions of dollars in legal fees.

Conclusion

To date, we’ve helped more than 1,500 firms transition thousands of agreements — and saved everyone millions of dollars in legal fees with our original and more efficient solution.

Jeremy Belcher