B.A.Sc. Thesis Abstracts - Year 2010

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A Study of Email Improvement

Rui Xue, Engineering Science


The advent of email greatly improved the speed and ease of corporate communication. Despite email's many advantages, its rising volume and the increasing amount of time spent on email by employees have caused some concerns at the Bank, including concerns over productivity, email retention and the environmental impact of email. The objectives of this study are: 1) to assess the degree of email overload, the extent of meeting disruptions due to email checking and employees' email needs and habits; 2) to assess the retention value of email; and 3) to calculate the amount of Green House Gas (GHG) emission from the email system. The Survey Study results reveal that 18% of the employees experience email overload and that email volume, keeping a small Inbox size and dealing with messages as they arrive are three factors influencing this perception. Based on the email volume statistics, it is estimated that employees at the Bank spend two hours and 50 minutes a day on email. In addition, it is found that 84% of respondents have used a Blackberry for email during meetings and among them, 82% have missed part of a meeting discussion because of this activity. The Retention Value Study found that 50% of emails received have no value after one week and 80% lose their value after one year. Employee interviews identified several concerns and opportunities for productivity improvement. Lastly, the GHG emission of the email system is calculated to be 192.5 Tonne equivalent of CO2 per year.

Evaluating Technology Solutions for Centralized Lending

Rui Zhang, Chemical Engineering


The loan adjudication process cost is increasing due to inefficient processes and inflexible technological systems at the Bank. Research has been initiated by the Bank to analyze the current lending system in order to propose an alternative process model and a technology support solution. The analysis is conducted by assessing the current personal and SME lending process and proposing the target centralized lending process model. Research from Accenture has been used for some of the analysis and for reference. Measuring parameters in the centralized lending process model have been assigned to determine the performance of the target process model. The process model gives the structure of the process flow in terms of the tasks requirements and people position requirements. External vendors' technology solutions are analyzed. An evaluation was performed using a decision comparison matrix that has been done among the external vendors' solutions based on their functionalities and features. An analysis of the external vendors' solutions against the internal solution has also been performed to make the proposal alternative based on the current situation at the Bank.

First Nations Mortgage Lending: Opportunities and Strategies

Michael Bosompra and Jegan Kanaganayakam, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering


The First Nations market in Canada is the fastest growing and youngest demographic segment of the Canadian population [INAC09W3a]. Any growing demographic has a need for effective financial services, but there are a number of unique challenges that can make this specific market quite difficult to penetrate. Firstly, a host of regulatory issues, for example the Indian Act, make it difficult for the Bank to effectively deal with risk. Additionally, aboriginal communities have unique cultures and ways of life that do not always align well with types of financial services that are available today. Finally, it can often be difficult to identify candidate bands, out of the over 600 that exist in Canada, that represent an opportunity for financial services. The first objective of this thesis is to investigate the aboriginal market characteristics across each region and province in order to identify potential opportunities for the Bank. Specifically, the focus of this thesis is on understanding where the Bank should look next if and when expanding their current mortgage lending program. Secondly, this thesis investigates strategies that will help the Bank build strong and sustainable relationships with First Nations communities in Canada, which will ultimately define the foundation and framework for their future growth.

Improvement of Knowledge Management in the Law Group

Christopher Langan, Engineering Science


Knowledge management is critical in storing, retrieving, and using knowledge. This thesis has developed metrics for evaluating the merits of knowledge management systems based on the needs of the law group. Systems have been evaluated based on their ability to store and retrieve knowledge, their ability to assist lawyers in staying current, and their ability to support the learning styles of young professionals in the law group. These evaluations have been applied to knowledge management systems to rank their relative desirability for use in the law group. Based on these evaluations, it has been found that the law group has a strong knowledge management system but can benefit from more interactivity and a stronger emphasis on the ability to push knowledge to users and browse information.

Innovation in Self-Service Banking and its Impact on Customer Satisfaction

Kevin Davis, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering


Customer satisfaction has been proven to have a direct impact on customer commitment. Banks that understand the factors that affect this relationship are better equipped to provide for customer needs. The banks that have been most successful at keeping their customers happy have demonstrated personalised, convenient, and innovative deliveries of products and services. This paper seeks to understand how banks have demonstrated these criteria in their self-service delivery. Rapidly advancing information and communication technologies have made technological innovation an important dimension of customer satisfaction. Innovation can be described using three attributes of customer satisfaction. Banks must understand how products and services can be classified within these attributes and recognise their importance in providing for their customers. A gap analysis has been conducted for the 'big five' Canadian banks and select products have been assessed against the attributes of innovation. Suggestions have been made for personalising the online delivery channel to retail and small business clients. Through external research of leaders in innovation in self-service banking, new ideas are proposed to the Bank for consideration towards future implementation that may gain excitement from customers and heighten satisfaction.



Investigation of Time Management Improvement for Senior Managerial Levels at a Financial Institution

Jenny Wang, Engineering Science


Time management is one of the key issues of a successful business. In order to be efficient, it is important to optimize the relative amount of time spent on each task in proportion to their importance and relevance to objectives to be achieved. Literature review suggests that there is an optimal allocation of time for each managerial task, and articles on time management habits are widely available. The purpose of this thesis is to evaluate the current time management practice at the senior manager level of the IT Department at the Bank, and to suggest any potential areas of improvement. In order to evaluate the current practice, a few direct reports were interviewed and their qualitative and quantitative data were consolidated to generate a breakdown for comparison.

Discrepancies between suggested and actual practice suggest ways in which managers could perform more efficiently. The results reveal that more efficient time allocation can be implemented to reduce time spent in meetings and increase time spent with subordinates. Prioritization can also be further improved with the implementation of internal billing. Interruptions can be reduced to improve the fluidity of the workday and recover time that can be spent on other tasks. In particular, effective email usage can improve the efficiency of important tasks.

Investment Advisor Recruiting Opportunities

Liuba Mamonova, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering


This thesis considers the diversity of Investment Advisors (IAs) and specifically why there are so few women in this role while there appears to be a high demand for them in the industry. Facing a diverse market of clients has created a need for financial services institutions to better represent their customers through a more diverse workforce. Specifically, there is an opportunity to increase the bank's market share by appealing to women clients through more women IAs. To come up with recommendations, existing literature was consulted, employee interviews were conducted, companies recognized by Catalyst for advancement of women were used as benchmarks, and women with experience in complex sales or a financial background were interviewed to leverage the experience and solutions found in other industries and organizations. The results have implications for the way women are recruited into IA roles, developed internally and retained on the job. Recommendations include customizing the marketing of the job to a female audience, career planning tools, alternative compensation structures, more handson sales training, conducting exit interviews, as well as a number of long term initiatives pertaining to the handling of maternity leaves, proportion of women in management, and diversity programs.

Learning and Development at the Bank

Saguna Dhamija, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering


Traditional classroom learning is no longer able to handle today's banking industry needs due to increasing global competition and logistical challenges. The application of e-learning as a method of training delivery is growing especially in the banking sector. The ability to learn efficiently and effectively is critical to organisational success in the knowledge age. The objective of this thesis is to improve the Bank's existing Training Delivery Model (TDM) to eliminate any regional inconsistencies and to propose a new national TDM. This TDM is scalable and can hire varying volumes of new hires.

This was done by researching different industries that pioneered and are well-established in delivering e-training. Next, through a survey distributed to the key stakeholders, the performance of the Bank's existing TDM was gauged. The results were further investigated by conducting in-depth face-to-face interviews with two of the most important stakeholders in the project. Eight areas of improvement were identified in the existing TDM. Some of these include enhancing the "hands-on" aspect of learning, increasing pre and post training support services, reducing the unnecessary administrative tasks and improving the training feedback system. The results strongly demonstrate the need for a centralized platform to improve communication and the sharing of information between the stakeholders of the training process. This thesis explores the feasibility of implementing such a platform specifically for the Bank.

Measuring IT Projects' Efficiency Using Data Envelopment Analysis

Kirill Zubovsky, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering


Constantly reducing costs and improving the efficiency of project delivery is a priority for any IT organization that wants to remain competitive. Managers are forced to use small bits of available data to plan future work and to set out goals to drive the company's performance. What companies need is a way to drive measurable performance with data-driven analysis. The objective of this thesis is to make a case for Data Envelopment analysis (DEA) to be applied for measuring IT projects' efficiency in a large Canadian financial institution.

Optimizing Dynamic Hedging

Austin Lam, Engineering Science


Derivative traders often use dynamic trading strategies to hedge their position on option trading. The more frequent the portfolio is rebalanced, the lower the portfolio is exposed to price risks of the underlying asset. However, rebalancing too often could ultimately lower the profit and loss (P&L) of the portfolio. The purpose of this project is to develop a Monte Carlo based simulation program that calculates the P&L of a dynamically hedged portfolio for an option. The program enables the users to enter information regarding the underlying asset, the option and the trading strategy involved. Key statistics on the P&L and graphical plots are generated for the users to compare multiple simulation results. Using the simulation program, the impacts of adjusting certain simulation parameters and trading strategies on the P&L are studied.

Productivity Measures for Application Development

Ben Ji-Yong Kwak, Engineering Science


The Bank wants to assess how productive the processes of application development and application testing (AD&T) teams are from a business perspective, and evaluate how they might benchmark their productivity against comparable firms in the marketplace. Many AD&T teams in the Bank design, develop, test, implement, operate and maintain systems. However, there are no benchmarks against which to measure team productivity or to measure what benefits the systems groups deliver compared to other teams in comparable "best-in-class" organizations. As part of this effort, the Bank wants to have reliable measurements in order to compare their performance to others. This thesis compares the Bank's theories and practices against other organizations' theories and practices as it examines productivity measures, processes, systems and methodologies used to benchmark such activities against the best industry practices. Then, it provides recommended measures and improvements for processes that the Bank should consider to obtain better performance.

Revenue and Market Share Growth Strategies in the Retail Banking Sector

Simon Chee-Wai Ng & Xavier Xiaohu Tang


The Canadian retail banking industry is one in which it is increasingly difficult to find differentiating factors amongst the top five or six institutions. In order to become more competitive within the market place, banks must adopt innovative technologies and strategies. Although there are many sources that discuss potential opportunities, a thorough analysis must be conducted before any new strategy can be adopted. An example market segment which can be used to gauge the potential success of such innovations is that of the Canadian university students due to some of their particular characteristics as a part of Generation Y. A review of current expert opinions on the future of retail banking revealed three general trends: (1) banking through mobile devices will inevitably be required to offer increased convenience, (2) branches will continue to play a strong role in the sale of products, thus necessitating changes in the role of branch employees to that of a more empowered "universal associate", and (3) new technologies such as video banking can offer the convenience of banking services through remote channels. This thesis tested the potential of these three innovations in acquiring customers in the Canadian university student market segment, with the final results presented to one of the major Canadian financial institutions. By analyzing first-hand data from a survey distributed to individuals of the target demographic, several requirements were identified and used as a basis for recommendation, with the universal associate

Service Oriented Architecture - Can a Single Wholesale Payments System Be Achieved?

Alina Semjonov


In the USA and Europe, the payment sector is twice the size of the airline industry, reliably delivering revenues and profits to the banks. But after decades of relative stability, regulatory changes and increased volume in electronic payments have disturbed the equilibrium and are triggering major change.

Retail payments, retail transfers and wholesale payments are expected to double over the next ten years in North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Middle East/Africa and South American regions and a few vendors have formed strategic partnerships and operations in these regions to take advantage of the projected transactions volume growth. They are, therefore, competitively positioned to serve as global leaders in payments transactions processing, enterprise software integration and a payments convergence expertise. As pressure increases on legacy payment systems to cope with transaction volume growth in these regions, these potential vendors can play a critical role in enabling the financial institution's legacy "silo" payment systems into single source payments systems. [WORTH07]

Therefore, this thesis searches for a capable enterprise wholesale payment system that can integrate the Bank's legacy systems that currently work separately. Weighted attributes were calculated and combined to find the most suitable vendor, and from this information, the vendor Clear2Pay was the best choice, followed by ACI Worldwide and Dovetail Systems. If the Bank decides to implement the solution, the Bank may expect to derive many business benefits such as higher customer satisfaction, great efficiency, increased security, and increased system resiliency.

Social Media in the Business to Business Space

Priyanka Gupta, Chemical Engineering


The Bank wants to engage new business clients and retain the existing business clients through social media. The demand for banking services is well served through account managers, branch personnel, telephone and Internet banking platforms. Hence, an innovative way to reach business owners through social media maybe by providing them with business advice. A social media strategy was devised by conducting a telephone survey and relying on other published surveys and reports. The first step was to understand the behaviour of business owners when they are online. It was seen that most business owners belong to the category of spectators and critics and that they are more involved with social media than an average adult of a comparable age group. Hence, it is important to align social media objectives with the needs of such spectators and critics. The main goal in the Bank's social media strategy is to support business owners by providing them with valuable business advice. The survey designed here discovered the challenges that business owners face identified good topics on which to offer advice. The last steps included discussing ways to measure the success of such a social media initiative and selecting a suitable technology.

Software productivity comparison between teams

Ines Lucia Fernandez, Paul Klunko, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering


Every year billions of dollars are spent on software development in Canada. There are still no standard ways of quantitatively measuring how effective a particular software development team is. Inefficient teams cost money to companies in terms of unmet user needs, low quality of software as well as inaccurate budgets and schedules.

This research uses Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) to evaluate software development team efficiency in a large Canadian bank. Based on past research and data provided by the Bank, three distinct models were developed. The models measure team productivity, software quality and the ability of teams to deliver projects on-time and on-budget. As a result, important variables were identified to be taken into account when building DEA models.

One of the main contributions to the literature is the development of a framework consisting of three DEA models, which include quantitative and qualitative data. They can be used in the future to evaluate efficiency of software development teams.

Statistical Analysis of Historical North American Equity Algorithmic Trading Order Flow

Nawaz Lakhani, Engineering Science


Institutional funds from around the globe trade North American equities in large quantities through their brokers. In the past, trades have been communicated to sales traders who work with the traders to achieve the best execution for the client. Over the last decade, technological advances have allowed for brokers to create products that allow clients to directly interact with the market at a lower cost. Although the sales trader model is not obsolete, there has been a shift to Electronic Trading. The largest revenue driver in this area is Algorithmic Trading which provides clients with a set of tools that intelligently execute orders in an automated fashion. Competition for the algorithmic execution commissions from clients is largely driven by performance of the algorithms relative to their benchmarks. Tracking the aggregate performance across all clients in a dynamic repository allows for internal teams to quantify the improvements made to the algorithms and sales teams to market their performance. The goal of the thesis is to create a dynamic repository of performance metrics along with a set of complementary interactive tools to be used by the internal teams within the Bank.