Data visualisation for transaction reporting

“A picture is worth a thousand words”.  This is as true for data as it is for art.

With the advent of big data, there is a tremendous need to manage, interpret and communicate it effectively – because even the best data is meaningless without being able to understand it and then apply it to your business. Data visualisation transforms bland data into useful visuals that tell a story and, if done right, can be used with little effort to make data-driven decisions. And while these tools have traditionally been used only by front office, revenue-generating teams where the value is immediate and obvious, there are plenty of reasons why it can and should be adapted for internal, back office systems and users.

The maturing transaction reporting industry  

The regulatory reporting industry, although booming, is in many respects still in its infancy stage with massive variations in offering from very basic transaction reporting to those that are harnessing technology and innovation to enable users to derive value from their transaction data and improve their reporting quality. Automation and data visualisation are some of the best ways to accomplish this.

For regulatory reporting purposes, data visualisation can have immediate benefits, including:

  • Identifying ways to improve reporting quality and accuracy
  • Pinpointing root cause for presorting issues
  • Measuring and enhancing compliance KPIs over time and benchmark those against your peer group

Industry shift: time to apply data visualisation best practices to transaction reporting

There is tremendous opportunity to use data visualisation to support better decision-making for compliance. 65 percent of people are visual learners, according to the Social Science Research Network, and the visual medium should be capitalised on in the compliance industry too. 

In reporting, every transaction reported usually has 60-120 fields and many firms report millions of transactions every year. Being able to utilise visuals to depict complex trade data and make compliance decision-making easier, is a game-changer. One simple example is exception management, where being able to spot the exception and drill down to it in one or two mouse clicks is extremely useful.

At Cappitech we have always believed in implementing data visualisation techniques on our platform. As an industry, we should push for every compliance decision-maker to have these tools and data visualisation should be top of mind for all transaction reporting service providers looking to offer a best-of-breed product.

Here are some data visualisation best practices that we incorporated into our transaction reporting dashboard, illustrating how data visualisation can contribute to strategic compliance decision-making within firms and hold true to many other applications.

UI and aesthetics: Poorly designed data visualisation makes it hard to decipher the true meaning of the data and adds unnecessary noise instead of bringing clarity. Removing clutter and using colours effectively to highlight important data are all crucial. Furthermore, visuals should look aesthetically pleasing to the eye and have a consistent look and feel throughout.  For example, consistently portraying accepted submissions in one colour, rejections and resolved issues in another help compliance managers to focus on their rejection rate and improve it over time.

Visual salience: Some of the best data visualisation platforms are those that can direct the user’s attention by employing visual graphics to surface important data and make it stand out from its surroundings.  

UX design: Give users their information on a golden platter and keep them engaged. Point and click and animated graphs enhance the user experience and make it easy to understand the information. Providing the ability to drill down into the data to access more specific and detailed information helps with engagement and usefulness of the information.

Reduce information overload: Less is often more. Removing unnecessary data allows the user to focus on what is essential. This can be as simple as reducing unnecessary decimal points in numbers or only showing relevant reporting fields.

Make it natural: Compliance managers may not be familiar with the jargon in the underlying reports required by the regulator so reducing the use of official terminology and replacing it with day-to-day English increases usefulness. For example, “translating” rejected trade lingo received from the regulator for easier comprehension.

Actionable data: Providing actionable information using annotations and tips can help the user solve problems as they arise, rather than just providing notifications. This turns data from information into an action

Accessibility across devices: Today more than ever, users want to access their transaction reporting dashboards on multiple devices. Static graphs or dashboards that are not mobile responsive limit the accessibility of the information.

Designed for a specific audience: designing for the compliance manager is different from designing for a data scientist or for another profession. Each set of professionals has a different analytical skill level, a different purpose for using their data and a different set of actions they need to take as a result of the data. 

By Ronen Kertis, CEO of Cappitech