MBA people in meeting

Maple-Brown Abbott

As one of Australia’s first boutique investment management firms, Maple-Brown Abbott has been managing investment portfolios for investors since 1984. MBA is privately owned, with over $9 billion in assets under management. 

The challenge

When it was founded nearly 40 years ago, Maple-Brown Abbott (MBA) specialised in Australian equities. Over time though, the organisation has evolved and it is now a global business focussing on Australian equities, Asian equities and global listed infrastructure securities – with clients in over 20 countries.

MBA’s website had not kept pace with this transition and had become dated in its content as well as its appearance and usability. What the firm needed was a digital platform that would respect and honour its values and history, while reflecting its growth and evolution.

The new site not only needed to have a more contemporary look and feel, it needed to convey the firm’s independence, which remains an important part of its culture, and its commitment to always acting with integrity and the highest ethical standards. It also needed to be able to support the firm’s expansion into Europe and the US.

Screen shot of MBA website - Investment strategies

What we did

The engagement began with an in-depth discovery process, involving a series of consultations and workshops, all conducted remotely due to Covid restrictions. During this phase of the project, we took a deep dive with key stakeholders into where the brand had been, where it was going, and what its goals were. We also reviewed the firm’s target audiences and whether the website had been structured in a way that was meeting their needs. 

Reimagining the user experience

The site had basically been operating as a collection of three microsites, each aimed at one of the firm’s three main personas. This had led to a situation where there was a lot of duplicate content, and the site had become difficult to maintain. Trying to cater to the different investment strategies and regulations across numerous jurisdictions had also led to a lot of unnecessary complexity in the information architecture. 

To alleviate these issues, Luminary’s first recommendation was to implement personalisation based on the region of the user. This way, only geographically relevant content would be shown, and the site’s navigation could be vastly simplified. 

Another problem that was identified with the existing site was that it had very little focus on the history and values of the firm, which were critical for supporting its expansion plans. While MBA was well-known within the Australian market, if it was to successfully push into regions where it had less brand awareness, the site needed to have more of a focus on the firm’s history and expertise. It also needed to have a more modern appearance, with an emphasis on more natural-looking photography and a less cluttered design.

MBA website on a table - fund performance page

The tech stack

The technology selected for this site was very much driven by MBA’s desire for flexibility and performance. By using a Jamstack approach, based on headless CMS Kentico Kontent combined with static site generator Gatsby, we were able to build a super-fast website that allowed MBA maximum flexibility in terms of both content management and ongoing development. 

The use of a headless CMS, rather than a traditional all-in-one platform, means MBA can completely change the tech stack of its website, without any need to rebuild the CMS. This gives it the ability to select best-of-breed microservices and swap them in and out as desired.

The use of a headless CMS in combination with a static site generator also brings significant benefits in terms of speed, security and SEO. (For more on the advantages of this approach, check out our blog post on the benefits of the Jamstack.)

Utilising Kentico Kontent as a headless CMS facilitated a very high level of flexibility for content editors, with the modular, componentised design framework enabling them to have a large degree of control over page layout and how content items are used. The vast majority of the site’s pages are created using a ‘general content’ template, which essentially contains a default header and footer while the body of the page is completely flexible. There are several other page templates to deal with specific types of content, such as news articles, investment strategies and fund information.

The published site is hosted on Azure, while the development environment uses Netlify, a DevOps and hosting platform designed specifically for Jamstack projects. Netlify was chosen for the pre-production environment for its ability to speed up the development process. However, Azure made sense for the production site as MBA’s developer team was familiar with it, and they had a number of integrations that were already hosted in Azure. 

The ability for the MBA team to be self-sufficient in maintaining the site was an important consideration throughout the project. To facilitate this, Luminary ensured that all components, templates and processes were fully documented, and we also ran a number of sessions to facilitate a smooth handover.

MBA website - people page on mobile

The result

The outcome of this project has been a lightning-fast site with clean design that accurately reflects MBA’s brand, its values, its people, and its investment approach. The structure of the site is far more user-friendly, and MBA’s internal development team can now maintain the site independently, without being reliant upon external developers. 

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