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Brisset: Our Revolutionary Asset Vault, Explained

ClearEstate’s founding CTO on the engineering required to build a tech institution

Posted on January 28, 2022 by Pascal Brisset
Pascal 2

We all understand the concept of a vault, or a safe. And while we may not totally understand how they work, the function is clear: to be impenetrable, protecting and preserving its contents under even the most extreme of circumstances.

Similarly, the ClearVault is a digital safe or black box that must keep unwanted parties out but provide a supportive and easily-accessible gateway for those allowed in. There are no shortcuts permitted at ClearEstate in creating a mature site architecture that ensures both accessibility and security.

We got there by using all the tools available to us in modernity, and embracing adaptability.

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We regularly share relevant information about wills and estates.

Design Matters

Estate settlement is complicated, ClearEstate is not.

Not unlike how you would use an online banking portal, our ClearVault gives clients direct access to the financial institutions of their choice with just a few clicks. Inside a clean, neat platform that is visually friendly for people of all ages, you’ll be able to manage all your assets, beneficiaries and other key points of contact, including our live Estate Professionals to help guide you.

It is soft on the eyes and yet it manages such hard, important decisions. We wanted to alleviate the stress and anxiety of intimidating institutional interactions, like online banking or paying your taxes. There’s a sort of fear of getting something wrong, not to mention concerns about your private information. With more forethought, we can perhaps help make someone’s day better or at least a bit less unpleasant with intelligently-designed code.

This is great news for estate executors as North America approaches a record generational wealth transfer in the coming years. The urgency of the situation is compounded by how many financial systems are still supported by obsolete tech.

The issue with many financial institutions, and why we're disruptive, is that a lot of these systems date back 10, 20 or in a legal sense, even hundreds of years. These systems were not prepared for the amount of data they are receiving today. If their infrastructures are outdated, the user experience they provide is consequently painful.

From a client standpoint, the ClearEstate experience is 100% seamless even though we're doing some very serious things in the back end. You log into a no-nonsense dashboard, answer a few straightforward questions and you’re on your way. At first glance it may seem… suspiciously easy?

But that’s the whole point; we are bold in our view that no one should have to suffer through inefficiency when they are in mourning.

Building Institutional Tech

Partnering with NAVentures, the investment arm of the National Bank of Canada, has been an important source of validation for our project.

For all financial institutions, there are important cost-saving benefits to integrating their systems into our platform. The larger challenge is recognizing that estate settlement is a behemoth of a problem to solve because there are so many different institutions involved; banks, governments, courts, law firms and insurance brokers, to name a few.

Our code helps connect the dots and streamlines data between all these actors; it’s a vault and a roadmap.

Everything in our app is “morphable,” as we call it. And that's the real product-engineering feat here. There is a lot we need to be able to integrate. When we were building the platform, we wanted to unite the disparate entities that make up the estate settlement process.

We are not shy about our desire to become a trustworthy North American financial institution in the next few years, and to get there, our code must be scalable, modular and adaptable. This is my masterpiece! It comes together with a solid technical foundation, and then we just add institutions and components as the estate settlement process plays out.

I’m often inspired by these words Mark Twain once wrote: “I apologize for such a long letter. I didn't have time to write a short one.”

The parties and components involved in estate settlement make for a very complicated process in every jurisdiction, and having all these parts work together seamlessly is ClearEstate’s edge in the estate solutions space.

But this isn’t just a solidly-built app, of course. We wrote our code with one basic question in mind: how will people use our product during some of the most painful moments in life?

Publishing Our Test Coverage Results

Our massive, obsessively-constructed code base is designed to be empathetic to the user and mindful of their needs. It’s not pushy! We are not only proud of our diligence, we are beginning to openly flaunt it.

On my Medium blog, you can read about and view our real test coverage results (87.9% on 157,000 lines of proprietary code is a good score!); this sort of testing is an insurance policy of sorts for code, almost like T cells that contain instructions to protect your body from bugs.

I also like to use the construction analogy: you could be the best builder in the world, but if the materials aren’t of the best quality, eventually major renovations will be needed, maybe even foundation repair.

I feel a sense of pride when I speak and write about ClearEstate in a way that I haven’t before. I don’t feel that I’m trying to sell you something. I just wanted to explain what we have going on here behind the scenes, and why we really do believe we’re transforming the way estates will be managed.

Pascal Brisset is the co-founder and Chief Technology officer at ClearEstate. You can reach him at pascal@clearestate.com.