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Home > News > June 2006 > 02-Jun-2006

Financial services event highlights training priorities

'Quality assured training, when aligned to skills gaps, not only develops people-potential but reduces operational risk'.

That was the main theme from a recent Financial Services Sector Skills Connection event hosted by The Training Foundation in collaboration with the Financial Services Skills Council (FSSC) and the Financial Services Authority (FSA).

'Quality assured training, when aligned to skills gaps, not only develops people-potential but reduces operational risk'. That was the main theme from a recent Financial Services Sector Skills Connection event hosted by The Training Foundation in collaboration with the Financial Services Skills Council (FSSC) and the Financial Services Authority (FSA).

More than 100 learning and development professionals from organisations within the financial services sector heard how enhanced training skills can help to meet business, client and development goals, whilst also reducing risk.

Nick Mitchell, chairman of The Training Foundation, said that business line managers would play an increasingly important role in developing financial services staff to their full potential.

"In a world where people will increasingly be the key differentiator, managers need to be selected and developed for their people skills as well as their functional knowledge: we can expect to see the emergence of a new style of management, where developing people-potential to improve organisational capability gets equal focus with meeting short-term performance targets.

"FSSC research has revealed that 90 per cent of employers rate managing and leading people as the foremost skill when hiring managers, yet one of the biggest problems is positive management of staff relationships. This issue has significant L&D implications and is one that we are looking at closely at The Training Foundation."

Sara Powell, head of accreditation and business development for the FSSC, urged financial services employers to take an active role in shaping key initiatives designed to improve skills and productivity in the sector.

"Our priority is to make sure that we are meeting employers' education and training needs within a quality assured qualifications framework that provides coherent career progression through 14-19 diplomas, exams, apprenticeships and foundation degrees."

The FSSC says research undertaken for the FSSC Skills Bill has identified the availability of skills as one of the top two factors affecting training and productivity. Associated issues include low numbers of skilled and qualified candidates, poor communications skills, inadequate people development skills in business managers, a lack of focus on return on investment and trainer assessment.

Sara Powell continued: "The introduction of new training standards and our Recognised Trainer scheme (launched in partnership with The Training Foundation last year) will help to address these issues, as will the launch of the new national skills academy in September."

Darren Moxom, Financial Services Authority team leader for industry training, acknowledged the challenge for L&D professionals across 25,000 financial services organisations regulated by the FSA in interpreting training and competence guidelines.

He told delegates: "The robustness of risk management processes put in place by senior management is the key determinant of effective training and competence practice. It's about establishing a common sense business practice ethos that focuses on training gaps, training outputs (rather than inputs), evaluation and evidence.

"Firms struggle most with evaluation. There must be clearly defined standards and measures in place to monitor pre- and post-training competence, substantiated by hard evidence."

The Training Foundation says that, through its association with the FSSC, its Trainer Assessment Programme (TAP) is playing a significant role in helping to quality assure training in the sector.

Nick Mitchell commented: "TAP has been widely adopted by many financial services companies and more than a third of the companies in attendance today are already using the TAP standards.

"Not only does it enable individuals to develop and evidence a rounded set of role-specific skills to Level 3 or higher equivalence, but its modular framework provides a structured career path for learning and development professionals."

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