With compliance training high on most firms' agendas, there are many high quality courses available – but at the other end of the scale, beware of the quick sign off, says Waltham Pitglow

Thanks for all the feedback on Kate Foreman's series of articles over the past few weeks. It is clear that the industry is beginning to take the whole question of learning and competence seriously.Much of the credit for the inculcation of a positive and informed approach to training and competence (T&C) among brokers must go to the GISC, and all credit to Chris Woodburn, Angela Darling and the team for that.This week we are going to look at some snippets of ideas and news and we start with notice of a series of training days from the Biba Compliance Initiative.

Compliance sessionsPaul Garland at Biba and Ian Ritchie at RWA have put together a package of one day training sessions for intermediaries who are now preparing themselves for 14 January next year. The sessions include:

  • Job specs supervision and assessment
  • ICOB rules
  • Designing and implementing a T&C scheme
  • Money rules
  • Garland is launching the series at the Biba conference but if you are not a Biba member or wish to register your interest early, email Garland (grlndpaul@aol.com) or Ritchie (ianritchie@brokercompliance.co.uk) and simply mention the Insurance Times CPD page. This will commit you to nothing and ensure that you are sent full details on the day of launch. We are in the process of negotiating a small discount for Insurance Times CPD readers so please record your interest early.

    CII materialThe quality of what the CII has to offer just goes up and up. I was privy to a sight of the new creditor insurance learning and assessment package this week and frankly it is excellent. I am not going to steal the thunder of the formal launch but I am going to suggest that if any readers are thinking of spending any money on training or learning and assessment material in this area, ask the CII about what it has to offer before you commit yourselves.The test we use for any learning and assessment material is a good learning point: would the customer feel more confident and in fact be at less risk if the person advising them/making the sale, learned and could apply what is presented in the material?I have to say that it is my opinion that the CII has got this spot on. It is not one of those dreadful "one day and sign off" affairs (see the next item) but an online learning solution with a syllabus that just shrieks quality of thought and attention to detail and the FSA's statutory objectives.In 1989, when the regulation of financial services began there was something of a minimalist approach to compliance and in particular to the demonstration of competence. Not to put too fine a point on it, T&C was treated as something of a joke and often competence was defined by a learning day in a hotel with a hundred other practitioners followed by a simple assessment and a sign off as competent.Indeed, things got so bad that 'phantom' assessments were occurring (stated to exist but in actual fact golf days where the participants were simply given a certificate of competence at the 19th hole without any of the tedious learning).It would seem that no-one had learned the lesson and one day "give us £150 and we'll assess you and give you a certificate of competence" type arrangements are upon us yet again.Beware. There is quite a difference between:(i) A one-day training/learning session with an assessment(ii) A one-day assessment(iii) A one-day get you competent and signed off in a dayThe first two are quite standard but the third must be viewed with suspicion. (A few of these have been reported to us in the secondary warranty and creditor markets.)Let us be clear that the Mediation Directive stipulates competence to do the job and you must therefore consider that the learning-application-assessment cycle is vital to demonstrating even the most basic competence.In other words, it is nigh on impossible to go away for a day, learn something new, be assessed and signed off as competent. There has to be an assessment of how what is learned is applied in the work place.So, the key learning points:(i) Be very suspicious of anyone who offers learning and competence sign off in a day.(ii) Be very suspicious of anyone who claims that an exam or isolated assessment proves competence. An exam or isolated assessment can demonstrate only elements of competence.If you want to do things properly try to insert some practical application of what has been learned in between the learning and the assessment of competence.Is your training provider being funded behind your back?There are masses of funding from Europe and government for training in industry. It is well worth checking whether the training you are paying for is being funded in any way.

    Training costsSome funding is based on results and some by the number of delegates. Are you getting the best deal both financially and in terms of quality.We heard of one training company which was providing near free examination training (most of it paid for by some European fund) but were achieving a pass rate less than the national average.The point was that they were being funded on the basis of numbers of delegates and could make more money by hiring cheap trainers. The learning point is to be aware that the income of the training company may be rather more than you are paying and it makes sense that you establish what the training company is receiving from all sources and that you evaluate whether you are getting value for money.If a training company is receiving £1000 a day from all sources but charging you only £500, that's fine but you may find that you get better results by spending more in the short term. Funding is a great idea but the results should be to the same standard as you would expect from unfunded training and learning at the same price. Why should a training company be making more money from a funded training course than unfunded. Surely the point of funding is to make the training cheaper and more accessible for the customer?Finally, beware of training companies that want to sell you their services but are not willing to offer an evaluation of what learning has taken place.

  • u Waltham Pitglow is a consultant specialising in compliance with RW Associates
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