Keeping up to date with market knowledge is crucial to stay onside with the regulator. So taking note of what key players in the industry are saying is important. Waltham Pitglow explains

The Great Hall at Kings College Cambridge is Hogwarts through and through. Last Friday evening I wended my way to this hallowed hall for the Biba Anglia region annual dinner and midnight punt.Imagine if you can the serried ranks of 200 brokers and guests, mellowed with wine and fine port, not on the normal circular tables but in lines of hard wooden chairs that remind us of another place.At top table, many local figures and a guest or two of noble rank from somewhere within the industry had been invited to the party to address us as guests.And as those of noble rank rose and spoke, I took from my pocket my little CPD notebook and made a few bullet point notes of what they had to say."Aha," I hear you say, "Pitglow is a CPD anorak." And you may well be right. But any practitioner should have a procedure that if they hear a key industry figure speaking or see an article quoting them or written by them, they make a note of anything important they say and perhaps circulate it to colleagues.In this case, the point is two-fold: one is that I learned something new from this dinner and my notes and the act of circulation (or a phone call) to colleagues are evidence of a CPD activity; and two, a key requirement of maintenance of competence is keeping up to date with market activity and thinking. And frankly there is often no better way to do this than to listen to key figures when they have a message.

Identifying key peopleThe difficulty is that, unless you actually have an A list of speakers, you can be up to your necks in notes and newspaper cuttings. On the other hand, if you do nothing one has to ask whether simply acting on FSA edicts and circulars is really enough to "keep up to date".Anything the regulator says is something to study and store and circulate as relevant, but in addition, you should consider identifying key people who have a role in governing, managing or affecting market practice.The exercise this week is to construct an A list that you can actually include as part of your T&C scheme.Rather than list specific names here are a few examples for you:

  • Chief executive, GISC
  • President, CII
  • Director general, CII
  • Chief executives, Biba and IIB
  • Chief executive, ABI
  • The Financial Services Ombudsman
  • Chief executives, Norwich Union, AXA, Zurich, etc and any others you do major business with
  • Chairman, Lloyds.
  • I will leave you to put names to them and to add those that relate specifically to your own business.What you will find is that these individuals do not say much publicly, but that what they do say is important and in some way likely to affect the way you work. One other great advantage is that you can choose CPD for you and your staff whenever these individuals are speaking. You will find that many of them regularly make presentations at inexpensive events around the country.As a matter of interest, one of the reasons I did want to attend the Cambridge dinner was the fact that I had missed Eric Galbraith's speech at the Biba conference and he was the keynote speaker at this dinner. He made some excellent points and did not disappoint. More importantly, his comments on working closely with CII and working in partnership with others generally became most appropriate with the announcement of the CII's memorandum of understanding with the Cass Business School regarding the formation of an insurance industry university.If this is the sort of partnership that Galbraith is proposing then he certainly has my vote.So, setting aside my own personal interpretation and views of what was said and the record of my CPD activity to be added to my personal learning file, can you see how this exercise could improve the quality and focus of your own CPD plans and possibly save you money as well?If you look at the list above you can reckon that each will speak at least ten times in public each year and that is a substantial source of unstructured CPD activity for a large number of staff. Indeed, Biba has advised me that Eric Galbraith will speak at six or seven major events in the next year. Add to that local Biba events and seminars and that number will easily be exceeded.Do not get the idea that listening to anyone who is not on the list is barred (far from it), but the FSA does make specific reference to keeping up to date with market changes. Listening to, or reading about, what these individuals have to say is often firm evidence that you and your staff are doing just that.Returning to the speech and the key point of partnership, I would now like you to refer back to the A list above. Over the next month I want you to note when two or more of these are working together on a project. Indeed you may wish to pull out the last few issues of Insurance Times and see what has been happening since say the middle of May.

    Professional standardsIt is my prediction that there is a high level conspiracy to improve professional standards and opportunity. Now that cannot be a bad thing.Over the last week or so we have had one of those idiots who, perhaps having had a bad day, decided to send an offensive message about the FSA, ourselves, the government and just about everyone associated with the current legislation on compliance. You might be interested to hear that this individual believes that "the common law and such statutes as were around pre-FSA were logical, consistent, practical and fair".This is an intelligent subject for debate, but the writer rather spoiled the effect by being a number one plank and adding comments such as the following: "Compliance as you surely must know has ****** all to do with customer service."This individual would seem to display what the FSA might describe as a lack of compliance culture. Something that disgruntled ex-members of staff, customers and competitors can be very quick to convey to the regulator.The learning point is one that we have emphasised on a number of occasions. Feel free to have your say in front of third parties, but keep it professional and try to avoid expletives and statements that will bring you to the attention of the authorities for all the wrong reasons.

  • Waltham Pitglow is an independent training and compliance specialist
  • This page is edited by RW Associates, a specialist in training, compliance and competence. Email: ruy.lopez@brokercompliance.co.uk
  • Using this CPD pageFor the vast majority of practitioners and indeed support and supervisory staff in our industry, CPD is about regular learning and study that is planned, recorded, timed and evaluated. If you are a member of a professional body with a CPD requirement then there will be certain rules regarding the quality and nature of study material, and the way in which it is recorded.For staff of GISC members this means recording on your individual training file what the learning was, who provided it and when.It might be structured, such as a course, a learning programme or exam study. But it can be unstructured. This form of study encompasses reading the trade press, technical material or taking part in activities to support your professional body. Some CPD requirements are points related (a little antiquated) and others require a time value to be allocated. For example, it might take one hour to read Insurance Times each week. Most of that could be put as a time value but, in reality, perhaps only an half hour was devoted to learning something. The rule is to be honest with yourself and record the time that is relevant. Always take time to make a note of what you felt you gained from the activity. This is useful information for anyone else considering the same activity.In response to the popularity of our CPD programme each week's CPD page can now be downloaded from our website.