Keeping a record of past experiences in the industry is a valuable part of competence assessment. Kate Foreman explains

It is interesting that a good learning needs analysis may well generate the call for no more than additional reading and reassessment, but on the other hand, in the right hands, it may well highlight the need for substantial training or retraining.One of the major factors of establishing a new and robust training and competence scheme is the ability to establish the 'where are we now' in terms of competence to do the job in hand.However, there must be something still lacking if the whole world of competence measurement starts with the announcement that the FSA is taking over general insurance regulation and requires (through the EU Mediation Directive) that all practitioners should be competent to do the jobs they do.Let us all accept that robust learning needs analysis and competence assessment is the way forward, but if someone worked in this industry for over 30 years, surely there must be something in the process that values what they have done and not just what they know and can do now.I refer of course to all those things that a practitioner has done before the current round of competence assessments and pose the question as to whether anything that has gone before has any part in the measurement of competence today?Consider a company balance sheet. From day to day it measures the assets and liabilities of a company and comes up with a positive or a negative. Competence assessment is not dissimilar. It is a measure at a point in time and as soon as that point has passed the measurement is out of date.So, supervision and monitoring takes the place of the finance director, managing and observing the balance sheet of competence on an ongoing basis. If the asset balance falls below zero, direct supervision is required and the ailing practitioner is coached and assisted back to a positive balance.But what about the profit and loss account of competence. What about all those things we have done right over a career (profit) and all those things we have done wrong (loss). Does our past record of experience count for nothing?I want to introduce the idea of recording experience in the industry and keeping that information on individual learning files. Next week we'll look at how we might accredit that experience in terms of up to date competence.Stop what you are doing now and have a look at either your own learning file or at the generic format that your firm has adopted.What type is it? Is it a minimalistic, two-dimensional knowledge and understanding assessment of how you undertake your current job, your past job record and your qualifications, or is it a record that seeks to document more detail of the experiences and life-long learning that brings you to the position you are now?What would that record look like if it also detailed your key experiences, successes and failures.Many learning files will have little record of past career, so we have to consider a structure that will make the information useful.

Experience factorsBluntly, these can be whatever suits your firm. Here is a list of some of the 'experience factors' that we know brokers have been able to draw on in the past:

  • Experience of giving structured training
  • Working in Lloyd's
  • Working overseas
  • Call centre experience
  • Reasonable length of time working in claims department
  • Working as a loss adjustor
  • Experience of armed forces or equivalent
  • Process of induction to industry
  • Experience of internal crisis (PI claims, hard markets, dismissal of staff)
  • Experience of external crisis (Piper Alpha, 9/11, Butlins IOM, asbestosis)
  • Qualifications. What subjects passed.
  • Try this exercise: Look at the list above to give you ideas and make a list of key experiences of your working life on a blank sheet or Word document. Make sure that they relate to the process of:
  • Providing a service to customers
  • Include experiences good and bad
  • Identify learning experiences of note
  • Include articles and papers you've written
  • Problems you have solved.
  • Try to make this an ongoing exercise every time something else comes to mind and each time return it to your learning file.What you will find is that your insurance career has not only been rather more interesting than you might imagine, but also you will discover that those around you have far greater experience than you might imagine.Let us call this document a Personal career experience record.Apart from the enjoyment of reliving and recording past successes (and perhaps failures) is there any value to the exercise?Our opinion is a resounding 'yes'.The reason is simply that modern competence assessment processes are often two-dimensional and consider only banked experience (profit/reserves) when it is specifically applied to the job in hand.Risk management and business management on the other hand look both forward and backward. They know that a member of staff has achieved and experienced in their careers can be a godsend, both economically and from the perspective of compliance.Now swap your Personal record with someone else in the firm. Perhaps someone you know, but do not work with closely (it often works just as well with someone you thought you knew very well).What you should find is that not only has the other individual done some rather interesting things in his career but that he also has hidden talents.To a compliance officer in a regulated firm, this sort of information can be a godsend and for the person responsible for training and competence, invaluable in co-ordinating the competence of staff.Remember that this week's CPD exercise is to record your experience and to share it with someone else in the firm.Anyone is welcome to email their list to us. Make sure you add the area in which you currently work, the number of staff in your firm and your current job title.Remember the expression, 'accredited prior learning'. All we have done this week is to ask you to record the prior learning.Next week we will consider how that experience might be valued and brought up to date, or alternatively, valued and stored as a risk management or business development asset.uKate Foreman is a compliance and training specialist with RW Associates
  • This page is edited by RW Associates, specialists in training, compliance and competence. Email,
  • Using this CPD page
  • For 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. We will be preparing a binder for you to keep these in alongside the results of the exercises.To download a PDF of this article as it appears in the magazine click here .