The Skills Council is pulling together many training and competence issues to offer help and guidance. Waltham Pitglow explains

The five most common subjects in relation to training and competence (T&C) at present are:

  • Benchmarking (setting standards for competence and performance within a T&C scheme)
  • Managing internal assessment
  • The need for templates and toolkits
  • Networking (getting together with peer practitioners to share ideas)
  • Attracting new entrants to the industry.
  • So can you imagine my surprise when a leaflet arrived on my desk from an organisation that offers guidance and assistance in these areas (and many more) and which, on the face of it, was too good to be true.

    What I have discovered is something rather special for all insurance intermediaries and insurers. A non-profit making, government backed organisation that, in its own words, "provides strategic leadership for training, education and workforce development in the insurance and financial services industry".

    The organisation is called the Skills Council (for financial services) and it is housed at 51 Gresham Street London EC2, a stone's throw from Bank station.

    What is interesting about this organisation is that it appears to be independent and it is funded by subscription from the industry and the government.

    It is also setting itself the target of acting as a focal point for the creation of quality standards within our industry and with an overriding objective of "improving business results by providing leading edge research and analysis and delivering practical applications to the industry".

    Well that is a bit of a mouthful, so let us look at what this means in real terms to the practitioners who will be reading this article.

  • Toolkits - it will develop toolkits drawn from consultation and expert analysis which practitioners can use to develop HR and T&C schemes
  • Training directory - it will provide a training directory of providers that firms can use to find the appropriate provider for its needs
  • Networking groups - the Skills Council will co-ordinate meetings across the UK to allow firms to be involved in the process of feedback and enable even the smallest firm to influence policy
  • Workshops - it will co-ordinate meetings across the UK to allow access to experts to work with you on popular topics in a workshop environment
  • Website - giving access to information, guidance on subjects ranging from labour market information to up to date standards and providing an easy route to purchasing or booking materials and events on line or linking to other important sites.
  • What I particularly like is that small broking firms can now "join" as corporate members and have access to a considerable information service and benefit from very good rates on workshops and publications.

    The basic subscription for smaller brokers provides access to information and certain key free publications, discounts on a whole range of services and publications, and access to specific advice which is on a fee basis.

    For firms with 1 to 20 staff the subscription is £100 per annum and 21 to 99 staff £500 per annum.

    Personally, I feel this method does not sit well with common sense and it would seem more logical to have a subscription of £100 plus £5 per staff member over ten, reducing on a sliding scale for larger numbers but that is a matter for the Skills Council to consider.

    Subscription schedule
    The subscription schedule looks as though it has been generated by a lottery machine (the cost for 5,000 staff is £15,000 and 300% of the cost for 4,999 staff and a 21-man firm pays 500% of the subscription of a 20-man firm).

    If you have considered the FSA's table of charges, it will be no surprise that two of the leading figures at the council - David Jackman and Sheena Gray - come hot foot from the FSA. The quality of the team at the Skills Council will give it the best possible chance of meeting its objectives.

    I do make a very strong recommendation that if you are responsible for compliance, HR, or training and competence within a regulated firm, that you visit the Skills Council's web site ( and email for more information and an application form.

    95% of all brokers (and indeed I suspect trading concerns associated with the financial services and insurance industry) have less than 100 employees (in fact less than 50 would be most likely), and the Council want to ensure that services and information are available to as many practitioners as possible.

    Waltham Pitglow is an independent training and competence specialist

    RW Associates is a specialist consultant in compliance training and competence. Web site:

    Email -

    Answers to MOT 9 October

    Exercise 1
    a,6: b,5: c,2: d,1:e,10: f,7: g,4: h,3: I,8: j,9

    Exercise 2
    a,2: b,6: c,4: d,3: e,7: f,1: g,9: h,5: i,10: j,8

    Exercise 3
    a,2: b,1: c,9: d,7: e,5: f,3: g,6: h,10: i,4: j,8

    Crossword solution


    6. Declaration

    7. Disputes

    8. Form

    11. Excluded

    13. Average

    15. Extensions

    16. Warranty

    17. Of

    18. Conditions


    2. Premium

    3. Basis

    4. Proposal

    5. Risk

    9. Franchise

    10. Operative

    11. Excess

    12. Uninsured

    14. Exclusion.

    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.

    To download a PDF of this article as it appears in the magazine click here .