It's testing time again.Three tasks will test your skills at helping customers to deal with proposal details and expectations of policy cover

It is rather interesting to read the FSA handbook as it relates to Training and Competence.It is very non-prescriptive and the underlying theme is that all staff must be competent to do their jobs on an ongoing basis and that there must be appropriate supervision and monitoring of regulated activities.What is also interesting is that in TC2 2.4.7 the FSA gives specific guidance as follows: "A firm should use methods of assessment that are appropriate to the activity and the employee's role".Over the last two months, Kate Foreman has produced a splendid series of DIY-type articles. Taking that theme a little further, this month's MOT is based on DIY principles.One question that you all have to ask yourselves is, in the absence of formal competence assessment and training and competence schemes, how have brokers become competent over the last 200 years?The answer is on-the-job coaching, training, learning and mentoring. Much of it has been unstructured and pretty well all has been unrecorded. So this week, we are going to present three tasks and the aim is for you to work individually or in groups to come up with some answers.Each will be appropriate to the activity and role of an employee.

Task 1Create a list of things that might not meet customer's expectations, for example, having a claim turned down.

Task 2On the basis that part of an employee's role is to assist a customer to complete a proposal form create a list of circumstances which could lead to the customer being at risk arising from this process. An example would be inserting an incorrect description of a business.

Task 3For each of the circumstances that you list in Task 2 create a guidance note that can act as an aide memoire for staff in the future.The aide memoire should be split into three sections:1. The circumstance.2. The risk to the customer.3. A guidance note.

For example:

  • The customer might insert a business description which is inaccurate
  • The insurer might be able to reject a claim or avoid the policy
  • Always ask the client for a clear verbal description of the business activities with particular reference to any split between retail, manufacturing etc. If necessary, continue on an additional sheet of paper.
  • If you are working in an environment where staff do not complete proposals with the public then select an activity appropriate to those staff.The objective is to work with staff to assess whether they can identify how what they do might create risk for a customer. Another way of expressing this is how they could let the customer down. This might be in terms of not having a claim paid in part or in full or, alternatively, it might manifest itself in poor service, inconvenience and stress caused to the customer.Having identified the risk, can the members of staff understand what the risk is and how to attempt to limit the chance of it occurring by creating easy to understand guidance?Ok, so that's the exercise and you might wish to set this for employees to complete on their own with group discussion and feedback afterwards, or you might prefer to address the task as a group session generally.The advantage of bringing the employees together in a group will be that they can share ideas and perhaps create a group response to the questions posed.However, for this to have any real relevance to competence measurement, you need to have some sort of benchmark against which you can measure the employee's performance.This we will undertake next week when we consider some of the possible answers and also what one might consider to be an acceptable result.The interesting learning point is that benchmarks are not always fixed and easily identifiable. For example, in a 50-question multiple choice test, it is easy for a group of brokers to decide that 80% right is a good benchmark, but for a task that mirrors the method by which many brokers have learned 'on the job' for a couple of centuries, the evidence is that this is not so easy.What you may well find is that some employees can easily find 20 points but miss out some of the more likely and dangerous omissions, whereas someone else finds only seven points, all of which are vital. Which should be the benchmark?Equally, an individual may be able to find any number of points, but be unable to create guidance notes to help ensure that employees know why the points are important in the first place and what to do to avoid risk to the client.Remember also that this does not have to be a competence assessment tool. If one subtracts the benchmarking element then it reverts to being a learning exercise (and a key one), but even then you need some sort of evaluation to ensure that learning points have been taken on board.A good way of doing this might be to create a list of key learning points that you and your group identify, ensure that these are types up and distributed and then revisit the subject in, say, a months time, either individually or in a group to reasonably ensure that those learning points are retained.From a CPD perspective, as long as you take time to create records and to document activity and results, this is very much a structured exercise.You may well find that this exercise helps to focus attention on the reasons why we do things in a certain way, for example, giving customers plenty of notice for renewals.From this you will begin to be able to create the essential 'checklists' that are a vital part of competence assessment for practical issues. We will be returning to the subject of assessment checklists in a future article, but you will find a good place to begin is with your procedures manual - it is up to date, isn't it? Better get started on updating it if it isn't.
  • The MOT Skills supplement supplied free with this issue has a test to check on your competence. Try it.
  • 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. We will be preparing a binder for you to keep these in alongside the results of the exercises.

  • This page is edited by RW Associates, specialists in training, compliance and competence. Email,
  • Topics