Challenges of training in the financial services sector

Challenges of training in the financial services sector

iStock_000015212999SmallThe professional and financial services sectors have several unique and distinctively different characteristics than other sectors in the way they are organized and managed. This means that these sectors face different challenges that need special attention to be overcome. Delivering training solutions to such firms requires a different approach as in many cases the constraints that are put on the sectors are more than what is done in other parts of the economy. This article analyses a number of challenges identified that help us deliver timely and specialised training to our clientele.

Regulatory and compliance constraints

In the past four to five years, a number of new regulations have been introduced and a large number of previously taught subjects are now not applicable, or need constant updating to bring them up to scratch.  A good example of this is our programmes relating to marketing, promotion, and selling of financial products, and issues related to customer support, retention, account management etc. Regulation that has been developed around the area of consumer protection and best practices must be included to the aforementioned programmes, regulation that is constantly updated to meet market needs. Similarly, another good example is our training programmes that address supervisory skills of management personnel. We need to make sure that our content is tailored to the regulatory issues faced by the sector, as many firm are facing specific HR and organizational issues that emanate from the ever-changing regulatory framework that governs the roles of people on managerial positions.

Workforce Diversity

Anyone who visits a financial firm anywhere in the world will know that the sector is highly culturally diverse.  This creates interesting dynamics in the classroom.  Language can prove to be a barrier in some cases especially in workshops and workgroups, and the cultural understanding of a certain topic of discussion can lead to difficulties in the sharing of information.

Limited time

Training someone whose job is in the dealing room of an Investment Firm or in the trading floor of a bank can be extremely challenging, because every minute away from the desk is time that’s lost in terms of revenue generation.  Bankers won’t suffer fools gladly and this is especially true of investment bankers!  Courses need to be fast-paced and exciting, and to also be offered in different time slots to cater towards the needs of different people.

Differences between investment, corporate and retail banking

When it comes to banks, all parts of the banking world are in rapid evolution, but it’s also vital to understand how varied banks can be.  The training requirements of branch bankers are totally different from those in the corporate and investment banking world.  Many banks have their own training teams and so external consultants are able to provide those internal training teams with content for them to roll out throughout the branch networks.  Often in the corporate and investment banking world, an outside expert may come over better than someone from the internal training department.

Global teams

Most firms in the financial services sectorhave global teams and matrix structures these days.  This creates massive new challenges whereby trainers are often asked to give courses to a classroom of participants whilst simultaneously welcoming participants from other cities by video-conference.  This can be quite difficult as the skills of face to face training are very different from those required when engaging a group by video.

Increasing focus on embedding

Many training departments in financial firms have become wise to the fact that ‘evaluation sheets’ don’t tell the full story.  Most trainers know how to get the ‘right scores’ on feedback forms but this doesn’t guarantee any changes in behaviour amongst those attending the programme. That’s why training firms are increasingly asked to provide Action Planning documents, post-course content, and Virtual Instructor-Led booster sessions.

Demand for training in the area of risk

There is no hotter area in the financial services sector these days than the area of risk.  Whether it be Compliance and AML Risk, Operational Risk, Credit Risk, Market Risk, Reputational Risk, or some other risk area, participants want to learn about what can go wrong – and how to manage and mitigate that risk.  Risk trainers are besieged with demand. It’s also an area where e-learning can be play a powerful role as it allows Heads of Learning & Development to be sure that everyone has undertaken a particular training module and completed the post-course test.

Need for selling skills training

The other hot area in the sector right now, as the world economy continues (largely) to recover from the Great Financial Crisis, is any form of selling skills training.  Given that financial solutions are abstract, intangible and complex, any programme that focuses on “selling financial services” need to be very specific.  There is a need for bespoke courses in areas like “Selling Interest Rate Swaps” or “Selling M&A advice” and tailoring these courses to particular banks and markets is essential.

No doubt some of the points mentioned above will apply to other sectors as well, but the dynamics of the financial sector are pretty specific – and very exciting. The only thing which is constant in the sector is… change!