Continuing professional development in a financial services organisation: CONSIDERATION OF THE QUESTIONNAIRE

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It is recognised that ‘attitudes’ to CPD schemes are essential in determining their acceptance and ultimate success. This is possibly one of the most difficult areas to measure, as opposed to knowledge and skills, attitudes consist of feelings, values and beliefs, which may change from time to time for reasons outside the control of the individual or the employer.

The questionnaire, which was developed to gather this information, was discussed and agreed with the national sales managers in order to ensure their understanding of the aims and to secure their support. The characteristics of the adviser group were also considered, and included:

— geographic disbursement throughout the UK and Ireland
— limited time
— unsociable hours
— computer literacy
— the need to explore the subject of attitude in a sensitive way

It was decided that e-mailing the questionnaire was the quickest and easiest method for delivery and collection. Sadler- Smith and Badger reported a similar approach and the format they developed was adapted to suit the needs of this review.

WHAT CPD IS

Before going on to discuss what improvements may be made, it is important to understand exactly what CPD means in a wider sense. There are a number of works that consider this. Madden and Mitchell define CPD as:

the maintenance and enhancement of the knowledge, expertise and competence of professionals throughout their careers according to a plan formulated with regards to the needs of the professional, the employer, the profession and society.

This view was supported by Houle who defines CPD as:
the ways in which professionals try throughout their active lives of service, to refresh their own knowledge and ability and build a sense of collective responsibility to society.

These definitions suggest that central to CPD are competence and improving performance. This view is supported by Welsh and Woodward and Marchington and Wilkinson who list performance as one of the four reasons for carrying out CPD. The others are:

— ensuring that individuals remain up-to- date, referring to the knowledge of advisers with regards to regulatory requirements, products, processes and technology
— encouraging individuals to aspire to better performance including improving sales skills or entering new markets or areas of responsibility, which achieves their key performance indicators as described in their individual appraisals
— ensuring that commitment to learning forms an integral part of work.

The employer’s perspective

‘Tomorrow’s company will be differentiated by its people’.

Recent years have seen an increase in flexible working, a decline in collective bargaining, introduction of performance management systems, disappearance of clear career tracks and globalisation, with increasing competition from Pacific Rim countries and Eastern Europe. Technology is also having a major impact on organisations and skill requirements are constantly changing, of which the most important is the ‘shelf life of knowledge.

According to Pfeffer people cannot be easily imitated by competitors, which is one good reason why people need to be managed effectively. However, managing people successfully does not provide the same kind of tangible outcomes as handling new machinery or a new product and this ‘soft’ side of the business or ‘social capital’ is often not given such a high priority. Because of the potential advantage that employees offer to the organisation their development should be invested in and viewed like any other form of investment, that is with the expectation of a clear return.

The changes in the business environment also highlight the need for employees who are able to adapt to change and who are capable of being supported by the organisation through skills development. Clyne describes these skills as:

— business skills to manage resource effectively
— interpersonal skills to work effectively in groups
— applied intellectual skills to make appropriate decisions in a fast-changing environment
— self-management and entrepreneurial skills to achieve results through individual initiative.

Because of the range of issues that are affected it is clear that effective utilisation of CPD requires an integrated strategic approach and not a ‘bolt on’ activity.

Representative APR 391%

Let's say you want to borrow $100 for two week. Lender can charge you $15 for borrowing $100 for two weeks. You will need to return $115 to the lender at the end of 2 weeks. The cost of the $100 loan is a $15 finance charge and an annual percentage rate of 391 percent. If you decide to roll over the loan for another two weeks, lender can charge you another $15. If you roll-over the loan three times, the finance charge would climb to $60 to borrow the $100.

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