Continuing professional development in a financial services organisation: THE ORGANISATION

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The organisation has traditionally sold its ‘products’, mainly individual pensions, corporate pensions and investment products, via independent financial advisers (IFAs). However, the departure of smaller IFAs from the industry left an unserviced client book and the direct sales arm was established to meet the needs of this client group. It was predicted that this area would be one of significant growth, which is expected to double in size by increasing market share over the coming years. This department currently employs around 80 advisers in addition to an equal number of support staff.

Since the organisation established a direct sales arm, the financial services sector has been regulated by the PIA and is governed by its rules and guidelines on the development and assessment of direct sales advisers and supervisors. It is from these rules and guidelines that the CPD scheme was developed as part of the Training and Competence Scheme. This scheme lays out the organisation’s requirements for training, developing and assessing the competence of advisers and supervisors in addition to the recording of these activities.


The survey was conducted to investigate how the CPD scheme works in practice and to clarify the implications of the PIA scheme in its implementation and operation. One of the principal sources of information on the scheme was the CPD record logs. These records show what CPD is undertaken, by whom and how. The logs, however, do not capture information on the application and relevance of learning or how the activity fits into the organisation’s strategic process, nor how it relates to the attainment of relevant goals and targets. In order to obtain a sample that could be considered as representative, one month’s returns were examined in detail. Although the recording system meets the requirements of the PIA and that alone justifies its existence, it is clear that more could be done to utilise the information and build on the momentum created to the benefit of the organisation and the individual.

The second main source of information consisted of the views of the individual advisers, their supervisors and managers. Because of the diverse geographical location of the advisers an e-mailed questionnaire was used as the primary means of collecting information. A questionnaire was issued to the 53 sales advisers and supervisors who are required to undertake CPD; all of these have been with the organisation for between six months and five years. Forty-seven completed forms were received, a response rate of 89 per cent, which indicates a high level of interest in the subject by the respondent.

A summary of the main findings from this survey includes the following points. The commitment, understanding and willingness to participate in CPD is high although the link between the activity and improved performance and thereby ‘productivity’ is not fully recognised. Neither is it clear how training and development fits into the achievement of the organisation’s goals and targets. Individuals found that meeting the PIA requirement of 50 hours per person per year was not too onerous despite supervisors reporting the process as a ‘chore’. A number of respondents reported that maintaining their momentum and enthusiasm for CPD activities was sometimes difficult to achieve given their other business commitments. Support by the organisation for related activities is also perceived to be high, although it is not clear how reward and recognition policies support this.


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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