NACFB offers personal development pointers

NACFB offers personal development pointers


Adam Tyler, Chief Executive of the National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers, gives his views on how training and development can be one of the main keys to success.

What do we as an industry think about training and professional development? How do we want it to develop? Will we have any choice or will future developments be imposed on us? How engaged do we individually and organisationally want to be? 

Some people think that learning is something that we will have to fit in when we are made to or when we have nothing more urgent to do. Others believe that it is something that we pick up by osmosis without really noticing. Still others lament that it means sitting through endless boring seminars in stuffy rooms listening to speakers droning on about their own pet subjects. Why do we need it? What is the point? All of us are simply too busy trying to make a living to jump through hoops and learn new tricks. Perhaps if we ignore it, it will go away!
And yet the benefits of training and professional development are numerous and undeniable, both for the individual, organisations and the industry.
For the individual training can bring increased confidence, skills and job satisfaction, enhanced focus and future career prospects – along with fresh insights into business issues.
For the organisation training can bring improved staff morale and motivation, reduced employee turnover, efficiencies and increased productivity, financial benefits, the capacity to adopt new methods and technologies, cutting edge innovative strategies and products, flexibility and mobility in the work force, consistency, excellence, competitive advantage, enhanced corporate governance, risk management and an improved image with clients and competitors. The list is almost endless.
For the industry the benefits encompass all of the above, with an improved image and a general raising of standards, bringing increased confidence on the part of clients and lenders alike.
A training programme for commercial brokers will almost certainly become an industry prerequisite in the near future. We at the NACFB are trying to get one step ahead of the regulator by conducting a consultation exercise with various bodies and providers preparatory to the development of a new qualification; a process, which as I write, is well advanced. 
This is our future. In the last recession many bankers moved out of banking and across into the commercial finance broking sector, bringing with them their knowledge and banking qualifications. In this recession this has not happened to the same extent. So where are the brokers of tomorrow going to come from? What will be the background of the next generation? Will they have any of the skills and knowledge they need to do the job? If we cannot offer newcomers a recognised qualification, the best applicants may pass us by, writing us off as an amateur industry where anything goes.
In recent years the theory and practice of training has been transformed across many industries and this is something we need to bear in mind when shaping our future training and development programmes.
Training is no longer an activity where an all-knowing educator passes knowledge on to passive and unquestioning recipients. These days it is about much more than sitting in a seminar taking notes or daydreaming and catching forty winks!
Learning is now a mutual activity where learners share knowledge with each other and their facilitators as they link together through networking and training events, social networking, e-learning, internet sites and links with other organisations, such as the invaluable collaborative networks which have sprung up between universities and businesses.
This is e-learning and the younger NET generation learns in this collaborative way, whether we like it or not. A university student interviewed recently said “I will read 8 books this year, 2,300 web pages and 1,281 facebook profiles” and another stated “When I graduate I will probably have a job that doesn't exist today”. Things are changing fast.
Another change in the world of training and professional development has been the rise in competency based assessment at work, where learners are required to provide evidence of their skills, experience and underpinning knowledge. It is practical, impartial and is measured against consistent standards so that a person’s competence can be measured and demonstrated.
The IFS had been engaging with the major high street banks to develop a suite of examinations leading to an industry recognised qualification that was relevant to the current business banking environment and met the requirement of the now formal Qualifications Credit Framework granting it educational recognition outside the banking/financial industry.
We were invited to join the working party made up of the major high street banks to review the structure, content and direction of the proposed qualification and to advise on the way this target qualification could be implemented and its relevance to our membership and our patrons business managers.
The high street banks, all of them patrons, agreed it was important to create a standard that engaged our members and their front line business banking employees to create a mutual understanding of experience and professionalism in the market place. Indeed, it was encouraging to hear that all participants felt the need to build an air of professionalism in the commercial market giving introducers and lenders professional standing in the business community.
The IFS are undertaking further development and we will continue to advise and assist in the development process.
The introduction of this qualification will open up progression opportunities through other IFS modules / qualifications leading to the Professional Certificate in Banking [PCertB] giving the Association a defined career path for the membership to pursue if they so wish.
As we can see, the financial industry and to some extent our customers now expect to see letters after our names denoting qualifications that have been gained by examination in order to demonstrate the perceived/required level of competency required to give financial advice.
Related to all this is the question of grandfathering, or of how prior learning and experience can be recognised. In our industry it happens that sometimes the older members know more about the subject in practice than those setting the exam questions and there needs to be a mechanism for accreditation of prior learning (APL). 
A final thought from Oscar Wilde, who puts it all in perspective when he says: “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.” You are the people out there who know from experience the things that cannot be taught but need to be learned. Share them with us now!

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