I think we can all agree that 2020 has seen some significant changes, both in the way that we work, and what we need to demonstrate in our work. Adapting to working from home, meeting clients both new and existing remotely, the Senior Management Certification Regime, Abridged Advice in the Defined Benefit Transfer market, and Pension Transfer Specialist-specific CPD requirements. There is no doubt that we must react and adapt, and it gives us an opportunity to review what we do now, and how are we going to change moving forwards.
A few weeks ago, I made the decision to recommend a change to my T&C Scheme. Not that there was anything specifically wrong with it, and it certainly was not a tick-box scheme, but for two very sound reasons. Firstly, there was far too much manual intervention in the running of the scheme which is not very efficient, and one thing many of us have learned in 2020 is creating efficiency. The second reason was that we had run the same T&C Scheme for several years, reviewing periodically and adjusting according to the outputs and needs of the business or industry, but it was getting tired, some might say stale, and not really giving a great deal of value to the management team or the scheme members any longer.
It is a cultural change because it provides a more robust platform on which individuals can buy into and develop
The various components of a T&C Scheme are always going to have manual intervention, but some parts can be made more automated, for example the sourcing, issuing, and recording of Continuous Professional Development. In my current T&C Scheme we allow members to source their own CPD events and reading, but I also source and issue CPD for specific training needs, benchmarking, and of course to meet the requirement to undertake 15 hours IDD CPD a year. I also run monthly checks on levels of CPD undertaken, check the content, and record it to ensure all members meet requirements. Sourcing and recording IDD CPD has very doable, especially with the myriad of webinars and presentations available this year, however doing the same for the PTS CPD in addition could be an interesting challenge.
This is certainly one area that can be more automated and, having reviewed and tested three solutions that are out there in the market, I now have an opportunity to present a “brave new world” within my firm to give added value and better purpose to the T&C Scheme. Everything can be delivered via one system, with options for additional external resources if required.
Benefits? Yes, many. Firstly, all CPD can be recorded and split by type: IDD, PTS, and other. That will help me keep track of the required number of hours undertaken per CPD category. CPD can be sourced from a bank of material that is regularly updated, or sourced externally, then allocated to the members, or allocated to specific members in the case of PTS CPD. Recording is automatic, directly onto personal CPD Logs which I can then review within the system, as opposed to requesting and filing copies of CPD Logs each month, saving both myself and the members, quite a considerable amount of time overall.
I can use benchmarking tests within the system, or I can design my own using questions from a bank of material which again, is regularly updated. This allows me to apply a focused approach, as opposed to testing for testing’s sake. Alternatively, I can move from product-based testing to application of product-based testing by using case studies. The system allows me to set pass rates, number of attempts, and trend analysis to identify weak areas and apply training or coaching.
Communications are also automated. Members receive a notification when they have been allocated CPD, and I would receive notification when CPD has been completed, or a test or case study has been passed or failed. Monthly regulatory updates can also be automatically allocated to specific members, depending on the nature of the update.
Depending on which solution I decide to present, I can add other elements of the T&C Scheme too. For example, I can add results from file checks, annual servicing checks, or any other Key Performance Indicators. I can also add 121 meeting notes, and training notes.
I referred to the term “brave new world”. Fundamentally, not much has changed. The Scheme still provides a framework for demonstrating competency, learning and development. What is new is that it is a change to embrace added value to all users. It is a cultural change because it provides a more robust platform on which individuals can buy into and develop, and a mind set change adopting new technology which puts the firm ahead on managing its T&C requirements. Regarding SMCR it demonstrates responsibility, leadership, and governance.
Recently I attended a webinar on SMCR and T&C and it was interesting to note several delegates admitted, through an anonymous poll, that their firm did T&C because they had to, and applied the minimum attention to it, and a few delegates, perhaps the same people, administered their scheme manually.
There is a “brave new world” out there for T&C. All we need to do is embrace change and have a desire to create added value. Moving to an automated system, even if just for CPD, demonstrates both.