CPD- Moving with the mobile times


Has Continuing Professional Development, or CPD, overtaken RDR as the adviser’s acronym of doom? How can CPD be transformed from a necessary evil into a positive process that benefits the individual, the customer and the firm?

2013 was the year CPD replaced RDR as the three letters most dreaded by advisers

The regulatory stipulation to meet the basic 35 hours, including at least 21 hours structured, CPD a year to maintain a Statement of Professional Standing (SPS) came into force meaning the focus was now very much on keeping an eye on the ‘extras’.

We all know in principle that CPD is right – who doesn’t want proper recognition of all the effort you make to remain up to date and improve your skills and competency on a daily basis? And of course promotion or a new job might depend on it

But, in practice, doing your CPD is only one step, documenting what you have done, writing it down and logging the evidence somewhere, is entirely another. With today’s hectic professional lifestyles, logging CPD often ended up somewhat inevitably falling down the priorities list.

Thanks to the RDR, this cannot happen anymore, and 2013 was the year advisers and firms realised just how much of an impact CPD recording has, both in terms of time and the potential implications.

That is why we have been so involved in helping to develop a raft of online CPD tools and a brand new mobile CPD App, which are helping to take the ‘remembering’ part out of CPD by giving advisers options to do and record on the go.

Back in the day ….
The requirements for CPD recording are nothing new over the past few years.

When the RDR was looming, and advisers were frantically trying to ensure they met the requisite Level 4 standards, CPD played a huge part in advisers, especially those with long-service histories, getting their Statements of Professional Standing (SPS) without having to take loads of exams.

In response we helped develop the very successful Qualification Gap Fill tool, widely used throughout the industry, and which aided both advisers seeking to meet the RDR requirements and non-advisers wanting to ensure their knowledge was current.

The tool, the only one linked to CII/PFS membership records, automatically mapped members’ existing qualifications against the Level 4 exam standards, identified any remaining knowledge gaps and then managed the process for filling those gaps. This included automatically matching gaps against events that advisers had attended and other appropriate CPD activities in databases. Advisers could also fill gaps by entering past CPD activity and uploading any supporting evidence.

At the same time, upgrades to Financial ASSESS, the leading online learning and development platform for the financial services industry, to become RDR-ready saw the launch of a new CPD recording and management system.

This proved pivotal in advisers more simply managing their CPD, and attaining and maintaining their SPS, both pre and post RDR deadline.

This is now….
Of course CPD can be, and in some quarters still is, treated as a post-RDR chore.

But just as the professional bodies and FSA encouraged the industry to recognise the RDR as a chance to refocus their long-term approach to professional standards and demonstrate their professionalism as a means of competitive advantage, not simply completing a ‘tick box’ regulatory compliance exercise, so advisers are encouraged to embrace CPD as a chance to refresh knowledge, keep up-to-date and boost skills.

‘Competitive advantage’ and ‘professional credibility’ remain the biggest carrots.

The CPD recording and management system automatically logs completion of tracked activity, whether completion of one of 200+ modules of learning from the ASSESS catalogue, or an activity, programme, event or assessment created by the adviser’s employer or network. Advisers can also add records and evidence on completion of other activities, which automatically updates their CPD record.

A CPD ‘donut’ (gauge) provides a clear, at-a-glance visual towards an individual’s CPD target, essentially including a split between structured and unstructured, so advisers know what they still have to do to achieve compliance.

Learners and managers can also create and manage study plans and track progress for CPD and broader learning and development purposes. This can be as far ranging from doing a programme of learning to watching a video or reading a White Paper.

A host of organisations and individuals are offering different CPD solutions to assist advisers in addressing their post-RDR regulatory needs.

But there are challenges for advisers in sorting good CPD from bad, establishing what is relevant and of required quality, fitting the different elements together to create a complete CPD programme, and then maintaining a complete record for submission.

In helping to develop the CPD Essentials tool, launched last August, the aim was to take the guesswork and hassle out of CPD selection and offer flexibility where and when CPD is completed.

Its in-built self-assessment feature means advisers can test knowledge as they progress with CPD, while the automatic recording of time spent using the tool is in a format suitable for FCA and CII/PFS CPD compliance purposes.

The requirements for CPD are not going to go away, and if the industry is genuinely serious about restoring customer confidence and enforcing tougher, more robust professional standards, nor should they.

A piece of the App-tion
If Essentials brought CPD to iPads, a forthcoming CPD App for Apple and Android mobile platforms is simply another step on the journey to more effective CPD.

Apps have changed behaviours across all areas of our lives, and the new App means advisers will be able to record CPD while they are doing it, rather than trying to remember what they did when back at their desks or sat on their sofas that evening.

Because it can record offline activity, automatically syncing with the CPD recording and management system once there is mobile or wifi signal again, it will make killing dead time on the Tube, for example, an option.

Advisers will also be able to use a phone or tablet’s camera functions to capture evidence and upload it there and then. Like the main online tool, it has the CPD ‘donut’ to see instantly what is done or still to be completed.

CPD-ing into the future
The requirements for CPD are not going to go away, and if the industry is genuinely serious about restoring customer confidence and enforcing tougher, more robust professional standards, nor should they. Will we see even more need for CPD achievement and evidencing in time? It is entirely possible.

So what is next? Mobile CPD is now a given, people expect it just as they expect to be able to manage all other parts of their lives on the go. Utilising the available technology to best effect to make CPD as streamlined as possible is the priority.

Developments like TinCan – a new way for different technologies to ‘talk’ to each other – has the potential to have massive implications for CPD.

In time things like e-book readers, digital newspapers and examining bodies will start implementing Tin Can, and will be able to automatically post activity back to CPD records no matter where the CPD was undertaken or using what medium. This will help maintain CPD logs and also hold a record of all of learning activity in one place.

The learner will also own the information, which is a massive shift, as it will no longer be tied into one body or employer’s systems. This means it will be much simpler for someone to take their complete records with them, which is especially good for those wanting to show a potential new employer what they have been up to.

Meanwhile the potential for Apps is almost limitless, and the development of bite-sized chunks of learning, video clips and modules that can be tackled offline to sync with a main system once online again are all on the horizon.

The online and offline content and tools to support advisers’ CPD requirements as painlessly as possible are already out there or on the way. But just as you no doubt look forward to the day you can walk around with complete CPD portability, we look forward to continuing to develop more ways for you to be able to do that.


About Author

Unicorn Training. Since 1988, we’ve created L&D and compliance solutions for the UK’s ever-changing financial services industry. We love what we do. You’ll love the results. Based in sunny Bournemouth and rainy London, our 25 years’ experience and award-winning creativity have helped us grow to be a market leader in our field. Quite simply, we give you what you want. We turn complicated language into everyday language and complicated policies into everyday scenarios. We don’t just teach you “what”, we explain “how”. No matter what your eLearning needs, we’ll listen to what you need and deliver an innovative solution just right for you. And to make your life easier, we can deliver it on our very own award-winning learning & performance platform, SkillsServe. The biggest compliment we’ve had from customers is that they keep coming back for more.

Leave A Reply