When CPD simply is not… CPD


Recently I witnessed what I would consider to be the wrong approach to Continuous Professional Development from both the firm and the individuals themselves. The firm’s only interest was that it could demonstrate that CPD was being undertaken, with little regard to the needs of individuals and at best a token monitoring of CPD, and the individuals saw it as a barrier to work and had little interest in personal development, or in some cases, little effort to meet the required CPD for their specialism.

This, in my experience, is not unusual. Across the various firms that I have worked with over the years and more recently, working within the industry apprenticeship scheme, one common factor stands out amongst them all. That CPD is very often being done for the sake of just the recording the hours required, undertaken sporadically and not continuously, and very often not for any apparent development.

It is time we did something about this. When I see a firm or an individual that tries to get all the required CPD into one short period of time to get it over and done with, or another that allows individuals to do what CPD they want when they want as long as they complete the required hours, I have to challenge the culture in which they are working.

CPD is very often being done for the sake of just the recording the hours required

Irrespective of all the demands and changes in our industry, for CPD it is time to get back to basics and look at exactly what we are doing here.

Continuous Professional Development. Three words of which, when the definition of each is reviewed, should direct our understanding of what it is, how it should be done, and why it should be done. Starting with the interpretation of those three words.

For Continuous you could have “to show that the action is continuing,” or “without pause or break.” For Professional you could have: “relating to work that needs special training or education,” or “having the type of job that is respected because it involves a high level of education and training.” Finally, for Development you could have “the process in which someone or something grows or changes to become more advanced,” or “Improvement of a skill, ability, quality etc.”

Depending on your own interpretation, broadly that means that some form of acquiring knowledge or understanding to conduct in a professional capacity should be undertaken or a regular basis.

This should be embedded in our T&C Schemes. We need to demonstrate how we get individuals to competency and how that competency is maintained. Then look at what the individuals are doing and how we are monitoring it. How many individuals are just doing the hours because they must. How many are gaining something from the CPD they undertake? And how many are undertaking CPD activities on a regular or continuous basis? Do we leave it up to them to source their own CPD, or do we take some responsibility as a firm and help individuals professionally develop? Even though CPD is an individual’s responsibility, why would a firm not feel a responsibility to ensure that everyone is undertaking the right CPD for their personal development, and that it is being undertaken regularly?

It is not as though there is a shortage of CPD events. Nor are they particularly difficult to arrange or register for. Many are online these days, and many offer the opportunity to review a recording if the actual event does not suit the diary.

One of the best T&C Schemes that I have seen included a dedicated CPD programme. To cover the “Continuous” element CPD was a Key Performance Indicator with a minimum of three hours per month per individual and an additional hour per month for the specialists. Not much time out of the working month really. The firm then sourced at least two CPD events a month, usually an hour in length, from a range of providers to maximise various products, solutions, and views, and this was offered to all individuals undertaking CPD. The topics covered the varying development or knowledge needs of the individuals. It also ensured that IDD CPD was undertaken even where little or no protection business was being written. A necessity these days when the bulk of many firms’ business is retirement planning or growing wealth. The other two hours were left to the individuals’ discretion. And it worked well. Individuals met their CPD requirements on a regular basis. Individuals progressed in knowledge and understanding, even the most experienced ones.

For me it is all about the right approach to a necessity of our industry. Things never stop changing and we should never stop changing too. We say that we keep up our knowledge and understanding. The question is do we do this regularly or sporadically. And if it is the latter, are we missing a trick here? Are we doing Continuous Professional Development, or just ticking another box?


About Author

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I am a highly-versatile and forward thinking management professional with a history of successful delivery across more than thirty years’ in the Financial Services Industry. Core skills include assessing, training, coaching, process design and implementation, specialising in people, processes, and procedures within a Training & Competence or Learning & Development framework. Periodic writer for T-C News.com

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