Having recently been on a training course for the first time in a little while, it struck me that one of the things I haven’t written about so far is the nuts and bolts of training in all its various forms. So rather than just talking about it from the outside, I’d like to look more closely at what it is that I’ve been promoting for the last year or so. And I’ll start with a day of external training.
Soft skills Vs hard skills
The first point to make is that external training days (or half days if appropriate) can teach us the “soft skills” that are so important to working in financial services, or the “hard skills” of specific technical knowledge and application.
In my case, the course I went on recently taught one of the former set of skills – soft ones. In this case, it was a “train the trainer” day. Actually it’s quite rare for these to be one-day courses as usually they’re spread over several days. This is due to the need for lots of role playing and putting your learning into practice in a classroom environment. But for me this one day course worked really well, as I’m not a professional trainer (at least not at the moment) and I couldn’t spare two or three days in a row for training. As a result, the focus was on imparting knowledge, experience and most importantly, techniques and tips, which meant that I had a lot of extra weapons in my armoury for the future when it comes to delivering training sessions. And it was a good use of a day’s time.
Coming up soon, though, I also have some “hard skills” training booked in, which includes both the skills required to carry out a specific role, and technical training on a specific new regulatory development.
In the former case, there are many job-related “hard skills” that can be taught by external training days. In the field of compliance, risk and regulation alone, a simple search reveals over 50 courses as at today (14 September 2015) looking at everything from introductions to compliance to specific subject areas such as FATCA, mortgage regulation and the regulation of consumer credit to name but a few. Expand this search to include many more subject areas, and you’ll find an absolute myriad of opportunities.
But why training?
This is a good question, After all, these courses cost money, they take people away from their regular office duties and they don’t always deliver the benefits they’re supposed to, right?
Or at least that’s my opinion anyway. And I can draw on some very recent experience to say that.
If you don’t believe me, just look at the list of benefits below that I think make external training days worthwhile.
Training from a professional
If you book onto a trainingsession arranged by an external provider, then it will be most likely run by a professional trainer – someone who knows what he or she is doing. And one of the most fundamental skills a professional trainer has is to make sure his or her delegates don’t leave the room until they can demonstrate that they are able to put the skills they’ve learnt on the course, into practice.
This means that your chances of coming out of the training room having learnt something knew, in terms of either technical knowledge or skills, are very high. Either way, there’s something very satisfying about coming out of a day’s training realising that there are better ways of doing things that you’d done before, or learning something that you just weren’t aware of beforehand.
A tiring day
At the end of my last full day’s training, I was completely exhausted. And that’s because these things are intense, no doubt about it. But if you’re to make the most of the day then that’s the way it should be. Your time is precious and training providers will be aware of that. As a result, they will structure courses accordingly to make sure that you’re stretched. But if, at the end of a session, your energy reserves are completely spent, then that should be a sign that you’ve had a good day. When you’ve rested and had a chance to recover, you can see what it is you’ve actually achieved, and I bet most people will say that their training was rewarding and worthwhile.
The power of sharing
Many training courses provide you with materials to take away with you and keep, so that you can refer back to them at a later date. These could include a personal action plan, setting out the tasks you agree to do in the next day, week, month or whatever. And they can also include decks of slides used during the day, or copies of case studies, articles, whatever. Either way, there’s a great deal of focus on “take-aways” within training sessions these days. And they’re handy not just for the delegate but for their colleagues too, as much of this information can be shared. Granted, it’s not the same as those people being on the training course as well, but at least it does add some value. So for example, if you attend a train the trainer course, your colleagues might not get the benefit of the interaction with the trainer and the fellow delegates, but there could be some skills and techniques in there that can be shared so at least they can think about how to tackle training differently for themselves.
Looking to the future
The world of financial services, and particularly the regulation of this industry, is moving at a rapid pace. It’s more important than ever for knowledge and skills to be acquired quickly and efficiently to keep pace with this change.
Hopefully, this post has demonstrated some of the benefits of one form of external training, but if you want to find out more, I suggest you start with the IEO weekly newsletter and IEO Search page.
By Martyn Oughton a Professional Member of the International Compliance Association (ICA). Martyn now writes a regular blog for Industry Events Online focusing on the importance of training in all aspects of compliance. Read Martyn's other publications at Martyn's Writers' Residence website.
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