Now that August is here, the holiday season is well and truly upon us. And it’s easy to stop thinking about things that can wait while we all take time out with our families. After all, things don’t get going again until September, do they? And that includes training too.
Regulation never stops
But there’s one area that never seems to slow down during the holiday season and that’s regulatory change. For insurers, banks and investment firms not only is there very little time for implementation of the forthcoming Senior Managers/Senior Insurance Managers’ regimes, (not to mention the small point of Solvency II for insurers), the FCA and the Government are continuing to push things forward apace.
Last week, one of the major anticipated developments from the FCA came to fruition in the form of the Policy Statement on Complaint Handling. Shortly afterwards, it published the results from a thematic review looking into the oversight and controls around certain benchmark indices (including LIBOR).
While all this is going on, the focus on value for money delivered through pension schemes has been made even sharper. Not only have we had the Office of Fair Trading conducting an investigation into value for money, we then had the FCA and the DWP introducing their rules on Independent Governance Committees and independent trustees respectively. All of these initiatives have been designed to try and drive pension providers and trustees towards making sure that their policyholders and members receive “value for money” from their pensions. However, what constitutes value for money is a very difficult concept to pin down, especially given the greatly varied nature of pension arrangements.
This has now been taken a step further with the introduction of the pension freedoms in April, and the desire on the part of the Government to see that people can gain access to pension flexibilities with as few barriers as possible. So much so, that HM Treasury has just released a consultation paper suggesting that early exit charges and fees from pensions should potentially be subject to a cap, to ensure that they don’t act as a barrier to people transferring to another pension provider to access the freedoms.
Whilst all of this is going on, both the FCA and The Pensions Regulator are undertaking data gathering exercises, to try and find out what pension flexibilities are being offered by providers and schemes, and at the same time, what level of exit charges are being imposed.
All of this represents a lot of work for providers, which will no doubt be made worse by the strain on resources caused by many people being on holiday!
A question of handovers
So, if regulation is putting pressure on firms during the holiday season, this brings into focus the need for those people who are “minding the store”, to be able to deal with what the regulators are looking for, as well as continuing to run the business, something which never stops during the holidays.
And the most effective way for this situation to be managed is for people to have their training and development needs effectively taken care of.
What will happen come September?
So, if regulatory pressure has got you thinking about how effectively people can respond whilst doing their day jobs as well, what steps will you take when the holidays are over to address people’s training needs?
Does anyone need to study?
There will no doubt be those for whom a programme of study in a specific subject area would be a key part of their development. If so, the choices available are increasing all the time, with more and more qualifications at different levels in more subjects opening up.
Value through conferences?
Conferences and seminars can provide tremendous value for money; by sending just a small number of delegates along to obtain information and knowledge to be passed to other team members. And they’re a great opportunity for networking and sharing of best practice too. Is it time to look at increasing your conference attendance in the Autumn?
Or go bespoke?
The trend towards bespoke courses is increasing, either in the form of courses with a very specialised subject theme (particularly in the area of financial instruments). Or you could look at bringing in outside expertise to deliver tailored courses. Would either of these work for you?
Where to start?
The answer to that is very simply here. The holiday season is not having an impact on the number of conferences, seminars, bespoke courses and qualifications being announced – indicating that the demand for training and development resources is not showing any signs of tailing off in the future either.
So, with all of this in mind, enjoy your holidays, but remember, September is not that far away – the perfect time to think about training and development for the rest of the year, and to plan in advance for 2016.
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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