There are many ways in which technology is helping to boost efficiency across the financial planning profession – and this includes how you manage and record your continuing professional development activities. The CII’s Matt Connell highlights the benefits to advisers of using the online platform
There are lots of different ways to demonstrate Continuing Professional Development (CPD). The FCA rules are deliberately flexible to allow advisers the opportunity to manage their own development it in a way that is appropriate to them and their business. With different regulations, there are also different ways to measure it.
Qualified advisers must demonstrate that they have undertaken 35 hours of CPD each year. This can be a mix of both structured and un-structured learning, with certain conferences and events qualifying as CPD. Traditionally, advisers attend CPD-able events and receive a certificate that proves to the regulator that they were there. At the end of each year, the adviser also writes a reflective statement showing what CPD they have undertaken, what they have learned and how this relates to their CPD plan.
While this has been effective in ensuring advisers undertake CPD and record it, the process is fairly inflexible and reliant on paperwork. For busy advisers, writing a reflective statement may not be a high priority following a day out of the office at a conference while clients are waiting for advice. Inevitably, there is often a rush to write up the paperwork just before the deadline when the salient points may have long been forgotten. Using a technology-based CPD programme can help with this. All CPD can be recorded in real-time and advisers can save notes online, which can be pulled up instantly should the regulator want to check.
Adapting to new requirements
However, the real benefit in this is in the ability to be able to adapt CPD to meet new regulatory requirements. Since the Insurance Distribution Directive (IDD) was introduced, those advising on insurance products, including pensions, have to show that they have carried out 15 hours annual CPD covering set topics. Although this can be part of the 35 hours an adviser is already doing, the regulations stipulate which topics must be covered and this may not fit with an adviser’s existing CPD plan. Within the insurance-based investment products list, there are 12 different criteria listed alone. It is difficult, if not impossible, to cover all of the topics at structured learning events and conferences without going over 15 hours, and yet advisers must demonstrate CPD in this area to remain compliant.
Online learning is becoming more widespread in the workplace as a quicker and often cheaper way to train staff at their desks. Not only does it reduce the time away from the business but training programmes can give immediate feedback to the student and flag any areas where additional learning is needed. Online CPD programmes can be adapted and updated as new regulation is introduced or products changed. It can also allow people to study at a time that suits them in or outside of the working day. It also gives management site of what training has been undertaken and by whom, to demonstrate compliance to the regulator when asked.
Making life simpler
The CII has developed a simple-to-use online CPD tool to help advisers to plan and record CPD activity. It is not compulsory to use the tool, but it is useful to maintain an audit trail of CPD activities. It also contains a useful summary of activity to help advisers to benchmark their activity against target. It enables advisers to record hours-based CPD and includes functionality that will automatically record details of attendance on any CII Face-to-Face Training courses or events. For users of Financial ASSESS (the CII’s online learning and compliance system), the system will also enable advises to enter details of other CPD activity undertaken outside this system.
When it comes to CPD, advisers have more tools available to them now than ever before. The adviser should choose whichever method fits his or her CPD plan, personal style of learning and their business need. We will continue to support our members by creating tools to help them develop professionally in a way that suits them.
About Matt Connell
Matthew Connell is Director of Policy and Public Affairs at the Chartered Insurance Institute, where his focus is to build public trust in insurance through dialogue with consumers, policymakers, influencers and industry professionals. He has worked at the CII since March 2017.
Previously, he was Head of Regulatory Developments for Zurich Insurance Group’s UK Life Business. He has worked in banking and insurance for more than 20 years, and was the Chairman of the Investment and Life Assurance Group (ILAG) between 2015 and 2017. He holds an MSc in Public Relations from the University of Sterling and a PhD in Policy Studies from the University of Warwick.