Beyond Compliance Training: Learning & Development in Finance

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Updated July 8, 2024- Traditionally, learning and development of any kind has a bit of a bad rap. Being required to attend on-the-job training sounds about as exciting—and useful—as sitting through a defensive driving course. Amidst the escalating 2024 global talent shortage, projected to leave 75% of employers struggling to find the skills they need, retaining top talent by fostering their growth and development has never been more critical.

But making learning and development an integral and valuable part of company culture comes with a few extra challenges in the finance industry, which is more regulated than any other. Training for these employees is heavily focused on mandatory compliance work. The Association for Talent Development’s 2019 State of Finance Training reports that, for financial organizations, mandatory compliance training accounts for nearly 20 to 30 percent of all training compared to just 12 percent in other industries. The average employee is required to attend 15.3 hours of compliance training per year.

Understandably, the report finds that, with so much focus on mandatory and compliance training, learners are often frustrated by their lack of choice in learning options, and Apple Federal Credit Union AVP of Talent Development Jen Madden suggests that, whenever possible, organizations offer choices in both delivery methods and content areas.

Here at Quantified, we agree. The more we can give employees control over their learning—personalizing curricula and helping them bridge the gap between learning and real-world performance—the more effective learning and development programs become at attracting and retaining top talent.

Of course, there’s only so much finance companies can do to make mandatory compliance training attractive. And those trainings are critical, given the heightened security concerns in that industry.

But what about the other 70 to 80 percent of training learners in the finance industry undergo?

If banks, credit unions, and other financial organizations want to use high-powered learning and development opportunities to attract and engage employees—and in turn, move up the bottom line—these non-compliance training selections are the way to do it.

So, what should finance employees’ additional learning opportunities look like? Here are three things to keep in mind when designing or selecting training programs for your employees.

1.  Ensure Trainings Directly Impact Job Performance

Too often, learning and development programs deal in hypotheticals and theories without any real guidance for putting those theories into practice or using learnings to solve everyday workplace challenges. But those trainings become much more beneficial when learners can tie them into real, pressing on-the-job experiences.

Research has shown over and over that, when it comes to hiring or promoting employees, the number one skill employers look for—and among the most difficult ones to find—is communication. And, no matter what an employee or leader is trying to accomplish, effective communication is critical for success in any professional endeavor. So for companies that want to foster employee development andimprove business outcomes at the same time, the L&D focus should be on communication and other soft skills that are critical for success. This way, employees will be confident their training time is being used to equip them for real professional growth, and employers will know their investment is likely to lead to real returns.

2.  Personalize Learning

One of the reasons traditional trainings are difficult to apply in the “real world” is that their content is generic by design. They’re meant to help as many people as possible, but unlike these trainings, employees’ current needs and skill sets aren’t “one size fits all.” Learners will benefit most from trainings that are built around their existing challenges and the work they’re already doing. Of course, one-on-one coaching and mentorship is one way to achieve this, but that’s prohibitively expensive for all but the most senior employees. So businesses that want to tailor learning to individual employees are seeking platforms that can use AI and machine learning to do just that—at scale and without breaking the bank.

The Quantified platform, for example, uses communication analytics to measure speakers’ current communication skillsand tailor improvement plans based on their individual goals.Users can analyze their performance in recent meetings and presentations and compare their performance to industry averages, best-in-class communicators, and peers in any given communication scenario, from interviews to TED talks to financial presentations.

By making training personal and tied to real work experiences, businesses can make it all the more valuable, engaging, and impactful for learners.

3.  Measure Progress

A day-long workshop may leave employees inspired to make changes in the way they work, but without any follow-up, that excitement to improve will ebb as the to-do list grows. And anyway, how do employees who doimplement changes know whether they’re working? Without ongoing motivation, it’s too easy to let old habits take over.

That’s why measuring progress periodically is so important in making learning and development efforts successful. When employees can reevaluate their skills every week, month, or quarter to see how far they’ve come and where they should focus their efforts next, they’re much more likely to keep up the good work and keep on improving.

And besides, there’s nothing that motivates learning like a little friendly competition! Challenge employees to achieve the highest rate of improvement next quarter, and I’ll bet they’ll get on board—even if the prize is just bragging rights.

The mandatory compliance trainings may be unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean additional trainings have to come from the same mold. By providing employees with relevant, personalized training opportunities and custom-tailored improvement plans along with their mandatory trainings, financial organizations can build high-powered L&D programs that keep their top talent learning, growing, and engaged for the long haul.