The Future Role of Learning & Development in the Financial Sector – Roundtable Report

Nathan Adams, Head of HR – Barclays
Suzanne Chadwick, Training Advisor – Sesame Bankhall Group
Nathalie Desta, Head of Training – Visa Europe
Jackie Eaton, Learning & Organisational Development Manager – Bank of England
Sandra Hermitage, Training and Development Manager – Brown Shipley
Dawn Jackson, Organisational Development Partner – Friends Life
Mark Barbour Smith, Chief Operating Officer for M&A & Head of Training and Development IBD – Credit Suisse
Kathleen Reeves, UK Head of Hr Operations – KPMG LLP
Annette Wellinghoff, Business Strategy & Transformation – Consultant Sum Total Systems
Darryl Frost – Account Director Strategic Accounts – Sum Total Systems
James Roberts – Account Executive Financial Services – Sum Total Systems

Managing Human Resources in the banking and financial sector is a dichotomy of vast scale and an intricate, plethora of detail. Strict regulations and the changeable economy has put pressure on banking and financial organisations. They understand transparency and efficacy of culture are critical components to compete in today’s market. Financial organisations realise they need a strategic HR platform embedded with technologies like mobile and social, to enable world-class learning, collaboration, talent development and compliance management.

What can be learnt from recent times in regards to capability, perational efficacy, attitudes and cultures, that have undermined confidences externally, challenged businesses internally and impacted on attraction and engagement with the employment brand of finance and banking?

Mark Barbour-Smith: Responding to the regulatory environment, the FCA is rightly very much focusing on conduct, we’re all working on a framework that is managed through measured behaviours and associated training. This all needs to be done within a market that is increasingly competitive, with all the banks looking to come up with innovative solutions to our clients’ challenges, but constantly considering how would these innovations look were we to review them in five or ten years through a lens set up in a different environment.

Suzanne Chadwick: Today, most individuals working in the financial services sector are well qualified and capable and employee knowledge, particularly new regulation, brand and culture is aligned, which ultimately will affect customer engagement. It’s vital that we don’t forget the work that the FCA has done in improving the qualification levels, brought about via RDR.

Sandra Hermitage: In the last three years, the change in compliance and all the rules that we have to follow has had a huge impact on the people working in the business.

Dawn Jackson: In Friends Life’s history it has bought and then merged different companies into what now makes up the organisation today. That involves a lot of organisation design work, which affects internal colleagues. It has been challenging due to the number of different cultures in operation. It’s been about integrating the right elements of those cultures to bring about positive change through building trust and integrity in our people. The shift has got to be on changing leadership behaviours.

And issues keep emerging in the media, which just knocks consumer confidence and external perception, and their lies a challenge in attracting talent.

Darryl Frost: I reviewed a mainland European bank’s annual report, and a significant chunk the Chairman’s statement was about cultures, values, employee engagement and customers. I compared this with that of a large UK bank and there wasn’t any reference to employee engagement, cultures, values, until very late in the paper. In the UK, I do believe the talk around employee engagement and culture is lip service a lot of the time, and that has to change. The employee has to feel that there is change from the top down, the culture has to come from within the organisation.

Kathleen Reeves: A culture happens as a result of the behaviours and one of the key roles of L&D is about incorporating the values and expected behaviours into everything that we do.

Suzanne Chadwick: During the economic crisis, the sector failed to give customers confidence. I think that confidence will return, but it will be down to an individual’s focus on the trust and direct relationship with the customer. All financial services professionals need to prepare themselves with timely and pertinent knowledge and competence.

Annette Wellinghoff: Culture emanates from leadership behaviours and is adopted by employees. Leaders must become advocates of culture in which the customer is at the center of every decision. It is in the spirit of building transparency that the mandates are being born and through openness, banks will start to rebuild trust and confidence with all the stakeholders.

Kathleen Reeves: Once it is seen that positive behaviour is being rewarded, rather than negative behaviour being penalised, this will re-build trust.

Annette Wellinghoff: Training can be effective in values, but a holistic approach is what makes behaviour sustainable. How are we holding individuals accountable and measuring change? Think of it as a dripping faucet, because re-learning behaviour takes time and financial service organisations need to be ready to make that level of investment to get results.

James Roberts: Values are very hard to measure and so in terms of the learning environment, it’s a very complex area and therefore needs to be strategic.

Annette Wellinghoff: One example for measuring integrity might be how leaders create a work environment in which it is OK to share bad news and mistakes. What enables integrity is when we manage how people are handled when they make a mistake.

Annette Wellinghoff: Certainly, capabilities that are measured in performance need to be balanced as there are quality measures and integrity measures.

Nathan Adams: Barclays commissioned the Salz review to provide a roadmap for cultural transformation at the bank. A key finding and recommendation was the move to a common set of values for the organisation. Barclays’ new performance management system measures the ‘what’ and the ‘how’, using a matrix to calibrate individuals against, and rate performance based on what they deliver and how they deliver it. This is a key part of driving a different culture and embedding values.

Sandra Hermitage: There is a difference between formal performance management which is encompassed in a performance appraisal system and performance management which is carried out on a day to day basis that happens in a team.

Dawn Jackson: Agreed, I think we try to use performance management process as the silver bullet and it absolutely isn’t, it is a bi-annual process. There are other levers throughout the year that help to influence performance. The value of ongoing conversation and peer review, should not be underestimated.

Annette Wellinghoff: It requires us to think of performance management, not just in terms of a process, with a document as the outcome, but rather ongoing dialogue. In terms of training investment our best opportunity is to train leaders in skills required to be discerning about performance, and to effectively deliver feedback.

Suzanne Chadwick: Organisations should foster a culture where peers and colleagues give continuous feedback on performance, in a constructive way, and the business culture should allow for this. Performance management is not just a bi-annual half-hour chat, it has a bigger dashboard.

Where can organisations improve ongoing, career-long support and development of today’s leaders in the financial services and those of the future, promoting operational confidence, engagement and loyalty?

Nathalie Desta: You can invest in training new leaders, but if the leaders in-situ don’t apply the principles you are teaching, the value of this investment is limited. When leaders are very set in their ways and are not encouraged to improve, it can be very demotivating for newer leaders.

Darryl Frost: There is a desire to move away from maybe a patriarchal environment and moving to a more critical environment, but there is heritage culture, which is a challenge.

Dawn Jackson: It comes back to what gets measured, gets done. I have the responsibility of the engagement survey and I think you can use that as a really useful tool, if you ask the right questions. It starts to drive the right behaviours; feeling safe to speak up, safe to whistle blow.

Nathan Adams: Leadership is so key, and it takes bravery to say “this might be my best performer but they’re not right to lead this organisation”, I think that’s probably what happened in the financial services, leaders did not tackle the behaviours and the customer got forgotten.

Darryl Frost: The military go about developing leaders very early in their career and give people responsibility to set an example and that has compelling qualities in developing future leaders in business.

Suzanne Chadwick: It depends on the structure and hierarchy of the business itself and to what extent, can other management levels and staff actually lead or are encouraged to lead. It’s important that staff can appreciate behaviours they’ve demonstrated in times of crisis.

Dawn Jackson: Sometimes people cannot or won’t change their behaviours, despite encouragement, and organisations don’t always have the time to try and persevere down this road. Increasingly, organisation need to look at leadership with a critical eye.

Annette Wellinghoff: The elephant in the room is that the expectations of leadership roles have changed. We have leaders who were promoted under the old definition and yes it’s time to have those hard conversations. This is a challenge as these leaders hold detailed knowledge.

Darryl Frost: That’s an age old problem in any industry, most people leave a job due to lack of development and recognition.

Sandra Hermitage: Perhaps more emphasis needs to be placed on developing people who are not yet leaders, but who nevertheless have the potential to take on a leadership role.

James Roberts: Retention of top talent is compromised by static management.

Let us look at delivery of L&D, engaging people, optimising outcomes and building a learning culture.

Nathan Adams: The key is a multi-channelled approach, communications and awareness, and at Barclays we do mandate training for certain roles. I think the difficulty is keeping up with everything that’s changing, for international companies that could be legislation in a particular territory.

James Roberts: Agreed, and having the ability to be able to report effectively and being able to rapidly respond is critical to ensure that you maintain operational standards.

Suzanne Chadwick: We can validate all levels of learning with qualifications, and regular testing, but it’s down to how that training and knowledge transfers itself to the advice process ultimately, not just have a tick-box exercise.

Dawn Jackson: What I have observed is that some training is designed in such a way that it doesn’t make it easy for people to understand what you’re trying to teach them. It can just become a tick-box exercise and people don’t actually absorb the learning. It should be more about application and scenario.

Sandra Hermitage: With the demands made by the FCA, it is crucial that you not only train, but test for competence, rather than routinely box ticking.

Suzanne Chadwick: That’s why it’s really important for anyone completing their CPD to add in details, not just percentage marks on what they passed during a test, but more importantly, what they learnt qualitatively, in a reflective statement.

With increasing flexible and remote working, what are the challenges to ensure the workforce is kept informed and are operating with the latest information with confidence. Also, as the financial sector goes further afield internationally, recruiting locally, often in emerging economies, how can clear information and learning be delivered where english is not the first language and in light of different cultures and values?

Mark Barbour-Smith: I don’t think the challenge is because we’re going increasingly to emerging economies, I look at my group today and it’s already diverse. The challenge in terms of feedback, is clear communication across a range of cultural backgrounds and, to address this, I promote one-to-one conversations. If people can’t encapsulate it verbally, then they’ve probably not got it.

Annette Wellinghoff: The same word can mean different things to different people in the same country. In terms of feedback, knowledge checks pre and post the training is qualitative data that demonstrated effectiveness.

Nathan Adams: Also, strong local leadership can translate a strategic messages. In L&D, it is about working out what’s global, what’s local and having a strong focus on it. If you try and do everything on a global scale and just push out, then it gets lost. I think it’s a combination of the two, strong local regional leadership, as well as the global framework.

Kathleen Reeves: One of the challenges for rolling L&D out globally is around assessment for example, the Works Councils may not always be in agreement with the approach that organisations wish to take.

Nathan Adams: Yes and they come back with qualitative information, and they bring a totally different perspective. This experience is key to achieving the outcomes through a matrix.

Typically, how L&D is delivered in the financial sector today? Is it meeting the needs of the business and employees and how can organisations accelerate time to competency and develop organisational capability to achieve training and awareness delivery across it platforms?

Darryl Frost: The challenge, particularly for larger organisations, is multiple, disparate systems across territories. You can have the global standards, but there is a lack of control. A consolidation of platforms is required, and the organisation must operate on a set of global standards for all, whether that’s cultural values or mandatory training. Locally, it’s got to feel as though they are not taking orders from a central body, but have autonomy and flexibility for their own responsibilities, and a unified technology approach is by far the best solution. If you have 200,000 employees around the globe and you need to teach competency on a new set of compliance, you need it delivered clear and without disruption, in a real-time environment. It is realistic, but there has to be a will and impetus to do it. That’s a challenge for L&D, because on the budget agenda, it’s never at the top. But those that don’t bite the bullet for a uniformed global platform to deliver L&D will be significantly disadvantaged.

But a lot of businesses will have frankenstein? Bolt-on systems, that have got bigger and more precarious and unwieldly over the years.

James Roberts: For many years, companies have utilised technologies in order to automate learning processes. Now though is a really poignant moment, in terms of the history of learning practices. Organisations are starting to understand the good, the bad and the ugly of the technologies themselves. They’ve had them in place for a while, they understand what’s worked well, what hasn’t worked so well. So a big part of making the next big decision about learning strategy is a strong understanding of what constitutes good value and having a clear understanding of what is a great return on investment. Traditionally, people have focused on a very simple ROI calculation associated with learning, the cost of an e-Learning course against the costs of an equivalent instructor led training course. In reality, this true value and true return on investment is a vastly more complex scenario than that.

Darryl Frost: To accelerate learning, you need to be able to deliver learning or education at the point of need, wherever that may be. As said, there is a challenge within organisations from an IT security perspective, but that’s slowly changing. Being able to deliver learning where people are, when they need it and on whatever device is a benefit to the business. Having a system that can deliver relevant training to people at the right time is delivering, in a contextual way, almost like an Amazon-style experience. The LMS starts to work out what content the employee needs and links in with other areas, such as performance management and appraisals. Weaknesses and deficiencies can be identified and relevant L&D content can be delivered in this way That is a powerful learning tool.

Suzanne Chadwick: One of the most useful forms of immersive learning is where people sit and watch the activity they are being tasked to do, and pick up from an experienced role model what is required, the old ‘sitting with Nellie’ approach. I think we need to realise that it is not just ’flat information’ that people learn from, it’s not just an app or an online test, its actually the reality of watching, immersive learning and gaining experience and knowledge that makes us better. We can all take a device and learn technical information via it, but if I was undertaking an appraisal for the first time, I’d have to go and build my skills from somebody else. So I would maybe sit and watch a more experienced colleague do it, so I could learn the good techniques from someone who is recognised as a good leader or manager. For any successful L&D strategy, it’s the knowledge such as leadership rapport and people skills that we need and importantly, where we get those skills from. Traditionally it’s always been with a more experienced colleague or development programme where you can practice in a safe environment.

Kathleen Reeves: That’s where good leadership comes in, because if you’ve got a really good manager or leader who does do continuous performance management, and that means just talks to their people, let’s not make it more scientific than it is, identifies where some of their development gaps are and knows the organisation well enough to set them up with a mentor or a buddy, that’s what good leadership is all about, common sense. Many people have lost that somehow along the way.

Suzanne Chadwick: That’s exactly the point, and if you have the right culture, from recruitment, aimed at attracting the right people, having staff really understand and living by clear professional values, everybody will be an ambassador for that company, rather selected people who are your go-to audience. It’s making everybody competent and proficient. Everyone is a leader in the widest sense.

And also there’s a trap to fall in that sort of technology will break down all barriers and achieve all things, we’ve talked about the silver bullet, technology is so omni present and so vastly used.

Darryl Frost: Ultimately, the L&D platform will be a mix of delivery; certain aspects of workforce classroom-based, instructor led training, some e-learning, some on a small device. Increasingly, the latter because the incoming generations are used to engaging in that platform, and that is a challenge for L&D, because there are budget issues with trying to deliver on all platforms. But in time and experience, organisations will find what suits their organisation the best. There’s a myth that Millennials, are only interested in technology, I don’t believe that to be true, they’ve just grown up with it.

Kathleen Reeves: We had feedback from a group of new graduates saying they didn’t have time to do the training during work time, so could they have access to the training on their mobile devices in the evenings and weekends. So we set that up for them and 100 percent of them engaged in the training, on their mobile devices, in their own time. This is an interesting example of the blurred lines in the workplace.

James Roberts: The other element is ease of use, I would argue that this is critical to success. Older workers are struggling to engage in technology-based learning, they get bored with the click fatigue of getting to the actual piece of training they are targeting. They are navigating around menus that they don’t really understand. I would suggest design of content is key, plus a cultural understanding of L&D being delivered via technology. Recently, I saw a little bit of video, a five minute lesson about change management, and I can honestly say that video taught me more about change management than a three day senior leadership training course, on site, that my company spent a huge amount of money on. You could argue, that it’s how successfully the technology is deployed and works, not the medium that’s delivering the information, that is acting as a barrier to the access and engagement of the older demographic.

Dawn Jackson: The way L&D is defined is too narrow, it’s not just e-learning or face-to-face training. I am keen to encourage a more holistic view of L&D. Learning and development takes place the minute you come to work, from conversations you may have with your manager or other colleagues, to the informal coaching and mentoring that takes place in your day-to-day role. It could also be learning through engaging in social networking. It should be redefined as a range of interactive experiences for which every person has individual responsibility and ownership.

Darryl Frost: The technology has to be used appropriately. Whether that’s an interaction with a manager and employee in a mentoring situation, or via a mobile device. A, three hour course on a mobile device is just not appropriate, if it should be face-to-face. The technology delivering the content has to be appropriate to the type of content. Also the management of information, analytics reporting, is crucial to enabling decisions, around the L&D strategy for the business, to understand the skills and needs within the organisation. Technology can help there in providing a very important road map to the L&D strategy.

Annette Wellinghoff: I would add that to internal and external customers. A common platform supports content optimisation and leverages social influence.

Dawn Jackson: I find that sometimes the L&D agenda is not aligned to the technology agenda. Technology is sometimes put in place without considering first that you’ve got to think about its relevance to business needs. You can end up trying to retro fit the business and L&D agenda to the technology agenda.

Darryl Frost: IT is absolutely at the centre of the business, technology is transacting the business, 24/7. It is probably true to say HR has had a hard time getting what it wants out of IT, and that includes L&D. But in my experience, it is much higher up the technology agenda now. I think increasingly, HR is forging closer links with IT and reaping better results.

Dawn Jackson: Better data is making a compelling case for L&D, establishing early on what the business needs are. L&D analytics is one thing, but more often than not, it sits within a broader story, where integrating performance, talent and succession etc. is of greater value. Leadership teams increasingly want to understand analytics more broadly, and understand the relevance of people strategy in a more integrated way. I think the increasing appetite for aligned MI and analytics will drive the business case for better aligning our technology platforms and systems in turn.

What components are needed in L&D to meet the needs of business and the challenges of the future in the sector?

Nathan Adams: I think the big challenge is the ability to turn the business strategy into an aligned learning approach, whether it be curricular or online offering. Typically, business moves quicker than the learning or HR infrastructure can facilitate and this results in local teams creating bespoke learning to support the business. I would want more agility in the system, HR and the business need the flexibility in the infrastructure.

Suzanne Chadwick: One of the vital areas when delivering L&D strategy is it has to be tailored to individuals and not a one-size-fits-all approach. Another vital piece of the learning cycle is the ability for managers to extract that L&D data to keep track and progress people.

Nathalie Desta: I wonder if L&D professionals expect too much from a system, and that relies on team leader input, who might view this as something else to worry about. It really needs to be as simple and hassle free as possible.

Suzanne Crowther: If individuals had greater responsibility for their L&D and set indicating preferences on their profile on Facebook, think how effective that data could be to HR?

Nathalie Desta: But Facebook is about your personal life and nobody uses Facebook the way they use an HR system.

Darryl Frost: If you’re prepared to put it on LinkedIn, you’re probably prepared to have it on your internal system at work if it just pooled it and put it there, people would live with that, I would have thought.

Kathleen Reeves: I think sadly some people trust LinkedIn more than they trust their own organisation’s HR system.

Sandra Heritage: We have also found that peoples willingness to set up personal profiles on Success Factors, is sometimes age-related. The younger they are, the more they are willing to populate it.

Nathan Adams: Do learning professionals have enough systems understanding and capability to help the organisation build the right system? The core systems that HR use to transact, then get deployed for the learning systems is not always the right approach. I don’t see a massive draw to the learning system, apart from the need to do mandatory training or a portal to give people access.

James Roberts: It’s a typical trait of self-service profiles and talent profiles, it’s not necessarily people’s desire to enter the information. It’s how difficult we make it for them to enter that information onto the system that is key.

Annette Wellinghoff: Older generations won’t be switched on to building their social profile. And most are not motivated to put information in a stagnant pond of data. the ability to conduct needs analysis, using the data, and then personalize responses to targeted audiences is desirable, as analytics are crucial to making timely decisions, personalise recommendations and provide leadership insights to the business.

Dawn Jackson: Ideally, an L&D provider should cover that. I don’t necessarily need to know how the systems work, but I do need to know how technology can support my business strategy.

Mark Barbour-Smith: It comes down to people being engaged in L&D, to be better at their job, rather than to simply be compliant. The technology is great, for instance; learning libraries, where you are able to watch a video of somebody explaining a specific topic, which is ideal for certain things. However for product and interpersonal skills, we teach them in the classroom, often involving a combination of external coaches and senior bankers who have real credibility with the attendees, as people want to be inspired and taught by people they look up to, as a junior banker.

Nathan Adams: I think it’s exemplified with Apple product. Users get into a culture of self-learning through the excitement and the intrigue of exploration that is so compelling

Is that the future five minute L&D hits via whizzy handheld devices?

Dawn Jackson: I’ve not personally seen Mobile learning working particularly well in organisations, Access tends to sit at more senior levels. I think mobile learning will allow us to more easily provide access on demand, via bite-size learning. Learning is better reinforced and more likely to stick that way, but I think there’s still some way to go for how L&D will translate onto a Mobile platform.

James Roberts: Consistency and continuity is key to building credibility in L&D via mobile devices. The more credible reasons you give people to access information via their devices, the more readily they will engage with L&D. People are getting increasingly more ofay with connectivity, unquestionably it’s the way to go.

Darryl Frost: Technology is the driver and html5 means now people can create content and it will go on any device, it’s agnostic, and that is a significant step change for L&D provision, it unifies and sorts out legacy issues.

Dawn Jackson: With people accessing via mobiles, what are the security risks and the practicalities of firewalls?

Darryl Frost: It does present security issues, but increasingly as people have access to IT via mobile devices, there is very good security even for BYOD (bring your own device). The financial sector is understandably more advanced in locking down IT and security, so fears about security should not be an obstacle. It’s a challenge, but it is not insurmountable, it’s simply the fact that people are not tied to one work station any more.

James Roberts: Agreed, I think there is some reticence in the older generations, but the growing trend is inevitable with younger generations entering the workplace, who live by their mobile devices. Choose Your Own Device where the employee selects their own devices from a selection of corporate devices, or even COPE, Corporately Owned Privately Enabled, are on the increase.

Darryl Frost: It is inevitable that the future is bite-size piece learning via mobile devices, and all employers need to take that on board as a matter of urgency.

MARK BARBOUR-SMITH: My L&D wish list would be the Amazon experience; a course list, with the facility to go in and look up a course on, for example, pensions, and hear the comments from people rating, and making recommendations.

Annette Wellinghoff: Using the Amazon example, it requires window shopping a few times to build context for the system to make recommendations. Learning Management Systems will require the same to provide contextual responses to end users. The longer we wait to build our platforms and engage learners the more time it will take to provide insights and outputs relative to the business. It is time to get on the bus. You have to set realistic expectations and it will require building new skill sets within HR, which will take time.

Suzanne Chadwick: Regardless of platform, success is down to engagement and it needs to validate what is learnt through PM and career development.

Dawn Jackson: Agreed, it’s not just about traditional training, it’s about learning through social networks, it’s about collaboration, it’s about communication and it’s about engagement.

Darryl Frost: Indeed, people want to see the connection between their engagement in L&D and some improvement and progress for them career-wise. Whatever is delivered in L&D, you still then have to have the workplace and processes behind that to evaluate. It’s not fire and forget. In terms of mandatory training it has to nail it in a timely and concise way, so employees can absorb, apply and comply immediately.


Read more

Latest News

Read More

Is Gamification the future of employee development and retention?

4 December 2023


Receive the latest HR news and strategic content

Please note, as per the GDPR Legislation, we need to ensure you are ‘Opted In’ to receive updates from ‘theHRDIRECTOR’. We will NEVER sell, rent, share or give away your data to third parties. We only use it to send information about our products and updates within the HR space To see our Privacy Policy – click here

Latest HR Jobs

Reporting directly to the sector Vice President of Human Resources, the UK HR Director will act as a key member of the UK strategic leadership

Reporting directly to the sector Vice President of Human Resources, the UK HR Director will act as a key member of the UK strategic leadership

Reporting directly to the sector Vice President of Human Resources, the UK HR Director will act as a key member of the UK strategic leadership

Reporting directly to the sector Vice President of Human Resources, the UK HR Director will act as a key member of the UK strategic leadership

Read the latest digital issue of theHRDIRECTOR for FREE

Read the latest digital issue of theHRDIRECTOR for FREE