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Continuing Professional Development – What’s the point?

Continuing Professional Development – What’s the point?

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is often seen as a necessary evil that financial services professionals must put up with. It wastes valuable time that could be better spent doing something else, and it causes a headache when you rush to fill out your yearly CPD log and try to work out what to add. Is that fair? Should we all groan when CPD logs have to be filled out, or should we view CPD as a necessity that genuinely matters and does not have to be a headache? In this article, I will look at what CPD is, its purpose, the problems with regards perceived value and what one firm is doing to ensure CPD is relevant and achieved with minimal fuss.

The CII states, “CPD ensures that you, as a CII/PFS member, keep your skills and knowledge up-to-date and, in turn, remain competent to perform your job.”
The IFS similarly states, “CPD demonstrates a commitment to continual learning. Effective and consistent CPD is an essential part of maintaining professional standards…”.

Why CPD?

Regardless of which Professional Body you ask, it all boils down to the same thing – CPD is essential to ensure that all financial services professionals keep their skills and knowledge up-to-date. There is a minimum requirement of 35 hours of CPD activity in a 12-month period. Of those hours, 21 must be ‘structured’ which involves a formal learning activity with a specific learning outcome that meets your development needs. It must be measurable and relevant to your role and last at least 30 minutes. Examples include conferences, seminars and studying for exams.
‘Unstructured’ CPD can make up the remaining hours and whilst it must also be relevant to your role, it doesn’t have to be designed around your development needs. A popular example is reading articles in trade publications.

This is where the perception of the value of CPD becomes an issue. Some “CPD accredited” activities are laughed at and considered an easy few hours for the log. For example, product providers holding events masquerading as educational when in reality it’s more about selling product; seminars run by companies that focus on technical knowledge, but only from an angle that suits them. And of course you can always conjure up a few hours of reading over a year to get to the magical 35 hours.

Some firms take CPD seriously

Some firms do take CPD extremely seriously and offer a well thought-out and structured programme for their staff. I was recently looking at how a network structured CPD for its members, and I was struck by how seriously CPD was being taken, and how well thought-through the entire programme was. On offer were specific events across all areas, delivering structured CPD for at least the required 35 hours. Even better, those events are offered on multiple occasions making it easy for their members to schedule them in and achieve their yearly CPD requirement with little fuss. But what was striking, was that each and every event isn’t a CPD tick-box exercise to meet the requirements, but are well thought-out, planned events. Now there’s a firm who takes CPD seriously and ensures they provide relevant and easy to attend events which meet CPD requirements and certainly results in staff being kept up-to-date and relevant.

I have no doubt that CPD is an important element of financial services. Not only should it show that an individual is up-to-date but, perhaps more importantly, demonstrates to the consumer that financial services professionals can be trusted to keep their knowledge current and provide the best service to them.

Professional Bodies should look at the issues

Perhaps the relevant Professional and Accreditation Bodies should look at the issues surrounding the perception of CPD and tighten up accreditation requirements in order to give the role of CPD the respect and reputation it deserves. Couple that with firms viewing CPD as an essential part of business and giving it priority, and the outcome can only be that of a well rounded and well respected financial services profession.

Over to You…

What do you think about CPD? Have you seen examples of it being handled well?

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This article was first published in Money Marketing.