No Image Available


Read more from TrainingZone

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Case Study: Norwich & Peterborough Remortgages Training Methods


With current government initiatives prompting industry watchdogs to monitor standards across the financial services industry closer than ever, staff training has moved up a notch or two in the pecking order of priorities for most financial institutions. No longer a nice to have “people investment” for our leading blue chips, good training has become a mission critical component for companies keenly aware of the consequences if business is not conducted within the clearly laid out guidelines of today’s powerful industry watchdogs.

Operating 70 branches across the east of England, Norwich and Peterborough Building Society was keen to turn the new era of regulatory compliance into an opportunity to overhaul and update the company’s staff training and development resources. Ruth Palmer, Head of Norwich and Peterborough’s training and development unit, gives us a behind the scenes look at the new style learning infrastructure.

“Old style codes of practice have traditionally governed the selling or advising of financial products in the UK,” says Ruth. “With no real checks and balances, these codes became prone to local interpretation, ultimately producing only loose guidelines for self regulation. Even with the best of intentions, it’s difficult to comply with industry guidelines that are subject to local definition.

“Now things are changing, there are clear and unified standards for advisors across the entire financial services portfolio. Reacting to the Financial Services Authority’s (FSA) reform programme, underscored by fines and prison sentences as a possible outcome, companies like Norwich and Peterborough must deliver the skills and training infrastructure that our financial advisors need to work professionally within a well defined set of industry standards.”

Tasked with overhauling the business’ entire training portfolio, Ruth was keen to introduce online learning from day one: “In terms of training, the internet has come of age over the past three years. The high degree of interactivity and dynamism, combined with flexibility and manageable cost structure, means that web based learning offers wider scope for knowledge acquisition than the classic text book or work sheet support tools ever could.”

Working closely with Absolutely Training, Ruth started the cultural change process necessary to familiarise staff with the new web-based learning infrastructure early in 2004. With the FSA set to introduce a new set of compliance measures for mortgage advisors on 31 October last year, Ruth had a predetermined milestone to build on. “All front line mortgage staff across the entire industry had to take part in new training sessions last year to make sure working practices were in line with the FSA’s new 300 page conduct of business rules, or firms and managers would be in hot water. That’s not a risk our business is prepared to take and rather than simply update our training to make sure our advisors meet new standards, we wanted to take the opportunity to completely overhaul our courses.

“Using the Mortgage Day deadline line as our focus point, in February 2004 we embarked on a development programme designed to put e-learning at the heart of our training portfolio for mortgage products. By slowly introducing online elements into the training mix over the course of the year, our advisors were able to familiarise themselves with the new interactive learning techniques via bite sized chunks over an extended period of time. The finished site blends the key training components we need from Absolutely Training’s e-learning portfolio, with custom built content developed specifically for Norwich and Peterborough’s employees. By the time mortgage day arrived on 31 October last year, everyone in the business had successfully completed the entire course.”

By introducing internet-based training to the learning mix at Norwich and Peterborough, Ruth has been able to develop a staff training portfolio that trains more people to better standards in less time than ever before. While new regulatory pressures mean that training requirements have increased by about 30% over the past 12 months, new web-based learning and tracking modules are delivering new efficiencies to absorb the pressure without increasing Norwich and Peterborough’s overall training budgets. New online knowledge acquisition techniques mean that staff members attend live face-to-face sessions better prepared. Sophisticated web-based tracking techniques mean Ruth has easy access to the hard facts that the FSA needs to see in order to satisfy its competency requirements.

“Working direct from their desktops, our staff are learning and passing training courses with genuine two way interaction,” explains Ruth. “They’re able to manage their working day better and take on training tasks when it suits them. Typically we find that about 20 minutes is the optimum time for a web based self learning session. Already, we’re finding that some of our people are completing courses in half the time it took them previously via paper based training methods.

One of the key benefits of providing Norwich and Peterborough’s staff with advanced self learning resources over the internet has been the reduction in drop of rates for offsite training sessions claims Ruth: “By engaging staff more effectively at the knowledge acquisition stage of the learning process, we’re better able to incentivise them to attend the live practice and skills development sessions that drive home the key learning points introduced over the internet. In the training business last minute drop outs can be common. Staff shortages, sickness or just high workloads are frequently touted as valid excuses not to attend courses. Web based learning engages staff better at the start of the knowledge acquisition process to minimise drop-off rates at face-to-face sessions and reap a better return on the training resources we have available to us.”

With e-learning tactics now tried and tested vie Norwich and Peterborough’s mortgage training course, the building society is now starting to weave more online content across the entire staff training portfolio. Insurance training is the next discipline to undergo a web-based make-over and Ruth is working together with Absolutely Training to develop more flexible induction courses for new staff entering the business. As the financial services industry gears up for more new regulation and compliance issues in the months to come, Ruth is confident that the new flexibility she’s been able to bring to the learning process at Norwich and Peterborough can stand up to the test.


Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!