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Expert ease

Effective training and business success are closely correlated, so when the FSA assumed its role as the UK&#39s sole financial services regulator at N2, imp-ortant changes in regulation for training were introduced and embraced by many companies in the industry.

The new regulations provide more structure to the framework for training and competence, with the FSA placing a greater onus on individuals to be compliant and properly trained.

In addition, the regulator confers more responsibility on supervisors to ensure their staff are competent.

In practical terms, the FSA requires regulated companies to ensure their staff are competent to carry out the tasks assigned to them and that they are supervised. The requirements apply to investment managers, investment advisers and other regulated roles.

We have long understood the importance of having well trained and knowledgeable staff. We have taken all necessary steps to comply with the requirements of N2 and used the opportunity to hone our training strategy.

In essence, the rules require us to ensure that our employees possess appropriate skills and that they keep them up to date.

Well in advance of N2, we devised a formal training and competency policy to meet the FSA requirements. We first identified the various procedures already in place at Morgan Stanley Quilter for recruitment, training and performance appraisal and these formed the basis of our policy.

The next step was to develop a list of key requirements or “competencies” necessary to fulfil each regulated role within the company and developed appropriate job descriptions.

There are a number of benefits in having a competency-based policy in areas such as recruitment, team-building, training and development, performance appraisal and promotion.

Using competence-based procedures for recruitment, for example, not only helps to define the key requirements for a particular role, it also significantly increases the like-lihood of employing the best candidate for the role.

Professional qualifications are mandatory as part of the training and competence regulations and formal professional training courses are provided by qualified organisations to assist trainees in achieving these qualifications.

The FSA has not prescribed a set number of hours of continuous professional development to be achieved by regulated staff which all-ows firms to determine an appropriate level. However, Jersey regulator the Jersey Financial Services Commission has set 35 hours as the required level of training for investment staff.

As we have branches in the Channel Islands, it seemed sensible to adopt the JFSC requirements for training as the standard throughout the company which we did prior to N2. Since N2, trainee investment managers are required to pass the IMC examination as a benchmark qualification. However, the majority of our investment managers also have the Securities Institute Diploma or IIMR.

The company also ensures that overseers of operational activities in the back-office as well as staff in other professional areas of the firm, such as finance, human resources and marketing, who are non-regulated are required to achieve at least 20 hours CPD a year.

We encourage the use of in-house presenters with expertise in areas such as information technology, compliance, research and pensions to cover some CPD topics while specialist training companies cater for other courses.

Technical training encompasses the study of financial theory, new market and product developments, new product launches and regulatory changes.

Training is also provided to enhance management and presentation skills.

Technology can be a great help in training and education and the way forward is through e-learning as a way of helping employees to study technical subject matter.

Potential benefits include flexibility, in that subjects can be studied any time, anywhere, and the ease with which an employee can be tested through a computer-based exam.

Of course, there are areas in which a classroom or tutorial approach to training is the best method but there are instances where e-learning opportunities can help.

Standards of competence among asset management companies have improved significantly in recent years. Ultimately, we exist for our clients and to maintain a competitive edge, we must maintain levels of expertise that rival the best in the industry. For these reasons, we embrace the changes brought about by N2.


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