An article by Financial Accreditation Agency (FAA)
In tandem with the rapid growth and changing landscape of the financial services industry (FSI), one needs to be equipped with the most current knowledge and to continually sharpen one’s skillsets. This means that one must be trained constantly, be open to innovative new approaches and be able to bring relevant ideas back to the workplace for implementation.
Capacity building has almost always been part and parcel of the FSI. Traditionally, many training and development programmes have been offered through conventional, face-to-face means. Although the online learning mode has been regarded as the ‘new norm’ for some time, it has been slow to gain traction, until the world was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now the term ‘new norm’
is no longer ‘new’ to many of us.
The pandemic has provided us the opportunity to develop technology-driven finance professional learning programmes and qualifications for all sectors, including Insurance. As a matter of fact, the Insurance sector first entered the era of ABCD (artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud and data) some years ago. E-learning has been regarded as the ideal solution for Insurance professionals whom many are widely spread geographically and are always on the go. This group of professionals need to be constantly updated on regulatory changes, as well as new products and processes, and undergo regular mandatory training on compliance whilst making a living for themselves.
Making content available on portable, hand-held devices will surely help to facilitate learning. It also means that more professionals would be able to gain access to the learning content. To Insurance companies, this could mean cost savings and relatively higher return on investment. To training providers, this could mean more subscriptions to the e-learning programmes offered. To Insurance professionals, it means lifelong and life-wide learning, where the knowledge gained is passed on to benefit clients, the government and society as a whole.
Technology plays an important role in learning indeed, but it should be viewed as an enabler of the effective delivery of learning content and experience. These questions require training providers to think beyond technology to focus on the learning outcomes, curriculum, delivery plan, materials, learning and assessments, which all work in a cyclical manner.
The delivery plan is considered to be one of the most vital elements in the cycle. Delivering an Insurance learning programme online involves both asynchronous and synchronous activities. Accordingly, participants are given reading materials and assignments in advance through the learning management system (asynchronous) before the interactive session takes place (synchronous).
This is followed by assessments (such as assignments, projects and tests) which can be conducted asynchronously or synchronously. Experts have suggested that both asynchronous and synchronous activities should be given equal emphasis. Acknowledging the importance of such planning, FAA has developed E-Learning Guidelines to guide training providers in designing, developing and delivering e-learning programme effectively.
Thanks to technology, there are now an increasing number of tools available which can be used to design e-materials and to facilitate online delivery, such as Google Jamboard, Twiddla, Loom, Youtube Studio, Perusall, Padlet and even the recording function on Microsoft PowerPoint. There are even tools to design and facilitate online assessments such as Genius Scan and Gradescope, as well as browser lockers such as Respondus and Examity, to name a few.
The major challenge, however, lies in the effective delivery of the content online to provide the desired learning experience. This means the effective engagement of learners. This is a critical aspect that cannot be neglected for any Insurance learning programme to achieve its intended learning outcomes. For this, FAA recently launched the e-Certified Training Professional programme which enables participants to learn how to deliver their learning content and engage their learners in an online delivery.
Next is the question on what content is considered to be ‘just-in-time’, ‘just enough’ and ‘just for me’? There are already established bodies of knowledge within professional qualifications in Banking, Capital Market, Financial Planning and Wealth Management, as well as Insurance. The Finance Professional Qualifications Structure (FPQS) developed by the Finance Accreditation Agency (FAA) can be used to design and develop the e-content of Insurance professional qualifications. The FPQS, being a globally benchmarked learning structure, was built around the Finance Qualifications Structure (FQS), a six-level competency-based qualifications structure, enabling the professional qualifications in Insurance to be developed at the basic, intermediate or advanced levels with their associated learning outcomes. The FPQS also provides guidance on the minimum level of knowledge required of any Insurance professional in the area specifics of General Underwriting, General Claims, Life Underwriting, Life Claims, and Medical and Health Insurance, whilst training providers in different jurisdictions can contextualise some of the content based on their specific needs. The FPQS ensures consistency of the core learning areas covered, and facilitates recognition of these professional qualifications across borders.
Another core feature of FPQS lies in its flexibility where the structure can be used to develop qualifications, certification or even short courses. With micro-credentials gaining traction all over the world, again thanks to technology, bite-sized professional qualifications in Insurance can be developed by making reference to the FPQS. There are indeed huge potentials in micro-learning. Learning is divided into smaller components and provides one learning point at a time (just enough). Whilst waiting for a client to show up for an appointment, an Insurance professional could spend that little time learning something new (just for me). This learning may benefit the Insurance professional by enabling him or her to address the questions or concerns from the client (just-in-time) and close the deal. In any case, the professional is likely to retain the information for a longer time.
The quality and consistency of these learning programmes and qualifications need to be safeguarded, and FAA supports the FSI training providers to quality assure the Insurance professional learning programmes and qualifications, and to ensure the alignment of competencies, learning level, assessments and learning outcomes. At the same time, FAA can also play a role in supporting the development of internal quality assurance (QA) mechanisms of professional training providers, taking into consideration the specific requirements of e-learning and the FAA Learning Criteria (FLC). The FLC, which is benchmarked against international QA standards, has been used by FAA for the accreditation of learning programmes. Consisting of six dimensions and 31 indicators, the FLC has also served as a guide for professional training providers and individuals in the design, development, delivery and assessment of professional learning programmes.
In meeting its mandate of raising the standard and quality of professional learning in the FSI, FAA also plays a role in connecting professional training providers and higher education institutions to enable competency-based curriculum to be jointly designed and delivered, either in the face-to-face, online or blended mode. It is possible that we may one day see the professional qualification programmes of the Malaysian Insurance Institute being jointly offered or embedded in the academic programmes of public and private higher education institutions in Malaysia and beyond.
With technology, possibilities are limitless, and the training and development landscape is definitely poised for even more exciting changes.
Readers are welcome to visit our website at faa.org.my for more information on FPQS, FQS and FLC, or contact us at [email protected] for the e-Certified Training Professional programme.