Are the training programmes offered by your company sufficiently well designed to equip employees with internationally relevant skills? Are there any benchmarks to determine this? Learn why accreditation can help ensure your programmes are effective and meet the required standards of quality in a fast-globalising industry.
As the financial services industry (FSI) gets increasingly interconnected globally, companies need employees with internationally relevant skills. ASEAN is playing a key role in regional banking integration: The ASEAN Banking Integration Framework, signed in December 2014[i], allows qualified banks greater access to the ASEAN market and greater flexibility operating in the region. The framework’s objective is to have a unified banking system across member states by 2020.
In keeping with this regional trend, Bank Negara Malaysia's Financial Sector Blueprint stressed the need to increase Malaysia’s prominence as an international centre for Islamic finance[ii]. As part of its recommendation, the blueprint emphasises strengthening Malaysian financial institutions’ knowledge of different markets to overcome the challenge of information asymmetries and to promote internationalisation.
To achieve the goals set out in the blueprint, Malaysian financial institutions have their work cut out for them, especially in the area of human capital development. Statistics from a survey of Malaysian banks[iii] indicate that:
- 75 per cent of Risk Management respondents stressed the need for talent with the skillset to interpret and apply global banking standards
- 86 per cent of Shariah Management respondents emphasised the need to advise on new Islamic banking products
- Over 30 per cent of respondents cited critical talent shortage at the middle management and specialist levels
Without investing in the development of employees who can operate across jurisdictions, this increased regional and international integration will require more repetitive localised training, leading to added costs in both time and money.
Recognising the need for internationally relevant skills, most financial institutions have extensive and ongoing learning and development programmes to bridge this gap. But is there a way to tell whether these programmes are genuinely able to meet global standards?
International Relevancy and Global Benchmarking
International relevancy is subjective, which makes setting appropriate standards for determining a programme’s level of international relevancy a complex task. It is little surprise then that programmes which are rigorously benchmarked to global standards, such as the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), are recognised worldwide and carry tremendous value. Most banks in Malaysia gladly sponsor the cost of their employees’ CFA examinations.
But with a minimum of three years on average to get a CFA charter[iv], a pass rate of under 50 per cent[v] and a cost of well over USD2,000 in fees[vi], it is not feasible for a large financial institution to expect most of its employees to be CFA charter holders. Hence the need for company training programmes to serve a more significant proportion of employees.
Of course, it is unrealistic to think a company-level training programme can match up to the standards of a comprehensive, globally-recognised certification like the CFA. However, with proper accreditation, it can certainly come close.
The Accreditation Answer: Accreditation as Quality Assurance
Accreditation is a procedure whereby an authoritative body formally recognises a person or organisation as sufficiently competent to execute specific programmes or tasks. In relation to learning and development programmes, accreditation is formal recognition that the programme meets certain levels of quality. In short, accreditation offers quality assurance.
However, since an accredited programme is only as good as the accreditation body, it is essential that the accreditation provider is itself of the highest quality. How can this be assessed?
Here are four criteria to help you determine the quality of an accreditation provider:
1. Support from local regulatory bodies
Positive endorsement from local regulatory bodies is a powerful indicator of legitimacy, particularly within highly-regulated industries such as financial services. In Malaysia, the Finance Accreditation Agency (FAA), although independent, is supported by Bank Negara Malaysia and the Securities Commission Malaysia.
As former Bank Negara Malaysia governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz has said[vii]:
“The involvement of industry practitioners on the various accreditation committees and panels of the FAA provides that essential link to close the gaps between what the industry needs, and the learning programmes being offered.”
2. International recognition
In addition to local support, recognition by international parties is a strong indication that global benchmarks and standards are being strictly adhered to. The FAA is recognised in over 16 countries, endorsed by more than five central banks and boasts affiliations with Moody’s Analytics (a recent client) and the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education[viii].
This extensive network of affiliations and benchmarks means that FAA stays updated not only with the latest developments in the global financial industry, but also in learning methodologies — critical in ensuring that the required skills are effectively transmitted to participants.
3. Quality certified
Are accreditation providers themselves quality certified? The FAA’s learning programme accreditation has been certified in accordance with ISO 9001 standards[ix].
4. Comprehensive yet concise process
Once the quality of an accreditation provider is assured, the next thing to look out for is an accreditation process that is comprehensive yet concise. Companies must have a variety of training programmes to cater to the different specialisations within finance, and they can ill afford an overly lengthy accreditation process.
FAA’s FAST system caters specifically to this need. It is designed to give a programme full accreditation in under six months, with the assessment and approval portion taking eight weeks. The process includes end-to-end technical support, an on-site audit and syllabus enhancements.
Choosing the right accreditation provider is the first step in ensuring your training programme is aligned to international industry standards from both a relevancy and quality perspective. Register and submit your programme for FAA accreditation today.
[vii] FAA brochure on accreditation
[viii] FAA CTP brochure