It has been more than 4 years since the guidelines were introduced on 1/1/2005 but it has hardly changed……
It has been more than 4 years since the guidelines were introduced on 1/1/2005 but it has hardly changed discounting the penalties and the recent more generous allocation of CPD hours for a half day seminar/course. The static is ironic really, since this need to raise the standard of competency and professionalism of agents was to meet the “dynamic and fast changing environment” in the financial services industry as recommended in the Financial Sector Master Plan.
The guidelines are overdue for review and revision. For a start, concise narrative and a less rigid programme should be applied. Currently, the required 20 CPD hours are categorized to structured and unstructured courses and is further broken down to Technical and Non-Technical training. Such outdated and bureaucratic rules warrant relaxation if not removal. Insurers should be given a free hand on how they wish to train; after all they do have a vested interest in producing quality agents.
Some of the issues that have outlived their shelf life:-
Seminars / Congresses and Conferences
Under this heading, the guidelines stated that CPD hours earned through such sittings “should not exceed 20% of CPD hours for a particular year”.
- 20% of CPD hours are really just 4 hours. Believe me, by stating the number of hours would not make the guidelines less sophisticated
- Having said the above, limiting this category to 4 hours is simply limiting! This category is singularly the most popular method employed by training facilities to enable experienced and qualified professionals to share their knowledge and expertise of their respective fields.
In the CPD Credit Hours column for this category, the description reads “Maximum of 12.5% of the 40% CPD credit hours allowed” – impressive.
Translated mathematically: 12.5% X 40% X 20 CPD hours = 1 CPD hour.
The minimal credit hour given to this category is demeaning. Dialogue and coaching are usually conducted in small groups thus allowing room for greater interaction and exploration of subject discussed. Done in the right spirit, it is the most conducive method of education.
Pure Motivational Programme
The guidelines further stated pure motivational programmes are not encouraged. Why not? The agents are essentially a sales force, so it only makes sense to instill optimism and positivism in their outlook. This confidence booster can only enhance professionalism not devalue it.
Credit Point for CPD can be earned only once for the same programme.
The value of learning and relearning should never be underrated. Besides, one should bear in mind that despite the same motor tariff having been used for more than 30 years, except for its rating table, it has undergone a multitude of changes. So, an agent who attended a Motor Technical training, say 2 years ago, may still be learning NEW knowledge in addition to reinforcing what he has already known if he attends the same programme again. The same principle applies to all other classes of insurance policies, whilst the title of the policy contract remains unchanged, the same cannot be said with the wordings.
Fodder for ThoughtThe method of training should be the least of the issue. More importantly it is the quality……
The CPD guidelines should provide Insurers a freer hand in managing the programme for their agents to meet the 20 CPD hours. The method of training should be the least of the issue. More importantly it is the quality. A successful CPD programme is a joint effort by both the Insurer and the agent – the former in producing a professional representative and the latter in sharpening their skills and improves their knowledge. As such, by its nature, it can afford a laissez-faire implementation approach.
The education sub-committee handling this should consider including under their purview the exploration of new development options to support member companies in upholding the spirit of the CPD programme eg. work with MII to offer effective, practical and affordable e-learning courses not unlike the e-tutorials taken by students where e-notes are given followed by online objective exercises, introducing mentoring program, offer CDs on e-learning for interested members etc. The plethora of options is plenty.