John Roper, Director General, Guernsey Financial Services Commission
A perennial question which I have to answer is how, with virtually no unemployment, can Guernsey go on growing its finance sector? My stock three answers are: the managed or administered institution, ever improving information technology and more and better training. We have seen administered banks become an increasingly important source of new revenue. information technology continues to amaze with its power to take care of routine tasks and now we have set up the Finance Training Agency.
Retaining our market share in the face of worldwide competition which enjoys access to the same technology and to cheaper labour costs makes it essential that Guernsey can offer high quality services. Attracting new, high- revenue business will also depend upon being able to persuade decision-makers that Guernsey offers the highest standard of quality. Quality must be present in both the technology we use and the people that we employ. It is education and training that is the key to getting the best from these resources.
There was some consternation in the Island when I drew my meringue analogy but I make no apologies. For one thing, a meringue has more substance than a marshmallow, and for another I have clearly identified the goal of avoiding any soft centre and making sure we have one of Guernsey granite. The creation of the Finance Training Agency will give us the infrastructure necessary for the development of the world-class education and training necessary for the future.
THE FORMATION AND AIMS OF THE AGENCY
Kevin Corbin, Chairman, Finance Training Agency
The finance sector of Guernsey's economy has been very successful in growing its businesses but it now faces challenges which must be addressed if growth is to be sustained. There are constraints arising from the limited labour force that can be sustained by the Island and competition from existing and new financial jurisdictions. Professional institutes are beginning to require evidence of Continuous Personal Development from their members and there are moves in the UK for regulations governing finance businesses to include training amongst its criteria.
Guernsey finance sector employers face a particular set of challenges in implementing training to meet their requirements. The range of skills from accountancy, through banking, insurance, investment, trust management, company management to general management covers the full range of financial services, Employers also need to operate at all levels within companies and to facilitate individual's growth within company structures. All of these skills are required to operate at local, national and international levels each with its subtle differences. The Island is small, limiting the demand for training in each area and at each level. However, these challenges must be met and training of the highest quality must be made available, largely on the Island.
Therefore the FTA has been created to encourage and promote education and training and to raise the overall level of skills in all areas of the finance sector. It operates as a limited company owned by a non-profit making trust with funding underwritten by the Guernsey Financial Services Commission. Board members of the company are drawn from practitioners working within the finance sector who are, therefore, able to ensure that the FTA keeps a clear focus on their needs, both at company and individual level. It is being run by the finance sector for the finance sector, but not in isolation. Close links are being forged with the States Advisory & Finance Committee, the Board of Industry and the Education Department and professional institutions. The FTA is already working with the College of Further Education, universities and private training providers to ensure that the courses provided are appropriate.
The visible focus of the FTA will be its Study Centre in Nelson Place Smith Street. The Centre represents a joint investment by both the States of Guernsey and the Financial Services Commission in the future of the Island. It will provide modern training facilities, comprising a lecture room, study room and library with computer-based learning, video conferencing and Internet access to bring the world of learning into the heart of St. Peter Port. The management team are responsible for understanding employers' and employees' needs, clarifying them, rationalising them where possible, identifying suitable training providers and arranging programmes to meet the sector's training needs. The aim is to develop a life long learning culture within individual students through making learning accessible, pleasurable and rewarding.
FACING THE FUTURE WITH THE FTA
Rick Rowland, Chief Executive, Finance Training Agency
When a new organisation appears one of the first questions that comes to mind is will it affect me and, if so, how? The simple answer is yes it will have an effect and its long term effect will be to make Guernsey's financial institutions more profitable through improving the level of training available. This then poses the question, how will the FTA improve the level of training?
Life-long learning is required by every employee in modern society. Information Technology is developing at an ever increasing rate with no sign of slowing down. Indeed, at present the indications are for greater change than ever before. Outside Guernsey the effect of this technology has been to create downsizing of companies and early retirement for employees as companies have crudely decided that the older employee cannot cope with the changes as well as the younger one. Given the success of Guernsey's finance sector and the Island's housing policy it is essential that we get the best value possible from everyone working in finance. The limitation on individual careers should not be related to age but to their ability to produce value for their employer. That means frequent training and retraining. The longer an individual has gone without training the greater their vulnerability to market and technological changes.
In promoting education and training it is essential to be able to demonstrate the benefits to be gained. To achieve this the FTA will be working closely with employers, employees and professional institutes to understand their current and future training requirements before courses are organised. There will be strong emphasis on future needs to ensure that as each part of the finance sector evolves Guernsey's workforce is in a position to respond positively.
The FTA is going to be a small organisation that will achieve success through helping others to do their jobs better. It does not intend to compete with other training providers but to work with them to ensure that training gives the maximum benefit to both employees and employers. However, there is a delicate balance to be established between competition which provides the impetus for improvement, and duplication which is wasteful, particularly where resources are limited. Therefore the setting of standards is crucial. Where these standards are being met, or surpassed, then duplication becomes wasteful. Where standards are not being met then positive action is necessary. However, in the modern world standards are not fixed for all time. They are continually rising so the FTA's standards can be expected to become increasingly demanding.
For many additional study, after a hard day's work, will be particularly demanding especially where educational courses stretch over years rather than days or weeks. In the past many of these have been postal courses. The sense of isolation that frequently accompanies distance learning has led to unacceptably high drop out rates. The Study Centre at Nelson Place will provide a training focal point with facilities for tuition, seminars, study research and the opportunity to meet colleagues who are also studying. Employees in the finance sector and those planning to move into, or out of, finance will be able to obtain free advice about educational and training opportunities. The focus, however, will always be on self-improvement through further study.
This is how the FTA will take the distance out of distance learning.
EDUCATION & TRAINING PROGRAMMES FOR FACING THE FUTURE
Jane Walden, Deputy Chief Executive, Finance Training Agency
A fiercely competitive environment, technological] advances and the pressure of market demands are having a discernible effect upon the training needs of the finance sector.
Financial services are a complex, highly specialised field requiring a wide range of different qualifications at differing levels. There is also an increasing demand for continuing professional development.
The Finance Training Agency aims to help all employees achieve appropriate qualifications through a variety of means.
Nelson Place in Smith Street will provide a focal point for all finance sector employees undertaking courses of study.Additionally the FTA is working closely with professional institutes to develop a well equipped Learning Resource Centre.
- The formulation of a "qualification map". Designed to provide an all encompassing view of professional qualifications it is at the preparation stage.
- An induction course for new entrants to the sector
- a Facilitating a training needs' analysis Insurance Institute for the local branch of the Chartered
- A foundation programme in accountancy/financial services
- A programme leading to an MSc in Corporate Governance providing Grad ICSA" status
- A management programme with open-entry and exit routes into a diploma in management and subsequent MBA
- Compliance courses
- IAC, FPC and CEFA courses
The Learning Resource Centre will include a fully equipped lecture theatre, seminar room and library together with private study facilities. CD-ROM, video-conferencing and Internet connections are just some of the new features designed to integrate with conventional methods of training and skills' acquisition initiatives.
In the final analysis the success of the FTA will depend on its ability to meet the requirements of its client base. Therefore it is important that your views and opinions are regularly communicated to us.
If you have any questions about the FTA, or wish to learn about the services we provide, please do not hesitate to contact Jane Walden, Deputy Chief Executive, Finance Training Agency at: Finance Training Agency, Nelson Place, Smith Street, St Peter Port. Tel: 721 555, Fax: 7011 55.
Visit the Guernsey Financial Services Commission Web Site at Click Contact Link