Setting world-class benchmarks for advisors is essential to protecting clients and ensuring the professional and ethical operation of insurance brokers, according to industry experts.
This is especially important in countries where stern regulations have yet to be put in place governing advisor qualifications. Such procedures are meant to safeguard both clients and insurance providers from dubious performance.
“The mandatory and continuous training of employees not only guarantee that our clients receive professional service, but also ensure that all operations move smoothly,” said Nick Henderson, Training and Development Director at Nexus.
“We operate in four geographical territories, the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait. There are different levels of regulations applicable in each territory, with Qatar demanding the highest professional qualifications. Our approach to training and development has to remain flexible to service these different requirements.”
Regulations in Qatar are mapped against UK standards, meaning that all advisors offering financial planning advice are required to hold the minimum standard of the UK Diploma, or an equivalent from a jurisdiction with a comparable level of regulation.
Such rigorous requirements governing broker accreditation are still under development in the UAE. However, Nexus has taken steps to ensure that all employees are qualified to deliver professional and quality service. As a part of this effort, all advisors are required to go through Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) training within the first 12 months of joining the firm, and are also encouraged to pursue a CII Award in Investment Planning.
Benchmarking against both external and internal standards is a fundamental approach to achieving success at Nexus.
“Four principles of excellence form the backbone of training and development at Nexus – effectiveness, efficiency, standards, and client-centeredness,” said Henderson.
“We recognise that excellence is a journey rather than a destination, and develop the key elements of our success gradually and carefully by avoiding fads, but implementing change where we can move in line with our principles.”
In addition, all advisors must undergo a three-week training programme as part of their induction into the company. This is a documented course that is provided by multiple trainers and aimed at ensuring consistent service delivery, improving efficiency, and increasing results.
Nexus’ investment in sophisticated technology sets the foundation of its training and development programmes. The firm’s Learning Management System not only offers employees ease of participation, but also allows them to thoroughly understand their strengths and weaknesses.
One measure of success Nexus use is the rate at which new entrants get “up and running”. Last year this figure increased by 90 per cent, compared with the previous year, with a 31 per cent increase in sales.
“Through these initiatives, we have focused on the elements within the financial advisor role that contribute most to early success,” said Henderson.
“We have effectively used technology to improve the consistency of delivery of knowledge and testing, we have reduced the time spent off-the-job training, and we have improved results dramatically.”
All employees at Nexus must also go through a mandatory and annual anti-money laundering test, ensuring that every individual understands what defines money laundering, as well as its implications, and consequences.
The firm also recently introduced its ‘Steps into Sales Management’ Programme, which identifies candidates for sales management positions and assesses their compatibility for the role through a series of activities that are observed by sales directors and training professionals. The programme enables individuals to review their professional goals against the job role, allowing those who discover a variance to choose a more suitable career path, while assisting those who are suitable for the position to learn new skills and take on new responsibilities.
Continuous Professional Development is a vital part of Nexus’ training and development programme, with on-going training in all fields, including those covering products, sales, and client communication.
“The quality of service that we deliver to our clients is reflected in the significant investment we make in training our recruits, from our extensively researched models of effectiveness that underpin all our training programmes, to the genuine desire to grow our own talent and develop from within,” said Henderson.