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The current case of financial services, an imperative for value added

“Don’t just sit there, send an article to your colleagues”

Our job has changed – dramatically. New data, new information, broadcasts and the distribution of new reports and analysis come faster and with greater frequency in this New Economy. All managers are looking for the ‘new, new thing’; and surprisingly, the source often turned to is the training function. If they are to prosper, value-added trainers and management developers must build this service into their offerings, often without direct fees for services. Why? If the financial services industry can be used as a benchmark, then it is the systematic offering of ‘what’s new’ that will make the difference internally to the training function, and hence, to their vendors.

Each day we provide our clients (and they share with us) the bits and bites of new data that represent leading edge thinking and analysis. We exchange reading lists, websites, and newsletters – generally without contractual obligation or fees. They pass this information along to their managers, either at courses or digitally. This process has become imbedded in the way we must do business. Why?

The consolidation within the sectors of financial services, particularly in the US, had an instant effect on traditional classroom training. Commoditization with ever-lower costs, the ubiquitous presence of technology, and the disintermediation of the training function as managers purchase directly, dominate the trends. Banks, in particular, have formed consortia and allocate mainstream base-line training to highly effective cartels like the American Banking Association, even for contemporary topics like e-learning. Pricing is rock bottom.

Other areas of the companies create, or at least attempt to create, knowledge management systems to help managers deal with the sheer volume of data about their business. Success in this mission is spotty but should improve with time. The flow of new information – knowledge maintenance – keeping up to date, has long been the purview of the training organization. Either courses are offered with names like ‘current matters’ or individual course offerings are augmented with contemporary discussions of issues that affect the industry as an ‘add-on’ to existing courses. Where is the training professional to turn for this new information? Traditionally, there was staff available, but reengineering has eliminated that headcount. Contracts with vendors could be augmented to include the providing of information, but the competitive bidding process and the availability of much of this information, at little or no cost, has made aggregation an unbillable service. How, then, do vendors survive?

The case can be made for bundling value-added services – developed and provided over time. These services include the billable development, consulting and training in the traditional sense, but also include the providing of an information flow within specified projects that become billable. For example, the development of a senior management seminar would include a continuous flow of new industry information. This information would be beyond the specific scope of the seminar, but billed to that seminar (and transparent to the client). Example 2: a portal could be established and maintained with a specific use for a specific training effort, but access could be much broader than the original population. Maintenance of the portal of information flow would probably not have its own contract, but be subsumed into other projects.

It is important not to exaggerate the case. We feel traditional training and courses will continue to exist but in a hybrid environment mixed with digital and virtual delivery. Financial Services is an extreme set of sectors with exhausting consolidation and reengineering, and the presence of consortia and cartels. We see this as an opportunity to stay in touch with clients and business partners each and every day. Don’t just sit there – send something!



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