Smarter learning culture

With no face-to-face customer contact, Intelligence Finance realised early
on that staff development had to be central to its operation

With no high street presence, Intelligent Finance has to work harder than
many banks to cultivate the right relationship with its customers. One bad
experience on the phone could mean a lost customer in an extremely competitive
financial services marketplace.

The telenet bank – customers can access its services online or via telephone
– was built 18 months ago and had to recruit and train more than 1,200
employees for launch. Intelligent Finance now employs 2,500 staff, across three
sites in Edinburgh, Livingston and Rosyth, and with the inaugural work out of
the way, its next priority was to put in place an ongoing development
programme.

From the outset the executive management team at Intelligent Finance
realised people would be its greatest asset and agreed that learning would play
a vital role in the values and vision of the company.

In March 2001 a team was created to research organisations that were already
award-winners as a result of their training strategies and best practices were
recorded and incorporated within the Intelligent Finance learning model.

The rationale behind the model came from a desire to be an employer of
choice as much as from a need to gain a competitive edge. Linda Mortimer,
director of HR, says: "People don’t come to work just to do a job any
more, they come to learn and develop their careers.

"As more players continue to enter the financial services market, the
quality of career development opportunities will become more important to those
coming in and will play a crucial part in their employment decisions," she
adds.

Intelligent Finance’s broad aim was to continuously improve customer
experience. Drawing from research conducted 12 months ago, it introduced
Aspire, an interactive learning centre, based at its Livingston premises, where
employees can access a range of learning options within a relaxed environment.
Aspire has a set of clear-cut objectives, to:

– Promote a learning culture throughout the company

– Encourage staff to improve their self-development in relation to a range
of skills and competencies to the benefit of themselves and the company

– Equip individuals with the necessary tools to facilitate this

– Provide a blended approach to learning – taking into account the different
learning styles of individuals

– Deliver training in a timely and cost-effective manner

Individuals can select from videos, audiotapes, books, journals, White
Papers and online learning, and a learning and development consultant is always
on hand to advise, coach and support.

The e-learning element is a vital component in developing the learning
culture and is crucial in the company’s objectives because it puts personal
development at the fingertips of every employee, 24 hours a day.

Initially, learners had access to 30 SkillSoft courses, covering mainly
customer care and general management, and these proved to be so popular that
just six months later, these were refreshed and extended to 40. Fundamental to
the success of the programme is the support and encouragement provided from the
Intelligent Finance management.

One in four employees have already registered with Aspire and more than 50
per cent have completed one or more SkillSoft courses. In total, more than 440
SkillSoft courses have been completed to date. Two further learning centres
have been opened in Rosyth and Edinburgh.

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