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Mark of quality
The Royal Bank of Scotland hopes its accreditation agreement with the Chartered Banker Institute will become an industry standard, producing professionally qualified bankers with the ability to provide customers with complete assurance.
The Institute’s accreditation agreement with RBS is the “quality hallmark” the organisation needs to drive employee engagement and professionalism throughout the Bank, so says Chris Sullivan, Chief Executive, RBS UK Corporate Banking.
He underlines how the agreement helps ensure all his bankers are accredited to defined standards, which are externally verified: “RBS wants to put ‘professional’ back into ‘banker’, so customers can be assured that when they meet a banker, they are meeting a qualified person.”
The accreditation agreement has been implemented across the Corporate Division’s Business and Commercial Banking, with about 4,000 Relationship Managers already accredited.
“I have an aspiration to make it available to an even wider population across this 15,000- strong division in the future,” Sullivan says.
Modules cover all topics within the banking remit, including cash flow, credit and balance sheet appraisal, customer interaction and banking solutions such as trade finance, invoice finance and asset finance. Feedback from staff so far has been extremely positive as the accreditation agreement is seen as providing a holistic and comprehensive curriculum.
As Sullivan explains: “Staff feel more confident about having an externally-recognised standard when they are talking with their customers.”
The accreditation agreement clearly supports the promise RBS has made to its business customers to deliver business expertise and help them achieve their ambitions.
Sam Bowerman, Head of HR Business & Commercial Banking at RBS says while the focus in 2011 was to get the professional standards rolled out, in 2012 and beyond these professional benchmarks become RBS’s way of working.
“The accreditation agreement underpins the continuous professional development on which we are working with the Chartered Banker Institute,” she explains. “The standards are already being enhanced for 2012 as we are continually raising the bar.”
Bowerman highlights a recent employee opinion survey, which shows “developing people” as one of the most improved scores: “84 per cent of our people said the training they receive adequately prepares them for their job and 91 per cent agree that they are able to fully apply their skills and abilities at work.”
RBS has a flexible approach to its training, and has delivered professional development opportunities online for the past 20 years. Staff can take exams during working hours and keep track of their revision when studying at home.“There’s no point in delivering training methods that fail to engage staff,” Sullivan explains.
“An organisation like RBS cannot scrimp on training and we use all available media for our training initiatives to the benefit of our staff as well as our customers.”
Sullivan, who recently joined the Chartered Banker Professional Standards Board representing RBS, has long held an interest in developing people throughout his career and believes it is hugely important. He explains:
“Bringing back professional qualifications in a modern way is the obvious thing to do. Professional training motivates staff, gives them the tools to do their job better and customer engagement is stronger with customers more loyal to us in the long term.”
Indeed, the Institute’s own surveys of customers, previously reported in Chartered Banker, shows that business decision-makers expect their Relationship Managers to be professionally qualified.
Giles Cuthbert, the Institute’s Managing Director, says the Institute is delighted to be working in partnership with RBS to accredit the standards achieved in corporate banking.
“The RBS standards demonstrate an outstanding commitment to professionalism in banking,” he says. “The Institute’s accreditation has found these standards adhere to the highest levels of educational practice in terms of their assessment methodologies and the learning pathways provided, which allow individuals to reach the peak of their ability.”
Sullivan confirms his appreciation of the mutual effort that has gone into making the agreement work: “The Institute understands what we are trying to achieve and has embraced it, acting as a value adding, quality control institute.”
And as Cuthbert adds: “Seeking external validation has without doubt been a challenge, but the Institute believes it is a challenge which RBS has risen to. It is no small feat for a commercial organisation to have to meet the requirements of a professional body on such a large scale and it is an exceptional achievement.”
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