Formal education provides a solid foundation for professional practice but alone does not give staff the skills, knowledge and behaviours needed to provide services competently, according to an inquiry undertaken by the Insurance Brokers Code Compliance Committee (the Committee).
The inquiry found that staff needed to supplement their educational qualifications with on-the-job support and experience to develop the required competencies.
Many organisations said they consider positive attitudes and behaviour, such as client focus, commitment to quality, respect and empathy, to be equally important as the knowledge and ability to undertake tasks.
The Committee undertook the inquiry to better understand how insurance brokers think about competency and achieve it within their organisations, given recent breaches of the Code’s training standards and the focus on professionalism in financial services.
The inquiry, Professionalism and competency in the insurance broking industry (http://www.fos.org.au/custom/files/docs/professionalism-and-competency-in-the-insurance-broking-industry-report.pdf ), found that insurance brokers typically understood competency as referring to a person’s skills, knowledge, attitudes, behaviours, qualifications and training.
- file audits, client feedback and claims outcomes are generally used to monitor staff competency
- in 96% of organisations, all client-facing staff were qualified to advise on more complex Tier 1 products such as life insurance and sickness and accident insurance but about 1 in 20 organisations had some client-facing staff with neither Tier 1 nor Tier 2 qualifications.
- incorporate the Code into their company structure and strategy
- develop and communicate a common organisational understanding of competency focused on meeting client expectations
- treat competency-based training as equally important as educational qualifications
- train all staff in Code obligations.
Some 280 organisations responded to the inquiry’s multiple choice and open text questions, representing more than 15,000 staff in client-facing, management and support roles.
The Insurance Brokers Code Compliance Committee (the Committee) is an independent body responsible for monitoring Code subscribers’ compliance with standards of good industry practice in the Insurance Brokers Code of Practice. The 303 subscribing insurance brokers have agreed to follow these standards and committed to acting fairly, ethically and reasonably when providing services to current and prospective clients. The Committee aims to help the industry provide services that meet the needs and expectations of consumers.