August 31, 2004

  • Jackie Bauer, Vice President and Manager of the e-Learning Team, LaSalle Bank (Chicago)
  • Judy Docter, SVP and Dir. of Organizational Development, Associated Banc-Corp (Green Bay)
  • Steve Thomas, Chief Executive, Pathlore (Columbus, Ohio)
  • Dudley Molina, President and CEO, ePath Learning (New London, Conn.)

    With ever-changing compliance requirements, e-learning provides a method of training bank employees on the newest regulations. To leverage the technology efficiently, banks must ensure that employees are aware of the available training and the coursework meets their needs.

    Q: How are banks using e-learning to address regulatory compliance? How could banks better leverage e-training?

    Jackie Bauer, LaSalle Bank: Banks often subscribe to a content library where the content vendor has a compliance expert on staff. The content provider updates the material, and various audiences within the bank are required to complete a compliance curriculum annually. With e-training, you can reach a larger audience. E-learning can reach back offices that won't be addressed in the initial rollout of compliance. It also makes sense to develop e-learning content on compliance to go along with the off-the-shelf content related to other subjects. For example, you may want to add specific training to address a particular regulation.

    Judy Docter, Associated Banc-Corp: We have modified much of our compliance training for an online environment, really in a blended strategy - we have some of our employees going online to our compliance courses and then we're supplementing that with telephone calls to answer questions or provide clarification and on-site traditional classroom training. We offer a personalized, individualized development plan for each of our associates. They can determine their required training for the year and how it's going to be delivered. They can enroll in that training and, in most cases, take it right from their desktops.

    Steve Thomas, Pathlore: Many banks use e-learning - and the learning management system (LMS) software that supports e-training - for tracking compliance. Specifically, they use e-learning to automate instruction tied to the USA PATRIOT Act, Bank Secrecy Act, Electronic Funds Transfer Act and Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. An LMS saves trainers time and energy because the software automatically registers employees for training, delivers courses and assesses the outcome of classes dealing with compliance issues. Some banks even use LMSs to provide employees with notifications about certifications that may soon expire. The LMS identifies specific gaps in employees' skills.

    Dudley Molina, ePath Learning: Recent regulations have forced banks to take an intense, enterprise look at how they are managing the risks associated with regulatory compliance. By leveraging e-learning as a strategic initiative, financial services institutions can roll out training anytime/anywhere, track learners' progress and demonstrate compliance with bank policies and procedures or governing body regulations. Savvy organizations are realizing that the same e-learning platform used to ensure regulatory compliance for Sarbanes-Oxley, USA PATRIOT or Gramm-Leach-Bliley is the same one that can be used to perform other corporate training initiatives, such as new-hire orientation, new product rollouts or codes of ethics.

    Q: What are the benefits of e-training for banks? Are there any risks?

    Docter, Associated Banc-Corp: With the continued regulatory requirements that are brought to us regularly, e-learning offers us the opportunity to quickly adapt content and to provide learning to our associate base. A drawback to e-learning as a single strategy for learning - not just for compliance - is ensuring that the learner really has obtained the knowledge, and allowing interactivity, which is so critical for adult learners.

    Bauer, LaSalle Bank: Of all the e-learning challenges, compliance is the biggest in terms of the amount of content spread across a large audience. We're looking at more than 20 regulations in our compliance curriculum for thousands of people.

    Thomas, Pathlore: E-training reduces the need for the learners to spend time away from their jobs. Education happens around the employee's schedule. The employee can take a compliance course in the bank's break room and, if customer volume picks up, she can pause online instruction and return to helping clients. The bank can quickly prove that people have taken online compliance training, too. With a few keystrokes, managers can show auditors that training has been taken. There are fewer risks to e-training, not more.

    Molina, ePath Learning: While many people will acknowledge that e-learning is convenient, cost-effective and fast to deploy, one of the more important benefits to compliance training is the control and consistency of delivery of the training message. E-learning content is validated by subject matter experts and delivered to each learner when they are ready for it. Furthermore, e-learning contributes to the bottom line as banks eliminate travel cost for trainers and/or employees for in-person training. The risk of e-learning lies in not paying attention to appropriate instructional design of the content, which can lead to frustration and rejection of e-learning by employees.

    Q: What factors are necessary to effectively deploy e-learning as part of a regulatory compliance strategy? What should banks look for in an e-learning solution?

    Docter, Associated Banc-Corp: Integration with a learning management system - at least for a company of our size - is extremely important, as well as the content and the ability to customize it. The e-learning regulatory content is critical. We ensure our compliance policies are part of that learning.

    Bauer, LaSalle Bank: First, make sure the content is good. Make sure the content provider is an expert on compliance and ensure your e-learning content works technologically within your infrastructure. You must have the bandwidth. E-learning has to roll out to all locations. A bank should have at least one person who's dedicated full-time to supporting e-learning. The support mechanisms have to be in place.

    Clear communication about what's available in the way of e-learning and a marketing plan are important, too. You have to show people, for example, what the monthly requirements are, the URLs for accessing e-learning, etc. Reporting on the results is critical. The courseware you choose has to offer a robust reporting requirement or it has to be integrated into a learning management system. Senior management will want customize reporting, and you'll need a vendor that can meet that demand.

    Molina, ePath Learning: First, work with a service provider that possesses the tools, expertise and flexibility to ensure an e-learning deployment that is consistent with the budget, e-learning familiarity and compliance training demands of your organization. Additionally, look for an e-learning platform that is based on Web-native technology and is delivered as an application service. This should allow easy integration with legacy systems and minimize added burdens on in-house IT professionals.

    Q: How will e-learning strategies change in the future?

    Bauer, LaSalle Bank: E-learning's reach will be expanded to target all the employees in an organization. E-learning is becoming more sophisticated, the curricula are more expansive and they're becoming segmented for particular audiences. For instance, a teller doesn't need to take as much compliance training as, say, a business banker or branch manager. Segmenting compliance training to meet regulators' needs, but also to reduce the overall amount of time employees are spending on compliance training, is the future.

    Thomas, Pathlore: Banks are one of the most highly regulated industries in the United States. And e-learning is the most cost-effective way to not only deliver compliance training but also prove it's been mastered. In the future, I see banks relying on e-learning technologies to assess the skills and certifications of their employees. High-tech training tools like the LMS will allow executives to align employee training with the bank's business goals.

    Molina, ePath Learning: The future is about managing change. Whether that change comes from regulatory requirements, M&A or competitive pressure, e-learning is one of the best ways to manage it across the enterprise. By utilizing e-learning, organizations can deploy a single platform that allows members to contribute, learn and validate training for rapidly changing content.