Canada’s deposit-taking institutions need to offer more ongoing training opportunities, and financial advisors’ preference is that more of that training be delivered in person and with an interactive element, according to the advisors surveyed for this year’s Report Card on Banks and Credit Unions (CUs).

“Most of the training happens as a conference call during which one person talks and we all just watch or listen,” says an advisor in Ontario with Toronto-based Bank of Nova Scotia. “I’d prefer more live workshops in which you can interact and [the presenter] can walk through [the material] and take questions.”

Advisors, as a group, rated their firms’ performance at 8.2 in the “support for ongoing training” category, saying that they receive regular and adequate training from their firms in subjects such as new products, IT systems, practice management and compliance.

However, this year’s overall average performance rating declined modestly from the 8.5 rating last year. In addition, this year’s rating is well short of the overall average importance rating of 9.0 that advisors gave the category.

Specifically, advisors disappointed with their firms’ ongoing training programs said that: the quality of the training isn’t strong enough; there isn’t enough training or that what is available is too product-focused; or was delivered online for the most part.

“I don’t like doing training on the computer. I just fall asleep,” says an advisor on the Prairies with Toronto-based Bank of Montreal (BMO).

Many BMO advisors said that the bank could be more proactive by providing a wider variety of training opportunities for advisors.

“There’s not a lot of training here. It’s up to you to seek out training on your own,” says a BMO advisor in Atlantic Canada.

Similarly, advisors with Edmonton-based Servus Credit Union would like to see their CU provide more training – and on a greater variety of topics.

“There’s a lot more they could be doing,” says a Servus advisor in Alberta. “We seldom get any training.”

But there appears to be some miscommunication between Servus advisors and their firm. Randy Biberdorf, the CU’s vice president of wealth management, says Servus offers several opportunities for its advisors to further their training.

This includes holding two annual conferences in which training is a major focus, offering online training for technical or compliance issues, and discussing continuing education and ongoing training with each advisor.

“We sit down as part of the performance planning process and review [each advisor’s] learning plans,” Biberdorf says. “[We] identify courses based on where they’re at in their career and, from an educational perspective, we tailor an ongoing training plan. And if using outside courses makes sense, then we fund that.”

In contrast, advisors who praised their firm’s training did so because their employers offer a plethora of training opportunities through a variety of platforms.

For example, advisors with Toronto-based Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) said the bank offers frequent training opportunities through a variety of media and methods of delivery – and that the quality of the training is very good.

“There are tons of webinars, and we then have followups on the presentations,” says a CIBC advisor in Quebec.

Advisor satisfaction stems from the fact CIBC has made ongoing training a priority over the past several years, says Larry Tomei, senior vice president, national sales and service, retail and business banking, with CIBC.

In particular, the bank has focused on helping its advisors develop top sales and client relationship-building skills, as well as on providing advisors with support and incentives to seek out further professional accreditations and designations.

“We really do believe that providing the best advice is also about making sure that our people are the most and best capable,” Tomei says.

Similarly, advisors with Toronto-based Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) said their bank offers its advisors an overabundance of learning opportunities, including a variety of meetings, conferences and online training.

“The training is excellent. They keep us up to date and everything is available to us,” says an RBC advisor in Ontario.

RBC is in the process of executing a three- to five-year national strategic review of its training regime to identify areas in which there may be weaknesses and to fill those gaps.

“We want to understand – by advisor, by market – where there are opportunities to develop additional capabilities and proficiencies,” says Michael Walker, vice president and head of branch investments with RBC.

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