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The Credit Services Association (CSA)
CSA Level 5 Diploma "key building block for industry's knowledge base"
CSA Head of Learning & Development Fiona Macaskill explains how the CSA Level 5 Diploma has become a key building block for the industry’s knowledge base.
Businesses over the last two or three years have been increasingly focused on their employees’ learning and development, understanding that it is people that give a business its unique point of difference. Career learning and development, however, is not the sole reserve of the junior employee; senior management also acknowledges the need to enhance and upgrade their skills and knowledge base, and advance their professional careers.
The CSA Level 5 Diploma in Compliance Risk Management for the Debt Collection Industry is one such qualification that is resonating with a good many senior industry professionals, among them Selima Norton, Regulatory Compliance Director at Engage Services (formerly Chase Solutions UK).
She says that the decision to study the industry recognised Level 5 Diploma was influenced by the course content: “The course was weighted against other similar courses, and the decision to choose the CSA Level 5 Diploma was based upon its strong focus upon Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) requirements, together with detailed content relating to the Financial Services and Markets Act,” she explains.
“A further determining influence was the reference to the Eurozone and its impact on the overall economies worldwide, and especially the making of regulations and directives and the effect that they also have in the UK when considering compliance requirements.”
Steve Perring, Compliance Manager, Cabot Credit Management agrees. He first became aware of the Diploma at a workshop in Manchester in 2013 when the CSA was developing the syllabus and assessment criteria.
“Every part of the Diploma is relevant to the job that I do,” he says. “The European Legislation module was perhaps the most difficult; it is quite technical, learning how European legislation relates to the UK and the new regulator. Compliance monitoring and the need for a Compliance Plan were also very important to understanding the expectations of the FCA.”
Selima says that she too found the content focusing upon the FCA particularly useful, enabling students to gain an insight into the regulator and its expectations of authorised firms: “The content was very targeted and detailed, and provided good knowledge of FCA expectations and risk management requirements,” she continues. “The backdrop to the FCA and its formation was extremely interesting.”
Danny Spenceley, who has also recently successfully completed the Diploma, is perhaps a slightly more unusual candidate in that he does not work for a business, but is rather the Compliance Manager at the Credit Services Association: “To progress within the industry, it is essential to broaden your knowledge and experience, and understand things from a company perspective,” he explains. “Gaining the Diploma has given me a much greater insight into compliance role and the demands of the regulator, and this allows me to speak to our Members with greater authority and apply what I have learned to our own Association.”
The blended approach to learning offered by the Level 5 Diploma certainly enables students to experience a varied and diverse teaching approaches, something which Danny believes made the course interesting and kept students engaged throughout: “The teaching methodologies were delivered via a mixture of both workshop-style interaction and classroom-style approaches,” he continues. “We were also provided with comprehensive reference notes at the end of each session which proved beneficial for study purposes between sessions.
“Different tutors were assigned at various stages of the course, which provided for an interesting mix of teaching methodologies.”
Selima says that whilst it was a challenging commitment to undertake the qualification, she says that the course content assisted her in real-world situations: “One positive aspect of the coursework was easily identifiable when we received questions from the FCA which mirrored some of the research that was being undertaken for the course and I was able to apply this into our working practices. Research for the course was especially utilised within the work environment during the FCA authorisation process.”
Steve Perring agrees that this ‘real world’ learning has been especially useful: “A particular benefit to the Diploma is that is it very evidence based and focused on the practical application of knowledge,” he continues. “Other courses that I looked into are strong on theory, but this is all about how you apply learnings in a practical environment. I found the Reflective Journal process especially helpful, providing the evidence to how you are demonstrating your new skills in practice.”
The content of the Diploma, Steve explains, is aimed at more senior compliance staff – Compliance Managers and Heads of Compliance – and giving them the skills to be even better at what they do. It would be wrong, however, to see the course as being ‘niche’.
“Although the course is focused on the debt collection industry, the skills, knowledge and experience that you gain are easily transferrable to other parts of the financial services community, and that is good for your future career,” he concludes.
This year we are planning to launch two Level 5 groups, one in Glasgow and one in London please get in touch if you would like to book a place.