Learning Paths for Financial Professionals: One Firm's Solution
Any professional with a bachelor's degree leaves college with technical knowledge, but is it enough for their industry? As accounting students, our employees are taught audit, tax and accounting theory and application during college. However, we do not hire one person for all three disciplines. We hire employees to focus on one of these disciplines and eventually become an expert. Therefore, training is a necessary component for all employees' growth, whether they’re new or seasoned.
The younger generation of employees is credited for wanting a learning plan or path available to them, but in reality, all generations appreciate a learning path. There is a benefit to looking at a map, choosing your direction and understanding the purpose. So, where does a company start in creating a learning path?
A full training curriculum includes technical, technology and soft skill learning opportunities. Technical skills are related to duties within a position. Technology skills are related to computer and software tools. Soft skills are personal and people skills such as time management, communication, conflict resolution and leadership. Training opportunities for these skills can include live classes, online learning tools, quick reference guides, and on-demand support and coaching.
When creating our paths at Honkamp Krueger & Co., we consider all types of learning opportunities and all learning styles. Our current learning path template is in the shape of a pyramid with five levels:
- Foundations: new hire orientation (1.5 days), structured department classes, internal live classes on soft skills and technology, online courses and tools, department mentoring, and learning ladder tasks
- Advanced: structured department advanced-level classes, trainer of foundations classes, online courses and tools, and being a mentor
- Content Focus: specializing in a niche, such as estate planning, 401(k) audits or event planning; attending one conference per year in that niche; providing training to the firm in that niche; studying for certification
- Supervisor: supervising projects, people and teams and attending internal leadership classes
- Leadership: external Leadership Academy, understanding the entire firm and all its services, and promotion to a leadership position within the firm
Within this pyramid, a variety of tools are available to every employee. Some tools are custom-created to support our firm. For example, learning ladders are visual lists of duties that each position is expected to complete. Attached to each task is the documentation needed to successfully complete the task.
Each department customizes its pyramid and learning tools according to its needs. For example, the training team hosts multiple Adobe classes (Adobe for Tax, Adobe for Accounting and Adobe for Admins). Each class has similar content with examples related to the department's needs and experiences.
Our learning tools are designed to be fluent and flexible. All tools are a template for each department to grow and expand and are a starting point for all learners. Facilitating these learning tools requires a partnership between the corporate trainer and a technical trainer for content creation and training employees.
Kathie Rotz is the director of learning at Honkamp Krueger & Co. She has more than 18 years of corporate training experience in software, leadership skills, time management and interpersonal skills. In addition, she has created original curriculum for technical and soft skills classes, facilitated live and online training, and created learning solutions. Kathie partnered with Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) to create the Honkamp Krueger Leadership Academy (HK LA), which is a three-year development program. She now serves on the planning committee and teaches classes for HK LA.
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