Huge threat of non-compliance can be curtailed with UK apprenticeship levy

Huge threat of non-compliance can be curtailed with UK apprenticeship levy

One of the most threatening things to businesses is failure to comply with the myriad of ever changing rules. 

With hefty fines, risk of imprisonment, and reputational damage in store for breaching rules, no employer can be left wondering whether their staff fully know what is required of them.

Last year the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) imposed fines totalling over £229 million. Under its training and competence regime, the regulator emphasises that firms must “make sure appropriate training is provided so employees remain competent” and review the skills, expertise and knowledge of employees on a regular basis. 

“No one’s job now is the same as it was in 2007. Even worse, the sands are still shifting, meaning that it helps to have the experience of the older landscape to understand how to change and adapt,” Sam Tyfield, partner at law firm VedderPrice, said.

“This is a difficult time for junior staff or individuals trying to break into the industry. Obviously firms therefore lean on experienced hires, of whom there is a limited pool,” he added.

Use it or lose it

Meanwhile for over a year and a half, UK-based firms have been paying an additional tax and have not seen the benefits.

The UK government introduced the apprenticeship levy last year initially to create 3 million apprenticeships by 2020, and to drive an up-take in further training, in a bid to boost productivity within firms.

However, most businesses are unaware that they can use the funds to upskill existing staff at all levels as opposed to the potentially burdensome process of taking on a young trainee.

In his Budget speech on October 29, Philip Hammond said: “As well as backing businesses to invest and grow, we will also make sure British workers are equipped with the skills they need to thrive and prosper.”

Tyfield added: “Upskilling is a very good idea. I hope it takes off.”

As it stands, over £1.2 billion of levy payments remain unused because employers don’t know that they can be put towards developing existing staff. Aside from the financial loss, it raises the question can employers afford not to gain productivity from the people around them?

UK-based entities with annual paybills over £3 million have been captured by the levy – paying at a rate of 0.5% of their total employee paybills each year. This means they have already racked up a large sum that stands to be lost if they do not use it.

However, the clock is ticking as any unspent money will go back to the treasury after two years – if not used by competitors.

Divento and Born partner on training

Recognising that the fundamental skills gap within this industry is compliance, Divento Financials, a market leader in professional trader training, and Born Technology, a Chicago-based FinTech which provides technology infrastructure to market participants globally, have teamed up to deliver tailored training to industry standards.

Levy money can only be spent on standards approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships and delivered by companies on the register of apprenticeship training providers (RoATP).

Divento was instrumental in creating the Financial Services Professional Standard that levy vouchers can be put towards, while Born developed software to detect elements of market abuse that most firms had overlooked.

One of the biggest reasons why staff are put off taking on additional training is the sheer amount of time it would take away from their already busy roles.

Experts from Divento and Born will however work with employers to identify knowledge gaps in the field of market abuse and regulation, establish which compliance standards employees should be trained in, and develop a bespoke program.

Rather than subjecting existing employees to a classroom-based approach or a mere tutorial, they will be trained using simulated tier-1 front-end professional software with real-time data.

Firms could either allocate funds from their own budget to this type of essential training, or use levy vouchers that they have already accrued.

The first step is to engage with the team at Divento and Born in order to establish which standards would be most beneficial to employees to ensure they stay out of regulators’ radars.

 

 

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