Jim Rakes’ National Bank of Blacksburg, Va., serves 14 counties in southwest Virginia, and keeping the bank’s 216 employees up to date with consumer banking regulations has been a logistical challenge. Most employees have had to drive a good hour to attend compliance training, according to Rakes, president and CEO of the $978.5 million-assets bank.
And that’s just logistics. For years, the bigger challenge has been delivering up-to-date training, according to Shelby Evans, corporate auditor and compliance officer. Typically, the bank sent one employee to a compliance school, workshop, or other program, and that person would in turn present to fellow employees.
Rakes says the bank has been working into a new approach that will save costs and time. “And it will keep our employees in the bank during the day,” he explains. The bank is implementing the next step in its usage of ABA Frontline Compliance, an e-learning service available free to ABA member institutions.
Hooking up to Frontline
ABA delivers Frontline’s online courses over the internet, using its state-of-the-art learning management system. The system handles employee-student recordkeeping and similar chores. More than 70 compliance courses, including interactive text, video, audio, and printable documents, comprise the Frontline catalog. Rakes and his staff have been impressed with the quality of the content.
“I went through every course myself, to see what they were like,” says compliance officer Evans.
Initially, the bank used the Frontline training as a template for its corporate trainer’s efforts—the materials alone more than covered the bank’s dues, according to Rakes. Frontline includes both overview courses—by regulation and bank position—as well as additional offerings that focus on how a regulation or law applies to a specific bank position. As its next step, National Bank is using Frontline to push training to every employee’s computer desktop.
“Even though you are sitting at your computer, the courses’ case studies and online conversations feel very interactive,” says Lara Ramsey, vice-president for human resources and training. “You don’t just feel like you’re reading.”
ABA provides a detailed “compliance training roadmap” for managers. This tool helps them determine which courses should be required for which positions in the bank. This avoids coming up with a “one size fits all” curriculum, instead tailoring the elearning to specific job descriptions.
“Not every bank’s customer service representatives do the same thing,” points out Evans. “You can mix and match courses.”
To make sure the training sticks, Frontline includes tests, and tracks performance. The system grades the tests, and employees see their marks right away.
Balancing savings and exposure
ABA estimates that a member bank of $1 billion in assets saves about $10,000 annually by using Frontline. National Bank is not only reducing employee time out of the office, but also travel costs and the cost of the computer-based training it formerly used.
“We’ll still do some schools occasionally,” says Rakes. “The personal interaction bankers get there is important. But our spending on that—including enrollments, travel, and housing—will be substantially reduced. We’ll be more selective about how we use outside compliance training now.”
Another benefit will be freeing up the bank’s trainer, who can now devote more time to live training in other functions. After all, there’s more to banking than compliance.