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ATD Blog

Training Trends in the Finance Industry

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Few industries are as highly regulated as the financial services sector. The 2007-2008 financial crisis has led to even more regulatory changes, such as the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, which made sweeping changes to the United States’ financial regulatory structure.

In light of these and other aspects that make the finance industry unique, ATD Research conducted a survey of 106 banks, credit unions, and other organizations that provide financial services in the United States to learn about how training in finance differs from other organizations. These other organizations may include those that specialize in savings and loans, mortgages, brokerage or trading, wealth management, or other services. Findings from the survey were published in the report 2019 State of Finance Training, sponsored by D2L.

The report examines approaches to training in finance, including the average number of learning hours per employee, top content areas, and common delivery methods. Additionally, the report addresses how some changes in the last decade—including those mentioned above—have affected talent development activities at finance organizations.

Key Findings

Finance organizations spent an average of $1,097 on learning per employee; however, differences emerged when looking at this figure by organization type. Learning expenditure per employee was higher for credit unions ($1,331) than for banks ($991) and other financial organizations ($951). This is likely because credit unions tend to be smaller organizations and cannot benefit from economies of scale in the same way that banks and other financial organizations, which are generally larger and can disperse training costs over more employees, are able to.

Mandatory and compliance training comprised the greatest percentage of training content for financial organizations, accounting for 21 percent of training content for customer-facing employees and 29 percent for non-customer-facing employees. This focus is unique to the finance industry: ATD’s 2018 State of the Industry reported that for organizations in all industries, mandatory and compliance training comprised just 12 percent of training content.


Given the regulations finance organizations are subject to, this focus on mandatory and compliance training is unsurprising. 2019 State of Finance Training found that the average employee is required to attend 15.3 hours of compliance training per year.


The report features interviews with talent development professionals in the financial sector who share advice for improving approaches to finance training. Based on their insights and key findings from the report, some recommendations are highlighted below.


Give Learners a Choice: With mandatory and compliance being the most heavily emphasized content area for training in finance, learners may feel as though they lack choice in their learning options. For this reason, Jen Madden, associate vice president of talent development at Apple Federal Credit Union, recommends that organizations offer learners choice in content delivery methods as well as content areas when possible. Even when a training is mandatory, providing more than one delivery option can make learners feel as though they have more control over their learning.

Be Ready for Market-Related Changes: It is uncertain when or if another financial crisis will occur and what outcomes it may have on organizations and their workforces. Leaders should, however, consider what actions talent development may need to take should a crisis occur. Study results showed that the top response from organizations after the 2007-2008 financial crisis was developing or delivering new training content about addressing changes related to the financial crisis.

Learn More

The full report is available for purchase here. ATD members can visit that link to download the whitepaper for free.

To learn more about the report, join us for a free webcast (for members and nonmembers) on October 29 at 2 p.m. ET.

About the Author

Shauna Robinson is a former ATD research analyst. Her responsibilities included preparing surveys, analyzing data, and writing research reports.

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