Supervising the Training Period: Successfully Guiding the Future Professional
In January 2017, the Autorité des marchés financiers (the AMF) published a new version of the Probationary Period Guide to reflect the main changes made to the Regulation respecting the issuance and renewal of representatives’ certificates (Regulation No. 1) (see the “For More Information” text box at the end of this article). The purpose of these changes is to remind professionals of the supervisor’s obligations towards the trainee.
The probationary (or training) period is an important part of the future certified representative’s education; it focusses on helping trainees develop their skills, knowledge and professional conduct. Supervision of the training period must therefore enable trainees to independently pursue activities that are reserved for representatives while fully complying with the regulations in force.
The certified professional who supervises a training period acts as the candidate’s mentor and, as such, must ensure that he1 too complies with the obligations specified in Regulation No. 1. What follows are the key points to remember in order to successfully guide a candidate through the probationary period.
BEFORE THE TRAINING PERIOD: PLANNING THE TRAINEE’S ARRIVAL
In order to welcome the trainee into an environment conducive to professional growth, the training period supervisor must properly prepare for the trainee’s arrival. A trainee must meet with both the employer at the firm where he wishes to do his training period and the professional who has been chosen to supervise him. Together, they will discuss their respective expectations for the probationary period, the type of working relationship and guidance planned as well as the level of autonomy expected from the trainee.
The training period supervisor must then make sure that he too meets the eligibility criteria2 and that he has the personal and professional qualities to fulfill this role.3 In order to qualify as a training period supervisor or, if need be, a replacement supervisor, the professional must:
- be authorized to pursue activities at the time of the training period;
- hold a certificate for at least 24 of the preceding 36 months;
- not have been the subject of a disciplinary sanction or been struck off the roll in the preceding five years;
- not have been the subject of conditions or restrictions that could affect his ability to act as the supervisor of a training period;
- not have received a second written notice for failing to fulfill the responsibilities of a training period supervisor.
To undertake a training period and lawfully perform the tasks of a certified representative, the trainee must hold a valid probationary certificate delivered by the AMF. To obtain this certificate, the employer, the trainee and the supervisor must fill out the required forms and send them either by mail or electronically via the AMF’s E-Services. It is important to verify the certificate’s validity period to make sure the trainee is not practicing illegally, for example by starting the training period before the date indicated on the probationary certificate. The trainee’s acts are covered by the firm’s professional liability insurance as well as by the Fonds d’indemnisation des services financiers during the entire probationary period (6 or 12 weeks, depending on the sector class or sector). If, as a result of an error, an oversight or fraud committed by the trainee and a consumer suffers any harm, he will be protected exactly as if he had received the services of a certified professional.
To create an environment conducive to learning and skills development, the supervisor must also reorganize his responsibilities and schedule so as to be available to the trainee throughout the probationary period. After having planned out the trainee’s work and set goals for the training period to ensure that the trainee works at least 28 hours per week during the probationary period, the supervisor must also prepare the trainee’s work station, and the equipment and documentation he will need, before the trainee arrives.
DURING THE TRAINING PERIOD: GUIDING THE TRAINEE THROUGH THE LEARNING PROCESS
The first week of the probationary period is usually devoted to observation. The training supervisor introduces the trainee to the team, and, if necessary, to his replacement. He gives the trainee time to familiarize himself with the firm’s products and IT system.
The supervisor must also explain the main objectives of the probationary period to the trainee. This will enable the trainee to learn and put into practice the knowledge, know-how and people skills expected of a professional.4 The supervisor must also define their respective responsibilities as well as the trainee’s duties and the deadlines he must meet. The supervisor must not fail to remind the trainee that he must always introduce himself as a trainee (on the phone, e-mail signature, LinkedIn profile, etc.).
During the training period, the supervisor must create a file on the trainee, which will contain:
- the list of tasks performed and files handled by the trainee;
- the training supervisor’s approvals and reviews of the trainee’s work and files;
- a summary of trainee-supervisor meetings;
- the trainee’s progress and potential corrective measures as well as any other explanations justifying the recommendation that will be made at the end of the training period.
|Firms must keep all trainee files for five years after the end of the training period.|
After the observation phase, the trainee must gradually begin to carry out all the activities that are reserved for representatives in his sector class or sector:
- In personal-lines damage insurance, the trainee may collect information, and then suggest and sell to the client the coverage that is best suited to his needs. On the business day following the sale, the supervisor must approve the trainee’s work and file this assessment in the client record.
- In commercial-lines damage insurance, after having collected the relevant information, the candidate must suggest to his supervisor the coverage that he believes is best suited to the client’s needs. If the supervisor approves, he countersigns the form; the trainee may then suggest and sell the coverage to the client.
- In claims adjustment, after having collected the required information, the trainee must present the results of his investigation as well as his estimate of damages or the cost of settling the claim to his supervisor, who must then review and approve them before they are presented to the insured.
At least once a week, the supervisor evaluates and reviews the trainee’s work. He can also take this opportunity to give the trainee feedback and answer his questions in order to maximize learning and help the trainee progress.
At all times, the training period supervisor must ensure that the trainee complies with the regulations in force and has the skills and knowledge required to perform the acts expected of a professional. The training period supervisor is responsible for immediately interrupting the probationary period if the regulations in force are not complied with or if the conditions required for approval of the training period are not fulfilled (for instance, if the trainee works fewer than 28 hours per week or the probationary period certificate’s validity period has expired). Furthermore, if the conditions related to supervising the training period are no longer fulfilled, the training period must be immediately suspended.
AT THE END OF THE TRAINING PERIOD
After analyzing the trainee’s skills and by mutual agreement with the replacement trainer where applicable, within ten working days following the end of the training period, the training supervisor must send the AMF the “Supervisor’s recommendation related to representative’s certificate” form. The form must be signed by the firm’s management and include documents supporting the supervisor’s recommendation to certify or not.
There must be a serious reason for not recommending the candidate’s certification: the trainee did not comply with the regulations in force, he could pose a risk to consumer protection by practicing his profession, or at the end of the training period he has not demonstrated the knowledge, conduct or independence required to practice as a certified professional. If the candidate fails the probationary period, he must immediately cease performing the acts reserved for certified professionals and re-apply for a probationary certificate in order to acquire the knowledge he was lacking.
It is therefore recommended that a meeting be held with the trainee at the end of the probationary period to provide feedback on his strengths and weaknesses, discuss his experience and offer him advice to help him continue developing his professional skills.
For More Information:
In issue 4, volume 5 of its Info-Conformité newsletter [available in French only], the AMF reminded readers of the modifications made to the Regulation respecting the issuance and renewal of representatives’ certificates (D-9.2, r. 7), which came into force in January 2016. The rules regarding the probationary period are designed to clarify exactly how supervisors must supervise their trainees. The main modifications cover the following points (sections 48.2 to 49):
- the supervisor’s presentation explaining the objectives and tasks the trainee must carry out during the probationary period;
- the file the supervisor must open for the trainee in which he records tasks carried out, deadlines, approvals regarding products and services the trainee suggested to clients, as well as his notes concerning the trainee’s progress, and meetings that took place during the probationary period;
- a reminder regarding the supervisor’s obligations with respect to the trainee’s work.
1. All words supporting masculine gender shall include the feminine one.
2. Sections 44 to 47 of Regulation No. 1.
3. For further information, please read “Do you have what it takes to be a training supervisor?” in the September-October 2010 issue of La ChADPresse.
4. For further information, please read “The Probationary Period: Three Rules for Success,” published in La ChADPresse (May-June 2010)