Singapore recently played host to the launch of the ICC Academy, established to provide certified business education, initially in banking and trade finance.
But why launch such an initiative? Because professional education today is more important than ever for business growth, and it is vital for it to be in tune with business needs and developments in global trade.
In particular, professional education can address two key issues facing Asian financial institutions. The first is a need for workers with relevant skills and experience. With a talent shortage sweeping across Asia's banking and finance sectors, there is a growing need for professionals with "mission critical" skills.
Tightening regulation and continued globalisation, for instance, are rapidly increasing the demand for employees with expertise in areas such as risk and compliance.
High-quality education is therefore essential – equipping professionals with the skills they need to thrive in a globalising business world. Our view is that this should be done by learning from the best in the trade – experts who have "on-the-ground" experience and knowledge of the exact skills required.
But this combination of globalisation and economic growth has done more than increase the need for highly-skilled workers. As Asian companies enter into new international partnerships and trade worldwide with ever-greater frequency, differing business practices and standards often prove a hindrance to international deals and general business efficiency.
This phenomenon is particularly acute in the banking industry. Take the area of supply chain finance, for instance, where there is currently little agreement on terms, products, or implementation.
Since supply chain finance covers such a broad range of activities within the field of international trade, professionals' interpretation of it varies significantly depending on their job and location – a considerable challenge to all those involved in international trade.
Standardisation – of terminology, documentation, and practice – will go a long way towards settling these issues. But it must be backed up by education. This, too, must be standardised – an approach best served by a centralised institution with global reach.
Concentrating an educational institution's operations in a single location ensures that courses are delivered in a single form – meaning the quality and content will be consistent.
At the same time, global reach is vital in ensuring that standards are taken up universally. By far the best way to ensure this is to deliver courses online via a digital platform. This is the best way for students from all parts of the world to follow the same courses.
With the truly global reach that this affords, educational opportunities can then reach even remote and less developed areas, where access to high-quality professional teaching has previously been limited – and where the potential for growth is particularly high.
Standardisation and global access are the fundamental mechanics that will drive business growth through education – both in Asia and globally. However, for these to take effect, businesses must invest in education.
In today's challenging business environment, there is not just a need for high-quality, standardised professional training, there is also a need for reputable provision of this.
To have the impetus to change global business practices, professional education must be underpinned by an established global brand – one that is recognised and carries weight with professionals and employers in all parts of the world.
With this final piece in place, all elements can converge to make professional education a force for improved quality and standardisation in the financial sector.
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Asian Banking & Finance. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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