TriFinance recently rolled out two new training programmes for its consultants: the Controlling Academy and Finance & Administration Academy. The academies are intended for finance professionals with a couple of years’ experience who aspire to progress towards jobs as controllers or finance managers respectively. These practical learning programmes, which focus on hard and soft skills and developing a learning community, will give consultants all the tools they need to accelerate their growth paths.
We spoke to the driving forces behind the academies: Fien Vanbiervliet (Care Lead Belgium at TriFinance), Serge Vigoureux (BCB Leader Management Information & Systems), and Kristoff Temmerman (BCB Leader Transition & Support Ghent/Roeselare).
Fien Vanbiervliet, Care Lead Belgium at TriFinance: “All new graduates starting their career at TriFinance automatically join our Young Hub programme, which is a two-year trainee programme focusing on financial literacy and soft skills in consultancy. We now also have two follow-on programmes in the form of the Controlling Academy and Finance & Administration (F&A) Academy. This is because it became clear from the development talks with our younger employees that, despite our extensive general training programme, there was a real need for more formally defined programmes for these two career paths. In any event, the fact that places in both academies filled up very fast proves that the programme is successfully responding to the real learning needs of our employees.”
From entry-level professional to consultant
Kristoff Temmerman, BCB Leader Transition & Support Ghent/Roeselare, adds: “There is still a huge gap between college or university courses and the knowledge and competencies required in the financial field. Recent graduates only have a limited amount of the technical knowledge needed in corporate finance departments. Although the youngest generation in our labour market may seem tech-savvy, they do not get the specific knowledge of IT tools they need in the workplace from their education; they only start building this up when they start their careers. That is why young professionals need to take various steps in the first few years after graduation to acquire the basic knowledge and skills they need to be successful in their jobs. At the same time, we have observed that entry-level professionals have the ambition to move quickly from operational to consultancy roles. We want to use the academies to give them a solid technical foundation in their chosen areas of expertise and coach them on the soft skills they need to take on those consultancy roles.”
“I can confidently say that the Controlling Academy is unique in the Belgian market.”
Serge Vigoureux, BCB Leader Management Information & Systems
Expertise drawn from practice
“The Controlling Academy is specifically intended to fill the existing gap in training,” adds Serge Vigoureux, BCB Leader Management Information & Systems. “There are no integrated training courses anywhere in Belgium for those who aspire to become controllers, which also partly explains the shortage of controllers in Belgium. Those wishing to become a controller can take some courses, but they are not taught by controllers with current experience in the field. There is also a wide range of IT training courses, but they don’t focus on what is relevant to controllers. The Controlling Academy, on the other hand, was developed by experienced controllers and really forges the link between the functional knowledge, IT knowledge, and soft skills a controller needs. I can confidently say that the Controlling Academy is unique in the Belgian market. By offering young TriFinance consultants the opportunity to follow this programme, we are accelerating their personal growth to take up controller jobs, and we provide a solution to the shortage of controllers in the labour market.”
“Academy participants must be able to apply what they have learned to their project the very next day.”
Kristoff Temmerman, BCB Leader Transition & Support Ghent/Roeselare
Kristoff: “This hands-on approach is also at the heart of the Finance & Administration Academy. Our experienced consultants developed the training courses based on the idea that Academy participants must be able to apply what they have learned to their projects the very next day. We don’t want to give an exhaustive account of all the laws and regulations, which change very quickly anyway. However, we do want to provide thorough, fundamental knowledge in subjects such as corporate tax, business law, closing processes and financial reporting, with a central focus on providing the tools for participants to tackle these issues themselves in a business context. In addition to that technical knowledge, soft skills are equally important. How can I get my topic on the management’s agenda, make an analysis and convincingly convey the results, formulate advice and so on?”
“We also hope that the participants will connect with each other and learn from each other’s experiences outside the Academies.”
Fien Vanbiervliet, Care Lead Belgium at TriFinance
10% of the story
“The community aspect is just as important as the technical knowledge and the focus on soft skills covered in the academies. The academies help consultants come into contact with more consultants with similar interests and ambitions from other units and with senior consultants who share their expertise in that field. Our in-class training sessions are intended to lay the foundations, but we hope that participants will also connect with each other and learn from each other’s experiences outside the classroom. In that way, the academies will also contribute to the network of consultants within TriFinance,” Fien explains.
“Participation in the academies cannot be separated from the consultants’ growth paths in their projects.”
Serge Vigoureux, BCB Leader Management Information & Systems
“We cannot underestimate the importance of that network,” Serge also emphasises. “According to the 70-20-10 model, formal training accounts for only the smallest proportion of a learning process. The network in which you learn and work is twice as important as the actual training sessions. 70% of learning takes place in practical situations. That’s why participation in the academies cannot be separated from the consultants’ growth paths on their projects. Of course, at TriFinance, we make sure the projects match the consultant’s ambitions. Furthermore, the academy format includes a mutual commitment from both TriFinance and the consultants that during the 2 or 3 years of the academy programme, their projects will be controlling projects or F&A projects. This will allow them to put their new knowledge and insights into practice immediately.
That idea is also reflected in the evaluation of the participants. Once again, the focus is on the practical application of knowledge, insights, and skills. The participant works out a particular topic in the context of a client project by means of a business case. In that way, the participants will not be assessed on their theoretical knowledge but on their skills to put that knowledge into practice in a specific context. The combination of the business case and positive feedback from the projects will translate into certification after completing a two-year programme in the F&A Academy or a three-year programme in the Controlling Academy.”
“This means that participation in the academies does require commitment. The commitment on either side is important to me,” Kristoff ads. “Working with the consultants, we ensure that their projects have the right focus so that they can implement their new knowledge and insights at the client’s company straight away. Such close links with practice will ensure real growth among consultants and new insights becoming firmly rooted. Of course, this also benefits the clients as the consultant will bring extra knowledge and be motivated to use it. This is fully in line with our philosophy of “Furthering People for Better Performance in Do-How.”