Bank J.Van Breda & C° is perhaps the best-known bank for entrepreneurs and people in the liberal professions. For these specific customers, the bank aims to be nothing less than the best bank. You can only achieve such a mission if every employee stands behind it and has a good knowledge of the organisation and its services. Bank J.Van Breda & C° puts a great deal of effort into this. ‘We also score highly as a great place to work because we attach great importance to the satisfaction of our staff,’ says Stijn Van de Ven, Key Account Manager and responsible for Learning & Development at Bank J.Van Breda & C°. ‘The rest will follow from that naturally, so to speak.’
Nevertheless, Learning & Development is relatively recent at Bank J.Van Breda & C°. ‘We’ve only been working on this for 15 years,’ Stijn Van de Ven says. ‘In the past, banking was much simpler than it is today. You offered your customers a savings bond for a ten or 15-year term, or they bought shares. That was it. Today, the range of what we offer has become more extensive and complex.’
It’s not just banking that has become more complex. Specifically, when an organisation grows, it also becomes more difficult to reach everyone. Stijn Van de Ven: ‘Classroom training was our thing, but it had become quite a chore. We are not a big bank, but we are becoming a bit too big to organise classroom courses easily. It was a real ‘tour de Belgique’ every time, in that we gave the same presentation 17 or 18 times in both national languages.’
colleagues to educate
In 2019, Stijn Van de Ven was asked to look into the possibilities of e-Learning: What is it? Why should we do it? Are online courses not at odds with the personal approach that we strive for at Bank J.Van Breda & C°? New employees learned their job mainly by doing it and working with colleagues.
‘Real learning during courses was the least part of the training process,’ Stijn Van de Ven says. ‘Social learning from each other is especially important here. Every new employee is initially plunged into a pool for entrepreneurs and people in the liberal professions. In the ensuing months, there are the first tentative contacts with customers. New account managers are then monitored closely for another three years. Then they are ready for full autonomy.’
With such personal monitoring over such a long period, it is not illogical that there was little support for introducing e-Learning. ‘Without the coronavirus pandemic, we probably wouldn’t have had the right mindset for it until 2025,’ Stijn Van de Ven admits. ‘The coronavirus crisis was very convenient in that regard, as we were compelled to place e-Learning on the fast track. As I had already been asked about it in 2019, I was prepared. The available budget was known, and I had already looked at what was on offer.’
‘Out of the wide range of tools, from simple to very complex, and from national and international players, we fairly quickly opted for FLOWSPARKS. I didn’t want to keep searching and experimenting,’ Stijn Van de Ven explains. ‘I wanted something that worked and with which we could quickly get started.’
‘Although I am personally very much looking forward to giving classroom training sessions again, it is clear that blended learning is the future.’
– Stijn Van de Ven, Key Account Manager and responsible for Learning & Development
In March 2020, Bank J.Van Breda & C° started working with FLOWSPARKS. It was rolled out across the organisation in May, and five training courses are currently available (October 2020). Stijn Van de Ven is quite satisfied with this result. ‘You should know that the holiday period was in between and that no one in our organisation works on training full-time. A lot depends on the time you can spend preparing training courses. All our authors also have another role at the bank.’
‘Interaction also proved to be problematic at first. In a classroom setting, you raise your hand and you ask a question. This is obviously not possible with e-Learning. We are no longer receiving any comments on this in our last training courses. Participants clearly needed some time to get used to it.’
‘What also became clear fairly quickly is that before you create a training course in FLOWSPARKS, it’s best first to write down what your objectives are, what you want to achieve, and so on. It is only then that you actually begin to fill out the e-Learning course. If you start from the content, it sometimes becomes difficult.’
At Bank J.Van Breda & C° new modules are announced on the intranet in the newsfeed for employees. However, it remains the task of the district manager to encourage his or her people to take the training courses. ‘Some colleagues need extra encouragement,’ Stijn Van de Ven notes. ‘We will most probably link training courses to a bonus in the future, but that still involves some searching and experimenting.’
Bank J.Van Breda & C° also requests immediate feedback after a course in FLOWSPARKS. This is done for two reasons. It is of course because the initial feedback on a module is usually very useful and the course can be adjusted quickly so that it is even better when it is rolled out on a large scale. ‘But also because people can then immediately express their reactions or frustrations and don’t have to vent to colleagues. This obviously involves frustrations about the content of the training course, and not about FLOWSPARKS itself,’ Stijn Van de Ven laughs.
Bank J.Van Breda & C° wants each module to end with a test so that the participants and their managers can then check whether they have understood everything correctly. Managers can also very easily export reports to Excel or even receive a fully automated progress report in their mailbox.
For Stijn Van de Ven, it is clear that e-Learning, together with video conferencing and webinars, are keepers that the coronavirus pandemic has put on the fast track. ‘Although I am personally very much looking forward to giving classroom training sessions again, it is clear that blended learning is the future.’ And if it is up to Stijn Van de Ven, FLOWSPARKS will be an essential part of that.