An institutional focus on saving money and shaving overhead's no excuse for not following the law, and that's brought innovation into the compliance teaching shop at Bank of American Fork.

The bank's deployed an application built on .Net that allows employees to learn about changing regulations and what the bank and team members need to know and do to remain in compliance. The project's also had the dual benefit of introducing elegance to what had been a cluttered learning management system infrastructure.

"Before the deployment we had employee rosters in boxes, and that was getting pretty difficult to manage. We had to identify a different solution," says Ken Burnett, director of training for the Utah-based bank.

Training has included regulatory compliance, a program for new hires and sessions on preventing harassment and other issues that could cause legal problems. Employees engage and complete sessions online, learning at their own pace and schedule, rather than attending sessions in person. The new LMS also allows training sessions to be tracked and catalogued, so the bank knows the status of individualized learning across the 280-employee institution. Employees are generally notified about a new policy, procedure of piece of compliance that pertains to them, and where they can go on the Web to get up to speed and have that knowledge tested.

"No one has missed a compliance test so far, but the beauty of this system is I know who has and who hasn't completed a course," Burnett says.

Most importantly, the $31,000 project - $15,000 in development costs and $16,000 to software vendor Passageways - has saved the $800 million bank nearly $150,000 in about a year. About $100,000 of that has come from savings derived from self-paced desktop training over the cost of in person classroom sessions, $30,000 from not having to purchase an off-the-shelf learning management system, $12,500 from reduced errors in training and $3,000 in reporting costs. "In the current banking environment, examiners are very sensitive to everything: fair credit, privacy, flood protection and security," Burnett says. "The examiners want to know that you're hitting on everything."

In a slow economy, responding to that sensitivity isn't always easy given small staffs and budgetary pressures. "Regulations are constantly changing, and that can be tough for smaller banks to keep up with," says Chris McClean, an analyst for Forrester Research. "These banks don't always have the huge compliance or legal staffs to make sure they are up to date. So they're doing a lot of automation, which allows banks to keep up to date on compliance without adding a lot of staff."

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