Our development programme for Money Guiders: what we tested and learned

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Fiona Ellis, Learning and Award Lead at the Money and Pensions Service, reflects on how you can learn and develop through Money Guiders, and how the programme will respond to the findings of the independent evaluation of the pilot phase, published today.

The Money Guiders Programme was set up to help organisations and practitioners achieve good financial wellbeing for their customers so that they can make the most of their money and pensions throughout life.  

Money guidance most often forms a small part of a practitioner’s broader support for customers with varied and complex needs. Many don’t have access to training and professional development opportunities to build they skills and confidence they need for the money guidance ‘slice’ of their role. 

Designing learning and development for Money Guiders

Delivering effective teaching or training is a lot like cooking. Like a great chef, you want to serve up a dish that tempts learners to the table, satisfies their hunger, and is so delicious they come back for more.  

You can use lots of ingredients: technology and digital media, a curriculum, independent study, face-to-face learning, and reward and recognition. 

But how they’re blended together gives it a unique flavour.

One approach is to set out every step of the learning journey and specify timings, leaving nothing to chance. Another is to offer a range of learning opportunities and encourage practitioners to experiment, leaving room for flexibility. 

The pilot phase of Money Guiders was all about testing and learning, so we took the latter approach; we were experimenting with a new recipe. But would it hit the right spot with the practitioners and organisations we engaged? 

Today we published an evaluation report exploring how the pilot programme was received, and highlight what practitioners most valued and what they recommended for improvement. 

How we engaged organisations to participate in the pilot

The programme’s reach exceeded expectations. 

As highlighted in the evaluation of the pilot phase report: “101 pilot partners joined the programme… at least 1900 practitioners engaged versus a target of 1000.”

Our pilot partners were drawn from public benefit/third sector organisations including: 

  • Macmillian Cancer Support
  • NHS
  • DWP
  • Pembrokeshire Care Society
  • Skills Development Scotland
  • North Wales Police
  • The Royal Association for Deaf People
  • Ulster University
  • Clarion Futures, and
  • many smaller community-based organisations such as Little Village. 

They spanned a wide range of sectors including health and social care, housing, education and advice, reflecting the broad spectrum of settings where money guidance is delivered and the hugely diverse customer base.  

Common motivations for taking part included gaining recognition for services or skills, providing more or better support to customers needing money guidance, and improving practitioners’ skills and confidence.  

A huge thank you to all our ‘taste testers’ who took part in the pilot whilst also responding to the huge step up in demand for front-line services during the Covid-19 pandemic. Without their commitment and helpful feedback we wouldn’t be in a position to plan the menu for the programme’s next phase.  

The evaluation found that participants had positive experiences of the different components and our communications, but there’s also room for improvement. 

The level of participation and engagement during the pilot indicate a healthy appetite for everything the programme offers:  

  • A Money Guidance Competency Framework that helpfully sets out the knowledge and skills practitioners need to deliver any type of non-regulated money guidance. It’s the signature dish on the Money Guiders menu. 
  • A suite of self-guided e-learning modules that practitioners use in their own time and at their own pace, topped off with an optional City and Guilds endorsed credential. 
  • Time and space, through the UK Money Guider Networks, for practitioners to learn from each other, turn knowledge into practice and develop professionally.

Responding to evaluation findings

The evaluation found that awareness of, and engagement with, the different components was not as consistent as it could have been.  

For example, around a third of survey respondents had not used the Competency Framework. 

Given the importance of the framework, we intend to raise its profile in the next phase of the programme, and provide practical ways for practitioners to put it into action by for example, using it to map the money guidance they deliver, self-assess their confidence and competence, and identify training gaps. 

The findings indicate navigation between components and across the whole programme also needs some improvement. Everyone’s starting point is different depending on experience, prior training, and the level and type of money guidance a practitioner delivers. We’ll be exploring how to provide personalised learning journeys that help participants find everything that’s available and select what will help them the most.   

We also need to hone our support for leaders and managers in organisations that deliver money guidance so they can most effectively roll out the programme to colleagues in their organisations. 

So, the ingredients were broadly well received, but our recipe needs work. 

The evaluation also highlighted the need to address technical issues with some digital tools and platforms to improve user experience. Continuous system improvement is important to the programme: even the best chefs need to update their equipment every so often. 

Interested in finding out more?

MaPS will be strengthening and growing the Money Guiders Programme in 2022. The evaluation report is part of the evidence base used to support this expansion.

The competency framework can be used in a range of ways, for example to support peer-to-peer discussions, self-reflection, career planning and to be clear about the boundaries between guidance and regulated advice. Or as a leader, training co-ordinator or HR manager for example, you can use the framework to understand training needs, inform service delivery or to inform HR processes.

Join the Money Guiders networksOpens in a new window (there’s one in each UK nation) for a whole range of virtual learning opportunities.

Fiona Ellis headshot

Published by:

Fiona Ellis, Sector Skills Strategic Engagement Lead