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  • Robert Bell

Recognising Financial Difficulties: Using Game Based Learning

Debt is a very personal issue, and it means different things to different people. The statistics published over the previous year have reflected some good news – outstanding credit card balances decreased in 2020 – and some bad. According to The Money Charity, the average amount of personal debt increased by an extra £408. Statistics are useful when we need to think about general trends, but they have tendency to lump individual issues into a single summary without nuance. The Money Charity estimates that one person every 4 minutes and 18 seconds was declared insolvent or bankrupt in September to December 2020, and the number of people unemployed grew by 2,220 per day during the same period – each of these individuals will have felt the impact of their financial difficulties. Without a doubt, the increase in debt – and in the numbers of individuals dealing with more debt than they have previously – is clearly an issue for 2021.

How individuals feel about their debt differs – finances can be an intensely personal issue. This can sometimes be overlooked by those who work within the financial services industry, where, to some extent, debt is normalised and a regular part of a firm’s process and procedure.

The FCA themselves have re-iterated their expectations that all customers are treated as individuals, with their personal circumstances taken into account. On the face of it, this can seem like a big ask by the Regulator, but in reality, this can be as simple as taking a couple of minutes to ask the right questions.




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Some people can be happy to openly discuss their finances, but we know that feeling ashamed about debt – particularly when we feel we might be struggling to manage it – is a common reaction. For staff who are less experienced, broaching this subject is a difficult enough task, let alone knowing the right questions to ask and understanding when certain support options will be right in which circumstances.

So how can we give staff who might not be very confident in broaching difficult subjects the confidence to ask the questions they need to, to provide the right help for customers who need it?

Over the previous year, firms have had to switch their training provision up to accommodate staff who might be working from home, or to avoid having large groups of people in training for a number of hours. There’s a perception that in-person training is the gold standard for compliance, particularly where there’s an element of learning how to interact with customers – with role play activities carrying a lot of the weight.

The limited scope of these interactions is often overlooked however – as is the fact you can’t return to in-person training for a refresher.

One way around this is daily micro-learning. A series of ‘games’ based around real-world scenarios and teaching how to ask questions, which questions to ask and when, and how to deal with difficult interactions gives staff a supportive environment to practice these skills. Confidence – that comes from knowing you know how to deal with difficult situations because you’ve done it before – means that customers in financial difficulties are more likely to be identified and properly supported.

There is a misconception that game-based learning isn’t suitable for professionals or for compliance topics – but this simply isn’t true. Compliance subjects are serious business, but that doesn’t mean that training staff on the rules and requirements has to be formal and dry. Game-based learning introduces a competitive element, but the focus is on sophisticated content, meaning that employees learn quickly, and want to come back to the platform more regularly, making consistent and continuous learning possible. It is designed to be addictive – encouraging the user to improve their score – but also improving their knowledge, comprehension and – importantly – confidence in scenarios such as speaking to those in difficult circumstances.

Benefits of Game-Based Compliance Learning

Crucially, game-based learning is a tried-and-tested way to successfully teach techniques that staff need to engage with customers, deal with difficult situations, and how to listen actively. This learning is effectively one-on-one, and accessible at any time, meaning that rather than a quick five minute role-play, staff can benefit from repeated and regular practice time.

If you are interested in a completely FREE trial of our game-based learning platform, simply email


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