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Digital innovation central to one of world’s oldest banking institutes

IOB to launch credentialing platform for financial services sector

The IOB is the largest professional network in Ireland, with 33,600 members who work in banking, investment funds and international financial services.

It is, first and foremost, a training body and is a recognised college of University College Dublin (UCD). The institute is a centre of excellence in the provision of specialist education and lifelong learning to the financial services sector, combining academic excellence with practitioner experience. Last year, 8,300 people studied with the institute.

Founded in 1898, it is also one of the oldest banking institutes in the world.

“Our purpose is to educate, enable and empower a community of professionals to deliver financial services to the highest standards, contributing to better outcomes for customers,” says chief executive Mary O’Dea.


O’Dea joined the IOB in 2018. She previously worked as director of securities and markets supervision at the Central Bank.

Innovation has always been a central value to members of the institute and this year will see that continue through the launch of new digital platforms.

These include a unique blockchain-based education-credentialing platform for financial services. The project, first in the world in production, was a collaboration led by IOB involving Bank of Ireland, AIB, Ulster Bank and Deloitte, a leading blockchain consultancy.

The platform, known as EdQ, provides an unalterable, trusted store of education qualifications, regulatory and other professional designations, microcredentials and continuing professional development records, with real-time access.

Exciting potential

“For financial services firms, EdQ reduces operational and regulatory risk along with the manual effort and related costs in respect of managing compliance with the Central Bank of Ireland’s minimum competency code and fitness and probity regimes,” O’Dea says.

In 2020, UCD completed a successful pilot using EdQ. “The new blockchain platform, which is highly scalable, offers exciting potential to the higher-education sector and will also be of interest to other professional membership bodies,” O’Dea adds.

The institute has also launched IOB Learn, which it describes as an artificial intelligence-powered, dynamic and digitally-enabled lifelong learning and career ecosystem designed to help members to advance their careers .

“Our members’ expectations, career journeys and ambitions are changing,” says O’Dea. “We believe that our platform and supporting content sets the benchmark for learning and development in financial services and beyond.”

It enables members to engage with personalised learning content relevant to their unique interests, needs and career trajectory.

Critical topics

“We have augmented our wide-ranging portfolio of education programmes with short programmes that are designed to give our members the skills they need, when they need them. Our suite of microlearnings are short pieces of learning up to an hour, on topics that are critical to the industry,” she says.

Just as the institute is digitally transforming its member experience, it is also ensuring its digital education portfolio supports the needs of members across all parts of the financial services sector, O’Dea says.

“Our digital and data programmes continue to be of relevance to financial services professionals seeking to progress their career. Our level-eight professional diploma in digital product management is designed to build core capability and expertise in financial services products as financial institutions alter how they design, develop and maintain products that live within their digital ecosystem,” O’Dea says.

“Our level-nine professional diploma in digital transformation is designed for leaders and aspiring leaders to develop the innovation and design-thinking skills to navigate a landscape that is dramatically changing with disruptive threats and new competitors. Our level-nine professional diploma in data and analytics is designed to develop the strategic foresight to unlock the business opportunities that data presents.”

Sandra O'Connell

Sandra O'Connell

Sandra O'Connell is a contributor to The Irish Times