Since then, Martin Mellor, the Founder of MFT, has identified an opportunity to offer online training. A new MFT online training platform was launched in July, which offers an interactive, on-demand system specifically designed to be consumed online as and when it suits the learner.
We spoke to Martin Mellor about MFT and the development and launch of the online platform.
Where did MFT begin?
Martin’s career in finance started in the corporate world. However, after several years, corporate fatigue set in and he was tired of running on the treadmill with no work-life balance. So, Martin said he left that world and started up MFT.
The original aim of the fledgling company was to provide training to SMEs in need of strategic financial support. In the years that followed, SME support remained central to the mission of MFT, but after attending the Entrepreneurial Spark programme (now NatWest Accelerator), Martin saw a need for financial training. Initially, this training was offered on a freelance basis, but soon, Mellor Financial offered training as part of their core package, becoming MFT.
Martin explained that the training offered by MFT varies, but is always focussed on finance and is always tailored to people who are not working in finance. The content avoids financial jargon and is built around real-world experience and application. Before this summer, the training was delivered predominantly face to face via public workshops across multiple businesses, or private training delivered to simple companies. However, in July, a new online training platform was developed.
How did the online training platform come about?
The MFT online training platform was a pre-COVID idea. The idea for the platform was a long process that was born following feedback from the delivery of many online training sessions, which although useful for some, were not meeting the needs of many busy corporate clients. Moreover, traditional online learning offers have issues. These include excessive screen time, a lack of time and a lack of interactivity, which can reduce engagement and limit learning outcomes. Despite this, Martin had seen the rise in interest, with people looking for new ways to engage with content. To meet the demands of the growing market and overcome some of the challenges and issues associated with traditional online delivery, Martin developed the platform, which sought to offer online courses specific to the online environment. This platform was in development pre-COVID, but when the pandemic hit, the demand for online training accelerated, and so the platform took priority and was launched in July.
What content is offered on the MFT online platform and who is it for?
Martin explained that the MFT online platform uses a different mechanism of delivery from the traditional online learning environment. Instead of working through a PowerPoint presentation, which is suited to the face to face environment, the MFT platform uses a range of interactive technologies such as hypothetical financial and business scenarios, short videos to explain key concepts and quizzes to assess and enhance learning.
The new MFT online courses are targeted at people who do not have a job in finance but need a strong financial knowledge base. For instance, the course would be ideal, Martin explained, for operations managers who engage in finance meetings or have budgetary responsibilities but are lacking in financial skills. The course is also ideal for the founders of SMEs who are at the start of a new venture and require financial skills to develop their business. The online courses seek to increase confidence in interacting with financial data to improve outcomes for individuals and organisations. Following a soft launch in July, some organisations and individuals have already started the course, and so far, the feedback is strong and positive.
Why is it important for individual employees to understand finance?
Martin told me that understanding finance is a massive black spot. However, he went on to explain that being able to make strong decisions about finance is key to progressing in a career and is needed for a company to make progress. A lot of the issues with understanding finance relate to the jargon used by the sector. This jargon is not used outside of finance and so many people working outside the sector are not familiar with it. The online training offered by MFT seeks to make this jargon understandable by exploring it in context. Moreover, as the content is offered in bite-sized chunks, employees can dive in when they need to. For instance, Martin explained, learners could access the course content on the way to a finance meeting. Martin and his team believe that the MFT online platform is unique, and hope that giving people access to content when and where they need it, will enable more people to understand finance.
What was the rationale for hosting a contest for access to the online training platform?
To celebrate the launch of the platform, they offered businesses the chance to win a year’s free access. To be considered, businesses had to put forward a 300-word application explaining how the course could benefit them and/or their employees. Martin felt this was not only a good way to create interest in the course, but it would also provide a good way to generate feedback and assess if people would buy the content. Competitions and giveaways are used by many organisations and companies, so he was keen to follow suit.
How will the business winners be selected?
The contest closed on 31st July, and Martin told me that now he and two other judges with backgrounds in finance and/ or start-up businesses are going through the applications to select the winners. They are going to give licences to 5 start-ups, which in addition to supporting their development, will give Martin the ability to give back to the community where he began his business journey. Moreover, 5 licences will be given to companies, which will again support their financial growth and understanding, but also demonstrates how multiple licences could benefit larger corporations. Martin said that the judges are going through the applications and that the winners of the competition will be announced in 2-3 weeks.
What does the future look like for the MFT online training platform?
As with any online content, Martin is going to keep it fresh and up to date. As a result, the online course material will be updated regularly. Moreover, Martin has plans to develop courses in other areas to enable a wider array of financial and accountancy learning. One direction that is already underway is the development of online training for the Xero accounting system (software for accountancy which is currently in popular use by companies) which Martin hopes will enable employers and employees to engage more effectively with the financial running of their businesses.
Mellor Financial Training is another example of how the recent months of restrictions have allowed enterprises to accelerate progress in order to align more closely with emerging needs of their client base.
Feature photograph by Phil Connell.