These training programmes are being organized at exotic locations abroad, also within India, depending on the quantum of insurance sales brought in by the employee.

Some of the most frequented places for such programmes include Singapore, Switzerland and Kuala Lumpur, as also exotic domestic locations like Goa.
    
While it is common for insurance companies to offer their staff members participation in such training programmes, organized by global entities like Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT), a few banks have also offered MDRT programmes for its staff bringing in high insurance sales, the latest being leading private sector lender HDFC Bank.
    
When contacted, HDFC Bank denied violations of any rules with such a training programme and said, "Our proposed engagement with MDRT is a training programme aimed at engaging employees in higher learning, an area that has always been a focus for the Bank.”
    
"It is intended to nurture expertise in customer service and develop specialized skills such advisory roles require. Also, the entire cost of the programme is to be borne by the (HDFC) Bank," it added.
    
The bank also said that MDRT is regarded as a global standard of excellence, and leading financial services companies both in India and abroad have been participating in it.
    
MDRT is a US-based premier association of financial professionals from across the world and its members include employees of many top insurers from across the world, including Indian insurance majors like LIC, SBI Life, ICICI Prudential, HDFC Life and Reliance Life Insurance.
    
In the past, state-run State Bank of India (SBI) has even felicitated some staff members for getting MDRT membership, while its life insurance venture SBI Life has figured among the top insurers globally in terms of MDRT memberships.
    
Officials said that SBI and a few other banks have stopped sending their own staff members for MDRT programmes, which are now mostly being attended by employees of their insurance ventures.
     
While some banks are offering internal training programmes to their high-performing staff members, a few of them have proposed training programmes organized by MDRT.
     
While banks and insurers say that these staff training programmes are part of their HR practices, a senior official said the regulators are concerned that such offers could be tantamount to insurance sale targets being set for employees, especially when it comes to bank staff selling third-party financial products.

(Agencies)

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