YOUR GUIDE TO A
Certification Mission 1. Preparation Sign Contract with an Accredited Certification Body: Once you are ready to demonstrate your full adherence to the Smart Campaign’s Client Protection Principles, you can reach out to any one of Smart’s accredited Certification Bodies to negotiate the timing and cost of your Certification Mission. Smart’s Certification Bodies are specially trained in assessing financial service providers and will guide your organization through the process. Once you have contacted an accredited Certification Body, they will let you know which documents are required for the evaluation. Desk Review: During the desk review, the accredited Certification Body will conduct a thorough evaluation of your institution’s documents, including financial statements, board meeting notes, codes of conduct and others, for compliance to the Client Protection Standards. The goals of the desk review are to give the certifying body a thorough grounding in your institution’s policies and practices and to identify and address performance issues prior to the on-site visit.
2. On-Site Visit Once the preparation phase is complete, an audit will be scheduled, which may include a review of the submitted documentation, as well as interviews with selected stakeholders. During the on-site visit, your accredited Certification Body will fill in any outstanding knowledge gaps by speaking with your institution’s representatives. The accredited Certification Body will look to you to help arrange conversations with senior leadership, branch representatives, clients and others.
3. Post-Visit Analysis Following the completion of the on-site visit, the accredited Certification Body will carefully review all material gathered and deliver an input sheet scoring your institution against the Client Protection Standards. If your institution passes every standard, your institution will receive the Smart Certification and the process will be complete. However, if your institution does not immediately pass, a brief explanation will be provided. Non-conformities can be addressed through three possible paths, subject to the discretion of the accredited Certification Body: Progress Period: In this period, your institution will have a four-month window to put in place corrective measures to meet the Client Protection Standards, using a certification report that identifies your institution’s deficiencies. Certification will be announced when these measures are complete. This review is done remotely and typically takes 1.5–2 days of effort for one analyst from the accredited Certification Body. If the verification entails an additional on-site visit, there will be additional costs.
Streamlined Certification: If your institution passes a large majority of the assessment and, in the opinion of the accredited Certification Body, your institution has strong prospects to meet all the indicators within four months, you can receive certification immediately. Your institution will then have four months to comply fully. If this does not occur within this timeframe, certification will be withdrawn. In this scenario, the aforementioned assumption of 1.5–2 days of effort and additional field costs for one accredited Certification Body analyst still applies. Longer-Term Corrective Actions Requiring New Certification Mission: The accredited Certification Body may recommend that institutions with a large number of gaps opt-out of the progress phase and implement longer-term corrective actions. In this case, you would be allowed to re-apply for a Certification Mission with the same accredited Certification Body within any timeframe. If your institution has not passed certification and wishes to re-apply with another accredited Certification Body, you must wait four months.
4. Final Review The four-month period is followed by a final review of your policies and practices for compliance to the Client Protection Principles and their corresponding standards, indicators and compliance criteria.
5. Certification Award Following the successful completion of your Certification Mission, you will be provided with an official Smart Campaign Certification attesting to compliance with the Client Protection Principles and the strength of your client protection practices. A Smart Campaign representative will be in touch to discuss how to best publicize your certification.
6. Follow-On Once your institution obtains Smart Certification, the Smart Campaign will continue its support of your client protection efforts. The Smart Campaign will remain available to answer any questions, assist you in sharing the news with your stakeholders, and supporting your future efforts to keep your clients safe.
FOR MORE INFORMATION,
visit www.smartcampaign.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.