Pathway to Certification (PDF)

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Pathway to Certification (PDF)
Keeping clients first
in microfinance
Why get certified?
Clients of financial services can face risks.
They can get into too much debt, be taken advantage
of, or sold the wrong services. Financial institutions
can minimize harm to clients by implementing
the Client Protection Principles, a common, global
framework for client protection. By becoming
Smart Certified, an institution demonstrates that
it puts the principles into practice
Smart Certification provides
an independent, objective seal
of confidence that a financial
institution is doing everything
it can to treat its clients well
and protect them from harm.
Institutions that have become certified have
found that it not only improves their business
but also increases staff morale. Public recognition
of that performance boosts their reputation
and attracts investors.
Join a group of leaders in
client protection—dozens
of financial institutions
worldwide that put client
protection first and collectively
reach over 15 million clients.
By directing investments to certified institutions,
an investment fund can send a strong message
that it takes client protection seriously. The IDB,
Deutsche Bank, FMO, and Oikocredit all look for
commitment to achieving the Smart Certificate
as an important factor in selecting investees.
Certification inspires institutions to improve.
Certification helps investors, donors,
and regulators distinguish financial
institutions that put clients first.
Certification benefits clients.
Clients have the right to be treated fairly by the
institutions they work with and should feel proud
to bank with a Smart Certified institution, knowing
that the institution is doing everything in its
control to protect them.
The Pathway
to Certification
Certification is a journey. It is achievable
for most institutions with time and effort.
The first step toward
Certification is to learn about
the Client Protection Principles
and Certification standards
and make an institutional
commitment through endorsing
the Smart Campaign.
If the assessment finds gaps,
institutions need to address
them. The Smart Campaign offers
tools to help financial institutions
put the Client Protection
Principles into practice.
Assessments help your institution
evaluate how well it meets
standards of client protection
and identify areas for attention.
Assessments are essential
preparation for Certification.
When a financial institution is
confident that its practices meet
the standards, it is time to secure
a Certification mission by applying
to one of the licensed certifiers,
an independent, third-party
evaluator. A Certification mission
includes a desk review (sharing
of key documents) and an on-site
due diligence process that includes
staff and client interviews.
For more, including tools to help improve your client protection performance and resources on how to assess
your client protection practices, visit www.smartcampaign.org/certification
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