1. About Client Protection Certification
Client Protection Certification is an independent, third party evaluation to publicly recognize financial institutions (FI) that meet adequate standards of care in how they treat clients. It enables financial institutions to demonstrate adherence to the industry’s Client Protection Principles.
The Certification program represents the output of several years of industry collaboration and input managed by the Smart Campaign. Since June 2010 the Smart Campaign has been working with financial institutions, consumer protection experts, and various stakeholder groups, including investors and regulators, to develop and maintain the Client Protection Standards, launching Smart Certification in 2013. The Campaign has developed a group of accredited, technical experts to provide trainings and third-party assessments and decisions on Certification. To be certified, an FI needs to be evaluated by a licensed Certification Body and comply with the indicators corresponding to the 25 standards of care for client protection. (Reference: Details of certifications obtained from Smart Campaign’s website http://smartcampaign.org/certification/all-about-certification)
The certification is done against a set of standards which describe where the microfinance industry sets the bar in terms of client protection. To be certified, a financial institution (FI) needs to comply with the indicators corresponding to the 25 adequate standards of care for client protection described in the standards document. Each standard has one or more indicator by which to measure compliance. The document below presents complete list of standards.
(Reference: List of standards obtained from Smart Campaign’s website )
2. M2i as an accredited agency for certifications
Prime M2i Consulting Pvt Ltd (M2i) has been accredited by SMART Campaign for undertaking Client Protection Certifications (CPC). M2i’s accreditation certificate can be viewed at the following link.
3. M2i’s Client Protection Certification Committee
The Client Protection Certification activity at M2i is overseen by its Client Protection Certification Committee. The following are the members of this Committee.
- Mr Satish P, Executive Director, SaDhan
- Ms Sybil Chidiac, Senior Program Officer, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
- Ms Veena Yamini, Managing Director, Ankuram Social Ventures,
- Rahul Bist, Director, M2i
- Atul, Director, M2i
- Deepak Alok, Director, M2i
4. CPC Certification Process
Various steps of the certification process are presented below
Step 1: The FI writes to M2i’s Certification Team Leader at firstname.lastname@example.org for a proposal.
Step 2: M2i submits a proposal for certification, after checking eligibility of the concerned FI
Step 3: If proposal is accepted, certification agreement is signed between M2i and the FI
Step 4: M2i’s team of assessors conducts desk review of documents and field visits
Step 5: Results of assessment are presented to the Certification Committee
Step 6: Certification Committee of M2i finally decides on award of Certification
5. Result of CPC Certifications
|Important: Applying for CPC Certification does not guarantee that the institution will be certified!!|
Results of the certification are made public for financial institutions that pass certification. Financial institutions that do not pass certification share the results only at their own discretion.
During the certification visit, M2i will determines whether the financial institution (FI) conforms to the client protection standards. In the case of non-conformities, there are three possible paths:
Enter the Progress Phase. In this phase the FI has a four month window to put in place corrective measures to meet the standards, using a certification report that identifies the deficiencies. Certification are announced when these measures are complete.
Streamlined Certification. If an FI passes the great majority of the indicators and, in the opinion of the M2i and the FI, has strong prospects to meet all the indicators within four months, it can receive certification soon after the mission. The FI then has four months to comply fully. If this does not occur within the agreed time frame, certification is withdrawn.
Longer term corrective actions with new certification mission. M2i may recommend to institutions with a large number of gaps, to opt-out of the progress phase and put into place longer term corrective actions.
6. Validity of certifications
The certifications have validity of four years, with a check-in after two. At the two-year midpoint, certified institutions must undergo a renewal in order to retain their certification. The extent of the review at two years depends on the scope of changes within the financial institution and changes in the Client Protection Certification standards. After four years, a full certification mission is required.
7. Grievance Redressal Process
M2i has established a Grievance Redressal process to manage complaints received from clients and other stakeholders.
Policies and processes related to Grievance Redressal is presented in the document below
8. Conflict of Interest Policy
Client Protection Certification exercises are in the nature of third party assessments. Stakeholders rely on these certifications for taking a view on whether an FI adheres to Client Protection Principles (CPP).
In order to maintain sanctity of the certification process, it is essential for the Certification Body to maintain impartiality and arms length relationship with the FI being certified. The document below presents Conflict of Interest policy of M2i with respect to Client Protection Certifications.
9. Frequently Asked Questions on Certifications
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on Client Protection Certifications (CPC) are provided on the website of Smart Campaign and can be referred to on this link.