All About 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. It contributes to a more stable financial inclusion industry by encouraging practices that aim to ensure prudent, transparent, and respectful treatment of clients.

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.

Certification pricing varies depending on the location of the institution and the region. Please read more about our terms and pricing and contact the Certification and Accreditation Manager, Ana Ruth Medina, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with questions.

Pre-Certification Process:

    • Learn more about the Smart Campaign & the Client Protection Principles. You can review the Client Protection Principles Training series to become familiarized with key topics and examine the Client Protection Standards themselves.
    • Explore your options for Smart Assessments. An assessment is a tool for institutions to examine their implementation of the seven Client Protection Principles. The internal review identifies strengths, weaknesses, and ultimately opportunities to enhance its practices around client protection to prepare for Certification.

What’s right for your institution?

There are three types of assessments for you to assess your client protection practices. Having several assessment options help avoid bottlenecks such as cost or availability of a consultant that might prevent institutions from evaluating their client practices. Your options include: a self-assessment done internally by staff at your institution, an accompanied self-assessment done by your staff and a person trained in the Smart Assessment methodology to guide you through the process, or a third-party external assessment referred to as a Smart Assessment. Your choice will depend on what your objectives are and what resources you can devote:

 Self-Assessment

Low-cost

Requires internal staff time

Provides an overview of major strengths and weaknesses

Accompanied Self-Assessment

Medium resource cost

Uses internal staff time, with guidance from an accedited CPP assessor. 

Results in the form of a short report are externally validated by the CPP assessor.

Smart Assessment (External Assessment)

Requires more resources

Led by a specially trained experienced accredited assessor team.

Results include in-depth analysis and a full narrative report

  •  An assessment is NOT required before Certification, but it does prepare your institution for the process. Certifiers can even use the formal assessment report for consultation during their mission. While Certification is pass/fail and public unlike a confidential assessment, which provides number scores and internal guidance.

How to Get Certified:

  • If your institution wishes to become certified, you must apply to one of the licensed certifiers and take the following steps:
    • Complete a desk review in which you share key documents with the certification team.
    • Schedule a field visit after the submission of the required data.
    • Please note that certifications can be carried out as stand-alone visits or in conjunction with financial, institutional, or social ratings. The Campaign encourages combining certifications with ratings; this is much more cost-effective than seeking certifications or ratings separately.

Commit and improve

  • Results of passing certifications will be made public and institutions can use them to market their organization as a pro-client institution to their investors, clients, funders, regulators, the media, and the public. They will also be listed on the Smart Campaign website.
  • Organizations not passing will be kept confidential, and if desired, the Campaign will advise them on steps to improve their practices. There are three paths for organizations that do not pass:
    1. Enter the Progress Phase. In this phase the FI will have a 4-month window to put in place corrective measures to meet the standards using a certification report that identifies the deficiencies. Certification will be announced when these measures are complete.
    2. Streamlined Certification. If an FI passes most of the indicators, and, in the opinion of the certification body, the FI has strong prospects to meet all the indicators within four months, it can receive certification soon after the mission. The FI will then have four months to comply fully. If this does not occur within the agreed time frame, certification will be withdrawn.
    3. Longer Term Corrective Actions Within a new Certification Mission. Certification Bodies may recommend to institutions with many gaps to opt out of the progress phase and put into place longer term corrective actions. In this, they can re-apply for a Certification mission with the same licensed certifier within any timeframe. If the institution that has not passed certification wishes to re-apply with another licensed certifier, they must wait approximately four months.