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Smart-Campaign-Produced Tools

Mechanisms for Complaints Resolution

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Most financial institutions (FIs) provide clients with one or more channels for communicating their questions and complaints to the institution. However, not all complaints mechanisms are effective. This tool will discuss how FIs can design effective complaints mechanisms. A complaints “mechanism” refers to a system for collecting, resolving, and responding to client questions and complaints, and for using client feedback to improve products and operations. An “effective” mechanism is one that allows for a timely response to clients and enables the institution to address both individual and systematic problems.
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A Guide to Client Protection Assessments

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The Smart Campaign offers three options for a financial institution (FI) to evaluate its client protection practices. To help make the most appropriate choice, the Smart Campaign created a helpful and comprehensive resource for FIs, “A Guide to Client Protection Assessments.”

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Tool Recommendations to Address Gaps

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After conducting an initial evaluation of practices with the Getting Started Questionnaire, using this helpful guide “Tool Recommendations to Address Gaps” can help an MFI be directed towards especially helpful resources to improve its client protection performance and adherence to the standards and indicators of the Client Protection Principles.

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Client Protection Principles Training Series

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This series of eight trainings is designed to introduce financial institutions to the Smart Campaign and the Client Protection Principles. These presentations can be used in group training sessions in which the facilitator and presenters are physically present, or in virtual learning sessions, such as webinars. 

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Resolving Client Complaints: The Example of Ujjivan, India

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This case study describes the successful implementation of Client Protection Principle #7 — Mechanisms for Complaint Resolution, by the Indian MFI Ujjivan Financial Services Pvt Ltd. All financial service providers should have in place a timely and responsive mechanism to resolve client problems and improve their products and services. 

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Implementing Client Protection in Indian Microfinance

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This State of Practice Report represents an important step in understanding the state of client protection practices today in India, three years after the Andhra Pradesh crisis and two years after the Smart Campaign began its deep engagement with the sector.

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Smart Saving and Lending: Member Protection in SHG Model

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This tool is aimed at SHGs, Banks and NGOs (SHPIs) that want to incorporate good protection for SHG members. Since, the majority of SHG linkages with banks are based on Model II of the bank linkage program (Bank –Facilitating Agency –SHG Members) in this tool an attempt has been made to map the process of the SHG linkage with the bank with NGO acting as a facilitator.

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Study of Client Protection Practices in Latin America and the Caribbean

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The Smart Campaign conducted a study on the client protection practices of 12 microfinance institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean. This study looked at NGOs, banks, and credit unions, analyzing their client protection performance from the point of view of practitioners, offering recommendations to improve their client protection practices.

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Smart Operations

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This tool suggests appropriate roles for 11 of the most common areas of microfinance operations. FIs can use this tool to assign client protection responsibilities to each operational department and to understand how responsibilities are shared among operational departments.

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Smart Note: Supporting Members to Adopt Client Protection at Azerbaijan Microfinance Association (AMFA)

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AMFA shared with the Smart Campaign why client protection is a priority for the association, and how they encourage strong client protection practices in the Azerbaijani microfinance industry. Their client protection initiatives can serve as a good practice example to other networks and associations.

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Smart Microinsurance: An Overview for Microfinance Institutions on Incorporating Client Protection Practices into Microinsurance

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The Smart Campaign and the Microinsurance Network present “Smart Microinsurance”—a tool designed specifically for microfinance institutions (MFIs) that serve as intermediaries, offering microinsurance products provided by an external insurance company.

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Responsible Treatment of Clients: Practicing Non-discrimination

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This tool provides financial service providers with insight into the difference between client targeting and harmful discrimination and illuminates examples of common forms of discrimination. Finally, the tool provides financial service providers with seven action steps to correct and prevent discrimination.

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Over-indebtedness of Microborrowers in Ghana

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To give guidance on how to live up to the standard of responsible finance, the Smart Campaign developed the Client Protection Principles with widespread industry participation. Prevention of over-indebtedness is one of these principles. However, commitment is not sufficient to put a principle into practice. This report makes an important contribution to deepening knowledge on this elusive topic.

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Smart Note: Client Protection Good Practices in Europe and Central Asia

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This Smart Note examines the client protection practices of AccessBank (Azerbaijan), Adie (France), EKI Micro-credit Foundation (Bosnia and Herzegovina), and KazMicroFinance (Kazakhstan), demonstrating how the institutions are preventing client over-indebtedness; transparently disclosing loan prices, terms, and conditions; and treating clients fairly and with respect.

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Compulsory Group Training Tool

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This tool is designed to help MFIs develop a more robust framework to incorporate good client protection practices into their compulsory group training. This tool is most suited for MFIs who employ village banking methodology and Grameen Style “group or groups” methodology.

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Essential Documents for New Clients

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The “Essential Documents for New Clients” refers to the set of documents that help new clients understand their full financial obligations, what they can expect from the institution, and what to do if they experience problems along the way.  

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Smart Note: Ethical Staff Behavior at Alalay Sa Kaunlaran, Inc. (ASKI)

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ASKI implements their written “Code of Conduct and Discipline” through staff training, staff performance reviews, client satisfaction surveys, and the ASKI Values Protocol—an established process for addressing staff violations of the code. In addition, clients can provide instant feedback on staff behavior.

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Putting Transparency into Practice: Communicating About Pricing

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This brief document describes how financial service providers observe the principle of transparency, current resources that exist to help providers understand and communicate their prices to clients, and information on where providers can find more information from the Smart Campaign and MFTransparency.

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Investor/Donor Planning Guide for Implementing Client Protection Initiatives

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Investors and donors can use this short worksheet to plan for the integration of client protection into their due diligence processes and their funding strategies. The worksheet first guides the user through the process of assessing current resources and priorities, to take stock of where client protection efforts may best fit within current workflows.

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Avoidance of Over-indebtedness: Guidelines for Financial and Non-financial Evaluation

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This tool is for financial service providers that want to incorporate good client protection practices into their evaluation processes for individual loan clients. Specifically, the tool provides guidelines for determining a loan applicant’s capacity and willingness to repay a loan.

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Collections Guidelines for Financial Service Providers

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This tool is a checklist for institutions to assess their collections policies and practices, with the goal of strengthening client protection during the collections process. The tool addresses collections policies, practices, manuals, and training of field staff. 

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Smart Note: Responding to Client Complaints at Tameer Bank, Pakistan

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Tameer staff member Murium Hadi discussed the institution’s complaint mechanism with Zahra Khalid of the Pakistan Microfinance Network (PMN), revealing several valuable lessons from the field.

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Transparency in Promotions and Sales: A Checklist for Financial Service Providers

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This tool focuses on the first point of contact with the client—the initial “sales pitch.” Financial service providers can use this tool to improve transparency when promoting and selling credit and savings products.  The tool contains five “good practice” checklists.

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Smart Lending: Client Protection in the Group Lending Process – India

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This guide is designed to help MFIs incorporate good client protection practices into their group lending policies and operations. The tool is applicable to Grameen-style group of groups credit methodology and was developed specifically for Indian MFIs.

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Client Protection and Financial Education Simulation

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With this online tool, you can complete a simulation as if you were managers or loan officers of an MFI. During each simulation, you can see the effects that your decisions have on the success of a fictional microfinance institution.

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Smart Note: Transparent and Responsible Pricing at Mi-Bospo

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The Bosnian MFI Mi-Bospo focuses on client protection to safeguard both the institution and clients. For Mi-Bospo, transparency and responsible prices are key elements of ensuring client satisfaction. The MFI ensures transparency by screening potential hires, adhering to strict marketing guidelines, and taking time during the loan process to be sure that clients understand their rights and responsibilities.

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Smart Savings: Client Protection in the Savings Process

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This guide is designed to help MFIs, banks, NGOs, and other types of financial institutions identify and integrate good client protection practices in the savings process at every point of interaction with the client.

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Smart Lending: Client Protection in the Group Lending Process

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This guide is designed to help MFIs incorporate good client protection practices into their group lending policies and operations. The tool is applicable to a wide range of credit methodologies and can be adapted for use by various forms of group lending including village banking methodology and “group of groups” methodology.

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Implementing Client Protection in Microfinance: State of the Practice, 2011

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This report explains how the Smart Campaign and actors throughout the microfinance industry are working to move from initial awareness raising about client protection to capacity building, implementation, and finally certification. It also provides a first look at how the microfinance industry is doing on the Client Protection Principles.

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Beyond Codes: The Foundation for Client Protection in Microfinance

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“Beyond Codes,” an action research project of the Center for Financial Inclusion at ACCION, was designed to provide a body of experience and knowledge from leading financial institutions serving low-income people about how consumer protection codes of conduct are implemented.

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Responsible Pricing: The State of the Practice

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This discussion paper examines the full range of approaches to responsible pricing of loans, from promoting competition, to return on equity limitations, to interest rate caps, to comparative transparency.

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Smart Note: Facing Over-indebtedness at Partner Microcredit Foundation

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Partner Microcredit Foundation avoids client over-indebtedness by recognizing that a risk for the client is a risk for the institution. Partner performs rigorous credit analysis of its clients before issuing a loan and follows up with audits to verify proper staff behavior and discover why clients are not able to meet their obligations.

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Smart Note: Customized IT at Caja Morelia safeguards client data

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Upon transforming to a regulated financial services provider, Caja Morelia needed to meet federal data management and reporting requirements. Faced with these new technology needs, Caja invested in a data management system and supporting processes to provide superior data security.

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Smart Note: Implementing an Industry Code of Conduct at PMN

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PMN formally launched its Consumer Protection Initiative in January 2009. The initiative centers on improving consumer protection practices through a voluntary Code of Conduct for Consumer Protection and a call center for receiving and responding to client grievances.

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Smart Lending: Client Protection in the Individual Loan Process

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This guide is designed to help microfinance institutions with individual lending operations integrate good client protection practices at the intersection points throughout the credit process. At each point in the individual lending process, the guidelines explain how MFI staff should incorporate client protection into policies and operations.

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How to Develop an Institutional Code of Ethics

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Most microfinance institutions already have a Code of Ethics, but many of these Codes are not “living” documents that carry significance within the organization. This short guide provides concrete suggestions for creating or remaking an institutional Code of Ethics. 

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Smart Note: Collections with Dignity at FinComún

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In 2008, FinComún, a regulated MFI in Mexico, took action to combat rising default rates through the implementation of a new collections philosophy. The institution’s new Collections with Dignity philosophy was designed to support clients facing the global financial crisis and improve both collections rates and portfolio quality.

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Consumer Protection Library

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The Consumer Protection Library present country-by-country profiles of the legal and regulatory frameworks for consumer protection as well as a description of the banking associations and microfinance networks in each country.

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Conducting Client Protection Assessments: A Guide

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This guide describes the different client protection assessment options available to financial institutions, how your institution can benefit from an assessment, walks you through the assessment processes, and explains how to use your assessment once it is complete.

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