> Posted by Daniel Balson, Lead Specialist for Eurasia and MENA, the Smart Campaign

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Smart Certification requires a substantial commitment from the financial institutions that choose to seek it. These institutions face a thorough audit by an independent third-party and may be required to improve client-related policies and practices at multiple levels, drawing in staff from the executive suite to the field offices.

In short, is it worth it? Why would a financial institution elect to participate in such a program – especially if the institution is operating smoothly?

A new survey conducted by Deutsche Bank and the Smart Campaign captures the perspectives and experiences of over 24 Smart Certified institutions and yields insights on why nearly 80 financial institutions around the world have achieved Smart Certification, with many more on the path to be certified.

The surprising result is that in addition to the benefit of publicly affirming that financial institutions treat their clients well, Smart Certification helps energize corporate culture and shift it toward client-centricity.

First off, Smart Certification allows financial service providers to distinguish themselves from the competition by demonstrating to their market and the industry that they provide a higher level of service to their clientele. Smart Certified institutions have to exhibit to independent auditors that at every stage from product design through customer acquisition and service delivery, they are governed by standards that ensure clients are treated fairly. Financial institutions have found a wide audience for their newly certified status. Half of all certified institutions reported that their regulators took positive and formal notice of their certification. Additionally, the majority reported positive media attention.

Respondents agreed that the biggest benefit of Smart Certification was in helping them see the world from their clients’ perspective and infuse client protection into the DNA of their operations. Over 90 percent of certified financial institutions agreed that Smart Certification has helped them prioritize their clients’ rights and reshape their institutional culture around client protection.

Sixty percent of the surveyed financial institutions found that their clients took positive notice of their Smart Certification. Indeed, clients can have a reasonable expectation that the products they receive from Smart Certified financial institutions are useful, responsibly priced and transparent, and that their data is protected and their voice is heard should they have a complaint.

Lastly, 80 percent of certified financial institutions reported that Smart Certification was not overly expensive and that its cost was duly recompensed by its benefits.

The survey is part of a new yearlong project supported by Deutsche Bank to better understand and expand the value of certification. The project seeks to cast the spotlight on Smart Certification from the perspective of the financial institution, and provide insight on certification’s value. The project seeks to enable the Smart Campaign to multiply the benefits of certification for institutions that have completed the process and for those who are looking to undergo it. In total, over 36.5 million clients around the world are served by institutions that fully adhere to Smart’s Client Protection Principles and have been certified to demonstrate their adherence.

For more details from the survey, check out the infographic above. And to share the infographic, download it by clicking it and right-clicking Save As. Here’s sample tweet text for those who would like to share it on Twitter: “Why are financial institutions seeking out Smart Certification? The @SmartCampaign_ asked them directly. Here’s what they said.”

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