General Client Protection Pathway FAQ
The commitment is valid as long as the FSP remains active on the CP Pathway. An FSP will be marked “inactive” on our list of Committed Institutions in the following cases:
If the FSP does not provide any proof of assessment within 6 months of joining the CP Pathway, and / or
if the FSP does not update its assessment after a period of 2 years (3 years for certification).
Before marking an FSP as inactive, Cerise+SPTF will send several requests for updated assessments during one year.
We accept all the following assessments, completed within the last two years, or a Client Protection Certification completed within the last three years.
Client Protection Commit Tool (CP Commit in SPI Online)
Client Protection Full Assessment (either CP Full in SPI Online or CP SAT in Excel)
ALINUS (in SPI Online)
SPI (in SPI Online)
Code of Conduct Assessment (Cambodia, India, EU)
Client Protection Certification (completed in the last 3 years)
Your assessment options are the following:
Self-assessment – One or more of the financial service provider’s internal staff will review all the documentation, interview all department managers and field staff, and meet with clients, to provide an opinion on where the organisation stands towards compliance with each indicator.
Accompanied self-assessment by a qualified auditor – The first time an entity gets an assessment, it is often useful to have a consultant helping them to fill out the tool, understand the rationale of the indicators, and thus have more accurate results. The collaborative aspect of this process helps the institution take ownership of the expected practices and builds familiarity so they can do the work entirely on their own in future years.
External assessment – In this case, the consultant who conducts the assessment brings an objective and expert opinion on the organization’s policies and practices. This option is generally useful if the financial service provider wants to prepare for a certification. The consultant does not need to be a qualified auditor. Read more about experts here.
As with all our resources and initiatives, there is no fee to access the Client Protection Pathway. Only through collective action can we safeguard the stability and vitality of financial services. No single provider can do this alone and we urge global participation from all stakeholders.
SPTF does rely on membership contributions to maintain our programs. Find out more about our modest membership fees here.
In 2023, Cerise+SPTF is pilot testing standards for the responsible provision of digital financial services (DFS). At year-end, Cerise+SPTF will analyze the results and determine which of the pilot indicators to retain. It will also classify which among those apply to client protection, and then integrate those into the Client Protection Pathway in early 2024. Stay up to date by visiting the Digital Financial Services Working Group webpage.
As a funder, you may want to encourage your investees to join this pathway, and maybe also make it a requirement in your loan agreement. To demonstrate this commitment, you can sign the Joint Statement supporting the industry’s adoption of the Client Protection Pathway.
Client Protection Certification FAQ
The Smart Campaign closed in late 2020. The last organizations to receive a Smart Campaign Client Protection Certification were certified in April 2021. Ceriseand SPTF have developed a new client protection certification methodology. It is Step 3 of the Client Protection Pathway. For now, it uses the same framework of indicators as the Smart Campaign (172 indicators).
The chart below summarizes the differences between the former methodology and the new methodology. The Gold level is equivalent to the Smart Certification. This document provides additional information. As before, our certification methodology uses the existing Client Protection Standards – which can be also found in the Universal Standards. What is new is that certifications will now be awarded using a tiered system—gold, silver, and bronze—rather than pass/fail (“all or nothing”). We believe this change will encourage a greater number of financial service providers to pursue certification, as different levels of achievement are possible.
The other difference is that the 2-year “check-in” (surveillance audit) is no longer required, and a Certification is valid for 36 months.
Former methodology (Smart Campaign)
New methodology (Cerise + SPTF)
Standards used for evaluation
The Client Protection Standards
The Client Protection Standards
Pass or Fail (anything < 100% was considered a fail)
Three levels of achievement:
Validity of certification
4 years, with a surveillance audit at the 2-year mark
Commitment to the CP Pathway is Step 1 of the CP Pathway whereas Certification is Step 3. Certification is the independent audit of Client Protection systems and practices of a financial service provider, measured through an assessment of the compliance with the Client Protection Certification framework.
Step 3 provides details on the requirements for each level of achievement.
Once your Certification expires, you have one year to submit an updated client protection assessment. To view the approved client protection assessments, please visit Step 1.
Smart certifications are no longer issued, and SPTF and Cerise are now the Certification framework holders. In this new framework, all new certifications are issued for three years.
Please contact your preferred certification body for more details, including cost information. This is a list of certification bodies approved by Cerise and SPTF.
Pre-certification is a product that some Certification Bodies offer. It is defined as “an audit prior to the initial certification that generates non-binding findings, without recommending solutions.” The methodologies for these assessments are developed by the Certification Bodies, independently from Cerise+SPTF.
FSPs interested in a certification should contact the Cerise+SPTF Approved Certification Bodies to ask for a technical and financial proposal.
Only Certification Bodies (CBs) approved by Cerise+SPTF are entitled to grant client protection certifications. The official list of approved CBs can be found here. The CB’s are formal organizations, not individual consultants.
We encourage all financial service providers on the Pathway to implement better practices by learning about critical client protection topics covered in our Implementation Series. Signing up to the Client Protection Pathway signs you up to the series.
When you join the Client Protection Pathway or sign the Joint Statement, you may want to let your partners know. Our Communications Materials provides suggested key messages and other helpful information.
The CP Pathway Fact Sheet provides an overview of the the three steps of the Client Protection Pathway.
The CP Standards Fact Sheet provides an overview of the key components of the Client Protection Standards.
Cerise+SPTF maintains a library of resources related to client protection, as well as social and environmental performance management. Check them out.
For Special Circumstances
Client protection self-assessments now take place via our SPI Online portal, launched in 2023. Should connectivity or other issues prevent you from working via SPI Online, you can download the final version of the Excel-based Client Protection Self-Assessment Tool, and work on your local drive. Please be aware that it will not be possible to transfer such Excel-based information into SPI Online after the fact, and that this option should be reserved for extraordinary circumstances.
Client Protection Assessment Tool
Click to download the updated version of The Client Protection Self-Assessment Tool (CP SAT v3.4.0), a tool to evaluate your organization’s performance against the Client Protection Standards v3.0.