When you work with an organization that provides service to you, you want to make sure that the organization is not only technically competent, but that they also have procedures and safeguards to protect any information you provide them. You want to know that their employees are properly trained, that the organization is properly structured, and that procedures and safeguards are not only established, but followed. The American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA) & the Centre for Fiduciary Excellence (CEFEX) have put together a rigorous program to provide certification for retirement plan service providers. Retirement plan service providers may voluntarily submit to the certification process to provide assurance to their clients and other professionals that they have met the standards needed to obtain the certification.
We are pleased to announce that Preferred Pension Planning Corporation obtained our certification from CEFEX in May 2015, and completed our first annual recertification in May 2016.
Having this certification gives us an edge in a competitive industry where clients are discerning about who to trust. With an in-depth set of rules to follow, employees are motivated to be aware of their procedures and be rigorous in their documentation. By being transparent about our policies and procedures, we develop a relationship with our clients and their advisors as providing excellent service, a valuable reputation to have in an often tumultuous financial world.
The certification is comprised of four elements:
Organizational business structure
Formalized process and controls
Monitoring procedures for continuous evaluation
The first section covers the organization and structure of a business and it goes beyond just verifying that the business is following the rules. This aspect delves into whether or not the company has a successful business plan, a competitive benefits plan for their employees, and that formal review sections are in place.
The second portion of the certification reviews the marketing sales practices of the company. It assesses whether the company is transparent with their clients, they are compliant with all fiduciary standards, and that they follow through with their plans discussed in the first portion of the review.
The third portion relies on how processes are implemented and that there is a sense of efficiency throughout the process. This section explores the administrative and recordkeeping practices to ensure that systems are easy to navigate, well-explained, and actualized by employees.
The last section is a periodic review to be sure that the company is meeting the client’s needs on a regular basis and staying in compliance with all of the previously examined areas.
The analysis is completed by an Accredited Investment Fiduciary Analyst with specific stipulations for their qualifications. The certification process heavily relies on a company’s documentation. The process is systematic, comprehensive, and covers many factors that are important when choosing a retirement plan provider.
The certification strives to deliver a sense of credibility and promotes a community that focuses on providing a service with impeccable structure and organization. It relies on employees monitoring their practices and reviewing their work to be sure they are meeting the certification standards. Companies who are meeting these criteria are seen as reliable, trustworthy, and are known for having high-quality procedures and practices.
When choosing a retirement plan professional, this certification should be a staple on your “pros” list!