Achieving conformance with global best practices

Since the late 1990’s, we have helped organizations achieve conformance with the ISO 9000- based standards as developed by fi360 and managed by the Centre for Fiduciary Excellence (CEFEX) in Toronto:

Initial assessment. The initial assessment involves working closely with management and staff in identifying the issues that need to be addressed when comparing existing practices with the 21 Best Practices and underlying 82 criteria of the Global Standard of Fiduciary Excellence (GSFE). The objective is to bring the client into full compliance with the GFSE as quickly and as smoothly as possible.

As part of the initial assessment, we review the client’s cyber security policies which reflect the understanding of the Board and the C-Suite executives.

Certification of conformance. Once in conformance with the GFSE, the client has the option of requesting a formal legal opinion letter or a Registered Certificate from CEFEX.

Assessments, Certification to Global Standards, and Board Certificate in Fiduciary Essentials

Assessing the current status of compliance – first step

During an initial conversation with the Board Chair and the CEO, we agree upon the scope of the project. The scope can be as simple as a preliminary review of the client’s fiduciary conformance after which the client may choose to be certified. The first step is to gather and review all the relevant documents. Some of the documents we request include:

  1. Current Investment Policy Statement
  2. Spending policy (for an endowment/foundation)
  3. Contracts with vendors
  4. Cyber security protocols
  5. Asset allocation and risk management reports
  6. Cost studies

Depending upon the complexity of the project, an interim report is submitted within a few weeks and reviewed in person with the client. Any recommended changes, additions, and, or modifications to the client’s documents, policies and/or procedures are discussed and agreed upon.

Once the updates are completed, a final oral and written assessment report is issued by Diogenes to the client.

Certifying the organization – value added through public recognition of conformance

The analyst’s report is reviewed by the Certification Committee at CEFEX. If approved, either a legal letter or a CEFEX Registered Certificate is provided to the client. Having a CEFEX Registered Certificate indicating conformance is of particular significance for multinationals because the assessment process is based on the principles of the international standard ISO/IEC 17021: Conformity Assessment – Requirements for bodies providing audit and certification of management systems. The certificate must be renewed every year.

It is important to remember that Diogenes is not in competition with your existing vendors. We are not Registered Investment Advisers and we do not manage money, sell investment products, or represent any purveyor of product. Our role is not to assess whether or not vendors are doing a good job; rather, our focus is on the fiduciary governance process in use, how it compares to the best practices outlined in the Global Fiduciary Standard of Excellence, and how it adds value to our clients’ fiduciary governance process.

Why become certified? For trustees of retirement funds, endowments, associations and foundations, being able to demonstrate conformance to global standards is very beneficial in reducing both institutional and individual fiduciary liability. For nonprofits, being able to demonstrate adherence to global standards can significantly enhance the chances of winning the “big ask”. For more details on the benefits of certification go here.

Educating and certifying individual board members/and/trustees to global standards

We offer a fiduciary training program for board members, trustees and staff called Fiduciary Essentials for Defined Contribution Plans (FEDC).

The Fiduciary Essentials for Defined Contribution Plans course is designed to help plan fiduciaries and others involved in the investment process on strategies to improve their fiduciary decision-making and reduce the overall risks associated with managing the plan. A Certificate of Completion provides confirmation for employees and beneficiaries that their funds are being handled to highest degree of fiduciary care.

During the course, fiduciaries will learn:

  • About their important role and responsibilities as plan fiduciaries
  • How to reduce compliance and litigation risks associated with management of retirement plans
  • Strategies for implementing an effective and prudent fiduciary decision-making process
  • How to select and work with qualified advisors, consultants and plan service providers
  • Ways to create documentation for your fiduciary file and potential DOL audits

Please note that a modified version is available for fiduciaries of associations, foundations, and endowments.