What we do
We provide direct consulting services if requested. Our services are broken down into three phases: initial assessment, certification of conformance to the Global Fiduciary Standard of Excellence (GFSE), and ongoing monitoring. Further information on the GFSE and certification can be found at fi360, a division of Broadridge Financial Services. Our services should be integrated with the organization’s strategic planning process to maximize the benefits for capital preservation, liquidity when needed, and the mitigation of legal risk.
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 GFSE. 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 the Centre for Fiduciary Excellence (CEFEX) based in Toronto, Canada. More details on the assessment and certification process can be found here.
Ongoing monitoring – Our Diogenes Fiduciary Compliance System™. Our ongoing monitoring services provides further assurance that the client can remain in conformance as well as reducing the time and expense of the required annual renewal process.
Assessments, Certification to Global Standards, and Board Certificate in Fiduciary Essentials
Assessing 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 all the relevant documents and upload the information directly into our Diogenes Fiduciary Compliance System™(DFCS™). Some of the documents we request include:
- Current Investment Policy Statement
- Spending policy (for an endowment/foundation)
- Contracts with vendors
- Cyber security protocols
- Asset allocation and risk management reports
- Cost studies
Since most of the work is done by the DFCS™, minimal time and expense is incurred by the client beyond providing the material. At the same time, Diogenes provides a briefing on the GFSE and the process to designated members of the staff and the board. The better educated you are, the more smoothly the process will go.
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, polices 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. Because the DFCS™ monitors the client’s compliance, there should be little extra expense for an annual renewal letter unless an issue needs to be resolved ahead of time.
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
As of October 1, 2019, we are pleased to announce a new plan sponsor fiduciary training program 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 is provided upon completion of the course and 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.
Ongoing Monitoring – Our Diogenes Fiduciary Compliance System™
Following the idea of “management by exception”, our Diogenes Fiduciary Compliance System™ is designed to monitor clients’ accounts for tasks and other issues that may need to be completed. Follwoing the upload of the client materials, all documents will be assigned a unique tag. Any issue related to a document will reflect the same tag making it easier to provide an -up-to-date log of actions taken. When an action identified by the system is not taken, an alert is sent to the appropriate person. Changes in the Global Standard of Excellence are provided by Fi360 and Diogenes will communicate updates to clients via the web portal. In addition, since the system continuously monitors compliance, any changes in the benchmarks will automatically be incorporated in the ongoing assessment process.
Client access to information
All client information continues to be accessible by the client, regardless of any change in their vendors. Each client’s data is held separately with multiple levels of security and backup.
Access to client in formation is available at all times. We strive to offer the best in client training and support. We follow the “sundown rule”: if we cannot solve a client’s issue immediately we will strive to get back to the client by the end of the day (GMT-5) with an acknowledgement of where the issue(s) stand.
Please note: Diogenes will have access to client information only with the client’s explicit, written permission. At no time will Diogenes be able to add, edit, or delete client information. Each client’s information is held separately and all information is encrypted on the server and when information is transferred from/to the client.