Do you have what it takes to achieve Gold Standard?
Only UK-based financial services groups or specialist financial companies offering their own products and services can apply for a Gold Standard Award. The categories currently accepted for consideration are fund management, banking, mortgages, independent financial advice, group pensions, individual pensions, healthcare, protection and insurance.
Products and services can be aimed at the UK retail market directly or via professional advisers and companies wishing to enter the Gold Standard Award scheme must complete a detailed questionnaire, which has been constructed using the knowledge of industry experts and designed to correspond to the key areas being measured.
The key areas measured are:
• Financial Strength: This has been defined in terms of the financial ability of the entrant organisation to meet what its customers reasonably expect through its ability to survive in an appropriate form. The differences between the provider types under consideration will be taken into account. Providers will be rated among their peer sector, rather than as a global population of entrants.
• Capability: This area looks at the overall expertise of the company to conduct the business category entered. Typical elements taken into consideration include business structure, staff expertise and training.
• Service: This assesses the ability of the company to maintain an effective post-sales relationship with the distributor and/or consumer. Typical areas assessed are forms of communication and the available ways for distributors and consumers to interact with ach other.
• Fair Value: This assesses whether the customer is obtaining value for money by comparing charges and benefits against a typical range of products for the category entered. Companies offering specialist products only will be assessed against similar groups.
• Trust: The ability of a company to promote confidence through the customer experience, the media, advertising and marketing. Judges will be looking for a coherent message, which is transmitted not only to customers but within the company itself. Attention will also be paid to the ethical use of product literature and performance as well as the adoption of corporate governance standards.
How does the Gold Standards judging process work?
The Gold Standard Awards set about trying to judge companies in a way that removes as much subjectivity as possible from the process. First, we have identified five areas that are key to consumers and professionals when buying financial products and services - financial strength, capability, service, fair value and trust.
We assess these areas in a variety of methods including information supplied by entrants in the form of questionnaires and evidence, as well as the use of third party sources to assess areas such as financial strength and fair value.
An independent panel of expert judges assess entries. The decision of the judging panel is final and the judges withhold the right not to give awards in categories where the required standard has not been met. We also use certain outside agencies such as AKG Actuaries & Consultants to determine financial strength.
The Gold Standard is valid for a one-year period from the date of the Award.