The Gold Standard Awards are open to UK-based financial advice and discretionary fund management firms, which have a minimum of three years of business operations as at 28 February 2021.

The awards do not operate on a winner and highly commended basis. All those who pass the appropriate measurements and judging can achieve a Gold Standard.

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 takes a ‘five pillar' approach to assessment.

Submission deadline: Friday 23rd July 2021

The five pillars of measurement are:

1. Financial Strength: Assess the financial ability of the entrant organisation to meet reasonable customer expectation through its ability to deliver on their promises in case of business volatility. The differences between the company types under consideration will be taken into account. Firms will be rated among their peer sector, rather than as a global population of entrants.

2. 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, risk management, diversity and inclusion, staff expertise and training.

3. Service: Assesses the ability of the company to maintain an effective pre and post-sales relationship with the distributor and/or consumer. Typical areas assessed are client engagement, forms of communication, quality and levels of service on offer.

4. Fair Value: Assesses whether the customer is getting value for money by comparing charges and benefits against a typical range of products for the category entered. Companies offering specialist services only will be assessed against similar groups.

5. Trust: The ability of a company to promote confidence through the customer experience, complaints handling, reputation and remuneration. Judges will be looking for a coherent message, which are communicated not only to customers but within the company itself. Attention will also be paid to performance as well as the adoption of corporate governance standards, social responsibility and sustainability.

How the Gold Standards judging process works

The Gold Standard Awards assess financial strength, capability, service, fair value and trust 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.

Judges will particularly be looking for entrants to provide evidence on their merits and points of differentiation from the rest of the industry.

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.

The Gold Standard is valid for a one-year period from the date of the Award.