Rea & Associates Demonstrates Operational Integrity And Service Provider Excellence
Rea & Associates was founded on principles of accuracy, integrity and exceptional client service. We are also committed to continual improvement. It was our dedication to client service that prompted us to engage CEFEX, the Centre for Fiduciary Excellence, LLC, to audit our processes.
In July of 2018, Rea's retirement plan services team contacted the CEFEX organization and requested an independent analyst provide us with a comprehensive independent review. The process was rigorous and their assessment took months to complete. Now, after going through the audit and carefully evaluating our internal procedures, we are proud to share with you that Rea has attained CEFEX certification.
Our CEFEX-ASPPA certification signifies our commitment to adhere to a standard of excellence and a dedication to Administration best practices.
Specifically, for our firm, we sought The American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA) Certification for Service Provider Excellence. This certification program was developed to recognize firms providing recordkeeping and/or administration services to retirement plans that adhere to a standard of excellence and a dedication to best practices. The program, which requires an annual certification renewal, encourages a culture of good governance and oversight at certified firms. The certification allows firms to distinguish themselves in a competitive marketplace and establish credibility with current and prospective clients and advisors.
The CEFEX-ASPPA certification offers testament to the fact that we understand the importance of paying close attention to everything from high level strategies and policies all the way down to the details of our business practices. The CEFEX Mark signifies that our clients can be confident that we are worthy of their trust.
We wanted to share news of the important recognition of our commitment to operational integrity, service provider excellence and continuous improvement that we have earned. CEFEX-ASPPA certification is yet another way we tangibly demonstrate that serving our clients best interests is our highest priority.
The CEFEX Difference
CEFEX®, Centre for Fiduciary Excellence, LLC, a Fi360® company, is an independent certification organization. CEFEX works closely with industry experts to provide comprehensive assessment programs to improve the fiduciary practices of investment stewards, advisors, recordkeepers, administrators and managers. CEFEX is based in Pittsburgh, PA.
Firms that undertake the CEFEX certification process have developed their processes to maximize quality and efficiency. The processes at these firms are well-established and guidelines are in place, thereby facilitating training, transitions, and trouble-shooting.
Studies have shown that ISO Quality-Management System1 certified companies experience increased productivity and improved financial performance, compared to uncertified companies.
CEFEX standards prescribe audit processes, management review and improvement processes based on collected data. CEFEX assessments are conducted on an annual basis where Opportunities for Improvement (OFI) may be issued. CEFEX continually looks for corrective actions at the firm, instilling a culture of continuous improvement with the staff.
CEFEX is becoming increasingly respected as the mark of the highest integrity and transparency in the financial services industry. Many firms simply state their awareness of fiduciary matters. Firms which undertake independent CEFEX assessments project a more meaningful commitment to the best fiduciary-support practices.
Better Supplier Relationships
Mutually beneficial supplier relationships (e.g., between recordkeeper/administrator and advisor) are one of the key attractions to CEFEX certification. CEFEX–certified firms complement each other in their adherence to a global fiduciary standard of excellence. This adherence to best practice for documentation and monitoring ensures that investments of the highest quality are used in retirement plans and other vehicles. The process also requires thorough evaluation of new service providers before a change is made and ensures consistency with respect to how investments are managed.
Enhanced Risk Management
The standards used by CEFEX require the documentation of all processes, in addition to changes, errors and discrepancies. This ensures consistency throughout the administration process and accountability of all staff. This also ensures traceable records are available in case of complaints or litigation.
All processes are defined, outlined and documented, minimizing possibilities of error. Even the process of making changes to a process should be documented, ensuring that changes are well-planned and implemented in a way to maximize efficiency. CEFEX–registered firms use best practices for data collection, reports, and report labeling, and therefore minimize the risk of document obsolescence or reporting errors.
Improved Decision Making
The standards used by CEFEX set out clear instructions for assessments and process reviews that facilitate information-gathering and decision-making based on the data. Certified firms make decisions based on factual data, which ensures better operational results.
Consistent Client Satisfaction
ASPPA certification is a cost effective way for service providers to help plan sponsors fulfill their own fiduciary obligations. Plan sponsors need to monitor many service provider deliverables, including plan reports, fee disclosure, participant services (e.g., complaint handling), regulatory changes, Form 5500 preparation, non-discrimination testing and internal controls. A CEFEX-certified firm demonstrates readiness and adherence to best practices in fulfilling all of these activities.
Enviable Employee Morale
Defined roles and responsibilities, accountability of management, established training systems and a clear picture of how their roles affect fiduciary excellence and the overall success of the company, all contribute to more satisfied and motivated staff at the certified firm.