This site is free to view, but first you must either:
If you have already registered for the site please enter your details below and click the 'Login' button.
If you DO NOT have a login for the site you need to register. Please click the 'Register here' button below.
3. RESET PASSWORD
If you have registered but have forgotten your password, please enter your email address in the field below and click the 'Password reset' button.
Once you have registered you will be able to change your personal profile to change the way Insight Out presents content to you. This will allow you to select the areas of accountancy you are most interested in. To change your content preferences click "Profile" in the top menu.
Kitemarks, standards and accreditations can identify a company as being a quality provider in their sector. Most companies say they have benefitted from the process of assessment and inspection, which also gives recommendations for improvements. The work involved often pays dividends by impacting on the bottom line and rejuvenating a sense of common purpose across all staff.
It’s a growing trend. Over a quarter (26 per cent) of the UK workforce is now employed by organisations that have Investors in People (IIP) accreditation, which is awarded to companies that develop and harness the skills of employees. This accreditation not only helps to improve overall business objectives but also shows it’s a company that nurtures and develops its staff.
An ever-growing number of companies are seeking out environmental accreditation to underpin their sustainability pledges. A sought-after accreditation in this field that demonstrates a company’s impact of reducing carbon emissions comes from the Carbon Trust Standard (CTS). A successful application for this accreditation marque provides tangible proof to employees, shareholders as well as customer and suppliers that the company is committed to making further carbon emissions reductions. Standard bearers for CTS include large multinational organisations like HSBC to smaller one man companies, all of whom have met the criteria of providing an accurate footprint measurement, demonstrating absolute reduction of that footprint, and good carbon management.
Then there are accreditations that are vital to doing business. Any private educational institutions looking to attract the attention of the 600,000 overseas students that come to the UK each year to learn English must be accredited by the British Council. This is a prerequisite for the Home Office who will only grant visas to those students applying to an accredited establishment. Once approved, language centres are subjected to ongoing monitoring – regular inspections that include unannounced spot checks – to ensure they continue to offer high-quality services and facilities and deserve the accreditation logo.
Voluntary standards that are nonetheless vital include the stamp of approval by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). This is used across a wide range of, mainly manufacturing, industries. Being ISO certified means that any product marked as such is manufactured to a particular techncial standard, quality and safety — not just in their home country, but internationally. ISO is a network of the national standards institutes of some 163 countries, with a central office in Geneva, Switzerland, that coordinates the system and publishes the finished standards. As customers increasingly look for this standard when buying products, it is now seen as a powerful marketing tool for businesses.
If communication is important to your business, the accreditation you might want to be recognised for is the Plain English Campaign’s Crystal Mark. It’s a seal of approval for the clarity of a document and it now appears on over 21,000 different documents in the UK, US, Australia, Denmark, New Zealand and South Africa.
Quite rightly, the process of accreditation is no easy ride. In seeking these awards, companies need to devote management time, staff involvement and training where necessary as well as a certain amount of restructuring and reorganising that may be recommended. Fairbairn Private Bank, which has won numerous business and industry awards in addition to the top-level Gold Investors in People marque, confirms that applying for, and the renewal of its accreditations have proved to be an “intensive and time-consuming process with some involving all staff from across the business.” Once the results of the application are received, the bank then looks to implement any recommended changes. “It would be easy to rest on our laurels, however the real challenge is to keep focused on the need for continual improvement and seeking ways to remain at the top of our league in terms of client offering and staff engagement,” says Greg Horton, Managing Director of Fairbairn Private Bank.
And as with most things in life, there are costs involved in earning accreditations. On top of the costs companies endure in striving for the models of excellence – in terms of management time, planning, preparation, investigation and implementation of recommendations – the awards themselves incur a fee. With the Plain English Campaign, the fee for the Crystal Mark for non-corporate members is £500. The fee for a smaller document can be reduced to around £200.
Investors in People say its cost structure is tailored to a company’s individual requirements. What’s included in its pricing covers a strategic planning meeting, continuous improvement feedback, onsite interview based assessment and report, and annual onsite discussions. But it can run into thousands of pounds.
The British Council’s fee structure is banded according to the number of student weeks that are run by the schools. By way of example, current accreditation fees are between £550-650 for English UK members rising to £100 more for non-English UK members.
However, most schemes say that the cost is outweighed by financial benefits gained by holding accreditation.
Not sure which badge of approval best suits your company’s image? Here’s six worth researching.
Sole government-recognised, national accreditation body assessing organisations providing certification, testing, inspection and calibration services.
Tiered awards for people management, providing independent assessments.
Scheme providing promotional benefits for educational establishments.
Its Crystal Mark gives the seal of approval for the clarity of a document.
A standard certifying organisations for real carbon reduction.
Technical, quality and safety stamp of approval for product manufacturers.
Fairbairn Private Bank is based in the British offshore islands of Isle of Man and Jersey and has offices in London and South Africa. Over the past few years the bank has received accreditations from The Sunday Times Best 100 Companies to work for, Best Companies and Investors in People, all of which acknowledge staff engagement with the banks’ culture. “It incorporates a passion and commitment to providing our clients with the highest level of customer service,” says Greg Horton, Managing Director of Fairbairn Private Bank.
As well as being client-centric the bank has demonstrably invested heavily in its own staff and has a raft of awards to show for it. The bank believes all of the awards it wins mean its staff can take pride in the organisation they work for. “The external recognition is a great morale boost showing that their continued efforts have been recognised by both clients and the award judges.”
One of the main benefits is the achievement in setting a benchmark to work to and improve upon. “As a business it is important to focus on any highlighted areas for improvement, and our aim has always been to continuously refine the way we work. In order to benchmark our staff and client approach we also have to ensure we have sufficient measures in place to maintain the high standards already being achieved within the business,” says Horton.
Even with its impressive list of accreditation marques already won over the last 10 years, Horton confirms that the company has to remain vigilant to ensure the renewal of these accreditations. As part of its ongoing efforts to strengthen the bank’s high performance culture, alongside the existing awards’ renewal process, the bank monitors the flow of new accreditations launched. “We try to keep abreast of these to identify any new suitable accreditations which would align with our client offering, culture and approach to staff engagement and those that create new challenges for the bank and its staff to strive towards.”