|Why be accredited?|
Frequently Asked Questions about Accreditation
1.Why should my AMC become accredited?
There are two major reasons. First, accreditation demonstrates to existing and prospective clients that your AMC is able to deliver professional services at an extremely high standard. With more than 500 AMCs worldwide, AMC Institute accreditation separates your AMC from the mainstream. Second, accreditation provides your firm with a defined set of "best practices" around which you can develop your company's important policies and procedures. Why invent your own criteria when you can stand on the shoulders of others?
2.What are the major differences between AMC Institute's accreditation program and accreditation programs from other organizations?
The AMC Institute accreditation is unique because it is based on an AMC Standard developed under the guidelines established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). AMC Institute was approved by ANSI as the official AMC Standard Developer. Another significant difference is that each AMC is independently audited.
3.What is a reasonable time estimate for an AMC considering accreditation?
This depends on the state of your firm's practices and how adequately your policies are documented when you begin the accreditation process. The size of your firm does not matter as much as how well and complete your current operating policies and procedures are documented. A small AMC may have an advantage over a large firm because policies and procedures are typically less complicated. Based on the size of your company, your resources and the current status of your documentation, this process could take as little as one week and as long as six months.
4.What's a good estimate of the fee(s) for an AMC to become accredited?
Total first year fees are estimated to cost your AMC between $1,900 and $6,400. This estimate consists of three elements: 1) a $1,400 accreditation fee (members) or $2,800 (non-members) made payable to AMC Institute, and 2) a project review fee paid directly to an independent reviewer (an accounting firm or independent CPA). This fee typically ranges between $500 and $3,500. Independent reviewer fees will also vary by location.
5.Is there an annual fee associated with AMC Institute accreditation?
The accreditation fee is spread over four years. For members – $1400 the first year and $550 each subsequent year. For non-members which includes provisional members the fees are $2800.00 the first year and $1100.00 each subsequent year.
6.What happens if an AMC doesn't qualify on the first try?
During the review process, the CPA reviewing your materials may note deficiencies. BEFORE the reviewers finalize their report, your company may opt to address these deficiencies and request a reassessment of those areas. Typically, any deficiencies can be handled and addressed enabling your AMC to pass the review. If, however, your reviewer does not pass your company, you may either take the next six months to make changes and corrections and then reapply or you may follow the appeal procedures and appeal your reviewer's findings.
7.How long does the AMC Institute accreditation last?
AMC Institute accreditation lasts for four years. At the completion of the fourth year, the review process must be repeated which involves the use of an independent reviewer such as an accounting firm or independent CPA just like the first time you went through the process.
8.What are some of the tangible benefits of AMC Institute accreditation?
Tangible benefits include use of the AMC Institute accreditation logo, special recognition within AMC Institute's online RFP process, press release to media in your own town announcing your accreditation and constant media exposure resulting from AMC Institute's marketing and PR efforts. Some accredited firms also report that the process of becoming accredited by itself gave them a handle on their businesses like they never had before.
9.What's the ROI of AMC Institute accreditation?
An investment of $1,900 to $6,400 for AMC Institute accreditation will pay dividends over time when taking into account the amount of exposure received as well as the perception of separation between an accredited AMC and its non-accredited competition. It only takes one contract renewal, one add-on service or one new piece of business to justify the expense.
The Importance of AMC Accreditation
By Jaime Nolan, President of IntrinXec Management, Inc.
The AMC Accreditation Program provides a process that every single AMC should consider going through. This process ensures that AMCs have documented policies and procedures in place that support quality standards and exceptional customer servicing of clients in the following areas:
The AMC Institute is recognized by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as the developer of the AMC Standard.
With more than 500 AMCs worldwide, the ANSI/AMCI Standard serves as the basis for the AMC Institute Accreditation Program. This article was written in 2009 to provide an overview of the initial Accreditation Program and its related importance to AMCs and their prospective clients.
The AMC Institute Accreditation Program requires AMCs to have written contractual agreements with all clients whenever feasible, including written commitments that ensure high quality service and service delivery. This section also requires a documented system for periodic reviews of the contract, contract amendments and procedures for transition of a client's property. The importance of this section is to demonstrate to clients that the AMC is organized, professional and committed to high quality service.
When establishing Servicing Clients practices, the AMC Institute did not intend to identify the specific ways in which clients were to be serviced. Rather, the AMC Institute sought to ensure there was clear communication between the AMC and its client regarding the expectations of both organizations and a method by which to evaluate those services. This section requires AMCs to establish service policies and delivery systems that include the quantity and scope of services to be performed, background information on AMC staff servicing the client, delivery speed, accuracy and flexibility, as well as methods to measure the services provided and improve performance (if necessary). This ensures that AMCs have measurable performance requirements in place; achieved through process, controls and systems.
The Accreditation Program requires AMCs to demonstrate that they have written procedures and policies in place to evaluate performance, measure client satisfaction and make necessary adjustments. This section is important to prospective clients because it promotes a level of communication between the client and the AMC that will help develop a strong partnership and an understanding of the responsibilities of both the volunteer leadership and the AMC.
There are two purposes of this requirement as it relates to financial management and internal controls within AMCs. The first is to verify that AMCs have a strong "checks and balances" procedure in place to ensure that client money is properly handled. The second is to ensure that the AMC is in compliance with accounting rules and regulations as promulgated by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). This includes policies to prevent co-mingling of client funds and policies regarding the confidentially of all client records, data, proceedings, contracts and other information. This section is important to a prospective client as it requires all AMCs to provide a written confidentiality policy to all clients and to demonstrate that its financial controls are in compliance with FASB.
The AMC Accreditation Program requires all AMCs to have minimum insurance coverages in place to adequately protect both the AMC and the client. Insurance requirements include general commercial liability, property (including property in transit), valuable papers, employee dishonesty, monies and securities, computer equipment and data, auto liability, workers comp, errors and omissions, and professional liability insurance. AMCs should make sure that their clients are also covered with their own policies. AMCs going through the accreditation program often assume their business office insurance package (BOP) includes coverage for their clients' records and materials. In today's world it is extremely important that both parties carry appropriate coverages.
Employee Recruitment and Selection
The importance of having written and documented procedures regarding employee recruitment and selection lies in the fact that the AMC has pre-determined expectations of its various staff positions and each job requirement. By having written job descriptions, candidates are fully aware of the expectations of the open position, and the requirements necessary to fill the position. This provides clear communication between the AMC and its staff, as well as an efficient interview process of candidates for the open position. These job descriptions are also important to clients, as they are able to know exactly what the AMC expects from its staff when servicing them. The purpose of this section and the next is to assure the AMC's employees know, understand and comply with company procedures and systems.
Employee Evaluation and Training
This section of the AMC Accreditation Program requires AMCs to have written policies and procedures for employee performance reviews. This section also requires AMCs to have written policies regarding periodic training in areas such as process monitoring and control; data collection and analysis; performance improvement and corrective action; teamwork, interaction and communications. This will ensure that the AMC has established and implemented a training program for its employees to ensure that the delivery of services meets the level set by the AMC. By having these policies in place, AMCs are demonstrating to their clients that they have a strong commitment to ongoing employee training and education – ensuring that their staff is always up-to-date on the latest trends and issues relating to nonprofit associations.
Subcontracting and Purchasing Requirements
To promote ethical practices in the AMC Industry, the AMC Institute included this section in the Accreditation Program to make clear to prospective clients as well as AMCs, that the utmost integrity is expected when subcontracting and purchasing on behalf of a client. In doing so, all AMCs are expected to exercise due diligence in purchasing products or services on behalf of their clients. This includes written procedures for hiring subcontractors, completing purchase orders, and disclosing any finder's fees or commission received by the AMC for services contracted by specific vendors. (Information regarding commission disclosure is more specifically addressed in the Financial Controls section). Full disclosure contributes to maintaining positive client relationships.
Record Keeping Requirements
In recent years, national headlines involving "Enron" and "Arthur Anderson" have drawn attention to corporate scandals. Prior to all this, the AMC Institute Accreditation Program established a requirement for accredited AMCs to have written and documented procedures relating to the storing, archiving and destroying of client documents. This requires AMCs to adopt a records retention policy and a policy regarding the safeguarding of records protecting them from damage or deterioration and/or unauthorized access. With the conception of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and other recent issues of security, this section is very important to both the AMC and their clients.
In order for an AMC to become accredited, they are required to undergo an "Independent Review” by a third-party CPA. The Reviewer must not be employed by the AMC and must be experienced in conducting reviews, which includes a successful peer review of their own. The importance of this Independent Review is for an outside party, someone completely unaffiliated with the AMC, to verify that the AMC actively follows and has policies and procedures in place to support all areas identified in the Accreditation Program. Upon the completion of a successful review, the Reviewer submits a report to the AMC Institute indicating that the AMC has documented and implemented policies in all required areas. The AMC Institute Accreditation Committee then reviews the report, either questioning or accepting it.
Earning your AMC Institute Accreditation is an enormous accomplishment and demonstrates an AMC's commitment to consistent, high quality service. It shows that an AMC has developed comprehensive quality control systems, giving assurance to volunteer leaders searching for the right AMC. As the only ANSI/AMC Standard-based program for the industry, being an AMC Institute accredited AMC will distinguish your firm from your competitors.