What is the SPI4? . . .

The SPI4 is a social performance assessment tool for financial service providers. An excel questionnaire in its current version, the SPI4 helps FSPs evaluate their level of implementation of the Universal Standards for Social Performance Management, including the Smart Campaign Client Protection Principles. SPI4 also offers users with a specific mission focus—green, poverty, rural, gender—to assess their practices, thanks to optional indicators that reflect the latest industry thinking in these areas.
The SPI4 was created by CERISE, in collaboration with the Social Performance Task Force, Smart Campaign, MIX, Truelift, Grameen Credit Agricole Microfinance Foundation, ADA - BRS, Planet Rating, Pakistan Microfinance Network, Red Financiera Rural, CIF/Afrique de l'Ouest, ESAF India, with support from Liechtenstein Development Service (LED) and Ford Foundation, Kazakhstan Microfinance (KMF), member of the Microfinance Centre, for the Russian translation, ILO/ITC for the Indonesian translation, and the Vietnam Social Performance Working Group for the Vietnamese translation.

Who created the SPI4? . . .

SPI is one of the most widely used social assessment tools. SPI has been developed by CERISE and its partners since 2001, with constant feedback from SPI users using an iterative, collaborative approach. Since 2003, more than 500 FSPs have used the SPI—updated regularly to include sector developments and user feedback—to help assess and improve their practices.
SPI4 was launched in January 2014 and updated in July 2016. It is fully aligned with the 6 dimensions of the Universal Standards for Social Performance Management and Client Protection Certification Standards.

Who uses the SPI4? . . .

Financial service providers and microfinance organizations around the world use the SPI4.[See a list of institutions having completed a SPI4][1] [1]: /s/List-MFI-SPI4_for-site_november-2016.xlsx ALINUS? . . .

SPI4-ALINUS is a reporting option for investor due diligence, composed of 68 SPI4 indicators. Because it's shorter, SPI4-ALINUS can also be an entry point for a summary look at social performance practices, while the SPI4 provides a full social audit, to produce the social statements of the FSP. A full SPI4 measures level of implementation for all the Universal Standards.

How do I choose between a self-assessment and accompanied self-assessment? . . .

The type of audit you choose will depend on the human resources you have available, and the objectives of the audit.
If the audit aims to guide internal strategic discussions or operational planning, a self-assessment may be sufficient, especially if staff is are aware of and experienced with social performance and client protection issues.
If the aim is to share the results of the audit with external partners, who want a complete overview of your social statements, or if the audit is part of a longer term goal to integrate social performance into day to day management and raise overall awareness of social performance, an accompanied self-assessment is preferred. In this case you should call upon a validated SPI4 auditor.

How is it different from a Smart Assessment? . . .

The SPI4 gives a rapid and comprehensive diagnostic of a FI’s practices in terms of client protection and the full social performance framework; a Smart Assessment provides a more focused and deeper analysis of client protection practices only.

How is it different from a social rating? . . .

Most social rating methodologies are aligned with the Universal Standards, and therefore with the SPI4: this means the content covered is similar. The main difference is that a social rating is an external analysis of social performance information. This information is then used to generate a detailed opinion on the probability that the FI can reach its social mission. The opinion is discussed and finalized during an independent and specialized social rating committee.
In contrast, the SPI4 is a self-assessment tool. It is designed to help FIs generate their social performance information, identify gaps and take action to improve. A SPI4 may be conducted alone or with a qualified SPI4 auditor, in the case of an accompanied self-assessment. A SPI4 auditor is not necessarily neutral nor external, as the process is designed to encourage self-assessment and internal appropriation. The main objective of a SPI4 audit is to improve practices.

Under SPI3, there was the option to do an external audit. Can you still do external audits with the SPI4? . . .

Expertise in social performance assessment has evolved in recent years. Various sector stakeholders are now involved in social performance assessment, with methodologies that are largely harmonized around Universal Standards.
In recognition of this, the SPI4 has been designed primarily as a self-assessment tool for FSPs. FSPs can opt to conduct a SPI4 audit with a qualified auditor, who will ensure the quality of the audit process. The auditor may also offer an “Audit +”, whereby s/he supports the institution in the implementation of certain recommendations, by accompanying the process or by mentoring staff in the institution. The main objective of a SPI4 audit is not to generate an opinion (external validation) but rather to encourage self-assessment and improvement (internal appropriation).
For external validation of social performance information, FIs can opt for a social rating or, if the focus is on client protection, Client Protection Certification.

How long does it take to fill in the SPI4? . . .

The first time filling in the SPI4 takes some time (estimated between 15-20 hours to fill it in and justify your answers in the Comments column of the questionnaire). This is because the SPI4 is comprehensive. It covers all of the Universal Standards for Social Performance Management—the 19 standards are broken down into 64 essential pratices, which are measured through 160 indicators—as well as a select number of results indicators, collected on the Organizaiton Information page. SPI4 users suggest to spread the process over 2-4 weeks for institutions doing a self-assessment with the objective to produce their annual social statements.
You can also opt for a quick audit, by just scoring your institution, without filling in the Organizaiton Information page or justifying your answers in the comments column. This will generate the graphs, and serve to launch internal discussions.
Once you have filled in the SPI4 once, however, the subsequent times will take less time. You will just need to update any practices that have changed and update the Organization Information page. In this case one day will be enough.
Overall, using the SPI4 should save you time in data collection and reporting, because the SPI4 reports can be used to meet the reporting needs of multiple partners.

Who can do a SPI4 assessment? . . .

The tool is downloadable for free, to promote widespread use, but CERISE strongly recommends getting trained in the tool to ensure efficient use and high quality results. The training is a two phase process that involves a classroom-based training and the practical application of the SPI4, with results validation by CERISE. Users who successfully complete the process are considered validated auditors. See here for more about the validation process.

How do I get trained? . . .

The first thing you can do is get familiar with the tool by downloading it and the accompanying resources to conduct an audit at cerise-spi4.org

However, CERISE strongly recommends participating in a classroom training, to better understand the tool and ensure high quality audits. To become a validated auditor, CERISE has training modules of roughly 12 hours of classroom training, to be completed by in-field use of the tool. Contact CERISE to know more about training opportunities.

Contact CERISE or the SPTF for information on upcoming training opportunities.

Still have questions? Send us an email at spi4@cerise-spi.squarespace.com