Annual Certification Insights

Preparing, disseminating, capturing and maintaining annual certifications is standard practice in most financial services firms. Some firms choose to handle certifications at the end of the calendar or fiscal year, while others choose to stagger certification requirements throughout the year.

Regardless of what schedule a firm uses, compliance staff working to ensure all covered employees have completed required certifications sometimes wonder how their firm’s experience compares with other similarly-sized firms. In a firm where there are still several (or dozens of) incomplete certifications after the submission deadline has passed, the CCO may question whether that experience is normal.

There is no question that chasing down “stragglers” who failed to complete certifications before the firm’s deadline can be frustrating. However, as a recent review of our clients’ certifications data for a one-year period shows, late and incomplete certifications are something nearly every firm deals with.

Annual Certification Benchmarks


On-Time Completions

In all, the data shows that over the past year, ComplySci clients sent a total of 415,564 certifications to employees or registered persons for completion. Of that total, 87 percent were completed on time; additional system reminders helped the firms capture an additional 12 percent of late certifications, while just under one percent remained incomplete.

When the numbers are broken down by firm size, it is interesting to note that small firms – those with between 1-50 employees – had a slightly higher on-time completion rate of 88 percent. However, small firms also had a not-completed rate of 1.5 percent – more than double the rate of incomplete certifications for large firms.

Firms with at least 500 employees saw 87 percent of their certifications turned in before the assigned deadlines, with 13 percent submitted after the deadline.

Distinct Certifications

Firm size also impacts the number of different certifications compliance departments require various employee groups to complete. While the average number of distinct certifications across all firms was 10, large firms averaged 28 distinct certification forms. Mid-sized firms, those with 51-500 employees, averaged just 11 distinct certification forms.

Of course, the type of firm also plays a part in how many different certification forms a firm will need. Some firms prefer to capture separate certifications for specific policies and procedures; other firms may include multiple policies in one annual certification form.

For example, some firms may include an outside business activities disclosure certification in with the firm’s political contribution certification; other organizations may wish to capture employee responses separately.

How Does Your Firm Stack Up?

Is your firm’s annual certification experience better or worse than other similarly-sized firms? Using the ComplySci Platform will not guarantee that all of your employees will complete annual certifications on time. However, ComplySci can ease the administrative burden on compliance personnel.


Learn more about ComplySci

SEC Solution Overview