The SPTF and Cerise have updated the Universal Standards for Social and Environmental Performance Management, which form the basis for a series of freely available tools to assess and improve the social and environmental performance of your organisation.

The Universal Standards for Social and Environmental Performance Management 

SPTF Standard 2022

The Universal Standards are a comprehensive manual designed to help financial service providers to put the end client and the environment at the centre of their activities.  

The Universal Standards take into account seven fundamental dimensions: 

  1. Social strategy 
  2. Committed leadership 
  3. Client-centred products and services 
  4. Client Protection 
  5. Responsible human resource development  
  6. Responsible growth and returns 
  7. Environmental performance management 

The tools

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CERISE-SPI4 is a tool designed to help financial service providers to carry out assessments of their social performance, either independently or with the support of certified auditors. The tool is accessible for free online.  

It is based on the Universal Standards and enables inclusive finance actors to have a common reference framework. In this way, investors who accord particular importance to the social impact of their operations may also refer to the audits carried out with this tool, either by external auditors or directly by the providers themselves. 

Carrying out regular SPI4 audits also enables the financial institutions to assess the development of the management of their social performances over the course of time.  

The latest version of the tool, which will be aligned with the revised Universal Standards, and which will integrate the environmental dimension, will be available shortly. 

ATLAS  Platform

The results of an audit conducted with the CERISE-SPI4 tool may be shared on the Atlas platform by the MFIs so as to make their data available to investors and other actors in the sector, and also to gain access, free of charge, to benchmarks which enable the institutions to see how they compare to their peers.  

The aim of Atlas is to centralise the data regarding the financial and social performances and practices of financial service providers so as to promote transparency in the inclusive finance sector and to enable these financial service providers to be visible to investors.


The Universal Standards contain 8 client protection standards (in annex).  

The SPTF and CERISE have also developed a tool which enables financial service providers to assess their performances against these standards.  

Finally, any financial service provider which wishes to improve its performance in terms of client protection and to make their commitment to this area known, may join the Client Protection Pathway.  

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If you are interested in this aspect, namely taking customers’ needs into account, please refer to the other related tools by clicking here:  “Customer Centricity”


The e-MFP action group on  Green Inclusive and Climate Smart Finance  (GICSF-AG) has developed the Green Index, a tool to assess the environmental performance of financial service providers. The Green Index 3.0 is aligned with the new environmental dimension of the Universal Standards for Social and Environmental Performance Management, which have been formulated through the joint work of the GICSF-AG, SPTF and CERISE. 

The Digital Green Index 3.0 is a freely available tool which can be used by financial service providers to conduct a self-assessment of their environmental performance.  



Technical assistance and training  

Thanks to the support of several funders, such as the Government of Luxembourg and Swiss Cooperation, the SPTF also proposes regional facilities which organisations can access to request technical assistance or training in the area of social and environmental performance management. ADA is a member of the steering committee of each of the following facilities:  

Responsible Inclusive Finance Facility, Sub-Saharan Africa (RIFF-SSA) 

Responsible Inclusive Finance Facility for Southeast Asia (RIFF-SEA) 

Responsible Inclusive Finance Facility for Central America and the Caribbean (RIFF-CAC) 

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In collaboration with Cerise and the SPTF, ADA has carried out a study on the social performance of microfinance institutions.