Edinburgh based Criterion was established in June 2017 to deliver Standards and Governance services, as a high quality, independent industry utility. The Standards were established over 25 years ago and underpin the exchange of data between organisations in the financial services industry; making it easier for product providers, platforms, administrators, portals and advisers to work with each other.
In September Criterion completed the planned and full separation from Origo, to become fully independent. Now a wholly independent entity, the separation has meant the transfer of staff from Origo, the creation of a new website including the rebranded Criterion Standards and professional Governance services. It continues to have its own Managing Director, Independent Chair, Board and corporate governance.
Criterion will take forward and expand upon the existing Standards and Governance work, while Origo will focus efforts on operational services such as Origo Transfer Service, Unipass Identity and Integration Hub services.
Criterion is a not-for-profit industry utility and supports the UK’s long-term savings, investment, and protection markets. Criterion supports all providers, platforms, pensions schemes, third party administrators, industry bodies, regulators, and government to enable better collaboration and integration in pursuit of better consumer outcomes.
Criterion is uniquely positioned through its independence and levels of experience, to support and manage the overall collective interests of a group of industry organisations, who recognise the value from third-party governance on cross-industry initiatives.
Criterion acts as facilitator between different financial service providers to help bring together organisations and create solutions to problems that no one in the market can solve unilaterally. The outputs are Standards and Governance. The Criterion Standards cover a range of financial services, from pensions and investments, through to savings, protection, and occupational pensions. They enable efficient messaging and integration so systems can pass data between them quickly and accurately. For example, bulk contract enquiry and transaction history information between platforms and adviser firms’ back-office systems.
Pat Shea, Chairman, Criterion, says:
“I’m delighted that we have reached full independence as planned. Criterion is acknowledged by government, regulators, trade associations and the industry as market leading and we take this responsibility incredibly seriously. The Criterion team play a vital role in the positive development of our industry. Both independence and not-for-profit status will ensure that Criterion is well-placed to support our whole industry, to work together to the benefit of consumers. Criterion’s role is in inspiring businesses to be better connected and productive through nurturing greater collaboration, increasing process efficiencies and driving standardisation.”
Billy Burnside, Managing Director of Criterion, says:
“In response to industry demand, in 2017 the Origo Board decided that in order to position clearly the services provided by Origo and its provision of Standards to the industry, a separate company should be created. This would be, in the first instance, a subsidiary of Origo and Criterion was created; into which custody of the Standards business was placed. Full independence was always the intention and as part of that transition Criterion has established a strong and increasingly independent position as part of the financial services industry eco-system. We now have the final piece of the jigsaw in place, creating a fully independent body that can draw on a long history of delivering standards and governance – since 1989. We remain focussed on creating and developing the Standards and Governance needed by the industry to enable its day-to-day operations in an efficient and cost-effective manner for the benefit of all participants; including providers, platforms, advisers and their customers.”
Since 2019, the Criterion team has also been instrumental in driving forward STAR, the regulator backed industry initiative, committed to developing appropriate standards and best practice to help speed up the transfer times for pensions and investments and improving outcomes for individual savers and investors, in moving their money from one financial institution to another. This is being progressed in a joint venture with TeX, with over 65 companies now part of the venture.
Commenting on Criterion’s independence, Rob Yuille, Assistant Director, Head of Long-Term Savings policy, Association of British Insurers, says:
“Having Criterion as a professional outfit means we can be confident there is an organisation to rely on to develop and maintain technical standards. Fixing cross-industry problems advances our sector’s reputation and helps our markets work more effectively for firms and consumers.”
Further testimonials can be found here.
Criterion MD Billy Burnside and Independent Non-Executive Chair Pat Shea are available for interview.
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