Application process explained
How does the application process work?
Of course, every organisation will be different in how long it will take them to feel ready to apply for the AQS. But within this, there are some time lines which you need to take into account, particularly if you have a deadline for applying:
Step 1: Register interest in AQS
Contact Recognising Excellence to register your interest in the AQS. They will ask for your timetable for application so they can assess your state of readiness to go through the AQS. If they feel you are committed to the application process, you will be given a temporary password to the AQS holders site so that you can see the full copy of the Standard. This stage is free.
Step 2: Apply for AQS using application form
When you are ready to apply for the AQS, you should complete the application form. The application form is your contract to proceed with the AQS assessment process. You do not need to pay at this stage, but you are in effect entering the formal part of the AQS assessment process.
Step 3: Desk top assessment- obligatory for all new applicants
You will receive a report back telling you what corrective actions you need to take and you must put these in place within 28 days and notify Recognising Excellence. They will then arrange the assessment visit within 60 days. There is a separate charge made for the desk top audit.
Step 4: Assessor visit
You will have a visit from an assessor who will ask to see the evidence that your service meets the requirements of the AQS. The visit will be for at least a day and they will need to speak to members of the advice team as well as the person responsible for the advice service. The assessor will produce a draft report within 5 working days. The report may include corrective actions.
Step 5: Corrective Actions
Undertake the corrective actions identified and send evidence required back to the assessor within the specified timescale, normally 28 days.
Step 6: Sign off
If the assessor is happy with your actions, the assessor will send the report to Recognising Excellence. They will read the report to ensure it is valid and consistent and then forward it to Advice Services Alliance. The ASA give the final sign off for the report. You should hear back from this stage of the process within 15 working days.
You will be given an award date and your AQS is valid for 2 years from the date. You will then be issued with an invoice for the AQS assessment process.
Step 7: Continuous Development
Your organisation is expected to take all the actions as outlined in the AQS according to the timescales prescribed and to maintain a programme of continuous development. By this we mean that you will strive to improve all aspects of the quality of your advice service. This does not mean we expect your organisation to grow in size or resources (although that may well happen); we do expect that you will continue to focus on quality even if your organisation looses resources or goes through other radical changes.
Step 8: Renewal
Six months prior to your renewal date, you will be contacted by Recognising Excellence to remind you to start your preparations. They will continue to send regular reminders as you approach your renewal date. The AQS expires on your renewal date so if you wish to hold the AQS continuously, you will need to organise your assessment visit with Recognising Excellence prior to your renewal date.