Professional Conduct Code
Finders have created a Professional Conduct & Ethics Code (PCC) which clarifies the standards we have set for the conduct of our business and staff, and our ethical stance.
Our objectives are to:
- Provide the highest possible standards of service
- Raise standards within our profession
- Promote professionalism and self-discipline within our staff
- Promote ethical awareness in business practices
- Complement the Code of Ethics of the Association of Professional Genealogists* by enhancing this with more specific content and relevance to Finders International’s activities.
* Please note that Finders International has more APG members than any other UK firm and they individually subscribe to the APG Code of Ethics.
Why is the PCC needed?
- Probate Genealogy (also known as ‘Heir Hunting’, ‘Probate Research’ or ‘Forensic Genealogy’) is a niche area of business, there being only a relatively small number of established and easily recognised companies around the world.
- There is no central regulatory body, industry association or watchdog for probate genealogy in the UK and, although firms or individuals may have various memberships of genealogical societies or endorsements of services, most of these do not impose an enforceable regime or an effective penalty structure or other deterrent to poor practice.
- It is therefore up to the individual genealogist or firm to set their own standards, should they choose to do so.
- Finders International have established this PCC to provide reassurance of a conscientious, ethical and professional approach to all aspects of our work.
- We have a complaints procedure and we are also willing to investigate complaints against any other firms or individuals on a voluntary basis.
- Please note this Code covers our conduct and ethics. Our terms and conditions of business are held separately and are readily available to clients who instruct us or with whom we have business dealings.
Finders International will:
- Be honest and open in our approach to our work
- Behave in a professional manner towards clients and others in the course of our work
- Not administer estates in-house as we believe this creates a conflict of interest (by the genealogy/heir tracing business and the estate administration business being one and the same). We believe this could compromise objectivity and may undermine a fair fee structure and, therefore, may not be in the best interests of beneficiaries.
- Undertake to provide quotations, charge for our services or negotiate agreements in a professional, fair and ethical way.
- Provide terms and conditions and/or service details promptly either prior to, or on receipt of an instruction or beneficiary agreements.
- Provide estimates of work in a timely manner.
- Present estimates, reports and correspondence in a clear and concise manner.
- Refrain from withholding, suppressing, or knowingly misquoting or misinterpreting sources, data or other information.
- Handle and manage data and instructions securely and in line with our ISO accreditations and data protection registration.
- Advertise our services and credentials honestly and/or to the best of our belief at the time of going to press, or of publicising any material.
- Abide by agreements regarding project scope, deadlines and reporting schedules (where specified).
- Keep adequate, secure and accessible records of casework and estimates.
- Retain all files for 7 years after closure
- Ensure secure and confidential destruction of files and papers as and when necessary.
- Recycle as many materials as possible.
- Undergo an annual audit by the World Land Trust in order to calculate a carbon offset payment, thus ensuring our business is carbon balanced.
- Refrain from knowingly violating or encouraging others to violate laws and regulations in the course of business.
- Ensure our data protection registration information is visible on our website.
- Ensure our company registration details are visible on our website.
- Ensure company endorsements, qualifications or charitable support details are visible on our website.
- Ensure all links, logos or testimonials used on our website or within our advertising are used only with the permission of those concerned.
- Undertake to provide regular support and donate whenever possible to the charities featured on our website or within our advertising.
- Undertake to keep abreast of any legal or technological developments in our field of work and to understand as far as possible, with the help of our legal advisors where necessary, the implications and requirements of any such developments.
- Endeavour to ensure all beneficiaries, clients or their representatives and members of the public are always be treated fairly, courteously and with respect, regardless of race, gender, colour, creed, age or sexual orientation.
- Endeavour to answer all questions raised promptly and effectively to the satisfaction of the enquirer.
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- Our staff have an obligation to perform their professional duties to the best of their ability and in accordance with their terms of employment.
- Staff are obliged to report any illness or other circumstances to their employer which may affect their ability to carry out their duties effectively.
- Staff are obliged to protect the reputation and good standing of Finders International and, wherever possible of the Probate Genealogy industry as a whole.
- Staff will counter or report to appropriate management or authorities any misleading or false statements, detrimental articles or adverse publicity wherever possible.
- Staff are encouraged to resolve any dispute or potential dispute promptly and courteously. If any such dispute cannot be resolved, staff are obliged to report any such situation promptly and in full to their immediate manager and/or refer the complainant to our complaints procedure.
- Staff should not knowingly promote or endorse any activity or statements which may encourage or be seen to support discrimination on the grounds of race, gender, colour, creed, age or sexual orientation.
- Finders undertake to treat its staff fairly and to fully observe all relevant employment law and rights of its staff.
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3. Memberships of societies or endorsements of services
In general terms we would advise that, in the first instance, a client or beneficiary checks the promotional material and website of any probate genealogist and look for clarification of any claims as to quality of service, membership of societies or other endorsements and explore and confirm any ISO accreditation, data protection and company registration to ensure that these are valid and legitimate.
Other points to note:
- Membership of genealogical societies may be paid for by individuals who may not need to show any expertise in their field to obtain such membership.
- Endorsements of Services or other logos claiming to be proof of quality of service may be misleading. Endorsements or logos may be paid for with no proof of expertise or of quality of service required.
- There is no single agreed standard or qualification for probate genealogists in the UK and no agreed professional industry association or watchdog.
- If in doubt, all claims of membership of societies or logos purporting to prove quality should be checked.
- All logos on Finders website are linked to the websites from where the logos originate, thus enabling clients and beneficiaries to easily check details. (Please inform us of any broken links as the relevant linked website addresses are subject to change without notice being given).
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In the event of a complaint, please refer to the following:
- Complaints can be made at any time.
- Complaints can be taken orally or in writing.
- Oral complaints will be transcribed at the time of the call (or personal visit) in detail and copied to both the relevant case file and a Complaints File held at our offices.
- If the oral complaint is fully resolved at the time of the call (or personal visit) or within a reasonable period, this will not be recorded on the Complaints File.
- We will use our best endeavours to resolve all complaints as quickly and amicably as possible.
- Any complications with complaints or further advice can be obtained from the Managing Director or the nominated person in charge in their absence.
- We aim to investigate and reply to all complaints within 20 working days, which will be adhered to unless exceptional circumstances exist.
- Complaints can be made by clients of Finders or their representatives only. If you are complaining on behalf of someone else, proof of their authority will be required.
- Finders International operate a Professional Conduct & Ethics Code, which can be seen or printed from our website at www.findersinternational.co.uk. Should you feel that a violation of this code has taken place you are free to follow these steps to pursue your complaint.
- All case managers and genealogical researchers at Finders are proud members of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), and abide by its code of ethics. This code is visible on their website at www.apgen.org. Should you feel that a violation of this code has taken place you are free to complain directly to the APG via their website if preferred.
- Finders are registered with the Data Protection Registrar. Our registration number is Z6654345 and you can see details of our registration by the Data Protection Registrar’s website at: www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk and searching the online public register. Should you feel that we are acting in breach of our registration you are free to follow the steps above or complain directly to the Data Protection office via their website.
UK – Finders Genealogists Limited is registered in England (company number 3501521) and trades as ‘Finders’ or ‘Finders International’ for international probate genealogy and other legal services business. Our registered office address is the same as our trading address and in the event of a complaint you should write to: The Managing Director Finders International
6 – 8 Vestry Street
N1 7RE England
Ireland – Finders International Probate Genealogists (Ireland) Limited is registered in Ireland (company number 559290) and trades as ‘Finders’ or ‘Finders International’. Complaints should be sent to the UK address as above.
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5. Misuse of the PCC and warnings
- No part of this Code should be copied, quoted or duplicated unless it is with the express permission, in writing, of Finders International’s MD or Deputy MD. It is subject to Copyright.
- Use of any part of this Code in any form by any competitor to Finders International or any third party, individual or organisation including, but not limited to, as reference material or in order to incite a complaint by a competitor, any other person or firm, is expressly forbidden.
- The PCC is drawn to the attention of our clients by Finders International, and is for their reference only.
- Confidential terms and conditions may apply to formal instructions received by Finders International. Queries about these terms and conditions can be addressed to us at any time by our (prospective) clients or their representatives (proof of representation required).
- Our Clients are always welcome to contact us with any query at any time.
End of Professional Conduct Code