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11/19/14 9:41 PM

15 Questions to Single out the Best Abandoned and Unclaimed Property Provider

by Don DeCelles

Finding a professional advisory team to support your efforts can be one of the most effective management decisions you make as unclaimed property lead in your company—and it can result in the best possible outcomes for your organization. Once you make the decision to hire a consulting company, begin thinking how you will vet the options. The following list of questions will help.
  1. How long have you been in business? It takes a deep expertise that comes with years of experience to reduce liabilities and uncover the root of the problems related to unclaimed property.
  2. Do you specialize in abandoned and unclaimed property, or is it just one of a wide variety of services you provide? The nuances of abandoned and unclaimed property demand a singular focus. Firms that also provide tax, accounting, finance, legal or other services in addition to unclaimed property can’t offer the focus needed to avoid all mistakes and take advantage of all opportunities.
  3. Who are the principals of your company and what is their background? The experience of the men and women who run a provider company has direct impact on service quality. They should have strong knowledge of state administration, business and auditing. 
  4. How do you qualify employees for work with your organization? The employee vetting process is important, because your team will work with provider employees day to day.
  5. What kind of training program do you have for your employees who will work with our staff? It’s critical to keep provider employees up to date with current developments in unclaimed property law and strategies.
  6. What specific services do you provide? For best results, match services to your specific needs. Does the provider offer both comprehensive solutions and individual services?
  7. What is your philosophy of unclaimed property management? Each provider firm has chosen a focus for services to holders like your company. Priorities should include finding a proper level of compliance so you don’t over-comply or under-comply, as well as addressing underlying factors that precipitate unclaimed property issues, not just completing compliance tasks.
  8. What are your strengths as a company? The answer to this question reveals the company’s priorities, and gives you an opportunity to determine whether their strengths match your needs.
  9. What are your least-strong qualities as a company and how are you working on those? Every organization has areas of service that are weaker than others. The main purpose of this question is to measure the company’s willingness to be honest. It indicates the level of integrity you can expect in all interactions.
  10. What industries have you served? Look for experience in your industry or in an industry with similar business functions.
  11. What companies have you served? Has the provider worked with companies like yours? If their client list includes respected organizations, you can assume they are capable of working within professional parameters. Ensure the client list is specific to unclaimed property. Ask for references.
  12. What kind of technology do you have to support our unclaimed property efforts? Technology is increasingly important in unclaimed property. Your provider should be able to share details about technology used to improve client situations. What security protocols are in place for data exchange
  13. How do you determine the cost of your services? Make sure the firm has clear guidelines for determining costs, so there are no surprises. Avoid choosing the firm with the lowest prices solely for the sake of saving money. Some providers add on services later. How are due diligence letters charged? Is postage included? Is there an additional fee when letters are received by provider? Does the provider issue payments to states? 
  14. How involved will our staff have to be in supporting your work? Look for balance. The provider should want involvement from your staff in strategic areas, but should strive to minimize your team’s involvement so they can focus on more important tasks.
  15. What guarantees do you provide? Be wary of a firm that claims they guarantee everything. However, look for reasons to believe your chosen abandoned and unclaimed property provider can defend its professional analyses and accuracy.