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1/22/15 3:06 PM

Managing the Manager: What to Ask of Unclaimed Property Team Leaders

by Greg VerMulm

manage-your-managerIn most holder organizations, one person is assigned oversight of day-to-day abandoned and unclaimed property operations. This person functions both as a leader of the frontline team implementing unclaimed property and as a source of information and agent of action for executive leaders.

Although each company and situation is unique, every abandoned and unclaimed property manager’s duties contain similarities. This blog will cover a few of those similarities and indicate an effective approach for managing your unclaimed property manager.

Defining Goals, Achieving Positive Outcomes

First and foremost, as you think about what it will take to successfully manage and support your unclaimed property manager, realize that unclaimed property is not your usual accounting, tax, treasury, finance or compliance process. The laws upon which your company’s unclaimed property reporting activities are based can be very complex, with different reporting cycles for different states and types of property,  and the rules often change.

All of these complexities and others make the management of unclaimed property much less cut-and-dried than other aspects of your business. Work with your unclaimed property manager to reign in these complexities, set priorities and create a calculated set of goals to lead you to best possible outcomes for your company.

What to ask of your unclaimed property manager Determine and report on your company’s current unclaimed property situation. Where does the unclaimed property reside in your company? How far are you from coming into compliance? What needs to be done to comply? Then write a list of specific goals to address your organization’s unique needs.

Focus on the Big Picture

When you interact with your unclaimed property manager to move things forward, encourage him or her to begin with the big picture. If the manager doesn’t know enough details of the big picture, it might not be possible to make an effective evaluation of your unclaimed property situation and formulate satisfactory solutions. Share potential negative impacts upon your company, as well as appropriate details of the company’s current financial and legal condition. The manager needs to understand how the actions of the unclaimed property team will impact the rest of the organization.

What to ask of your unclaimed property manager: Weigh unclaimed property actions against overall well-being of the company. Will record changes affect other departments? How will unclaimed property decisions affect the company’s reputation—or does that really even matter?

Insist Upon Meticulous Attention to Detail

An effective unclaimed property manager is a central clearinghouse for details of every action of every person on the unclaimed property team, including the company’s professional unclaimed property advisor. Details can make or break a company’s efforts toward compliance. Although the manager should not necessarily be the sole person to make decisions regarding unclaimed property, it is important for this one person to gather, retain and analyze each aspect of unclaimed property in order to stay focused and fit the pieces of the puzzle together.

What to ask of your unclaimed property manager: Organize records repositories, database management programs, software, policies and processes to act as a framework for all unclaimed property activity. This will not only lead your company to successful outcomes, but will streamline the activity, so unclaimed property has minimal negative impact on your company.

Prepare a Plan

Although the manager is the central functionary for unclaimed property, personnel both on the frontline team and the management team, as well as professional advisors, should have input into what happens with unclaimed property in your organization. Each person has a unique perspective that must be taken into account for best results. The manager acts as a facilitator for this important collaboration.

What to ask of your unclaimed property manager: Compile insight and needs of all stakeholders in the unclaimed property functions of the company. Compare this information against applicable laws and best practices, then write a plan using input from the others. The report should serve as a guide the entire company can use to complete unclaimed property activities.

Once you’ve established these clear expectations for your manager—and for managers of the managers—your unclaimed property machine will begin to run smoothly, with a clear path to successful compliance.