During the course of any business there comes a time when a problem has been brought to light and there is a need to find a fix. In this case, it’s time to find a solution to address escheat compliance.
No matter what the core issue you’re dealing with, you need to find a path toward a solution. For many companies this means engaging in a Request For Proposal (RFP) process.
The RFP can be an efficient way to gather information from several possible candidates that can solve your problem. However, the process can be daunting for both the company issuing the RFP and the responding companies. Here are a few suggestions to consider when issuing an unclaimed property RFP which can help facilitate the process and get you to your goal of finding a solution as quickly as possible.
Define The Problem
As with any good start to a relationship, communication is the key to understanding and achieving common goals. When an RFP is issued, both parties are intending to enter into a long term relationship. This is why it’s so important to clearly articulate your problem and goals.
Don’t Be Vague. Here are a few examples of vague problems that can lead to vague responses or confusion from responding vendors:
- We need an unclaimed property solution
- We are looking for an unclaimed property provider to manage our compliance program
Be Clear. Here are a few examples of questions that will get you specific information that will solve your issue:
- We do not have the staff to manage compliance and are interested in outsourcing. How do you propose to manage the process on our behalf?
- We have received an audit notification letter on behalf of several states. Please explain your process of being an advocate on our behalf.
We also recommend that for best results, the staff responsible for managing the unclaimed property compliance processes are writing the questions for the RFP. Often times “Procurement Templates” are issued with some escheat buzz words peppered in and it can create much more back and forth between the company contact and the responders. A well written, detailed RFP will save both sides a lot of time and money.
Set Expectations & Provide Details
Setting the start and return date for RFP responses should be a priority along with being clearly identified and realistic. Consider the amount of information you are requesting and the resources the responding company will need to engage in order to provide a completed reply. You want timely responses, not rushed. Be thoughtful and practical about how much time you are giving providers to return the RFP material.
Another consideration is giving enough information about your company so the responder can offer specifics about their solution and process. Issuing an RFP without setting specific expectations can result in receiving mountains of information that you don’t need or short answers that don’t address what is important to you. Be as specific as possible about the information in your RFP so that the responders can give you clear answers about how they can address the issue. Here are a few examples of information that you should include about your company:
- State of Incorporation (if you have multiples, list them all)
- # of FEIN’s
- Currently have identified XYZ property types (list them i.e payroll, A/P, benefits)
- Typical volume (or range) of unclaimed items across all property types in a year
- List of audit letter notifications (include issuing firm and states included in the audit)
- Past filing history – yes or no? Used software (what software) or manual with spreadsheets
Start Strong, Finish Strong
One of our biggest suggestions is to allow for a Q&A period during your RFP. When an RFP is issued there should be a point person established to issue the document and receive the responses. Part of your process should include a period of time that responders can ask questions to clarify questions in the document. We recommend that there is a 3-5 day period in which questions can be submitted with a commitment that questions will be collected and responses to all questions will be provided collectively on a specific date to all vendors. This saves the issuing company time by limiting the amount of time during which questions can be asked, and not having to respond to questions individually.
Being open to questions, whether you choose to answer all of them or not, gives the issuing company the opportunity to obtain the most complete and accurate responses. If you’re not interested in getting the most detailed responses, then you should wonder why you’re using valuable time and resources to issue an RFP.
Consider your game plan once the RFP closes. How will you determine which provider will move on to the next stage of evaluation. Do you have established criteria? How will you rank responders? What are the next steps – face to face meetings or request additional information? If you want to finish strong, you need to have an established game plan in place.
Visit the MarketSphere Knowledge Vault often for great resources that can assist you through all unclaimed property challenges. Additionally, be on the lookout for a follow up RFP white paper that we will be posting very soon. In the white paper we will be drilling down into more specific RFP do’s and don’ts regarding seeking out an escheat solution and providing specific questions that you might want to consider including in your RFP to achieve best responses.Leave a comment and let us know what you think about the benefits (or not) of issuing an RFP are. Be sure to include your suggestions of questions that you would include that could help other organizations through the process.