By: Craig Peterson
Senior RFP Analyst
Member of PAICR Education & Research Committee
The competition among asset managers for new business is as fierce as ever. Whether your efforts as a RFP writer are successful is a significant factor in determining your firm’s ability to raise assets and satisfy the investor.
While you cannot control risk-adjusted returns, you do have the ability to establish a RFP process that will contribute to the success of your firm in a meaningful manner. At the core of winning new mandates is quality, which should serve as the centerpiece of your RFP function. Establishing a proper staffing structure, implementing a content database, partnering with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), and deploying a robust review process are crucial in producing quality RFPs.
- Success begins with finding the “right” people—and deploying their skills effectively.
Hiring dedicated professionals that have experience, and a history of success, in writing RFPs in the asset management industry is a critical first step to building a successful RFP team. The next step is to structure your team so that you optimize the individual strengths of each member—whether that’s a background in specific asset classes or level of writing ability. Combining the right structure with the right people can help deliver a team performance that is more than just the sum of each member’s individual contribution.
- Get your content ducks in a row.
In a team environment, the organization of language and materials is important for efficient execution and consistent quality of content. Content databases such as PMAPS, Qvidian, and Seismic, can help you organize language, and more importantly, provide quality control. Rather than every team member having the ability to create or change language, a content management system and process will inject quality into every document through a consistent message. Additionally, control over the database will encourage communication among the team on how best to create or improve language.
- SMEs: Your partner for success.
Partnering with your Subject Matter Experts to formulate thoughtful, comprehensive (yet succinct) answers will raise the quality of your RFP communications. Identify the best person for each function within your firm and work closely with them; they typically have the necessary background to answer many core questions on your list. For greater efficiency, you may also choose to assign responsibility for the maintenance of content within specific segments of your content database to the appropriate SME. However, remember that quality remains key—so make sure to set clear deadlines for SMEs to update their content, and schedule regular follow-ups with them to keep progress on track.
- Last but not least—your review process.
A comprehensive review process is essential in polishing the RFP document. At the most basic level, spellcheck can help correct some of the more glaring mistakes—but you really need to institute a formal peer review process. After spending days writing, editing, and reviewing your own document, it becomes harder to spot the bloopers At that point, getting a fresh set of eyes on the copy is a must—and it fosters teamwork. Each team member will bring a different perspective and talent to the review process, while increasing their knowledge through the process. The peer-reviewed document should then be put through the final review hoop—the compliance review. No document should go outside your firm without compliance approval.
The four steps listed above are based on my own experience of nearly 15 years as an RFP professional. However, I know from my years as an active member of PAICR, and attending our annual RFP Symposium, that our members can be an amazing source of sound, practical, and innovative advice. So if you’ve anything you’d like to add to the list, we’d love to hear from you—just comment on the post so all of our members can share in the wisdom.