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How to produce the best RFPs – tips for asset managers

Pension schemes

Professional Pensions magazine has published some interesting research exploring what pension schemes are looking for from the proposal process.

Any asset manager who routinely responds to pension fund requests for proposals will find some good insights, including information on:

  • How far pension schemes tailor their RFPs
  • Who is responsible for drafting and issuing them
  • Whether being an incumbent automatically gets you a place on the shortlist
  • Timeframes for response

80 scheme professionals were asked how they compile and administrate their proposal requests. The work forms part of the publication’s ongoing research into the asset manager buying cycle.

Is the RFP still relevant?

In the era of social selling, when it’s known that referrals – often via social media – top the list of the list of things that influence the buying process – how relevant is the RFP?

From the research findings, the answer seems to be ‘very’, remaining ‘clearly an important document in the buying cycle’.

It serves a number of functions:

  • It’s a means of introducing the scheme to the candidates
  • It sets out the performance objectives of the scheme
  • And fulfils its more obvious purpose – namely to ask each firm to send through a proposal by which they can be compared and evaluated.

So for asset managers, it’s still a vital process to be part of, and to get right.

3 things you need to know about responding to pension scheme proposal requests

  1. 1. All RFPs are not created equal

The majority of schemes (57%) send out an identical request to all the asset managers on their longlist. This makes sense, creating a level playing field where answers can be easily weighed up objectively against the criteria. 

But perhaps surprisingly, nearly a third (32%) tailor each RFP to the candidate in question. 

What does this mean? It shows that schemes have already done their initial comparisons, and are looking for more detailed information in the asset manager’s response. 

It’s therefore important that your response is not a ‘one size fits all’. Resist the urge to copy and paste, and truly tailor your answers to the scheme in question.

professional pensions.png

Source: Professional Pensions 

  1. 2. Being on the longlist doesn’t guarantee you an RFP

Less than half of schemes (47%) will issue a request to every asset manager on their longlist. The rest will ask only a few chosen asset management firms for a formal proposal.

What does this mean? You need to stand out at an early stage. Make sure you’re on schemes’ radar with an active marketing strategy, using relevant content to build strong awareness of your firm and its expertise.

Explore social media as a means of keeping your profile high – our blog, Social media 101 – winning ways for Sales teams, has some good tips. And don’t forget that all content has to comply with FCA requirements.

Professional pensions 2.png

Source: Professional Pensions 
  1. 3. You might not have long to get it right

While nearly half of schemes (49%) give candidates up to a month to complete their response, 5% want them in a week or less, with a further 19% allowing only a fortnight.

PRofessional pensions 3.png

Source: Professional Pensions 

So time is tight to craft that highly-bespoke proposal.

The good news is that there are lots of ways to save time here. 

  • Make use of slide libraries for quick access to pre-approved corporate information, on-brand imagery and accurate content.
  • Ensure you can access the branded templates you need when you’re out and about, so travelling time doesn’t scupper your deadlines.
  • Compliance approval can be a source of delays. Work with your Compliance team to understand what they can and can’t sign off – and your documents will be approved faster.
  • Pick up hints and tips for creating beautiful proposals in less time, by learning speedy PowerPoint hacks and other ways to reduce the time you spend on presentations and sales documents.

Read more about how to create winning – and compliance-friendly – responses to RFPs in our 7 tips for creating compliant sales presentations. You can download the free tip sheet here.

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