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If you’re on the path to outsourcing a portion or all of your financial administration and reporting, you need to select the right firm to help you:

  • maintain privacy
  • save time and money
  • simplify your office
  • scale to the growing complexity of your financial goals

But to choose the best candidate for your family or business financials, you need to start with creating a quality request for proposal (RFP) — a document that sets your expectations from the start. While putting together an RFP can take some time and effort on the front end, it helps ensure you receive quality responses and key information from serious candidates.

Here’s how you can write a successful RFP to streamline your firm selection process and select a strong partner with whom you can trust your financial administration.

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The Anatomy of a Successful RFP (Request for Proposal)

Just for clarity’s sake, a request for proposal is a document that solicits responses and proposals from parties interested in providing an outlined scope of service for your specific needs. For you, it’s the catalyst to a successful outsourcing experience — and business relationship — now and into the future of your financials. Let’s dive deeper.

What to Do Before You Start Your RFP

Before you start creating your RFP, you need to do a couple of other things first. Start by consulting with key stakeholders about which services they would like to be outsourced and why. Then, determine a timeline for the RFP process that includes:

  • The due date for initial responses
  • Interview timelines
  • When you would like reporting to begin

This will drive your communication with internal stakeholders and RFP respondents

The RFP Checklist

When creating your RFP, only disclose information you are comfortable revealing to the select audience on the initial RFP. Additional information can be disclosed in firm interviews, along with a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) obtained by the respondents.

Start your RFP with a clear overview of their firm and team that will be serving you, including number of employees, office locations, ownership structure, gross fee revenue, etc. Ask about the candidate’s team structure and how they enforce separation of duties. Is any process subcontracted to a foreign group? Have them describe their office culture and give an example of how they support it. important thing to remember when creating your RFP is: the clearer the information, the better idea of the work — and the more accurate the estimate.

Checklist Items:

  • List the services you are looking to outsource.
  • Describe each of your applicable entities/businesses. 
  • Describe the services for each entity/business.
  • Include the approximate type and volume of your transactions (be clear).
  • Explain how often you expect reporting.
  • Provide your expected delivery timeline.
  • Outline the information you would like access to at all times.
  • Find out how communication will be handled.
  • Ask about the firm’s processes: will you have to adapt, or will they work with you? 
  • Ask how your data will be stored and who will have access to it.
  • Ask about the firm’s reporting software. Is any software proprietary? Can you see example reports? 
  • Does the firm offer any complementary services? (These may spark ideas for you or highlight any conflicts of interest.)
  • Ask for the firm’s disaster recovery plan, insurance coverage, audits (if any), and cybersecurity programs.

Crucial Items for Your RFP

As you’re wrapping up your RFP, skim over it to make sure you’ve included any non-routine items that you will want listed as well:

  • Will you want the controller to attend quarterly or annual family meetings?
  • Will the team be expected to take on special projects on an ad hoc basis?

Lastly, decide on a definite due date and communicate that clearly on the RFP. Make sure to include a chosen contact who interested firms can reach out to with questions. This is a very important part of sealing up your work on the RFP.

Next Steps: After You Receive Responses to Your RFP

Once you’ve started receiving responses to your RFP, you’ll have to begin the vetting process. Don’t rush through it, and make sure you have the right people next to you as you narrow down your candidates. Here are your next steps:

  • Review RFP responses with other key stakeholders in the process
  • Select a few firms with whom to conduct interviews
  • Obtain an NDA from those selected for the interviews
  • Formulate interview questions based upon RFP responses

And now, you’re ready to start the interview process. We hope this prepared you to create the most thorough RFP, so you can solicit worthy bids for outsourcing your financial administration.

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Christina Ryan

Written by Christina Ryan

CPA – MANAGING DIRECTOR OF FAMILY OFFICE SERVICES Christina started her career in public accounting with PwC, where she worked in the Transaction Services and Audit groups handling corporate acquisitions, divestitures, and technical accounting for Fortune 500 companies. She then worked at Invesco Real Estate, a multi-billion-dollar real estate investment manager as a Senior Accountant and Assistant Controller over financial reporting and fund accounting. Christina served as a Controller in the Private Wealth group at Burgher Haggard before becoming the Managing Director of Family Office Services. Christina has a Masters of Accounting from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a Certified Public Accountant.