At the recent RFP Boot Camp for Asset Managers conference in Boston, industry experts and thought leaders shared a wealth of information, best practices and advice on how asset management firms can increase their proposal win rates by improving their request for proposal (RFP) development processes.
Sessions at the conference focused on the competencies, processes and activities that are typically required for asset managers to win institutional mandates in today’s market. Informative discussions addressed topics including persuasive writing, effective graphics, and technologies that support RFP production teams.
One very informative workshop, entitled Developing Effective Proposal Strategies, was presented by B.J. Lownie, managing director and principal consultant at Strategic Proposals. One of the key points in this session was that asset management teams should view RFPs not as stand-alone events or deliverables, but as part of an ongoing process. The goal of that process is to produce and deliver a packaged sales presentation that is persuasive and compelling. All elements should be designed to make it easy and justifiable for reviewers to select that RFP for inclusion in the next phase of the evaluation.
Must-Have Components in RFPs
Mr. Lownie offered several common-sense requirements for winning new institutional mandates and additional AUM from existing clients. The important must-have’s include:
- Accurate descriptions of the firm’s strength, market position, capabilities, and track record
- Clear and compelling descriptions of how the asset manager’s products and solutions are differentiated within their categories, and superior to competitors’ offerings
- A client-centric approach and customization throughout the proposal, showing that the asset manager is focused on and aligned with the client’s needs
Things to Avoid in Proposals
The session also covered elements that detract from proposal quality that asset managers should be aware of. Things that send proposals to the ‘thumbs down’ pile include:
- Not directly answering the client’s specific questions
- Not demonstrating that the asset manager clearly understands the client’s objectives
- Not including clear differentiators for the firm’s investment products and services, or lack of clarity about exactly what is being offered
- Poor organization of information and subpar formatting
- Not writing for the audience, or providing answers that are either too long and wordy or too thin and short on details
Quality Content Makes all the Difference
In this workshop and in other sessions throughout the day, one point was emphasized repeatedly: high-quality, client-centric content does more to help proposals win mandates than perhaps any other element in RFP processes.
With quality RFPs being so crucial to asset managers’ success, tools for creating and managing this content are becoming increasingly important to proposal production teams. Having the best people is no longer enough. Firms that equip their people with tools that help them to produce exceptional content consistently and efficiently will gain distinct advantages in the ultra-competitive asset management market.