You’ve put a lot of legwork into the search process so far. You’re in the final stretch and it’s important not to take any shortcuts as you round the last corner. Like the RFP, apples-to-apples comparisons are critical. Here are some tips to execute your finalist presentations and reviews.
1. Narrow your search to a short list of providers
Now that the RFP is complete, it is time to narrow the field to the OCIO firms you want to consider. To start, the team members that reviewed the written RFP should be the same group responsible for the review of the final presentations. This will ensure consistency and consensus among the decision makers throughout the entire process. Typically, the next step is to invite firms to present their capabilities and team. There is no rule, but on average 3-5 firms are invited to this part of the process. If there are a large number of firms that met your criteria in the RFP stage, you may need to add a step to further narrow the field. This can be done by sending clarifying questions for the firms to respond to or by conducting preliminary interviews.
2. Identify key individuals to attend the presentations
From the evaluation team perspective, the individuals involved in selecting the finalists from the RFP should be those responsible for the final selection decision, and should attend the presentation. That will ensure consistency and consensus.
From the provider perspective, it is important the presentation is delivered by the client team and individuals that will be responsible for the relationship and the management of your portfolio on an ongoing basis. Fit and feel with an individual or group of individuals can greatly impact a decision.
3. Define the presentation format
Agree on a format that works for your team and stick to it for each presentation. Each provider should be given the same amount of time, between one or two hours is ideal. You should provide each firm with the same meeting agenda and carve out a designated amount of time at the end for questions, typically 15-30 minutes.
Traditionally, presentations were almost exclusively done in person at your offices. Throughout COVID-19, modifications were made to host presentations virtually between providers and the evaluation team. If you choose a virtual presentation, you will want to set up the meetings individually with each provider on one of the virtual meeting platforms (Zoom, GoToMeeting, Webex, etc.) and share the link with the presenting firms at least 2 days in advance so the provider can prepare. If your internal attendees are in different locations, use a platform that everyone is familiar with. Make sure they have downloaded the technology and are comfortable with using the interface controls like how to ask questions and share screens.
4. Allow communication before the presentation
An open line of communication can benefit all parties. Allowing an opportunity for communication between the selected OCIO firms and key stakeholder (i.e. staff and investment committee) prior to the presentation will ensure a more impactful and concise presentation. When finalists have the opportunity for a short Q&A period they are able to ask any clarifying questions, discuss presentation format, topics to be covered and key evaluation criteria.
5. Request follow-up items as soon as possible
Any request for additional information or clarifying questions after the presentation should be made as soon as possible. The best decisions are made when the presentation is fresh for all involved.
Additionally, communicate to all providers any next steps and timing of when a decision is likely to be made. This will eliminate unnecessary correspondence from firms anxious to hear feedback.
6. Develop a scoring method
Develop a strict scoring system that properly weighs the criteria you view as most critical in a partner. That will help eliminate internal biases or the opinions of a few that can sometimes overpower the many. Your scoring method should align with the key criteria your team outlined at the beginning of your search but also have enough flexibility to incorporate new learning about the complete suite of OCIO services that are available. Giving credit for additional services or unique ideas is important. Key criteria could include:
- Firm structure and focus, i.e. OCIO only vs. OCIO & non-discretionary consulting
- Similar client base
- Risk management
- Investment capabilities
- Manager selection process
- Support beyond investing
- Client service approach
- Fees – be sure to assess “all-in” fees, such as OCIO fee + manager fees.
7. Provide feedback
Once your team agrees on the final decision, provide all firms with honest feedback on what they did well, and where they had gaps. The scoring system you created will help with that.
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