Three Phases of a Recordkeeping Vendor Search

You’ve decided it is time to conduct a full recordkeeping vendor search, and you know it can be a detail-laden, time-intensive process that takes up to six months to complete. Where do you begin? How to you start to plan for all the work ahead of your team?

First, you need to understand that the request for proposal process typically involves three phases:

  1. Preparation
  2. Analysis
  3. Conversion

Second, you need to create a timeline to follow through the three stages. At Multnomah Group, we have created a vendor search timeline we use when conducting searches on behalf of our clients.

Over the course of three blogs, each focused on one phase of the process, we walk through our six steps to a search project which may serve as the building blocks for your unique timeline. While drafting your timeline consider other business priorities and busy periods and build in enough time for thorough analysis and negotiation.

Phase 1: Steps 1 and 2

STEP 1 - Form a Vendor Search Committee

  • Develop and manage a schedule for the vendor search process
  • Include the three primary phases of an RFP process; preparation, analysis, and conversion
  • Establish membership of the committee
  • Assign accountability and deadlines for each step
  • Consider the roles of key stakeholders who may not be part of the traditional retirement plan committee: IT, payroll, etc.
  • Consider staff workloads
  • A minimum of 6 months should be allowed for the entire vendor search process

STEP 2 - Develop the Request for Proposal (RFP) and Identify Vendors

  • Define the scope for the search and objectives. For example:
    • Increasing plan participation through well-strategized participant outreach
    • Offering an improved array of high-quality investment products to participants
    • Making more robust technology and tools available to the plan sponsor and participants
    • Delegating certain administrative and compliance functions to the plan’s vendor
    • Decreasing plan costs
  • Prequalify vendors who will be invited to respond to the RFP
    • Evaluate the marketplace to develop a list of vendors that have the basic capabilities to fulfill the needs of your plan
    • Consider whether the service model of each vendor is well-suited for your plan
  • Collect meaningful demographic, plan design, investment, and asset data to share with prequalified vendors
  • Develop clear, well-written RFP questions that cover all desired service components and capabilities

Be on the lookout for our blog covering phase 2 in the coming weeks. 

To read our full guide on How to Create a Vendor Search Timeline, click here.


Multnomah Group is a registered investment adviser, registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Any information contained herein or on Multnomah Group’s website is provided for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies. Investments involve risk and, unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed. Multnomah Group does not provide legal or tax advice.

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