Ask advisers and consultants what they think of RFPs, and the answers can run the gamut from adhering to a strict schedule to being uninterested and even hostile.
That's the range of opinion in a recent poll by the National Association of Plan Advisors, for which 34% insisted on issuing an RFP every three years while 16% insisted on an RFP every five years.
By contrast, 15% said they "never insist" on doing an RFP because "there are other ways to assess providers/capabilities," said the unscientific poll of 157 respondents conducted in mid-October. Three percent said conducting an RFP every three years "does as much harm as good."
Another 32% gave an in-between answer, saying they only insist on an RFP "when it seems necessary."
The survey didn't define "necessary," Nevin E. Adams, chief content officer of the American Retirement Association, wrote in an email. NAPA is part of the American Retirement Association, and both are based in Arlington, Va.
"My assumption is that it would be tied in with when you need to do so to assure that the fees/services are reasonable," Mr. Adams wrote. "But of course it might also be just when the (lack of) service levels warrant it."
So what about the 18% of respondents whose views on RFPs aren't favorable?
"RFPs can take a lot of time and effort (and cost)," he wrote. "You can often find out the essential elements through more modest undertakings."
A request for information or "benchmarking tools that many advisors/consultants have developed" could work well, too, Mr. Adams wrote, adding that it is crucial they document their efforts.