The leasehold sector is a state of change. Everyone is keen to understand what proposals will be implemented, and when and how the block management sector will react to those changes.

It’s a time when the stakeholders in the sector need to step up and deliver events and information that help the whole industry develop for the better. ARMA, with CEO Nigel Glen at its helm, seems to be a different and more forward-thinking organisation than the version Brady Solicitors joined as a partner some 10 years ago.

Clare Brady, MD of Brady Solicitors, offers a review of the Tomorrow’s World – the 2019 ARMA Annual Conference.

Clare Brady of Brady Solicitors property management specialistsI was lucky enough with some of my team to attend an excellent ARMA conference yesterday. The new venue and format with break-out sessions and buffet lunch made for a very modern, dynamic atmosphere and created plenty of opportunity for networking.

There were lots of thought-provoking talks, and I’ve picked out some of our highlights below:

Lord Best assured us that a Property Agent regulator WILL be in situ in 2 years…

….so it was enlightening  to hear an overview of the Irish experience by Maeve Hogan, Chief Executive, Property Services Regulatory Authority. Whether that has a bearing on how regulation will affect the sector when it eventually comes in is uncertain, but still interesting to hear. Maeve highlighted some of the less discussed advantages of a joined up system, such as transparency of lease registers that all can access.

I couldn’t help feeling that the big question was left unanswered as to how the extra cost would be dealt with in the market place.

Would it be through higher management fees? Maeve also discussed the increased staff costs for licensed property managers. With the recent ARMA survey showing a margin of 10% on average that doesn’t leave much room for manoeuvre.

We particularly liked the break-out session by  Simon Palmer of UK Business Mentoring and the talks around creating systems for efficiency and most importantly getting staff involved to do so.

Standing room only for PropTech

The PropTech talk by Adiuvo and Askporter was very interesting and well-attended (standing room only at the back). The suggestions of the use of artificial intelligence (AI) were aimed at property managers but felt relevant for all businesses.

There were interesting questions and discussions afterwards about the potential future effect of AI on the role of the property manager.

Colin Stokes dealt with the floor questions well and key takeaway is how AI can free up staff to focus on more business critical tasks and step up away from mundane elements of their role. Whatever that effect will be, it does seem that AI will have an ever-increasing role in our working lives and in the overall consumer experience, whether that be within our own businesses or in our experiences as consumers.

We have covered off the bulk of the Legal Update topics in our blogs but Justin Bates, as always, brought something new to Stemp, the key case on forfeiture and waiver. It will be interesting to see if he is correct about s20B (18 Month rule) notices and risk of waiver but there is no doubt it brings some clarity for managing agents dealing with service charge non-payment.

Even the last talk of the day Dare to Change by Alan O’Neill, a self-professed change management expert, was very well attended – a clear sign of a successful conference! It was worth staying for too, as it highlighted the importance of the customer experience and providing an interesting perspective, following the AI discussions. How do AI and the customer experience marry up? Does one enhance or impede the other?

Overall a very good conference that challenged the norms and created ideas that could be implemented across the whole sector and not just for the managing agent community. We’ll definitely be back for the 2020 ARMA Conference.