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ARMA Conference 2018 – Agents For Change

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Aleš Spetič – CEO and Co-Founder of Klevio

As the ARMA Conference for 2018 is now behind us, it’s time for a reflection on the event and its core focus for the industry. This year’s topic was one of policy, technology, protection and more.

ARMA Chairman Tony Hymers set the scene for this year’s overarching theme of “Agents of Change” which called on ARMA’s members to continue to embrace new regulation, ride the wave of improvement, and bring higher standards to the consumer. As seen at ARMA 2017, the Government won’t stand for rogue agents, and the rogue agent discussion did not disappear this year. ARMA continues to hold itself and its members to a higher standard, as the ‘good guys’.

The Commonhold and Leasehold Reforms Act of 2002 was the last policy change to make a big impact on the industry, but change is always happening in this sector, from governmental pressure cracking down on bad landlords to continuous digital advancements with new companies moving into the sector. Things are moving quickly, and it was clear at ARMA this year, that they will only get faster.

I believe that in the end, all change has to improve the lives of the end user. This sentiment was shared and raised directly by speaker Lakhbir Hans, The Deputy Director of Leasehold, Commonhold and Rentcharges over at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Hans discussed the future where managing agents will be regulated, and the room was (obviously) interested to see how (and if) things will change over the coming months. There was a growing sentiment amongst attendees daunted by the new regulations coming into effect, but there is hope that this will put pressure on those not operating in the correct manner. The rogues. Bringing back a much needed level of trust between the consumer and the agent. A fitting shift in line with the conferences theme.

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I have no doubt that operational change, with technology and best practice rules will help the forward thinkers in our space. It was good to see Unissu Co-Founder James Dearsley discussing PropTech and its effects on the industry. His firm has tracked 7,000 PropTech companies globally, highlighting just how many businesses are moving in to operate across this sector. With his Estate Agent hat on, James highlighted that technology is not something to be afraid of, but that the right partnerships and collaborations can help us all. There is common ground in which the industry can thrive.

In his talk, James highlighted good lessons across the board in property, from construction to renting, and managing to renovating. We have to accept that there are technological changes taking place – so no denial of it happening, downplaying change or being afraid of trying new things. A lot of the technology out there won’t fit you or your company – but there will be some that do help save time and money, whilst helping remain compliant as the policy changes come in.

In his presentation, James continued to highlight that it is time to embrace new models, perhaps empowering someone within the company to be a champion for innovation. To at least explore what is out there and if you see it benefitting your firm, to test and learn. Small changes have the potential to drastically enhance your value proposition and capabilities.

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Just from walking around the conference the convergence between traditional and technology property worlds was becoming far clearer. ARMA showed that the building blocks for the industry to thrive were all under one roof. From the numerous presentations focusing on the future of leasehold and the legal debates around the Government’s reform programme, to the talks on digital transformation, the continued emergence of PropTech solutions, and the need to diversify talent across the industry. The well thought out programme highlighted that attendees were only a couple of contacts away from creating new solutions to bring about positive change.

This was our second year attending ARMA and we continue to be impressed by the calibre of the audience. If the last two years are anything to go by, I look forward to seeing more examples of change being implemented at ARMA 2019. Switching from ‘Agents of Change’ to ‘Actions for Growth’.

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