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SLC at the UKAA & BPF

The Inaugural UK Apartment Association Conference and BPF Dinner.

The brainchild of Savills’ Roger Southam, the UKAA is the UK’s answer to the US’s National Apartment Association (NAA) which is the national voice for the ‘Multi Family’ rental business over there.  Principally, like the NAA, the UKAA exists to provide members with a comprehensive range of strategic, educational, operational, networking, and advocacy resources they need to learn, to lead and to succeed in the PRS.  This was the their very first conference and it is clear that the UKAA is going to be a hugely important factor in the evolution of the PRS and Build to Rent here in the UK.

It’s not difficult to gauge the value of a conference by the quality and stature of the speakers and attendees. Most of the leading players in the sector were there.  Opened by their charismatic CEO, Michael Green and President Jonathon Ivory, there was a real sense that this was the beginning of a journey that was going to shape the way we live and work in the future.  Institutional PRS is here to stay and it’s beginning to have an impact on how the government thinks about housing the nation and shaping the legislation it is bringing forward.  At SLC, we expect some far reaching announcements that will benefit the PRS in the Autumn statement.  Gavin Barwell has hinted  at such and, following the opening address, Mark Davis, PRS Guru at the DCLG did much the same. Although he wouldn’t be drawn, however much we tried to tease it out of him.

It’s great to see the Americans over here talking to us of their 40 year experience in the market; what works, what doesn’t, and the journey of evolution that their Multi Family sector has taken to get them to where they are today.  Jeff Kayce of Bozzuto was great in illustrating how the market evolved, what mistakes were made, and how new schemes are responding to the way people want to live their lives today.

Session 5, entitled ‘How to improve customer experience  and measuring our success’ or ‘personalisation of High Expectations’ was  particularly lively with a riveting presentation by Audra Lamoon of Livewire Performance, a informative presentation by Jeff Rowe of Roomservice by Cort who had flown in from the States that morning and the UK’s very own Howard Morgan of Realservice.  Howard is an incredibly likeable, unassuming guy, and not someone one would expect to set the stage alight. But wow! Howard comes alive with a passionate, articulate and knowledgeable  performance  arguing compellingly for a UKAA resident experience index measuring PRS service quality.

Of course, SLC have been in dialogue with the UKAA from the very beginning.  Our PRS consultancy has been advising a number of institutions on developing the downstream tools and systems appropriate for the emerging industry and their very high customer service expectations.  As with the British Property Federation, where our Head of Commercial Operations, Jo Green sits on the Residential Management Committee, she also sits within a specialist UKAA committee headed up by Dominic Martin of Westrock. SLC are the only firm representing our sector shaping learning and policy for the future of PRS.

All in all, the conference was a great success. The tone of these meetings is very upbeat and, unusually for a property conference, there is a singular emphasis on collaboration for the betterment of the PRS as a whole.  This willingness to collaborate will certainly be a feature of this industry and may just be it’s USP!

Jo Green commented: “At SLC, we’ve led our sector in investing in the PRS. Not just because we see it as a business opportunity, but also because organisations like the UKAA mirror our own passion for excellence. Listening to the speakers, talk compellingly of a new management paradigm, undreamt of customer service and a quality of living so far ahead of what the rental market has been used to, it’s hard not to feel excited about what lies ahead.  For my part, sitting on committees at the BPF and the UKAA, it means SLC are at the forefront of everything happening in the sector and in a position to shape policy using our specialist experience. These are incredibly exciting times and to be part of the driving force is both very humbling and exhilarating”.

Following the conference, Jo and Richard Berridge, our PRS consultant rushed to change for the BPF annual dinner. Held in, what can only be described as, ‘Harry Potter’ surroundings, in the Guildhall Library, an absolutely magnificent medieval hall.

SLC hosted a table and were delighted to be joined by some of our valued clients and friends.

The dinner is an ‘all sector’ event with people in CRE, banking and insurance as well as a few from the PRS sector too.  Given the very high quality of the diners, the speaker was of equal stature. Nick Robinson, political journalist for the BBC and presenter of the ‘Today’ programme of radio 4 and was extremely entertaining.  One always knows how well an evening has gone by how the time flies by, and the hours flew by like minutes.  It was, by common consent of our guests, a thoroughly enjoyable evening.  Thanks to all who attended and contributed to a wonderful night.

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