Last week I attended a very engaging conference on the Gold Coast – the biennial Griffith University Strata Title Conference.
In the last conference session we heard a very accomplished woman in strata – Reena Van Aalst – share her ‘take home message’. Having listened to each of the speakers over the previous three days, it had become clear to Reena that the day to day issues strata managers are now expected to deal with have reached a level of significant complexity, only to become more complex as our communities grow. Reena identified that, to be able to provide the required standard of service to their clients, managers now need skills in accounting, law, psychology, HR, project management, dispute resolution…the list goes on.
We are left with the question: do strata managers today receive the education and training required to properly equip them to meet the demands of their role?
During the conference, Michael Teys shared with us his experiences when he wears his ‘two hats’: when acting as a strata lawyer and charging $650 per hour, he commands respect and his advice is listened to and often accepted. When acting as a strata manager and charging $65 per hour, he is dismissed as just another strata manager who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Of course, he is the same person, probably giving the same advice regardless of the hat he’s wearing.
There is an important insight here. Lawyers study for somewhere between 4 and 6 years (or more) and are required to hold a bachelor’s degree or equivalent, as well as a current practising certificate. In NSW, a five day course is sufficient to register yourself with NSW Fair Trading as a strata managing agent.*
Right or wrong, in the eyes of the general public (ie: our clients), higher levels of education translate to professionalism and value. It seems to me that, for strata managers, the benefits of increased requirements for formal education and training are likely to be twofold:
- equipping strata managers with the right skills and expertise to assist them navigate their complex responsibilities; and
- shifting the perception of their occupation from industry to profession, immediately increasing their value which, one hopes, will translate into strata managers receiving the respect they deserve.
I am very interested to hear your thoughts.