Belgarum Property Management Ltd (“BPM”) started out as a family firm back in 1998 and has recently witnessed a period of significant organic growth as a result of investment in new technology. With a restructured team based in its Winchester Head office and instructions to operate on a number of quality developments, largely through word of mouth recommendations, the company now manages over 2,800 units spread across 150 developments incorporating both building management as well as communal estate areas. The recent success of the business is largely down to its philosophy of offering and maintaining an excellent bespoke customer ‘experience’ under ARMA Q directives.
The rapid growth at BPM had seen more complex new developments and a large number of mixed-use and multi-schedule estates being added to their property portfolio, increasing the complexity of their service charge accounting. It was felt that the process would now be best handled by using a firm of accountants that specialised in Service Charge accounts and who shared BPM’s philosophy of providing outstanding customer service. Central to this requirement was the need for a team who were good at communicating and explaining service charge accounts to BPM’s team of property managers, many of whom were unfamiliar with accounts and accounting terminology. Gordon Whelan and the Service Charge team at Haines Watts were known to some members of the team at BPM and had gained a reputation in the sector both for their specialism in Service Charge accounting and for providing a collaborative and tailored approach for each of their clients.
What we did
On appointment our first task was to get to know our client, how they wanted to operate and the systems and processes they already had in place for managing their properties.
A core team was selected to match the requirements of the corresponding property team at BPM and a series of meetings established to enable us to develop relationships at all levels of the organisation.
Using the information we gained from these meetings, we were able to create a bespoke system to optimise receipt and delivery of accounts ensuring that each step of the process was carried out speedily and efficiently. Regular contact points with the team at BPM were established to ensure that any issues were identified and fed back in a timely manner, and to provide a forum to discuss ways in which to improve the team’s relationships with their leaseholders. Key factors included:-
- A lease review and corresponding written feedback to the relevant Property Manager at the start of each job
- A summary letter at the end of each job highlighting any key issues in the accounts and any accounting procedures that needed reviewing
- A new and innovative way of presenting financial reports
- Our attendance at BPM staff meetings to update Property Managers on accounting changes in the sector and to provide face to face support on any issues arising and suggest new ways in which they could improve their interface with leaseholders.
How has this service impacted Belgarum’s business?
Successfully through their first ARMA Q audit, BPM are now competing and tendering for more complicated estates and have plans in place to increase their team of property managers this year to meet this demand. We are delighted to be part of their business growth and are looking forward to supporting the team through their tender processes and working with them to develop improved standards of quality control.
What does the future hold?
Close and regular contact has given our client’s property managers confidence in the accounting information they are being given and the ability to speak knowledgably to lessees about their service charge accounts. The new procedures and contact strategies we have put in place mean that BPM have full confidence that the presented year-end accounts will have undergone immense scrutiny and be consistent with the lease for each block. They are also safe in the knowledge that the previous accounts of any new instructions will be analysed by a professional who is fully conversant with leasehold legislation, and that any irregularities will be highlighted and actioned in a timely manner. During the time we have been working with BPM, the company has seen a significant reduction in the number of queries from lessees arising from the annual service charge accounts giving their team of property managers more time to focus on other activities and the continuing growth of their business.
What is it like to work with Haines Watts?
“Frankly, the service offered by the Service Charge team at Haines Watts is exemplary. From the installation of remote access software to our online accounts, through to the regular meetings held with our property managers, to presenting the accounts prior to signoff, the service offered by the team is outstanding. The willingness of the service charge team at Haines Watts to attend staff meetings and to update the team on new improvements and innovative visual reporting methods has been an added bonus on top of what was already a first class service.
This is a much valued relationship built up over time and we will promote our association with Haines Watts to both prospective and existing clients as we believe the relationship adds value to our service proposition.
Belgarum Property Management Ltd has and will continue to recommend Haines Watts now and in the future.”
For advice, information or simply a quick chat about your service charge needs, please get in touch using our contact form