London Residential Management (LRM) is a residential property managing agent acting for over 70 developments in London and the surrounding areas. One year ago they appointed Haines Watts Service Charge to assist with the certification and audit of their service charge accounts for a large part of their property portfolio.
Twelve months into the relationship Paul Jepps, the director at Haines Watts with responsibility for the client relationship met up with the Head of Client Finance at LRM, David Melisi, to discuss progress. This is an extract of the conversation.
Appointment of Haines Watts
Paul: If we go back a year, what were the main factors that led you to appoint Haines Watts Service Charge as reporting accountants?
David: We invited five firms to tender for the service, and whilst each firm had their strengths and weaknesses, it was clear that Haines Watts ticked all the boxes I was looking for. Your fees were competitive and you were keen to expand your resources to ensure that our requirements were met. The calibre of staff was also an important consideration and overall I was confident that you would deliver on your promises.
Working with Haines Watts
Paul: Having appointed us, what were your first impressions?
David: Well, when we agreed to transfer the majority of the portfolio over to Haines Watts I did anticipate there to be some complications along the way. However, I was pleasantly surprised how everyone at your end was proactive in liaising with my staff rather than coming straight to me. Once we gave you the instruction you did the rest and I had little to do which was great!
When we appointed you, we were also slightly behind with our accounts but your team quickly addressed the issues and our accounts were finalised far earlier than in previous years.
Paul: Was there anything different in our approach compared to other firms you have used?
David: Initially, our accounts team and property managers were not used to receiving the type of detailed queries you raised about the service charge accounts. This was really valuable to us as it highlighted matters that had been missed internally.
Paul: Ah good, I’m pleased to hear that David. Have you received any feedback from residents since they have received accounts with our name on them?
David: Several RMC directors have commented that the accounts were delivered on time and that the presentation was easier to understand. I’ll have to see if I can track down these emails for you.
Paul: Yes please do David, I agree, no news is normally good news but it would be good to take a look at the feedback you have received over the past year, good or bad, but hopefully there has not been too many negative comments.
David: No, certainly not Paul. I would have told you if there had been!
Paul: As you know, we appointed Craig Smith as your Key Account Manager. Has that worked well for you?
David: Yes absolutely, Craig has been great. His assignment to us has helped resolve queries quickly and efficiently.
Looking forward – room for improvement?
Paul: Is there anything you would like us to change or possibly do to improve our service?
David: The way I see things at the moment is very black and white. We have statutory deadlines for when we need to account for what we have spent over the year. My primary aim was to make sure that we provide accurate, legible accounts within these timescales and we are doing that now. On top of that, if I am able to demonstrate that my department is providing value for money to the organisation then that is fantastic..
Paul: So David, to sum up the last 12 months, how have you found the move to Haines Watts and do you have any regrets?
David: I think in all fairness things have gone very well and you have exceeded expectation in almost all areas. Your entire team have provided us with a level of service which we have not had in the past and this has led to our business providing a far better service to lessees and directors and supported our growth. Therefore, I would like to thank you for all your hard efforts and we look forward to working with Haines Watts for many more years to come..
Paul: And on the back of that comment would you recommend Haines Watts to other firms of managing agents looking for a new accountant?
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