Hitting the ground running is vital at the start of a new Presidential term!
It’s now just a month since I was appointed President of the Institute. The first 100 days are a critical time to make a positive impression and lay a meaningful foundation for the future - and even more so when it comes to a Presidential year - but I’m fortunate to have had the benefit of working with and the experience, purpose and direction of Immediate Past President, Louise Freeth. Coupled of course with the knowledge that both the new Senior Vice President – Alistair Townsend - and Junior Vice President – Carla-Maria Heath - are also passionate about the work of the IRRV and its members.
A key aspect is to listen and learn and the best way to do this is to create an environment that maximises it, including opportunities to meet, build rapport, and establish connections with members, employees, customers and other key stakeholders. And asking for views on what’s working and the importance of listening, which is often undervalued.
It’s also important to communicate, connect and establish trust and open the “virtual door”, so if you haven’t noticed already, you can find out about what I’m up to via Twitter @andrewhetherton my blog at https://irrvpresidenthetherton.blogspot.com/ and through Linked-In. These channels are supported by the IRRV’s own feeds and Facebook channels. The IRRV uses a range of social media channels which will update you on the work of the Council and our staff.
As an organisation develops, it is also important to “slow down in order to speed up” and the first opportunity came with the IRRV Council meeting in early November, when Council members received reports from the “portfolio postholders” for the coming year. Many reflected on the excellent Annual Conference and Exhibition in Telford and of course the Performance Awards, a great opportunity to celebrate the efforts of all our finalists and to congratulate all the winners.
We also need to address the value of our professional body, the benefit of working with other kindred organisation and supporting our members, students and stakeholders in ensuring the IRRV continues to be at the forefront of education, professional discipline and embracing change. The old adage of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” is still relevant, but so too “results matter” and even more so when we need to address mission critical situations. The ones that come to mind include the issues surrounding Universal Credit, the Budget and the need to respond to consultations. We have as an Institute so much to offer and the strength comes from the passion and enthusiasm from our members, Associations and supporters to do the right thing. Internal and external issues will no doubt provide challenges but as an organisation we will be flexible and agile in embracing these issues.
I have attended a number of events, the first being the Association Representatives meeting on the final day of the Conference. I was accompanied by our CEO David Magor and we look forward to reading of the updates from that meeting as both David and I needed to leave for The European Group of Valuers’ Associations (TEGoVA) event in Sofia, Bulgaria. I was really pleased to be part of this event, meeting representatives from across Europe and indeed wider afield, including representatives from the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO).
I was also able to attend the Chartered Institute of Tax (CIOT) Presidential Reception at the Kia Oval, to network with their members and hear of the work they have been doing. They provided details of their new rebranding and initiatives to support members, training and celebrating success across their organisation.
As I conclude my first update, I do so from Nassau, Bahamas, where I am attending the 8th Construction and Valuation Conference run by the International Property Tax Institute (IPTI) and RICS Americas. Keeping in touch with events at home, including Brexit and the decision to hold a General Election, provided an insight for me as to how the UK is perceived abroad.
A key event, however, was the announcement of the review by the Treasury Select Committee. The IRRV provided a written response to the inquiry earlier in the year and I was pleased to see a significant number of the issues we raised being addressed by the Committee. Time will tell how these will be taken forward but the key issues in my mind include the need to model and work on further reforms of the business rates system and the need to ensure adequate funding of the VOA to ensure that it is able to undertake more frequent revaluations effectively. In addition, the report highlighted a number of other important considerations, specifically including:
• that changes to the system of business rates need to be fair to all ratepayers. It is essential for the system to be transparent
• the current system of Check Challenge and Appeal has presented a number of significant issues in terms of its implementation and this has undermined confidence in the process, which needs further review.
The IRRV stands ready to support a detailed review of the approach to online sales tax and other alternatives and the Committee in its final report recommends further modelling and investigation into these options.
As you read this, Christmas will be fast approaching, so I take this opportunity on behalf of Council and my family to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy and prosperous New Year!