A good time to take stock

Posted: 12th February 2015

patrick_harknessPatrick Harkness, one of our core group of Associates, and an experienced stakeholder perception consultant, carried out semi-structured discussions with 23 CEOs in the housing sector across the UK, to establish their priorities and understand perceptions of Altair’s services. Our thanks to all who took part.

The results are instructive, and provide an insight into some of the commonalities and differences between different regions.

Who Contributed?
Most have worked with us on governance and Board development, strategy, financial modelling, recruitment, interim management, and asset management. Four had no experience of working with Altair. All are developers, operating in very different markets, between them providing the full range of housing solutions.

Key themes
The biggest variation between North and South was around the priorities of households and neighbourhoods. Those in the North consistently referred to support to individual households; to neighbourhood uplift; and organisations had more non-housing, community focused subsidiaries than in the South.
Likewise, there was more activity linking health, social care, care provision and housing in the North. Demography, within existing tenant populations and in the wider community had a bigger impact in the North. Socio-economic factors, and micro-housing markets appear to be the main drivers for these variances, as was the case in Wales.

There was greater reliance on grant in the North, and a greater sense of “assertive independence” in the South. The link between rent conversion and affordability has a greater impact in the South, so choices about rent setting have greater implications in the buoyant South.

When asked about the importance and complexity of core activities, there was consensus on governance, IT strategy, culture change and organisational development, recruitment, asset management, financial modelling and funding advice.

Two broad approaches to external support emerged: matters that lend themselves to a “soft” approach, where the priority is assurance and constructive challenge – for example, Board development, strategy; and those which are more technical, and use “harder” skill sets, like IT and asset management. Our approach is seen as being towards the “softer”, with the exception of recruitment, asset management and financial modelling. IT strategy and design, and organisational development are the areas which organisations find most challenging in terms of sourcing external support. Altair will be developing our offer accordingly, including our out of sector experience of customer profiling, data management and services.

Views on Altair
Our attributes were identified as heritage, gravitas, objectivity, empathy and credibility. Our Partners and Directors are valued, widely known and respected for excellent contacts and ability to connect current and future changes. The feedback was that in a relatively short time, we’ve gained a strong reputation for quality.

This gives a flavour of the context within which we are reviewing our services, and how to access the range of support we can provide.

For further information, contact Patrick Harkness on 07850 914 229 or email patrick.harkness@altair.co.uk

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