Our Future Gazing Future Shaping reports produced in 2016, highlighted transformation and digitalisation as key areas of focus for affordable housing providers, and the predictions made in those publications are already proving to be accurate. It was forecast that disruptors would enter the sector which has been evidenced through new entrants such as for-profit RPs and a large number of LA owned vehicles. Digitalisation of services was also predicted to become the norm, as well as 9 to 5 working being a thing of the past. Increasingly, providers are committing to, or in the process of implementing these developments.
We’ve recently gathered insights from our customer survey on the greatest difficulties, key drivers and risks, that providers are currently facing, to understand how we might best support customers both now and in the future. These provide a unique insight into key themes which are exercising boards and executive teams in organisations across the country.
The word cloud represents the biggest perceived challenges over the next 3 years, and alongside Brexit and a tougher housing market, our customers find themselves in an uncertain and dynamic environment with an ever-evolving set of challenges to respond to.
The feedback indicates that innovation, again focusing on transformation, digitalisation and the customer experience were all important priorities.
And not surprisingly, on the priority list were:
- Land and development delivery identified as key challenges as well as growth. Housing Providers are under pressure not only to perform but to scale.
- Finance is important, specifically funding and viability, and with Brexit underway, both terms and length is increasingly uncertain.
- Regulation and governance will continue to be prevalent, in light of the green paper and despite de-regulation.
- There is a growing emphasis on social purpose and values.
To address these challenges, we uncovered the business areas most likely to be prioritised in the next 3 years:
- Development delivery
And more importantly, areas that housing providers are most likely to seek external support:
- Treasury and funding
- Executive recruitment
- Culture change
We were pleased to hear that the top 5 factors used by housing providers for selecting support are:
- Technical expertise
- Access to consultants
- Housing knowledge
- Relationship with Consultant
It was also encouraging to see 90% of customers felt we demonstrate our core values: leadership, quality and insight, successfully.
- 65% of respondents rate our e-alerts as high quality and useful
- 40% of respondents rate our webinars as useful
We will continue to send out e-alerts and run webinars and welcome customers to suggest any topics or themes that you might find useful for us to cover.
We also know that our customers are not fully aware of the breadth of our service offer. For example, over half of our customers were not aware of Aquila’s acquisition of a twelve strong development consultancy team Pod in 2017, nor the rebranding of our FCA accredited Treasury and Finance sister consultancy, Murja to ATFS around the same time. Our formal partnership with leading IT consultants: 3Cs is also not universally known and is an important part of our digitalisation offering in market.
As always, we are very grateful to all our customers who take time to complete our surveys. The results are extremely valuable, enable us to align our offer to that of our clients, and ensure we are equipped to address their greatest needs.