The changing face of property management
MAIN IMAGE: Danie van der Merwe, Director WeconnectU
It is time for a rethink of the role of Portfolio Managers
In a recent industry survey, WeconnectU asked property managers of Bodies Corporate and HOAs a few important questions about value. Their answers revealed a stark contrast between two critical success factors: value delivered vs value perceived.
According to Danie van der Merwe, Director at WeconnectU, most survey respondents felt that – despite delivering extraordinary value in an increasingly complex landscape – they remain, underappreciated, and quite often underpaid.
“This might be understandable if the industry was struggling,” says Van der Merwe, “but community management is thriving. It has come through economic uncertainty, recessions, and a massive pandemic, and is still growing by up to 60 000 new units every year.”
So why is it that the perception of their value remains so low?
“At the risk of oversimplifying the problem, it all boils down to Property Manager, more specifically the Portfolio Manager, being required to be and do ‘everything’,” says Van der Merwe. “The portfolio manager manages rything from complex legal and financial work to the most basic of administrative chores. They are the very definition of a Jack of All Trades, and the unfortunate perception of Jacks of All Trades is that they are masters of none.”
By changing the narrative to present portfolio managers as specialists, rather than generalists, however, Van der Merwe says it is possible to change the perception of their value as well.
“The first step is to look at things from the clients’ perspective,” says Van der Merwe. “What investors and scheme executives (trustees and directors) want is a high value, low risk property asset, which delivers a good quality of life in a safe and convenient living space and will be easy to sell if and when they choose.”
The day-to-day running of meetings, generating meeting minutes, financial reporting and enforcing body corporate conduct rules, all executed by the Portfolio Manager, is simply a means to an end in their view.
By repositioning the portfolio manager as a specialist in achieving these underlying goals, van der Merwe says their value becomes immediately more apparent to trustees, directors, and investors. Successfully delivering on that repackaged mandate, however, can be extraordinarily difficult without the right combination of people, standard processes, and tools.
“It’s impossible to specialise in everything,” says Van der Merwe, “which means we need to rethink the expectation that Portfolio Managers must do it all. Having access to a support team – and property management tools that streamline key areas like community and scheme executive compliance, meeting management, transparency, KPI monitoring and reporting – is pivotal in empowering portfolio managers to focus on more specialised areas.”
As for which areas to focus on, Van der Merwe says those with high client engagement, like sectional title compliance and community meetings, are usually the best choices. Both are required by law but can become much more than just regulatory hoops to jump through when reframed as opportunities for client-wowing moments.
“Remember, legal compliance isn’t just about checking boxes – it’s about minimising a very significant risk to trustees,” says van der Merwe. “Meetings, too, are much more than just regulatory theatre – they’re the ideal time to demonstrate your strategic value through insightful reporting and analysis of KPIs.”
Specialising in these critical areas, and presenting them in context with clients’ underlying goals, draws the spotlight to the portfolio manager’s true value – not as an administrator, but as a trusted advisor and business partner.
“Achieving this end will not only benefit the property managers, but will also ultimately benefit directors, trustees, and every investor out there. And your clients will be willing to pay a premium price for a premium service like that,” says Van der Merwe. “That means more opportunity for your team to focus on quality over quantity, helping your business stay head and shoulders above the competition, while maintaining a very healthy bottom line.”
WeconnectU offers a truly end-to-end Property Management ecosystem that solves all the major challenges in Community Management, Rental Portfolio Management, and Inspections & Maintenance Management.
WeconnectU’s solutions have proven extremely effective at helping property managers position themselves as specialists, building sustainable, modern businesses that are compliant, manageable, scalable, and profitable.