Michael Day is the Owner and Managing Director at Integra Property Services, as well as being a judge at the upcoming Law Firm Services Conveyancing Awards sponsored by Groundsure.
In this interview, he discusses what sparked his interest in the sector as well as sharing his views on the most pressing challenges professionals are currently up against.
Michael, please could you provide us with an overview of your background and your current role?
2018 sees my 43rd year in the property industry (I started when I was three!) and my company, Integra Property Services, celebrated our 15th anniversary in May. I had previously been a main board Director at Connells, Regional Director at Prudential Property Services and a Partner in AC Frost and Company. I am a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the National Association of Estate Agents and hold an MBA from Reading University. I have over 600 clients in the residential property sector and provide a range of mentoring, consulting, training and marketing services.
What initially sparked your interest in the conveyancing industry?
I first encountered dealing with conveyancing as an estate agency negotiator in the late 1970’s when liaising with solicitors (licensed conveyancers didn’t exist back then!). I recall, as a very green and inexperienced negotiator, speaking with a lawyer who told me he was “engrossing the contract” – I was obviously impressed and passed this vital piece of information on to everyone involved in the transaction. I soon found out that this basically meant “taking a fair copy” and so had been “fobbed off”. It never happened again!
During my days as a Director at Connells, I was responsible for the setting up and running of their Conveyancing panel and also the acquisition of Conveyancing Direct where I became a Director. Since setting up Integra, I have helped both law firms and estate agents with their Conveyancing operations including handling the disposal of a direct Conveyancing business which was acquired by LSL plc.
How important do you think it is to recognise achievement in the sector?
The conveyancing sector allowed itself to get to the bottom of the “food chain” and at the “mercy” of introducers such as estate agents. It is pleasing to see the improvements in service delivery, use of technology and greater innovation are restoring the balance a little with price now not being the major consideration in the decision making process of who should act for a consumer.
As a judge of the LFS Awards, what do you look for in a winner?
I have been a judge for the LFS awards since their inception and I look for a passion for excellence, a willingness to innovate and change, a customer centric approach, skilful and well managed marketing, efficient processes and systems, a strong but proportionate approach to compliance and a desire to help every member of staff be the best they can be. In short, a well-planned, well-managed and well-focused business.
How rigorous is the judging process?
Very. As well as a panel of judges reviewing the individually submitted entries, there is a mystery shopper investigation undertaken, a compliance and paperwork check and a telephone interview by the lead judge in each category with a senior member of the conveyancing business management team.
The judging has evolved over the years to try and make it as objective as possible and to take into account more than just the submitted entry.
What’s your favourite part of the event and what do you think attendees can take away?
The conference and awards night is always a great event. The daytime event sees an excellent array of speakers and topics being covered and an excellent selection of exhibitors. It also acts as a great networking event with people from across the industry. The evening awards night is an opportunity to dress up smartly, let one’s hair down (if I had any!) and, for those who have entered, see whether they have been recognised with an award. It is a great opportunity for conveyancing businesses to benchmark themselves against their peers in a competitive but friendly environment and to share the occasion with staff and guest who have supported them. Great fun!
What are the most prominent challenges the industry is facing at present?
There are a number of challenges, some of which will be ongoing for some time. Business volumes and sources of work. Productivity and cost control. Staff attraction and retention. Compliance and fraud prevention and security. Technology and new business models. Fee levels. Everyone is facing these to a greater or lesser degree. Many conveyancing businesses have excellent business plans and strategies to remove or mitigate the downsides and maximise the opportunities. As in any period of change there will be winners and losers. Those that have entered the LFS awards are, in my opinion, much more likely to be amongst the winners!
To find out more about this year’s LFS Conveyancing Conference and Awards, please click here.
This article was submitted to be published by Law Firm Services as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Conveyancer. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Conveyancer.