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Fostering stronger ties

The insights and views arising from industry dialogues provide useful input for our policy reviews.

Throughout the year, CEA holds regular focus group discussions and dialogues with Key Executive Officers (KEOs), property agents, and industry associations.

At these sessions, we share with the industry some of the policies or initiatives that we are exploring or reviewing, and invite stakeholders to give their feedback and suggestions. We also take the opportunity to highlight some of our observations and challenges ahead for the industry.

We are heartened that the participants bring to the table practical ideas and solutions, and give valuable feedback on the potential challenges that could arise.

We also appreciate the honest feedback that industry practitioners share with us. These include the pain points they face in compliance and regulatory issues, and the difficulties they sometimes encounter on the ground.

The insights and views arising from these discussions are invaluable to CEA. They enable us to constantly review and refine our processes and policies. This way, we aim to make them more enterprise-centric and in tandem with the business climate.

Our industry partners bring to the table practical ideas and solutions at the KEO dialogue session.

In May 2017, we met with a group of KEOs from the small to mid-sized agencies. The purpose of the session was to seek views on initiatives that we are exploring to help agencies.

These include how agencies and KEOs can have better oversight over the training and development of their agents, how the industry can leverage technology to remain relevant, and how we can help agencies to tackle the checks required to identify money laundering and terrorism financing activities related to property transactions.

Ms Claudia Chioy, KEO of Shinoken & Hecks Pte Ltd, had until the session perceived CEA as a distant and somewhat high-handed regulator that “lorded over” the industry. She however found the session “fruitful” and the experience gave her a “new perspective of CEA”.

While Ms Chioy was mindful that CEA must continue to fulfil its role as a regulator, “it is… however heart-warming to know that [CEA is] finally making attempts to understand our pain and even trying … to lessen our pain whilst keeping us in check”.

Another dialogue participant, Ms Patricia Gay, KEO of Array Realty Pte Ltd, said that the event “had both parties appreciating each other’s efforts to understand and resolve the problems faced by the real estate industry.”

Ms Gay added, “The opportunity to meet personnel of CEA on a face-to-face and small group basis was a welcome change from larger group sessions that had taken place in the early days of CEA.”

Ms Gay said that she went away from the session better appreciating the challenges faced by CEA as a regulator.

“This can be daunting, not only because of the large numbers of agents, but more so the diversity in their basic academic qualifications, and age groups spanning over at least two generations,” she said.

She also felt that the open sharing was refreshing. “The KEOs who were present, were vocal and humorous and surprised the CEA management team with their candid and constructively critical views,” she shared.

Mr Tan Yew Teck, KEO of RH Housing Agency Pte Ltd, told CEAnergy that he found the dialogue “fruitful”. The discussions on how agents can remain relevant and harness the potential of technological innovations were helpful, he said.

In addition, Mr Tan appreciated hearing from CEA Executive Director Lee Kwong Weng on several key matters. For example, the Council’s vision to raise the bar for agents to be more professional through more relevant Continuing Professional Development modules, and its role in partnering practitioners against money laundering activities in the industry.

“Mr Lee showed an understanding of agencies’ problems in handling a diverse group of agents… I observed that he displayed his leadership and sincerity when KEOs provided feedback. There was no thumbing down (of concerns raised) but firm answers where necessary”, said Mr Tan. He felt that such an approach would encourage the industry to be more receptive to listening to CEA’s views.

We look forward to more fruitful dialogues with our industry partners. These opportunities will enable us to deepen our understanding of the pressing issues impacting real estate agency businesses. The discussions will also provide us important insights to improve the way we manage these challenges together from a regulatory perspective.