“Managers Need to Manage”

Over the last two weeks, we have hosted professional development days in Melbourne, Brisbane and most recently Sydney.

Part of our wider Village Manager Professional Development Program, these days combine peer networking with hearing from sector experts and advocates on a range of topics. This series of events focuses on Village Finance and Budgets.

There is one clear take away, “managers need to manage.”

This was the advice of Craig Bennett, President of the NSW Retirement Village Residents association speaking on the role of Retirement Village Managers when it comes to handling budgets and finances.

Not surprisingly, this has been a common message across the country.

For more than a decade there has been an increase in the role of ‘support offices’ when it comes to the preparation of financial reports and Village Budgets. When we consider the increased regulatory compliance placed on operators with regards to the management of funds collected by residents each month, this makes sense.

The involvement of support offices ensures a greater level of compliance given the requirements are vastly different across each state and territory – a challenge for operators with villages in multiple jurisdictions.

In speaking at our events across the country, one of the concerns from the Residents Associations has also been an increase in Managers distancing themselves from the Budget they deliver to residents, deferring responsibility to the support office.

Our events provide an opportunity to discuss these concerns openly with village professionals in each capital city. To have an open conversation and respond accordingly as a collective of professionals committed to best practice and good outcomes for residents.

Through these discussions, Managers are telling us how the expectation of the operator is aligning with that of the residents – that they, the Village Manager, take ownership. The role of the Village Manager isn’t just to understand what is in their budget, but also to take ownership of the approval process and then the management of what is finally approved.

This extends to Managers providing Committees with quarterly financial reporting with the Residents Associations and operators agreeing that this process alone provides Managers with moments across the year to inform residents on how the village’s finances are tracking – across all budgets and cost centres.

The budget process is lengthy, with most Managers already well into the preparation for 2024-25. As Jonathon Chow, Special Counsel at MinterEllison, acknowledged at the start of his presentation in Sydney this week: “This process can stir a lot of emotions in both Managers and Residents.”

We are confident though, when ‘Managers manage’, as Craig put it, there can be positive outcomes for all concerned.

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