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Building Unions History
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A Spring Update from Avdiev

The double dissolution, or should that be disillusion election has been called. The shine has well and truly come off the not so new Prime Minister, the opposition leader has a spring in his step, the unions are preparing to flex their muscles again.

Having delivered the budget, with winners and losers as always, the Treasurer says Aussies are over the class warfare and “us and them” rhetoric. He did not go far enough – we’re over the whole political process and media circus – let’s just get the election out of the way and get on with work and life.

We’re facing eight weeks of spin from polarised think tanks, economists and shock jocks. But these are domestic gripes – it’s worse elsewhere.

Look North

The EU still can’t resolve the mass refugee problem and its porous borders, even though its economic situation seems to be improving. Bombings continue in Syria.

Brexit – Britain’s decision to stay or leave is looming. How will the people vote? The populists urge an exit, the pragmatists warn of the consequences of going it alone. With 80% of Britain’s economy dependent on the service sector, local customers may not be enough to sustain economic health.

The American election looms closer. Who will the new US president be? The economy is growing, new jobs emerge, but low wages keep the people surly and resentful and inclined to a populist vote.

Territorial tensions continue in Asia, Chinese investment abroad faces restrictions.

Back in Oz the economic divide is between the healthy service sector economies in the East and the hard yakka states where falling commodity prices bring rising unemployment and property value collapse.

The big city rivalry

Sydney v Melbourne – again/ still - The global city v The sports capital. So many similarities, so many differences.

Both are magnets for foreign investment, both have a healthy economy, dysfunctional planning controls, and infrastructure and transport problems. But the solutions are very different. The NSW government will fund a second harbour rail crossing. Victoria, having abandoned the East West road link at the cost of $1.1 billion, is now focused on removing road and rail level crossings which should have gone a long time ago. What will living next to overhead rail do for the residents of the world’s most liveable city? Shades of Chicago? NSW has completed a review of planning regulations – the latest of how many? What’s the next step? The Victorian Planning Minister has stopped reviewing and started making decisions to allow large CBD developments with foreign funding proceed.

The property bubble

It’s back, the slow leak mended by the Reserve Bank. The RBA has just dropped interest rates to a new historic low, great for borrowers, especially negatively geared investors, another blow for self funded retirees. What will be the unintended consequences on investor behaviour? What impact on welfare needs?

The negative gearing debate is continuing. Removing it was tried and abandoned in the mid 1980s, but that was too long ago for the lessons of history to be remembered. The current government intends to keep it.

A win for the property industry which has been the stand out performer of the Oz economy.

We’ve done well in the pay stakes too. Salary rises in other markets have been low to negligible, property is well ahead. Although the 2016 Avdiev Property Industry Report findings show a 3% median rise overall, under the surface there are stand out market sectors where shortages are severe and the attraction and retention strategies aggressive. Contributors reported massive pay increases and forecasts in development and building companies, for development managers, project managers and architects with 3-D modelling software skills, all in short supply.

There’s been lots of action at the top of the property food chain – the major listed property funds. Profits are up, foreign investment continues. Amalgamations, joint ventures and a spectacular but unsuccessful takeover attempt has resulted in resignations and renewal in the senior echelons of both companies.

Commercial property is doing well, spare space capacity is being absorbed, especially in Sydney. Retail is softening - unseasonal weather, consumer sentiment and sluggish sales impact on rents and yields. Regulation, the availability of local finance and a potential slowdown of foreign funds are a worry for developers, especially for the seasoned ones who have seen it all before. But hope springs eternal for the young ones, they are joint venturing with their sources of capital and looking ahead.

Real Estate has been super busy, at the big end of the property market, and in residential as well. But listing on the stock market is a brave move and does not guarantee success, even if it’s a large franchised residential network and a well known brand name. Time will tell.

The built environment consultants in the active market sectors of property are doing well, but a recent study of business conditions for architects in South Australia tells a tale of woe – fee cutting, low salaries, not enough work. They are not unique, similar conditions exist in other states too, depending on opportunity, specialisations and feral tendering competition.

Some Avdiev News

The 2016 Avdiev Report was published in March and attracted much media attention. We continue our research into directors’ remuneration and have just released the 2016 edition of our ASX Top 300 and Property Companies Directors’ Fees Reports. Our remuneration consulting services are in demand and we are continuing to work with our contributor base on commissioned research into issues such as pay differentials for directors and incentive structures specific to market sectors.

In an increasingly litigious society specialised expert witness expertise is sought after and I’ve continued to write opinions and appear in court. Judges and arbitrators appreciate informed market opinion and evidence based on 20 plus years of published remuneration data for the property and construction industries and the built environment professionals.

The next generation of property leaders

The government has listened to parents, employers and tertiary educators. School funding is to be tied to real results, not just outcomes, in numeracy and literacy achievements tested at Year 1 and Year 12 levels. What a relief all round. Kids will have to learn to fail, preparing them for employment, they may stop looking for “infotainment” instead of real learning when they get to higher learning, a major gripe from the property academics.

It may even reduce the need for all those remedial courses now run to bridge the gap between Year 12 and first year uni capability. Yes, there is hope for our Gen Ys in the future. Meanwhile, another government initiative to cap tax free superannuation funds at $1.6 million has led to news that Treasury expects an investment return of $100,000 for the self funded retiree. Another one of Treasury’s funding fantasies? If that’s true, the whiz kid analyst who ran the numbers needs some remedial numeracy teaching as well as a big injection of common sense.

We're back in cyberspace

The first day of Autumn already! Trust you and your team are powering on, with the rest of the property industry, and not being infected with the gloom of the prophets of doom.

At Avdiev we have overcome our IT systems meltdown, and are now catching up with everything we should have done in February.

  • We could not send out our mass broadcast call for salary data contribution for the Avdiev Report. But it is never too late. If you wish to receive the data contributor discount when you purchase the Avdiev Report, please contribute your data now! Contact us info@avdiev.com.au
  • No IT = no marketing, the lifeblood of any organisation! The Avdiev Property Industry Remuneration Report is at the printers now. It will be published in mid March. There’s an Excel supplement to the hard copy, for your own editing and analysis. The order form is on our website with price details for the Avdiev Report, the ASX NED’s Fees Reports, and the Womens Business Leaders Searchable Database.
  • Our remuneration benchmarking work continues, employers need to keep their teams up to market.
  • With 20 plus years of published salary data for the property, investment and construction industries and built environment professions Rita Avdiev acts as an expert witness in partnership disputes, company liquidation, personal injury and unfair dismissal.
Please call us to discuss and please contribute salary data, it is never too late!

A Christmas Update

Another year – and what a year!

Disruption, innovation, terrorist attacks, floods of refugees, economic uncertainty. The global turmoil shows no signs of slowing.

Is progress being made on climate change?

The Paris conference is over. Picture a thousand mayors of global municipalities bonding on a skating rink in the Eiffel Tower, taking home realistically optimistic but non-binding resolutions to progress their climate specific efforts.
Back in Oz the stock market keeps falling, no Santa rally this year! New listings soar and tank, winners and losers everywhere. The speed of change is accelerating. The mining boom is gone, the ideas boom is here. Work is being transformed.
Is the gig economy, work on demand, driving down the jobless rate and will it continue?
But all jobs are under threat from technology. The robots are coming! Automation has already taken hold in manufacturing, engineering and aviation. Is the insurance industry next with its risk underwriting activity? And the banks and their credit assessors?

The property industry has done well this year.

In the pre-Christmas frenzy the shoppers are shopping, the retailers are smiling and the landlords are counting the days till the next rent increases. We’re feeling cheerful and looking forward to a good year ahead.

Portfolios have been revalued up, lots of foreign money is chasing our assets, M & A activity and a few hostile takeovers have livened up the funds. Money is filtering down the food chain of the industry.

The residential bubble has not burst yet, but Sydney’s feeling nervous and Melbourne’s gloating over its stability may not last long. There’s an oversupply of apartments coming. Is Brisbane the next hot market? The West will catch up, they always do.

Meanwhile, the Lord Mayor of Sydney is facilitating debate on Christmas - “a key event on the capitalist calendar”- and its effect on the environment. “Can modern Christmas tradition ever be sustainable?” asks a leaflet promoting a university revue.

So, it’s time to hang out the Christmas stocking!

Santa, baby ….. or should I call you Saint Nicholas?

For a moment there we thought that your reputation as harbinger of good tidings and cheer was being usurped by the new Prime Minister.

But no, the gloss has come off and your status as genial dispenser of largesse is safe.
Should we be asking for anything? You bet! There are some areas of dire need … …

Santa, can you spare $1.1 billion? Victorian taxpayers have spent it on NOT building Melbourne’s East West Link, a crucial bit of infrastructure missing to ease the massive traffic jams inflaming the anger of motorists and tradies who can’t take their 100kg toolboxes on the train.

Australia’s debt keeps rising, the Treasurer needs assistance, even though he says the budget is heading in the right direction. Is it time to call in Santa’s elves, AKA the Senate, to help him along?

The Queensland government too is mired in debt, so it can’t buy the dinosaur park that could save the jobs in the nickel mine in Townsville.

Please help the goodies to keep catching the baddies before they kill more people and make us more anxious and suspicious of people not like us than we already are.

Look after the Members of the Force, herding the comrades blocking the streets and shopping at Tiffany’s and help them stay true to the cause of the law.

Let’s not forget our Members of Parliament. Come to the aid of the deposed and the defectors and ease them into accepting the new reality of their situation. Help them to move on.

This is the time of year the new graduates hit the job market. Get the employers to open their hearts and their pockets to give the kids a job before they move away, grow up and cost twice as much to hire when their fresh outlook and new expertise is needed. Put girls into blokey teams, that should help with the gender balance.

As for the rest of us, make it easy to accept change, welcome innovation, free up our imagination to make our lives, our country and the world a better place.

The Avdiev Team would like to wish you and your family a joyful Christmas, a happy and safe festive season and a successful New Year.

We look forward to sharing with you the challenges and successes the New Year will bring.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings and a productive, innovative and prosperous New Year.

An Upbeat Update

Are you in the glass half full or half empty camp? What has changed in the last few months for you? Australia has a new Prime Minister, he’s doing well in the polls and on the international stage. Will his measured messages and positive perspective on our future translate into an improvement in our economic outlook?

There’s bad news and good news.

Business investment has fallen again, now at the lowest level for 20 years, productivity needs to rise, attempts at budget reform are stuck in the Senate. The really bad news is all abroad. Terrorist attacks in Paris, Tunisia and Mali have shaken the world. When and where will the next mid-air plane explosion be? The compassionate attitude of the EU is now tempered with news of foreign and home-grown terrorists slipping in and out of Europe in the flood of refugees. Is it too late to build fences and close borders?

The good news – we live in Australia. So far, our security measures seem to work. The low Aussie dollar has brought strong and continuing growth in tourism and the need for new property to house the visitors. Hotel building is on the rise. The local property industry is living up to its reputation for resilience and grabbing the opportunities change always brings. Foreign investment in our residential market continues, new apartment towers in capital cities are in the pipeline. The Productivity Commission is recommending uniform planning regulations across Australia to facilitate development, reduce delays and associated holding costs.

The bubble

Will the slow leak turn into a flood? Capital city residential prices are cooling. Higher mortgage rates and tighter lending criteria for investors are taking effect. But desirable locations still bring astounding prices. Safe haven property stays safe in downturns.

In Western Australia the first home buyers’ grant is under review, oversupply is always a threat to a soft market. Could Queensland offer the next investment opportunities?

But job security and slow wages growth are a major factor in purchaser confidence and could affect the size and speed of development and construction of residential property.

Off the plan investors are facing loss of property values and having to find more funds to settle on purchases made several years ago. Could investment properties back on the market at lower prices cause a substantial correction in property values?

But there is still strong demand for housing and supply overall has not yet caught up with demand, despite the fears of over-development.

Commercial Property – more good news.

The market is strong, non-residential property in a stable country has strong attraction for international investors. Offices in CBD and satellite markets are leasing well, incentives are slowly falling. Retail property is stable, and despite retailer fears, malls and shopping strips are busy.

Logistics property (AKA industrial) is being developed on proposed routes to new airports across the country. Sydney’s next airport at Badgery’s Creek will also speed up the development of the next satellite CBD in the South West region.

Going green, going smart

The enthusiastic response of the property industry to green building certification has brought a new level of efficiency and comfort to the tenants and higher returns to the owners and managers. But smart building systems and controls carry a built in threat. To what extent are smart buildings safe from juvenile hackers eager to flaunt their digital power and terrorists able to hold buildings, precincts and even cities to ransom?

Cyber security is the next big opportunity in our industry.

The banks – will they or won’t they?

The stock market has grown tired of waiting for the Fed to lift its interest rates and has continued to fluctuate. Will the rise have much effect when it finally happens? Our own Reserve Bank has just left interest rates on hold. Will there be a credit squeeze in the new year?

Maybe not. The banks have new competitors. Major financial services groups prepared to take the risk are offering finance for competent developers with successful track records, backing the company, not the project.

A banking license has just been granted to a technology company which started as a payment provider and is now offering cloud based banking solutions. Are property finance funds the next big investment opportunity?

Corporate renewal

There are changes in senior ranks of property and construction companies and the service providers. Old CEOs resign in the wake of company failure to deliver profits and dividends. New CEOs restructure and remix the teams. Senior staff are under threat. In a busy AGM season shareholders challenge company strategies, proxy advisers flex their muscles, chairmen defend remuneration reports and the fat cats are seen to walk away with more than their fair share.

Property pay

There’s good news here too. While wage growth in the private sector is at a record low of 2.1% now, property remuneration has done well to deliver a median result of 3% overall since the last pay reviews.

But that is not the whole story. The Avdiev Report October Update results show that there are pockets of far more generous rewards across seniority levels in many of the 12 market sectors covered. What’s even better, the predictions are positive too.

Some Avdiev news

After all those years of working in recruitment (not headhunting) as well as consulting we have stepped out of the rat race and the Avdiev team is now focused on providing remuneration solutions, conducting the Avdiev Survey and publishing the annual Avdiev Property Industry Remuneration Report. Details are on our new website.

The legal profession has rediscovered me as an expert witness and I have provided reports written in plain English and given evidence in court. With 20 plus years of published salary data, there’s no need to spin.

Remember Weasel Words?

They’re back. Management speak has reached the pinnacle of platitudes and plain English is fighting back. In a rare admission of overreach, a Melbourne local Council plans to engage a plain English consultant to translate Council’s incomprehensible town planning communications to its ratepayers.

Weasel words are everywhere. In their quest to be seen to be striving for gender equality, companies are outdoing themselves in sanctimonious cant. Forget “aspirations” and “ambitions” to meet targets. A professional body is advertising for a CEO “with a lens on the positive influence of diversity in a professional workforce”.

The winds of change are blowing

A female jockey has won the Melbourne Cup – the first ever. So much for the “grass ceiling”. Two women are new NEDs of a Government Standards body. A woman is now Chair of a major bank. The new Victorian Government Architect is a woman.

But World Economic Forum research finds that women now earn what men did a decade ago. There’s still a long way to go.

September Update

Welcome the Spring!

Shake off those winter blues, brush off the political stagnation and the media pursuit of trendy non-core cultural issues.

For employers the focus is on jobs and growth. Survival, business expansion, increase in workflow, productivity and profitability, fending off disruptors and the constant struggle to keep the demands of their teams for better pay and conditions balanced with the viability of the company.

Employers worry about the state of the economy. Is it safe to invest in growth? How low will the $A fall? Where’s the next shock coming from?

A national reform summit has delivered stern warnings about the future – do nothing and face a recession. It’s easy to be cynical about yet another talk fest – are the summiteers really committed to their resolutions and who will walk the talk? Are the senators listening? Do they understand what’s at stake?

The State of the Nation

It’s easy to be distracted by sideshows, let’s not forget how well off we really are.

The Aussie dollar has fallen, helping our export trade. Trade with our Asian neighbours is robust and growing. The Chinese stock market fluctuations, currency devaluation and interest rate reductions raise concerns, but the Chinese economy continues to grow and remains our biggest Asian market. A new trade agreement is under attack by the unions – xenophobia or a political stunt?

It’s worse elsewhere

Australia has stopped the boats, but Europe is overrun by refugees on boats, dying by the thousands, storming borders, fleeing terror, hunger and poverty in search of a better life. Millions are sitting in camps on islands off Italy and Greece. Not since the aftermath of World War II in the 1940s has the world seen such a mass movement of desperate people.

Greece is bearing the brunt. Having ousted the Finance Minister (game theory and reality don’t mix) and accepted an austerity regime in exchange for a bail-out package the Prime Minister has resigned to call a new election. What will the Greeks vote for next, how much fiscal discipline will they wear?

The EU media is full of concern about territorial expansion in Eastern Europe, warfare by stealth and the trolls. But there’s good news too – the UK has re-elected its government with a clear majority – political stability is good for the economy, the US is in recovery mode, unemployment is down again.

It’s patchy in property

As always, the health of our industry is closely tied to the economy, and that’s gone multi-speed again. Western Australia and Queensland, the resource rich states, stars no more, are now in slow transition from resources to a service oriented economy.

In the East, Sydney and Melbourne are where the residential property action is – the REITs are in Sydney, the Super Funds in Melbourne. Prices have risen quickly in these major service based economies, but there are now signs of price moderation and a slowing of apartment construction. The banks have tightened lending criteria, it’s harder to finance new development with local money.

The Bubble

Is it or isn’t it, when will with burst and how bad will it be? With the fall of interest rates small investors and selfie superfunds piled into residential investment, expecting a safe haven for their nest egg, a low but steady income stream and a bumper re-sale profit sometime in the future.

But what goes up must come down. Having talked up the need to get into the property market and how to do it, the pundits are now offering sage advice on how to sell. Is this a sign? Where are the hands on the property clock? In fear of a repeat of the late 1980s the government has brought in new regulations to force the four major banks to hold greater liquidity. But the banks report that mortgage default has been low and that despite the risks of arrears in low socio-economic areas and mining towns, the threat of a major rout is not real.

So far, so good

At the top of the property food chain the REITs have done well, portfolios have been remixed, shareholders are happy, but the fall in the $A means more competition from foreign buyers with a long term investment horizon, free from pressure for instant returns.

This is the fat cat region of the industry with multi-million dollar pay for the CEO but not without its pitfalls. A low media profile is bad for business, but bragging to excess can curtail a long term career.

In Property Finance the competition has been growing. Peer to peer lending, mortgage financiers and other disinter-mediators are nibbling
away at the margins of the big four banks, now required to provide a liquidity buffer against mortgage loan default and business failure. Groaning old systems and the threat of fintech make for sleepless nights at the top.

Development is being affected by the new lending regime, there’s the threat of apartment oversupply, land releases are slow in coming. But foreign money is still flowing in and until the bubble bursts there will be continuing activity.

Retirement Living/Aged Care

Forever young! The baby boomers have reinvented retirement and are doing it in style. The REITs have snapped up the majority of this new, growing, lucrative asset class created for an increasing life expectancy and a comfortable lifestyle.

Corporate Real Estate

Non-core asset management policies of major corporates fluctuate with change of business conditions and management strategies. Keeping it in-house means tight control, out-sourcing to tenant advocates moves the problems on.

For the real estate agents it’s a lucrative source of business – from landlord and tenant!

Retail

The cold winter and the housing boom has brought out the apparel and white goods shoppers - retailers are smiling. Improved sales flow through to the landlords, expect to see an increase in refurbishment and redevelopment, especially among the newly amalgamated and rebranded entities.

Real Estate

The influx of Asian money, the falling A$, low interest rates, the rush of small investors and selfie super funds into residential property has been a bonanza for the agents. Long may it last!

The Built Environment Consultants

They are dependent on property activity and fluctuate with the fortunes of their clients and changes in government controls. Building Certifiers’ skills and professionalism has been questioned in the wake of building failures and approval of dangerous materials. Architects are reported to have got a 3% pay rise – not before time! The Avdiev Survey is underway and results are expected in mid October, hopefully verifying the reports. PLEASE CONTRIBUTE SALARY DATA.

Building, Design, Construction, Housing

The lack of infrastructure spending has curtailed engineering construction, but the pipeline of apartment blocks is still delivering work for the builders. There’ll be remedial work as substandard materials fail. All eyes are on the Royal Commission into trade union activities.

Findings to date have produced police action, more revelations are expected, but will anything ever change?

The Salary Reviews

The Avdiev Survey collects remuneration and business conditions data from employers in all market sectors of the property industry. The October Update to the Avdiev Property Industry Remuneration Report © will reveal the latest pay rises as at 30 June for property workers. PLEASE CONTRIBUTE

The future of work

Work is now globalised, digitised and highly competitive. The speed of change here is exponential. Recent research predicts that a substantial proportion of current graduate jobs may not exist in the future. So far, good education has been the vehicle to starting a career, but what will that mean in the future? Should kindergarten kids be taught to code and who will teach them? Australian education is lagging behind other economies, teacher quality is now in focus, but will take years to catch up.

The right to a job

No more. The ultimate entitlement has gone with the growth of the internet, outsourcing of work to emerging economies and the mismatch of skills and job availability. Too many media graduates (AKA Baristas) not enough tradies. Labour intensive industries are leaving our high cost environment. Strikes for better wages and conditions have a finite life – getting blood from a stone moves the stone abroad.

Last but not least

All the feel good quotes about women’s progress have not closed the pay differential gap, nor had any substantial effect on it. Lamenting the lack of suitable women for promotion does not wash – grow your own, create a special fast track career path. If reports that women chiefs and directors have a beneficial impact on the bottom line of a company are true, the pay off is assured.

No amount of positive media can disguise the fact that there is a deep seated cultural divide and prejudice in attitudes to men and women. There’s the glass ceiling for the young aspiring gal and concrete boots when she “admits to being in her 50s”. And when the witch hunt starts, there’s nowhere to hide.

Red hair or flight path – they get you in the end. So when you’re running late and the team says “we’ve got a helicopter for you, hop in” – tell them you’d rather walk.

A pre-budget Update

Have you made a decision about your remuneration issues yet? If not, what are you waiting for? An interest rate drop today, or the Federal Budget next week?

It’s not easy to decide. The Aussie economy is trending downward, political impasse is now being blamed for the rapidly increasing budget deficit. The electorate is in denial, we just wish it would all go away!

Over There

The world is on an uncertain path. US employment data fluctuates, an interest rate rise is not in sight but the share market continues to fluctuate. Will a new princess in the UK help the Brits focus on their election on Thursday and vote to avoid a minority government, a hung parliament and other electoral nasties? The Greek tragedy continues and Greece is teetering on the economic brink. The tie-less (or tie-free) Finance Minister has been sidelined while the Prime Minister negotiates with the creditors to sort out the mess he promised his people to fix without too much pain.

The international media has begun a debate about which conflict is the bigger threat to world stability – the Middle East or Eastern Europe, not only on the ground, but growing fast in cyberspace.

Western terror sympathisers are getting younger – a 14 year old in UK encouraging weapon importing teenagers in Melbourne with plans to kill on Anzac Day- all are now in custody. But social media provides inspiration to copy cats everywhere – who and what is next? How effective can belated de-radicalisation programs be?

The Asian Region

The Nepalese earthquake disaster has not replaced the Indonesian execution of the drug smugglers in the news. Can the debate about moral issues and principles versus the tragic effects of drug use on children and families displace the real estate price watch and worry discussions at the dinner table – can an annual rise of 15.5% in Sydney be sustained and for how long?

The Aussie Condition

The State Premiers have gone home after their vicious brawl about the GST carve up, they’ll meet with the Prime Minister again in July. Western Australia got a relief package, they need time to move the economy from mining to a new market. It also badly needs a dose of disruptive innovation in its bureaucracy to kick it along.

The RBA governor is telling retirees to get used to low returns for a long time. Does he see a recession coming?

Not in New South Wales!It’s all systems go here! The election is over - the government has four more years to continue its clean up of old bureaucratic silos and initiate new infrastructure.

The ebullient mood has infected salary expectations. Good staff, especially in development, is hard to find and keep. The head hunters are out with enticing offers. Expect an exodus of professionals out of low paying consultancies which have not secured enough work to stem the flow.

Victorian business people are nervously watching the new government spending money to cancel infrastructure contracts, introducing disruptive infrastructure projects and waiting for the unions to flex their muscles. However, despite the introduction of a new tax on property purchases, offshore companies still see Melbourne as a safe place to buy.

A nervous wait produces subdued pay rises, will the team get fed up with asking for more and just move north?

Meanwhile can the local developers take their money to Queensland, a traditional escape route when things get tough? The property industry is still coming to terms with the new minority government and working out what the new policies on planning and development will be.

The Shock of the New

There’s a new generation of developers pushing the boundaries of local government laws and sustainability limits in the interests of creating affordable housing. Is this a fore taste of the future?

The financial services industry is upgrading its technology – Fintech is the new buzzword and battle ground, in expectation of significant disruption and the erosion of their market share by peer-to-peer lending. Will they use the new technology to take greater risks in their battle to maintain profitability?

Enter the CRO

There’s a new seat at the table of the C-Suite executives – the Chief Risk Officer. Already a feature in global financial institutions, it is regarded as one of the big 3 with the CEO and the CFO, and paid accordingly.

In a litigious environment risk is a big factor in any organisation. Financial, operational and industrial relations risks are a threat and must be mitigated. This needs a new set of skills – what are they and is the risk committee chair competent to monitor the decisions made by the CRO?

In the regular remix of positions at the top in the major property players, executives with across the board experience in the industry have already risen to the rank of CRO.

What will be the shareholders’ perception of this new role? A new fat cat hired with the usual golden handshakes, handcuffs and parachutes or an essential member of the team nurturing their nest egg?

The Women – Winners and Losers

New South Wales’ favourite Transport Minister, having given her best to clean up the transport system has been promoted to State Treasurer. Given her finance background it seems an appropriate choice.

Meanwhile a listed asset management group promoted a woman Board member to the CEO role. The share price promptly plunged by 19%.

But there are women waiting in the wings – parked in subordinate roles or as non-executive directors on government and NFP Boards.

Avdiev does ongoing research in this area. Among our remuneration products and solutions are Avdiev Women Business Leaders Databases which give profiles of women directors and senior executives in ASX Listed companies for Top 300 Companies and Property Companies (ASX Real Estate Sector). Comparing the 2013 and 2015 editions – our research shows an increase of women in both groups, but with the increase of women in property companies at a lower rate than the Top 300 companies.

Number of women identified in each edition


ASX Top 300 Companies

ASX Property Companies

2015

557

99

2013

476

91

Increase from 2013

17%

9%

Women’s Pay – it’s a universal and multimarket problem

Source: www.spectator.co.uk

It’s also the elephant in the room. The property industry’s Male Champions of Change commissioned a report on women in property which analysed every issue pertinent to the problem except women’s pay and the differentials which exist between them and their male peers.

There is daily media about gender balance, lack of women at the top, and there are companies trying to equalise the numbers, but it’s a long, slow battle. Have you checked your payroll for disparities and how they developed?

Take a risk. Realign the remuneration. Could your next CRO be a woman?

For the latest in Property Remuneration, the Avdiev Property Industry Remuneration Report was released in March. No gender breakdowns, objective market remuneration rates for all, with data for over 320 property positions. Click here for more information.

February Update

It’s two months into the new year and, in response to a sharp rise in unemployment, the RBA has cut the interest rate to a new record low. The governor is looking for the usual exuberance in the business community to help the slowing economy along, but all the action is with the Sydney and Melbourne residential property investors. When will they run out of puff?

A reality check

2014, a year of subdued optimism, ended with a terrorist event in Sydney’s Martin Place, a reminder that Australia is not immune from terrorism. An escalating global phenomenon engulfing the Middle East, Daish (IS) atrocities and mass executions proudly announced on social media are drawing more and more countries into collaborative action to defeat the terrorists. Egypt is the latest. But terrorism is infectious, universal and coming to a café near you. Lone wolf and small group attacks in Sydney, Copenhagen and Paris have added to the general feeling of unease and fear. Governments are responding with tougher laws.

That’s on the ground. What about the cyber skirmishes, the twitter attacks, and the currency wars? When and how far will the Aussie dollar fall, will it help or harm our economy?

Australia in the Asia Pacific region

Our assets are getting cheaper, the global investment community is cashed up and has a long term investment horizon. Not only have our property assets been desirable targets for some time, the latest play is a Japanese proposal to take over a major logistics company at a substantial premium to its share price.

Have we been dragged into the Asia Pacific region despite ourselves or is this the next step to freer regional trade and a revival of prosperity?

The interest rate cut has delivered real estate investment a big win, self funded retirees are the losers. The hunt for yield is on! Is there a property bubble forming? How long will the share market keep rising?

Asian money continues to be plentiful here and buying up property at prices well above local comfort zones. This has been a boon for the local property industry, especially Sydney and Melbourne.

The States of play

Across Australia state economies have polarised again.

New South Wales is continuing as the stand out economy. It’s buzzing with activity. Infrastructure projects are progressing, all transport bureaucrats are now under one umbrella organisation, the Ministry of Transport. Its minister is widely praised for her ability to achieve results. Planning and Transport are beginning to collaborate. State Electorate boundary changes are not expected to influence the expected result of the election at the end of March, which the current government is forecast to win, despite escalating media campaigns of assorted pressure groups and road rage in the Inner West in Sydney.

In Victoria a recent change of government has brought planning and development uncertainty, proposed cancellation of major infrastructure projects, removal of safeguards against unfettered industrial action and potential loss of federal funding. Will there be a boost in pay for IR skills in the next salary review?

The tradies on talk back radio are incandescent with rage about the loss of a vital road link. The new government is focusing on rail and level crossings. Are toolbox friendly train carriages on the horizon?

The property industry in Queensland woke in fright on the morning after its election at the end of January. Could the voters’ intention have been to give their gung-ho, fast moving government a message to slow down? Instead they elected a fragile minority government. Is it prepared for the task ahead and where is the money coming from? Major leasing decisions have been put on hold. What else will go on the backburner until the situation becomes clearer? Certainly not the storm and flood repairs. Weather keeps the dollar moving through the Queensland economy.

Western Australia is no longer the mining export darling. A new service industry will take some time to develop. Tasmania, the Northern Territory and South Australia, contemplating nuclear energy and waste as a potential saviour of its fragile economy, each face their own problems and continue to lag behind the Eastern states.

There’s action in property

The property industry never stands still. US companies are showing great interest in Australia’s built environment consultancies. How many more will change hands this year? Major development companies have joined forces, retail A-REITs are re-branding and merging. Others are disposing of major portfolios, there’s lots of interest from cashed up global investors. New REITs are doing well. Hostile take-over attempts have begun, how will the shareholders respond?

Overseas assets are beginning to attract Australian investment.

The retirement sector is doing well, corporate decisions to focus on this market have paid off. At the beginning of the life span investment in childcare property is a growing market, especially if a Federal Government initiative for welfare reform is implemented.

And then there’s e-commerce and its young digital property disruptors, just powering ahead. Real estate websites are in conflict, a new web portal for off the plan apartment sales has just been set up by the sons of seasoned media chiefs. Our next sensational success story?

Having been reluctant to lend to new business customers, the banks are now battling online business lenders, trying to prevent losing market share they should have ring fenced long ago.

Jobs and salaries – waxing and waning

A report from FINSIA in the financial services industry indicates that the number of finance jobs and pay are remaining stable, but that employees changing jobs could demand higher pay. The head hunters will make sure of that.

The latest Master Builders Australia report found that demand for construction workers is strong, with builders expecting growth in activity, translating into more job opportunities especially for apprentices and higher pay for trades people and subcontractors.

Employer interest in sustainability and other environment related positions is in decline across the country, with the associated drop in pay, as reported in the green press.

After a strong increase in environmental awareness and sustainability activity, especially among some of the major property owners, it’s disappointing to see that a new vital sector of the industry is seemingly in retreat.

Fat Cat news

There are winners and losers here too.

News from abroad indicating that asset management pay is overtaking the investment bankers will put pressure on boards of local listed companies to move with the times. How will the shareholders react? Some fiery AGMs ahead?

But in the cut and thrust of takeovers, amalgamations and restructures, senior executives lucky to survive the shakeup have seen pay cuts of significant size, especially if the new owner is a foreign entity and not inclined to gestures of largesse.

The Avdiev Report

We shall be reporting on our findings shortly. Some may differ from the prevailing wisdom.

Thank you to all companies and individuals who have contributed remuneration data and commented on business conditions and other issues in the latest Avdiev Survey.

The Avdiev Property Industry Remuneration Report will be published in mid-March and contains extensive commentary and detailed remuneration tables for over 350 positions, with national data and state breakups. An order form is now available, please click here.

We also publish the Women Leaders Database, identifying key women business leaders - profiles of all senior women executives and board members for the S&P/ASX Top 300 and Property Companies.

What about the women?

The pay gap between men and women keeps growing. Serious enough at 18% at graduate level, it’s worse at executive level and there has increased from 24.6% to 28.9%, according to the latest report from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.

The female CEO of a major construction company has just been elected President of the Victorian division of the Property Council of Australia. A Royal Commission into Family Violence has been set up there, the first in Australia. Queensland’s new Premier is a woman.

The Future

Will the good times in the property industry last long?

The RBA is worried about Australia’s economic future and calling on all and sundry to get together and fix it.

The media is in disconnect mode – the editors are stating the obvious economic reality that our huge and growing debt burden is unsustainable. Their commentators are busy trying to destabilize the federal government and encouraging the citizens to hate the Prime Minister.

The cartoons are getting very monotonous.

The voters are refusing to recognise that the age of entitlement is over and are throwing out state governments which move too fast in the race to fix the debt.

But the Aussie credit card just keeps ticking up the interest, and it will have to be paid. Could we be the future Greece of the Asia Pacific?

Decision making in that environment will be tricky. Beware the captain’s pick.