Following many months of uncertainty/discontent after the launch of the CPD Programme in January, not to mention the backlash encountered post its launch, I am finally pleased to report that we have made some progress in communicating your concerns to the relevant authorities.
On 3 June, 2015 we were given an audience with the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, Ms. Nocawe Noncedo Mafu. This is the Committee that oversees the EAAB. Ms Mafu was extremely engaging and positive and I believe the meeting opened the channels of communication and achieved tangible results.
The response from the industry to the CPD crisis has been overwhelming and as such the parties have agreed to take steps to improve confidence in the EAAB, using their respective resources and capacities to build partnerships for the future growth and development of our industry.
Mrs Mafu has undertaken to address the many challenges faced by REBOSA members and while this will not happen overnight we are confident that we have started the process to bring about positive change.
I would like to thank our Parliamentary Liaison Officer, Mr Jeremy Marillier for his tireless lobbying in making this meeting possible.
Feedback on the 3 June 2015 Meeting
Portfolio of Human Settlement
- Ms N Mafu – Chairperso
- Ms Koliswa Pasiya – Committee Secretary
- Mr Leepo Tsoai – Committee Research
- Mr Sabelo Mnguni – Content Adviser
- Mr Nathi Mjenxana – Committee Legal Adviser
- Mr Greg Rhoxo – Secretary to the Chairperson
- Mr Andrew Golding – Chairperson
- Mr Adrian Goslett – Director
- Mr Jan le Roux – Chief Executive
- Mr Jeremy Marillier – Parliamentary Liaison Officer
After introductions, REBOSA’s Chairman, Dr Andrew Golding provided the committee with an in-depth overview of the organisation. The platform provided us with the opportunity to inform the committee of REBOSA’s mandate, objectives and our responsibility to our members as well as the importance of having a collective industry voice at this level.
In order to fully understand the shortcomings the industry are experiencing with the EAAB, and in the spirit of finding sustainable solutions to the many problems we encounter on a daily basis, we then unpacked the EAAB’s core values which they subscribe to. An organisation’s values serve as a compass for their actions and describe how they behave in the world.
The EAAB stipulates their values will underscore the Board’s behaviour as it strives to achieve the ideals encapsulated in its vision and mission, namely:
- Integrity: the quality of adhering to the highest moral principles and professional standards;
- Responsibility: the authority to make decisions independently and to be accountable for actions taken;
- Respect: to demonstrate courtesy and regard for one another and for all stakeholders;
- Excellence in service delivery: to exceed client expectations in service delivery;
- Communication: the effective exchange of information in such a manner that there is a mutual understanding;
- Participation: the involvement of all relevant stakeholders in what the EAAB does;
- Trust: building and maintaining the highest levels of trust and respect in EAAB engagements and interactions with all Stakeholders and employees
These values are clearly in question in light of the problems which we shared with the Chairperson. As the regulator, the EAAB should lead by example and can only expect the industry to conform when they themselves set a world class standard.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
Again, REBOSA reiterated its position on Continuing Professional Development. We are by no means against this initiative, our concerns lie only in the way the programme was implemented and how it is currently being managed.
As registered property practitioners, we need to enhance and maintain professional competency and ensure consistency with international best practice on a continuous basis.
In terms of GN R633 promulgated by the then Minister of Trade and Industry on 4 June 2008, the CPD programme should have then been implemented from 1 August 2012. The first three year cycle was finally launched on 1 January, 2015, almost three years after the official launch date. The first three year cycle in terms of this regulation should have been completed by 1 August 2015 – only eight months after the adjusted 1 January, 2015 implementation date.
We questioned why the programme was in launched in apparent haste and without regard to the ramifications such alacrity would have on the industry, when it was clearly way overdue anyway.
Why did the EAAB announce in 2014 that “CPD points will be provided to all non-principal and principal agents who have attended one of our roadshow seminars” when 2014 clearly does not fall within the new 2015 three year cycle? Will points earned in 2014 be accrued to the 2015 CPD cycle?
We communicated to the Chairperson that as the programme was already significantly delayed; it would have been favourable to launch the programme with enough time given to carry out pilots, test systems and review and remedy any shortcomings.
Based on the many complaints we have received from our members over the past few months in respect of the EAAB’s dysfunctional website, we illustrated some instances of the portals failure to Mrs Mafu. In response to the EAAB’s justification that the system was overloaded due to high volumes of traffic, we were also able to demonstrate that problems were not isolated to high volume traffic times by showing examples of screenshots taken between 1am and 6 am, which are generally not considered ‘working hours’. This clearly determined that the EAAB’s IT systems are challenged.
We also conveyed how this has a direct impact on our members’ ability to remain compliant in respect of CPD.
- Agents unable to register for CPD despite willingness to do so
- Agents unable to complete the Professional Development Plan (PDP) a precursor to the registration of the CPD programme
We asked Mrs Mafu to examine the model upon which the fee structure for CPD was determined.
Principals – R2500
Estate Agents – R2000
We explained that there seems to be no valid grounds for the incongruity of the fee structure other than to say that we believe the thinking was that ‘Principals must earn more therefore they should pay more’. We expanded by clarifying that the majority of the industry comprises of sole proprietors who are both principal and agent and that no justification for a different fee exists.
REBOSA recently conducted a study of potential earnings of estate agents working in townships and this study concluded that these agents earn less than R100,000 per annum. We shared details of this study with the meeting, further signifying that the cost of CPD is prohibitive and actually a hindrance to transformation.
In addition, based on the schedule of events released by the EAAB for CPD points for the remainder of the year; there is no difference in the educational offering that could possibly deem this difference in fee structure.
We clearly pointed out that there cannot be such a reckless determining of models for fee structures.
We informed the Chairperson that payments have not been allocated resulting in members being unable to register for training sessions and therefore at risk of being unable to amass the 15 verifiable points required to complete the first years cycle. We explained that this will further result in agents being at risk of losing their FFC’s in terms of penalties for non-compliance.
To date the EAAB has yet to issue invoices against upfront payments made in respect of CPD, which have VAT and other financial implications for our members.
According to the EAAB Notice of 4 March, 2015 Estate Agents were to be issued individual CPD credit cards when they attended their first CPD event. The ‘Swipe Card’ is the mechanism to record verifiable CPD points. After the disastrous George and Cape Town events where the swipe cards and machinery malfunctioned, this process seems to have since been abandoned.
We have reported that points are now being allocated manually, often written on pieces of paper, which by the EAAB’s own admission, ‘some have gone missing’ – we questioned the ability of an already strained method, to effectively capture each of our members who attended these events, points’ accordingly.
CPD Training Sessions
We have reported that the venues are over-subscribed with each venues capacity being 350 to 450 seats. Given the estimated figures of +- 28 000 registered estate agents ( interns not included ) who need to complete the first year of the 3 year cycle; taking into consideration the number of training sessions released on the official EAAB calendar of events and the geographical location of each, we have pointed out that it is not achievable.
Based on the feedback from many of you, we voiced our concerns around issues of content. We are firmly of the belief that content should be developed in response to the learning needs of the potential participants. Unfortunately feedback indicated that most of the content was lacklustre, repetitive and lacking in substance.
Conversely, we conveyed the positive feedback we received in respect of presentations made by Mr Clive Ashpol and Ms Debra Vial of the EAAB, whose presentations were unanimously well received and we thank you for communicating this to us.
Unfortunately a further discomfort was the amount of negative feedback we received underlining certain Presenters/Trainers promoting their businesses more than providing course content and training. We have emphasised the need to vet training providers.
Also noted and mentioned was the lack of sufficient study material at certain events.
Penalty for Non-Compliance
We pointed out that the three guidelines supplied by the EAAB i.r.o. failure to achieve the required CPD points, are contradictory and unclear. Currently no provision has been made to make amends, leaving agents who fail to comply for whatever reason no means of rectifying the situation.
The EAAB intends to make a “surplus” (read “profit “) of R30/40m from the CPD programme that will go onto their income statement. We have asked the Chairperson to ascertain how this surplus will be allocated and have proposed that as there is a surplus; the fee for CPD either be reduced or proportioned to bursaries or education of new industry entrants. We objected to the idea of planning a surplus and asked that the fees be halved.
We explained to the Committee that it is not the intention of our members to vilify the EAAB but that nearly half of the complaints we receive are around a lack of communication.
- The EAAB works in silos and this has a direct effect on how queries are solved. “The one hand does not know what the other is doing”
- The database from which communications are sent is not accurate or updated continually which is a requirement of an industry where agents move from agency to agency with frequency.
- The preferred method of communicating to the industry is “The Agent” magazine which is published haphazardly.
- Meetings are called at extremely short notice with no time to respond or make provision for.
- Important notices are emailed over weekends and usually communicating deadlines, that at such short notice, are impossible to adhere to.
- Average response time to emails on queries is 3 weeks – if at all
- Average time contact centre takes to answer a telephone call is 15 minutes
- Top down communication and dismissive attitudes
It is REBOSA’s intention to improve the channels of communication between the regulator and ourselves, and therefore our members. This meeting is the first clear sign that our concerns will be heard and acknowledged and that we are on an upward trajectory to open dialogue and share our objections.
We acknowledged that trust accounts need to be managed and audited but explained that the costs of audits by CA’s of the business accounts are prohibitive, especially to sole proprietors. Employing a firm of chartered accountants is costly and the industry simply just cannot afford it. This also impedes growth and is especially unaffordable to new entrants to the industry, hampering transformation further.
We pointed out that, in terms of article 27 of the Act, there is provision for discretion that can be exercised, when deadlines are not met and that this discretion is never exercised.
It appears that same estate agencies are targeted year on year (soft target) for audits whereas many others are never audited. We appealed for a fair approach that ensures that all agencies get to be audited equally.
NQF 4/NQF 5 and PDE
- Upgrades not effected (agents with NQF 4 still classified as intern agents)
- Concerns around the latest management of PDE with venues changing up to 3 times prior to exams and venues being full. Agents having to write their PDE while sitting on the floor and printing their own exam papers are just some of the complaints we have received
- SSETA has admitted to a backlog in issuing certification and are in the process of remedying the situation but this has placed an additional burden on agents wishing to write the PDE
1 Learner – 1 Estate Agency Programme
REBOSA are cognisant that the industry has to transform. The sector is still characterised by an under-representation of previously disadvantaged persons and remains heavily skewed in favour of white participants. REBOSA remains committed to this programme and the majority of our members have already made pledges to meaningfully participate.
The Chairperson confirmed in our meeting that the programme will take effect this month. She also clarified that this is an initiative of the Department of Human Settlements.
SSETA together with the EAAB have been conferring on the stipend that will be made available to all interns participating in the programme.
When we have clarity on the processes and funding mechanism we will inform you and we implore you to participate.
Against the backdrop of transformation this is also the surest way we will grow the sector to the benefit of all.
Sustainability of the Fidelity Fund
We have raised our concern to the Chairperson that the fund is being depleted. At a cost of R52m per annum to administer, this is not sustainable. In previous years the fund enjoyed a surplus, which at the discretion of the EAAB Board of Directors could be put to good use. If we had this surplus now it could have been put to good use in providing bursaries and training new entrants.
- REBOSA have proposed the following:-
- Provide an ongoing platform for open dialogue
- Equalise (Principals vs. Agents) and or reduce CPD Fees
- Delay the CPD rolling cycle so that the first year only ends in June 2016
- Increase the number of training sessions and venues per geographical location
- Vet CPD trainers
- Assess the course content
- Implement E-Learning as a more affordable and simpler alternative
- Investigate EAAB’s dysfunctional IT systems i.e. website and contact centre
- Deliver swipe cards with CPD points allocated and loaded
- Allocate payments and issue VAT invoices for all payments made
- Pilot and test procedures and systems
- Apply Article 27 of the Act in deserving cases
- Article 12B and 12C of the Act – investigate the sustainability and cost of administering the Fidelity Fund
- Ensure the timeous issue of FFCs
- Construct a manifesto for broader industry consultation and inclusion
- Deliberate the composition of the EAAB Board to include residential real estate specialists who can make meaningful contributions to the betterment of the industry as a whole
Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee Response:
- Will meet and consult with the EAAB with a view to finding solutions that are mutually beneficial
- Will provide a platform for open dialogue between all stakeholders to iron out the current problems and find workable solutions to move forward
The Chairperson has instructed her committee to work towards a date to reconvene a meeting before Parliament goes into recess at the end of June. We will report the outcomes of that meeting to you once it has taken place.
Please see 1 June notice form EAAB in respect of IT3b Certificates. The notice is attached to this report.
NQF 4 Certification from SSETA
We thank you for submitting your information for assistance in fast tracking your NQF 4 Certificates. SSETA first had to contact all the respective training services providers to obtain your information from them. As 300 of our members applied for assistance you can imagine that this is a formidable task. We received confirmation from Mr Gula that they have employed additional staff to help with the process. SSETA have the matter in hand and we ask that you please exercise patience while they attend to the matter. Below is an email confirming that the matter is receiving their urgent attention.
From: Thabani Gula Sent: 02 June 2015 08:51 AM To:
Adrianne Du Toit Cc: Thabo Mdlalose Subject:
RE: Rebosa NQF4 Certificates
Naturally at this time of year, when agents are scrambling to beat the EAAB deadline, the demand for our services get high. We have employed more staff to help Mr. Mdlalose, we should give you an update before the end of the week.
QMD: Quality Management Division Quality Assurance of Learner Achievements(QALA) Manager Website: www.serviceseta.org.za