Rob Griffiths, deputy chief executive and chief financial officer at Longhurst Group, explains how modifying an online system provided a cost-efficient solution to a new compliance standard.
The Homes and Community Agency’s governance and financial viability standard has once again raised the bar for regulatory compliance in the UK’s housing sector. So this year, asset and liability registers are top of the agenda for boards and senior staff across the sector. In fact, Longhurst Group began work on a similar project before the new standard was announced. As part of our work to introduce a group-wide contingency plan, we had already recognised a business need to improve the information we hold on our assets and liabilities and to hold that information in one easily accessible location.
Longhurst Group began work on our register early last year and an integral element of our success has been to use a system that allows us to do more than simply store data but link key documents and draw useful inferences from that data.
We’re using a geographical information system developed by Stanfords in conjunction with the Wright Hassall TIDEE system which supports all the functions we need and as an online system, it doesn’t require any new investment in software. The GIS system was something we already had following a stock transfer in 2009, but working with Wright Hassall, our legal advisors, and Stanfords we found another use for the system. Our approach to the liabilities register has followed a similar methodology, with our online risk management system evolving to meet the needs of the asset register.
For all its merit, the act of compiling an accurate and useful asset and liability register is time-consuming and required resources beyond our initial projections. With more than 18,000 homes to account for, the process took longer than we expected due to the amount of administration involved.
So after investing so much time and energy, our focus is now on how we embed these registers into our daily operations and make them a living part of our organisation that adds value to what we do. This is not just another data-handling exercise to satisfy the regulator; these registers are assets that will work for us and they are worth the time they take.
Rob Griffiths is deputy chief executive and chief financial officer at Longhurst Group.