South Africa - Cape Town - 18 March 2019 - Malmesbury is a town in the Western Cape province of South Africa, about 65 km north of Cape Town. The town is the largest in the Swartland which took its name from the Renosterbos, an indigenous plant that turns black in the warm, dry summers. The area is especially known for its grain and wine cultivation as well as sheep and poultry farming. Malmesbury was named after Sir Lowry Cole's father-in-law, the Earl of Malmesbury. Settlers were encouraged to make their homes here because of a tepid sulphur chloride mineral spring that was renowned for curing rheumatism. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

In a move that it hopes will increase the number of trained Sectional Title portfolio managers in SA, property management company Trafalgar has launched its own academy.

This will offer an intensive six-month training course for graduates with degrees in law, finance or property and provide them with the specialist knowledge and skills to manage a portfolio of between 30 and 40 Sectional Title schemes, followed by a six-month period of hands-on learning.

“There are currently about 35 000 Sectional Title schemes in SA, and more are being developed all the time, so there is an increasing need for trained managers who can ensure that they operate as they should,” says Trafalgar MD Andrew Schaefer.

“But while there are great courses available for those who need to manage a single scheme, there has until now been no formal additional training for those wanting to make a career out of managing a whole group of Sectional Title buildings in an efficient and cost-effective manner. The job can also be quite daunting in terms of the significant overtime requirements associated with after-hours trustees’ and directors’ meetings.”

Consequently, he says, trained portfolio managers are very difficult to recruit. “The excellent portfolio managers we currently have, for example, have all had to learn as they went along, absorbing knowledge from others who have been in the business longer than them - and passing it on to those with less experience. Now what we will be doing is formalizing that learning into specific modules - and bringing in our top experts in the various disciplines to provide the training.” 

The course is currently being piloted at Trafalgar’s Cape Town office with five graduates selected from among dozens who applied late last year. It covers the legislation that applies to Sectional Title schemes and other community housing schemes run by a Home Owners’ Association (HOA), as well as the financial management of such schemes, meeting procedures, operational systems and the management of support staff and service providers.

Those who complete the course by the end of July will then be placed in the larger Trafalgar offices around SA and go through a further six months of practical training under the guidance of senior portfolio managers while they learn to manage their own portfolios.

“And if this pilot is a success, we have plans to expand the academy next year and start creating a pipeline of portfolio managers to support our growth,” says Schaefer. “In this way, we will also be providing a benefit to our clients in that we will have more highly-capable portfolio managers available to manage their properties, and also contributing to the development of valuable and practical commercial skills in SA as a whole.”