35 Annual LDAC Stresses Promotion of Associates, Designations, Mentors and Specialization Every year, the Appraisal Institute holds its Leadership Development and Advisory Council meeting in Washington, D.C., to facilitate the exchange of ideas among up-and-coming leaders in the organization, as well as present the Appraisal Institute’s views on current hot topics to legislators on Capitol Hill. The 100 LDAC participants are broken into four discussion groups that each tackle four discussion topics chosen to represent timely and important issues facing the membership of the Appraisal Institute. This year’s LDAC, held March 15-17, addressed: Specialization as an Opportunity; Associate Members in Leadership Roles; The Next Generation – Education and Training; and Promoting the Designations – Let’s Get It Done! The recommendations, excerpted below, are presented to the national Board of Directors at their summer conference. Those in attendance spent a half-day lobbying their representatives on Capitol Hill regarding RESPA reform and the Federal Services Regulatory Relief Act. As a demonstration of what grassroots activism can achieve, shortly after LDAC concluded, there was action on both issues supporting the Appraisal Institute’s recommendations. For more information on this, see President’s Message, page 2. For more information about LDAC, including how to become a candidate, visit www.appraisalinstitute.org/membership/events/LDAC.asp Specialization as an Opportunity by Daniel R. Crawmer, CPM, Discussion Leader One of the goals of the Appraisal Institute’s long range plan is to create opportunities, benefits and tools that members can use in adapting to change and diversifying their practices by identifying ways to improve connectivity with markets and clients. This goal can be realized by helping Appraisal Institute members offer specialized services to clients. An informal survey of LDAC participants determined that most appraisers are general practitioners in their geographical area but usually develop a specialty to be competitive. Once an appraiser is perceived as an expert, he/she can offer clients faster turnaround times, an extensive database and experience. Once an appraiser has achieved a high level of expertise in a specialized area, the challenge is to market that expertise. Two questions were posed: How can the Appraisal Institute help a client find an appraiser with expertise in a specialized area? Once an appraiser is identified, how does the client know if the appraiser is really competent? The Appraisal Institute’s Member Profile Project Team has provided the answer to the first part of the problem. The Appraisal Institute is adding an “areas of practice” field to its newly expanded membership directory that will include a list of each designated member’s business services, areas of professional concentration and an expanded profile. This directory will help clients identify and find appraisers with specific focuses. Of course, the information listed on each profile is only as good as that appraiser’s sense of integrity and honesty. However, the directory will provide an excellent service to appraisal clients and will provide clients with an initial list of appraisers. Once an initial list of appraisers in a specialized area is identified, each client must perform a certain level of due diligence before selecting an appraiser or appraisers for an assignment. It is LDAC’s recommendation that associate members should be extended the opportunity to have an abbreviated profile in the specialty directory. For more information on the directory project, see Resource Connection on page 54. th The second half of the problem dealt with determining the competency of the identified appraisal specialist. The discussion groups suggested that the Appraisal Institute co-sponsor education courses with other professional real estate organizations such as CLE International, International Right of Way Association and the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers. While the idea of developing an educational certificate in specialized appraisal areas was contemplated – for example, the successful completion of courses in eminent domain (both Appraisal Institute 700 series and those offered by other real estate organizations) would qualify an appraiser to receive an eminent domain education certificate, which could be included on an appraiser’s resume – the majority of LDAC participants thought it was unnecessary and may not be cost efficient. LDAC participants were also asked if the Appraisal Institute should adopt a hyphenated designation such as MAI-Litigation, or SRA-Relocation. This type of designation would help clients identify experts in a specialized field. The majority of LDAC participants indicated that a hyphenated designation would confuse clients, would “muddy the designation waters,” and is unnecessary. LDAC also recommends that the Appraisal Institute should reevaluate a pilot competency or success model as recommended by the Appraisal Institute’s Competency Model Study Group. This group met in 2001 and recommended a competency self-assessment model similar to the one offered on the AICPA Web site. The program would help appraisers recognize when new competencies need to be learned and ensure core competencies continue to meet the current needs of the marketplace. The model would go beyond technical appraisal competencies to the skills and behaviors members need to reach their highest professional and economic potential. A pilot competency model was never implemented by the Appraisal Institute due to the downturn in the economy and a lack of funding. The majority of LDAC participants felt that this self-help/self-assessment model would be very useful especially for individual appraisers or small appraisal shops. However, the cost of this program was questioned and requires further analysis. Associate Members in Leadership Roles by Jumana Judeh, Discussion Leader In discussing the leadership role of associate members in the organization, we felt there were not enough opportunities for associates to be involved in the decision-making process, especially at the local level. The consensus was that local chapters, which are the gateway to the Appraisal Institute, could have more leadership roles for associate members. It was thought that with more opportunities, associate member retention could be increased. The group made several recommendations to encourage leadership at the local level. Since getting new members is critical for local chapters, making chapter meetings more attractive to new members and making them feel welcome when attending chapter meetings are imperative. The group felt that designated members tended to “clan” together rather than mingle with new and/or non-designated members. The national leadership should share the onus of changing the perception that nondesignated members are inferior to designated members. In addition, designated members should be encouraged to mentor nondesignated members, and the nondesignated members should be made aware of this opportunity. Also, chapters should form their own mini-LDACs, which can be led by former LDACers (some of whom will be nondesignated) and designated members. Such mini-LDACs should be geared strictly to nondesignated members, allowing them to discuss local legislative issues that may have an impact on their profession as well as work on developing leadership skills. The designation path develops good appraisers but not necessarily good leaders. Since associate members come from all walks of life, they can bring leadership skills that transfer to the internal structure of the Appraisal Institute. Thus, at the national level, it was strongly recommended that associate members be given more opportunities to serve on various national committees and on the national Board of Directors. In addition, associate members should have a seat on committees that directly oversee the designation requirements, such as the comprehensive exam, education courses and demonstration report. Preferably, this would be someone who has passed that specific step but is not yet designated, since someone who recently passed the comprehensive exam, for example, may be the best person to provide insight on how to improve or tweak this specific step. It was also recommended that a national associate member retreat be organized that would allow associate members to network with each other and learn firsthand from the national officers on their vision of the future of the Appraisal Institute. While LDAC allows for some of this, a higher mix of nondesignated to designated members is needed at this event to allow associate members a chance to participate while also learning from those who are designated. During the 2004 LDAC, only 37 percent were associate members. LDAC is a great leadership development tool to mentor and shape future leaders of the Appraisal Institute, specifically associate members who at the local level are lacking in their knowledge and experience with the Appraisal Institute. Education and Training: The Next Generation by Karen Oberman, SRA, Discussion Leader Education versus training: how do both or either of these concepts affect our industry and perhaps more importantly how do they impact the public’s perception of appraisers? Are appraisers professionals? Engaged in a “profession”? Or, by virtue of the work that we do, are appraisers simply participants in an occupation considered necessary, but not so esteemed by the public to think that there is a higher education requirement to be an appraiser? Should the Appraisal Institute pursue the training and educating of the masses (or at least a market share of the masses) for the sake of assisting in the creation of competent appraisers regardless of whether or not those individuals ever choose to associate themselves with the Appraisal Institute? Or should we focus only on those who have the desire (or need) for higher levels of learning within this industry and the primary goals of being associated with the Appraisal Institute and hopefully getting designated? After much discussion, LDAC participants readily acknowledged the need to “train” in addition to being advocates of quality “education,” but struggled with the responsibilities of the training process. Do we want to affiliate or partner with existing institutions of higher learning as a provider of this service (training/education), removing that sometimes onerous task from our members and hopefully streamlining the process resulting in creating a more talented pool of professionals? LDAC did not respond with a resounding “yes.” While there was significant interest in the possibility of such a partnership, many questions were raised as to how such a partnership would exist: What is the cost to the Appraisal Institute in lost education revenue? How do we ensure quality instructors? What level of control would the Appraisal Institute have in the curriculum content and delivery? Is this a one-, two- or four-year course of study? By a small majority, LDAC attendees preferred to disassociate themselves with any type of “outside” education sources at this point, primarily due to the unanswered questions above, and partly due to a fear of “watering down” the profession by associating with a “technical school” aspect. Those that echoed these sentiments felt that the Appraisal Institute already had a reputation of excellence and ought to encourage greater mentoring. It was acknowledged that while the Appraisal Institute already has a mentoring program in existence, it was somewhat lacking. Because there were enough unanswered questions, a majority felt that perhaps more emphasis on internal training through a mentoring program is adequate for now. This is not to exclude the possibility of creating partnerships, but rather a desire to understand the viability of such a partnership. By association with other institutions, the Appraisal Institute would likely be a first point of contact for many new faces to the industry and, perhaps as such, they would be more likely to join. An individual with specific training most likely would be a candidate for hire. Again, while many felt that it was not the AI’s responsibility to train the industry’s trainees, a number of positive outcomes to such an endeavor were pointed out, including the assurance that even those who did not pursue association with the Appraisal Institute would at least have adequate training and hopefully provide better reflection of our industry as an occupation. Suggestions from LDAC for improvement ranged from creating a manual to help guide the mentor in a step-by-step training program to substantially increasing incentives to become a mentor. The general consensus was that we (as a whole) are not educators, but rather appraisers/valuation experts. Perhaps it was unrealistic for us to assume that there are enough Appraisal Institute members who not only have the desire to mentor, but the confidence in their own abilities to provide such a crucial relationship. Additionally, it was felt that even those with the abilities to “train” or mentor an apprentice into our profession, the current incentives provided by the Appraisal Institute were less than enticing. Another suggestion was the creation of a “mentoring” workshop or seminar, where those interested in being mentors could learn how to provide this beneficial service to the intern/apprentice, as well as how it could help them in their own day-to-day activities and increase profits. Promoting the Designations – Let’s Get It Done! by John Sozansky, MAI, and Jody Bishop, MAI, SRA While dissenting views were expressed by individuals and, in some cases, by an entire group, on nearly every issue in this topic, all groups concurred that promoting the designations was among the most important responsibilities of the national office. It was pointed out that surveys done by the Appraisal Institute indicate members generally prefer that the Appraisal Institute concentrate on promoting the designations rather than promoting itself, but that promotion of the Appraisal Institute should underlie the overall task of promoting the MAI and SRA designations. It was proposed that the Appraisal Institute begin a long-term, but limited national campaign to promote the designations of the Appraisal Institute. The discussion groups felt that a national campaign was feasible and that such a campaign should be a long-term (five- to 10-year) project and should involve a presence in a variety of media including periodicals and newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal and potentially radio. It was pointed out that a promotional campaign in several test markets had been initiated in April and May of this year, and that the Appraisal Institute would survey the results. The groups supported this. [For more information on the pilot PR programs, see Industry and Institute News, page 24.] The majority of the groups downplayed a large-scale campaign for promoting the designations on a general basis to a wide public market. They also downplayed the significance of recruiting the American public and representative consumer groups to take the appraisers’ side and help recognize the role of the appraiser in financial transactions. It was also recommended that the Appraisal Institute publicize the designations on a state and chapter level as well, especially to users of appraisal services. The majority of funds earmarked for promotional campaigns should be significantly increased and should be passed on to the regions or chapters in a coordinated effort to expand the influence of the designation holder. Many of the discussions focused on the ways that the Appraisal Institute should market the designations via direct mail and other methods to specific users of appraisals. Various creative ways of marketing to appraisal users on the local level were discussed. The updated OCC guidelines for retaining appraisers were discussed and some participants felt that the guidelines precluded some direct marketing efforts. Among the more interesting avenues of marketing was developing and presenting Appraisal Institute courses for users of appraisal services on topics such as “Reviewing the Appraisal for Attorneys” or similar topics that would associate the Appraisal Institute with appraisal user groups. These “cross education” projects for attorneys, accountants, assessors and others were emphasized in several discussions. Participants suggested that promoting the designations should be discussed in regional meetings or roundtables. Chapters should also be encouraged to make local promotion a priority. The national office should set out a blueprint for chapters to use in addition to the Web-based resources that currently exist. Most participants agreed that the Web site and online directory were excellent tools for promoting the designations especially to users of appraisal services, but that it was likely underutilized by the membership. Self-promotion/SRA retention and growth Discussions for self-promotion of the designations went hand-in-hand with the concept of stemming the loss of SRA designees. It was decided that the Appraisal Institute should undertake a major national effort to explore the decline of the SRA designation and reverse the trend of the last several years. The LDAC groups discussed in depth the concept of a new image for appraisers. The groups were very ambivalent about the necessity for changing the image of the designations. Most participants felt the MAI designation was stable in terms of overall recognition. The groups expressed concern that the MAI designation now carries no acronymic meaning and felt this sent a wrong message to users of the appraisals and the general public. Other expressed the view that the MAI designation was not growing in membership and that this was a definite negative sign. The discussion groups appeared to be divided on the concept of changing the image of the residential designation. A significant number of participants apparently have not embraced the concept of expanding their business to encompass more varied work as prescribed by the Appraisal Institute. For those who did feel a new image was important for the SRA, it was felt that the value of the designations need to be continually reinforced. Surveys demonstrating the concrete income value of the designation such as the excellent survey done in 1999 should be promoted and spread on a local level. SRA designation holders themselves are likely the best group to promote the designation to other appraisers. A campaign to turn around the SRA designation should be undertaken with discussions on all levels of the organization. A national conference should be planned specifically around the SRA designation. The issue should also involve the MAI designation holders. The suggestion was made that the Appraisal Institute should commission studies to see what percentage of members are among the appraisers sanctioned by state appraisal boards and/or involved in appraisals of properties with delinquent loans. The case may be made that Appraisal Institute members are more qualified and educated on appraisal issues and fewer are involved in problem appraisals. Seminars on how the SRA should market their skills to current and new clients should be developed. Support for local education campaigns to the public demonstrating that the SRA is not limited to appraising homes was also voiced. The value of affiliating with the organization should be demonstrated to appraisers in the local market in the context of Appraisal Institute courses, such as USPAP, etc. Other related suggestions included reducing fees for associate members to get them into the organization and reduced fees on education. The retention and development of the membership should be more strongly emphasized on the chapter level. Incentives should be provided. Some support for streamlining the designation process or shortening the time for designation were expressed, but not by all participants.
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