C N C Property Fund Management

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from C N C Property Fund Management is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.


Highlighting best practice
Managing Director RobertLocker
The estates office
Starting out as part of a confectionery company in the East
End, CNC Property Fund Management have had a long
and varied history. Currently, they provide a range of
asset management services for commercial properties across
the UK. Robert Locker has been with the company since the
1980s and assumed control in 2007, when he and a group
of colleagues bought the company. He is currently managing
director and explains what he perceives to be the failures of a
system in which too much emphasis is placed on following the
We are a property-based asset management and advisory company, providing
services to a range of clients across the UK. I joined the firm in the 1980s when
it was CNC Property PLC. In the early 1990s, we suffered financial setbacks but
managed to recover. During this time, I gained greater responsibility for property
asset management. After this turbulent period, we were able to grow and expand
the business, and my colleagues and I bought the business in 2007. We currently
provide assistance for a range of commercial properties, including accounting and
the general asset management.
A growing lack of individual thought
As an asset manager of commercial property with over 35 years’ operational
exposure, my experience of the professional employee is that real knowledge
is being eroded. Understanding is being replaced by generalisation and blind
adherence to existing systems. The inclination of any individual to question
»Managing Director:
»Founded in 2007
»Based in Ashford, Middlesex
»Services: Asset management
and real estate advice
»No. of employees: 15
»No. of clients: Over 30
CNC Property Fund
the status quo is being held back
as conformity grows. Compliance
to systems has bred complacency
in analysis and a lack of common
sense. Mistakes are reinforced
by management structures that
discourage dissent or criticism.
As we create more internal systems
to cope with these issues, the burden
on individual employees is growing.
Inadequate training and commercial
work experience, particularly among
the younger generation, has led to
a superficial approach to problem
solving. The failure to deal with a
problem at its source inevitably creates
considerable delays.
In the property industry, the most
obvious example is the planning
process. Across the UK, it can
prove extremely slow even for non-
contentious schemes. It would be
wrong, however, to suggest that
this is an isolated area of frustration.
Planners happen to work in a field
of wide exposure. I believe that
planning is simply representative of
numerous systems that often deliver
We try to encourage our employees
to think for themselves. They are
encouraged to think beyond the work
with which they are involved. We do
have systems in place, but they are
straightforward and always open to
challenge. We are not overly critical
of mistakes, unless they are repeated
or not corrected where possible.
People learn more from their mistakes
than they do by conforming to a
process and being instructed what to
do. As a matter of course, we try to
give responsibility at an early stage.
I feel that larger organisations are
inherently system sensitive and have
ingrained working methodologies that
can often be detrimental in terms of
Axiom House
is being
replaced by
and blind
adherence to
Highlighting best practice
Increasing delays in the system
A lot of our work involves the
renovation of older commercial
properties. In many instances, this
involves the regeneration of buildings
in town centres in less prosperous
locations in the UK. We are often in
a situation where we are working
alongside other organisations,
generally larger than we are.
Unfortunately, the time we have to
allot for the processing of each project
is becoming a significant factor in
assessing viability.
The obvious target for complaint is
the planning process, but I’d apply the
same criticism to achieving building
compliance. Even more difficult at
times is getting a correct assessment
of business rates. We now also
face long lead times with banking
compliance, and the legal system as a
whole appears to be struggling with
The worst experience I’ve had relates
to the Royal Bank of Scotland and
their global restructuring group
between 2009 and 2012. My client
company had worked with the
bank for over 100 years. Following
the financial crisis, their loan-to-
value exposure went up. Although
they were not overly leveraged
beforehand, they did have extensive
exposure to various regions in the UK.
Although the portfolio was generally
well let, the bank applied additional
interest and took extra fees. This is
consistent with other organisations
that reported being badly treated
during a similar period. This has
recently been highlighted by the
report into the GRG by the Financial
Conduct Authority.
The key issue was individuals who
failed to communicate about my
client’s substantial portfolio during a
critical period that lasted for over a
year. This was compounded by internal
and external surveyors who made
assessments of value without carrying
out adequate research. Ultimately, this
resulted in catastrophic consequences
for my client.
Following the FCA’s report, it’s clear
that a system was in place. The bank’s
representatives and their third-party
advisors had limited experience in the
assets under our control, especially
compared to my own and that of other
surveyors in my organisation.
Eventually, our complaints resulted in
the current chief executive stating that
a full investigation would take place.
Although an investigation did happen,
it never became open and transparent.
There is nothing inherently wrong
with organisations devising systems
and using them to deliver their goals
and outcomes. My concern is that too
many systems are being followed and
enforced with poor outcomes. They
are not being challenged and held to
account by the individuals who operate
them. As a society, we hear of too
many systemic failures, and I suspect
that individuals could correct them or
at least influence them positively if they
were trained and given the confidence
to do so.
People learn
more from
their mistakes
than they do
by conforming
to a process
and being
what to do
The Atrium Complex


This article was sponsored by C N C Property Fund Management. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.