Specialised Software & Banking
The core of holly+williams’s Strata Management system is Rockend’s ‘STRATA Master’. STRATA Master works seamlessly with Macquarie Bank and we recommend our clients change to Macquarie to enjoy the full benefits of the system.
Our choice of STRATA Master and Macquarie Bank is in large part due to our need for transparency in all dealings with our clients. Some (otherwise similar) software, rewards the Strata Manager by reducing their software cost, based on the volume of deposits held across the Strata Manager’s portfolio. This is completely counter to our philosophy of transparency.
We also operate a number of exclusive in-house systems developed from our building management experience. These are used to track a number of items ranging from statutory reporting requirements to details of each apartment’s Managing Agent and Tenant. We believe the security of our client’s building and residents is paramount and we provide the building’s Security contractor with a 24/7 referral service in the event of any incident. In addition, we publicise our phone number and encourage residents to call us anytime if they have any safety or security concerns.
All Things to all People?
That’s not us. We deliberately avoid the ‘one-stop shop’ approach taken by some OC Managers. Providing contractors from within the group, or an associated (usually undisclosed) company, is fraught with the potential for conflict of interest. Such practices almost invariably fail our transparency test. Of course, to ‘prove’ every rule there’s generally an exception – at the request of one client, we have taken over the employment of a Building Manager, previously employed by the Committee. This was only done at the Committee’s request and with their full knowledge of the terms of the new employment contract.
We insist our Committees choose the Contractors to work on their buildings. When contracts are up for renewal, we will write the scopes of work and seek competitive quotations as part of our arrangement. We will then make recommendations to the Committee. We will not make our recommendation based solely on price – we don’t subscribe to the ‘cheap is best’ approach.
holly+williams Strata’s Preference
We have long held relationships with a range of Contractors and would usually prefer to use them at our sites, but the decision to appoint a new contractor is still the Committee’s to make. Our preferred contractors have a number of things in common:
- All are Owner/Operators – we deal with the decision maker
- They are small to medium businesses
- They are unrelated to us
- They have never offered us ‘kick-backs’ or any kind of financial inducement
- We have a close relationship with them and they maintain an intimate knowledge of the contract
- They are happy to sign our standard ‘Terms & Conditions’ document.
OC Financial Management
By definition, the OC’s AGM is held after the end of the financial year. This means, of course, the first quarter’s levies have already been charged out, at the previous year’s rate. By the time the meeting cycle is complete any adjustment to the levies doesn’t normally happen until the second or third quarter.
To overcome this issue we simply recommend the owners delegate sufficient power to the Committee, at the AGM each year, to formulate and approve the budget prior to the year commencing. This results in far less confusion, with four equal instalments each financial year and no need for adjustments. Plus, in times of increasing rates, this can mean improved cashflow for the OC.
Preparation of the Annual Budget, with the Committee’s guidance, is part of our standard service.
Where a Maintenance Fund is in place, it’s imperative the Maintenance Plan, establishing that Fund, is kept up to date. Monitoring of the Plan forms part of our standard service, although a major re-casting of the plan would however generally be outside our normal scope.
We produce quarterly Levy Notices and we monitor outstanding debtors closely. We don’t simply issue formal proceedings when an account is overdue, preferring to firstly attempt to talk with the owner involved. If talking fails, we will implement the standard two-tiered process of final notices etc. Our charges to the OC for this are passed on to the debtor but are only ever paid to us from the OC when the debt is cleared. Once progressed to legal action the Lawyer’s meter will of course be turned on, but these costs too are usually recoverable from the debtor.
We prefer to take control of payments without subjecting the Committee to the laborious process of micro-managing every payment. Of course, should a payment be in excess of the approved budget, the Committee’s approval would always sought.
Taxation & Audit
We prepare BAS and Income Tax returns as required. We use an external Accountant for lodgement of the returns however, but we normally absorb that cost. If an Audit is required, this cost will be borne by the OC.
Meetings & Financial Statements
We produce Financial Statements for both the Administrative & Maintenance Funds as frequently as calendar monthly (or less frequently, as required by the Committee). Accounts are made available within 30 days of the period end. As well as the standard Balance Sheet & Financial Performance Statements, which are compared with the budget, we also present a detailed aged debtor analysis and a Report detailing the period’s activities. Committee Meetings may be held at our St Kilda Road Offices at no additional cost.
Annual General Meeting
Preparation and distribution of the Agenda & Minutes etc. for the AGM is included in our standard service. The OC may however need to cover the cost of a meeting room should our St Kilda Road meeting room prove too small.