Wow, what a year!
This Thursday, November 21, 2013, at the Lafayette Library complex, we will hold our final Chapter Board of Directors meeting and Chapter workshop for 2013. Kelly Stevens, SRA, this year’s Chapter Vice President, has been working hard to prepare the agenda for this last board meeting of the year. He is doing a great job of transitioning to the role of Chapter President in 2014. I want to thank the other members of the Executive team, Kathryn Sturgis-Bright, MAI and Michael Lockard, MAI for carrying out their respective roles as Treasurer and Secretary. Gene Williams, MAI will be added to the Executive team in 2014. My thanks to Lisa Estes, our Executive Director, who has been working with new accounting & audit requirements from National and has still charged forward with all the other management tasks she does so well.
The chairpersons and committees who organized the Spring Litigation Conference, the Spring Conference, and the Fall Conference more than lived up to the expectations for their respective parts in our success. All of these special conferences and courses were magnificent. The educational topics were outstanding, the appraiser networking opportunity superb, and the financial results were exactly what we needed to keep our chapter on a sustainable financial footing. This year, I also need to give a special thank you to those who helped put on the Vineyard Valuation course. Added to this were the efforts of Jeff Enright, MAI, and the Education Committee, to build up our course offerings for 2013 and complete the planning for 2014. We have had a very good year in the arena of education…on so many levels.
I want to thank the members of this Chapter’s Board of Directors who all worked so well to provide the Chapter with direction and guidance. It is not a secret that our Chapter’s financial reserves, while still adequate, have declined significantly over the past decade. Both the 2012 and 2013 Chapter Boards made tough decisions regarding our revenue and spending goals. We are still waiting for the final results from our recent Fall Conference, but the word from last week’s meeting of the Finance Committee is that the Chapter will be slightly in the black for 2013. We had budgeted for a loss of about $11,000 for 2013 and it looks like we could instead end the year at that same amount to the positive.
To put this in perspective, with total dues, fees and education revenues of more than $500,000 per year, the bottom line net margin is very slim. We are a non-profit entity. The Chapter Boards for 2012 and 2013 have been working hard to achieve long-term sustainability for the management and operation of the Chapter. Protecting the current reserve balance is important because the truth is that offering education has its risks. A disappointing conference, or series of under attended courses, could quickly require the use of some of those reserves. Fortunately, we have an experienced Executive Director and dedicated conference and committee leaders who help to steer us through what can be difficult waters.
I want to thank everyone who worked to make growth of our seven Branch Chapters a success. However, there is still more to do and it is a momentum that could easily be lost. The Branch Chapter teams proved this year that in a large Chapter like Nor Cal, which is so geographically expansive, that Branch Chapters are a critical part of meeting the member need for local education and networking. The Chapter Board and the seven Branch Chapters agreed to a grand experiment for 2013. The Board did away with the four or five Chapter Board meetings that were generally held in Pleasanton and followed by a Chapter workshop.
Instead, the Branch Chapters hosted the Chapter Board meetings and held joint Chapter and Branch Chapter meetings and workshops within the core area of our Chapter. BC Workshop attendance in 2013 far out distanced the results from previous years. A combination of reduced board meeting expenditures and the series of very successful Branch Chapter workshops and seminars turned a $10,000 projected expense into a positive $10,000 source of net revenue for the Chapter. The Chapter Board’s actions proved that we can make changes to our “traditional” methods of Chapter operation and, through reliance upon the efforts and energies of our members, achieve a sustainable Chapter operation. Nor Cal will have a successful year for 2013 because members and candidates like you put in the effort to make it work.
We also enjoyed increased support from sponsors and that also helped to build this into a successful year. CBRE, Navigant, Comerica Bank, Valbridge, and Exchange Bank all provided free access to space for us to hold Branch Chapter workshops and various committee meetings. A special thanks also needs to be extended to Norm Hulberg, MAI / Valbridge for the financial sponsorships provided to our three annual conferences.
Upcoming Board Meeting/Workshop:
At the November board meeting we will review 1) the 2013 education results, 2) our new member designation efforts, 3) the advisor support for Candidates for Designation, 4) a report on the chapter’s preliminary budget results, 5) approve the 2014 Chapter budget, and 6) review the local networking and workshop results for our seven Branch Chapters. We will be awarding at least one new MAI designation at the workshop following the board meeting.
The workshop will be a State of the Profession event. It will not be the same old run through of statistics. First, the moderator will be Kurt Reitman, MAI. Kurt has retired. Perhaps I am in denial but I find that it very hard to believe that Kurt will truly retire. Maybe while he is the moderator, he can spend a few moments to give us all some guidance on how we can prepare for that happy day…retirement. Neil Lefmann, MAI, has worked hard to organize this final (and only) Chapter workshop. With speakers from the BREA, the Federal Reserve Risk Management division, as well as speakers with residential and commercial valuation perspectives, the workshop overview should be broad and informative. In particular, I want to extend an invitation to Candidates for Designation to attend. New members of the 2014 Chapter Board are invited to the second half of the board meeting and we would like to see you at the workshop.
I know the Chapter will be in good hands in 2014. Lisa, the Executive team, and the Chapter Board for 2014 are all very experienced and are tuned into the challenges that confront the Chapter. The Branch Chapters are developing into a core source of strength. Kelly has worked hard to get the Chairs of the various committees, conferences, and Branch Chapters ready for January.
The proposed Chapter budget for 2014 is expected to be approved at this board meeting. As proposed, it is once again likely to be slightly negative. My hope is that through hard work, continued member/candidate efforts, and growing sponsorship support, that next year Kelly will be writing to you that the Chapter’s actual 2014 financial results will be at a breakeven point or slightly in the black. Achieving operational sustainability and maintaining our current reserve level are important. Both need to happen if for no other reason than Nor Cal is one of the largest and leading Chapters within the Appraisal Institute. Our success can be a model for others.
If you have read the latest memos from the National President, Rick Borges, MAI, SRA, several new initiatives for the organization have been announced. These new education related initiatives reflect changes that are happening in the delivery of national education courses and the increased competition that is in the wind from other education sources (think: The Appraisal Foundation spin-off).
Another National initiative is focused on the need to continue to expand the number of designated AI members. We are still retiring members as fast as we are adding new designated members. The hope is that by adding specialty “certifications” available to both designated and eventually non-designated members that it will be one way to increase the relevance of the Appraisal Institute in an increasingly diverse market.
My personal proposal is that we add an interim designation level. It would recognize the achievements of both certified general and certified residential appraisers by awarding CGAI and CRAI designations. These would be awarded on the way to the more senior MAI and SRA designations. Add those two new designations, along with reasonable dues, and both the National and Chapter memberships will improve dramatically (as will their respective budgets). The Appraisal Institute would also then truly represent the majority and upper quartiles of professional appraisers. I know…this apparently remains an idea ahead of its time.
So…thank you all for making this a successful year for our Nor Cal Chapter. I look forward to seeing you at this Thursday’s Chapter Board meeting or the 2PM workshop event (3 hours of CE credit). Afterwards, there are lots of great restaurants within walking distance of the Library where the event is to be held. Friends and colleagues will be there waiting for you.
Bradford MacLane, MAI
2013 Northern California Chapter President