|Unless You Pile Up Little Steps, You Can Never Journey a Thousand Li
For any trade, the road to professionalisation is necessarily long and uneven. It is particularly so in the case of the estate agency industry, where the number of practitioners is vast and the job mobility rate, at almost 50% over the past few years, is high. To thoroughly professionalise estate agents in Hong Kong, therefore, is a relatively long-termed goal, and it is gratifying to know that the industry is gradually and steadily moving towards that goal. The three-year transition period prescribed under the
Licensing Regulation had come to an end not too long ago, and the majority of the practitioners had successfully fulfilled the conditions to become fully substantiated licensees. Furthermore, new practitioners who have joined the industry since the implementation of the Licensing Regulation have all achieved a certain standard as they are already in possession of the educational and examination qualifications required by law when the licences are granted to them. It is also very encouraging to note that, in 2002, as many as 23.6% of the candidates at the Estate Agent and Salesperson qualifying examinations were degree-holders. In addition, both estate agency companies and the trade associations have been active in organising various types of training activities to help their employees and members to seek advancement in their professional knowledge. With all these factors boding well for a general rise in the standard of practitioners, one is optimistic about the firm establishment of the estate agent's professional status in the foreseeable future.
Professional knowledge is the principal capital of the estate agent, and the richer his capital, the more competitive he will become, and the greater his chance for career growth and success.
For illustration, a bill committee was recently formed at the Legislative Council to study the Land Titles Bill in detail. The Bill is being introduced by the government to change the existing mode of property registration from a deed-based system to a title-based system. With the new system in force, the verification of the title to a property will no longer involve the examination of title deeds which is being done at present. The registration of the titles to properties will not only simplify the conveyancing procedures, but will also provide greater protection to the owners of property titles and those buying from them. With the change in legislation, we can also anticipate the role of the estate agent to gain considerably in significance, as it will be within the ambit of the agent to handle the introduction of properties, the negotiation of prices, the search for property information, the drawing up of agreements for sale and purchase, and financial arrangements, which are practically all the major steps in the process of property transaction. The room for professional growth will thus be much greater than before for practitioners who are prepared to meet the challenges by equipping themselves with the requisite knowledge.
We have noted that job mobility is high in the estate agency industry, hence it is essential that no effort be spared in training activities so that practitioners' professional standards may be maintained and enhanced. The Training Committee will recommend to the Authority the introduction of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programmes in 2004, initially on the basis of voluntary participation, in which estate agents will be encouraged to obtain at least 4 credits a year and, the salespersons, 3 credits. Licensees will be asked to report the number of credits they have obtained on a yearly basis for which recognition will be given. In addition, the Education and Manpower Bureau has recently given the green light to training courses for estate agents under the Skills Upgrading Scheme. The courses will be offered by institutions of tertiary and vocational education in three main areas, namely, general skills (eg, language, computer application), estate agency practice and management skills.
Unless you pile up little steps, you can never journey a thousand li, unless you pile up tiny streams, you can never make a river or a sea. (Hsun Tzu: Encouraging Learning*). To build up knowledge and experience requires continuous efforts over time. Having taken an enthusiastic part in training activities for many years, practitioners should continue to treasure the variety of training opportunities that are available to them, and enhance their business performance by continuously adding value to their professional knowledge.
The Year of the Ram will have just commenced when this issue of the Milestone reaches our readers, and I wish to take this occasion to wish them all a very successful year ahead, full of peace and prosperity.
Grace M Y Chow
Chief Executive Officer
*Tr Burton Watson, Hsun Tzu : Basic Writings (New York : Columbia University Press, 1963)