04/03/2022 • What we believe
Trust Talks: Marcus talks residents
As a member of our Executive team, you might've been surprised that Marcus Bate recently transitioned from Investment Director to Partnerships and Communities Director - all in the name of spending more time getting to know our partners' residents and building trust.
Hi Marcus, introduce yourself and your role at MA
Hello! I’m Marcus Bate. I joined Mount Anvil in 2016 as Investment Director, but I originally trained as a lawyer. I spent thirteen years specialising in property and planning law before I saw the light! Mount Anvil was by far my favourite client, so it wasn’t a difficult decision.
I’ve recently moved into the newly created Partnerships and Communities Director role. It feels great – it’s a real statement of intent for the business to establish a board-level position with a specific focus on creating trust and nurturing relationships with residents and partners.
Why is building trust at the heart of your role?
Because measures of success are changing for the better. In the last couple of years our partners’ first measure of success hasn’t been financial, it’s been resident-focused – how happy are their residents with the quality of the new homes and the character of the places we’ll be delivering with/for them? And how happy are their residents with the way Mount Anvil is engaging and communicating with them?
Those are absolutely the right questions to be asking, and the right way to define a successful development. Our partners still trust us to deliver quality homes on time and on budget – but increasingly they also trust us to make their residents happy too.
In that capacity, building trust for me starts with ensuring residents have a voice, and ensuring that voice is being heard. We regularly survey residents across the lifecycle of a development – actively encouraging their comments and criticism, learning from them and making changes as a result.
Why is this important for our partner and their residents?
Firstly, by focusing on the things that make a genuine difference to people’s lives – are they happy and well in their homes? Do they feel safe? What might be missing that would make their lives easier? – we’re helping achieve a real social mission alongside our partners, improving the lives and wellbeing of residents, reducing complaints and improving reputation and relationships for our partners.
We want happy residents more than we want anything else. One RP CEO recently said to us, “If I see smiling faces on residents, I know the scheme is a success”. That’s our philosophy in a nutshell.
One of the big risks in our industry is that people can think that developers fracture or disrupt communities and impose their ideas on them, rather than working with them collaboratively – but giving residents an active voice in our work, involving them, inviting scrutiny and criticism, asking for their inspiration and ideas… that creates a real sense of co-design and generates genuine trust. Residents tell us that it helps create more of a sense of community by working together in this way.
Prioritising feelings ahead of finance is the right thing to do – and it ensures more successful partnerships as a result.
Can you give an example of how you prioritise building trust through your work?
The resident voice piece is the heart of it for me. At The Verdean – our redevelopment of Catalyst’s Friary Park estate in Acton – we’re currently changing a whole range of features of the scheme in response to residents’ changing priorities because of the pandemic.
We went into consultation with a blank sheet of paper and an open mind, and we came out with suggestions that will make The Verdean a better place to live and spend time in – ideas like having more outdoor space designed for socialising, bigger balconies, bringing culture closer to their doorstep by creating space for local artists within the scheme. After we worked those changes into the plan, we had over 90% support rate from estate residents in the latest consultation.
We didn’t tell residents what they wanted – we trusted their judgment, and they trusted us enough to tell us honestly, knowing that we would act on their feedback. It’s a great dynamic.
And it’s a dynamic we’re excited to build on – trusting what our partners tell us about our performance. In December 2020 year our partners gave us a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of +32 (‘good’) for resident engagement. One year later, it was +72.That’s just 8 points off the threshold of ‘world class’ – we’re closing the gap so quickly!). It’s by trusting what the experts tell us – residents and partners – that we’ll continue to improve the way Mount Anvil pursues estate regeneration, differently.
And finally, what’s next?
More – more building trust, more resource, more estate regeneration. And we’ll be introducing more new roles focused on resident happiness.
Our new Resident Advisory Board – a board comprising of residents from across different estates and experts with experience of estate regeneration – is really exciting too. We’ll run all our plans through that board, asking for their feedback and input. It will be similar to a design review panel, and we’ll be aiming for criticism. We’re already good at this – the panel will tell us how we can be even better.
Ultimately, we’re expecting and aiming for residents to be actively saying “please approve this!” about every estate regeneration scheme we’re part of.