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Quantity Surveyors – Could a Career in Bank Monitoring Suit You?

I regularly speak to Quantity Surveyors who get to a stage in their career where they want to explore roles outside the traditional Quantity Surveying role. The diverse set of skills that Quantity Surveyors possess make them appealing prospects for a number of niche roles within the construction industry.

Whilst some Quantity Surveyor’s progress through the ranks to senior management within traditional Quantity Surveying role, many decide to branch out into other areas of construction. Here they can use the skills and experience that they’ve developed over their career in specialist roles. Such career moves may be motivated by higher salaries on offer within specialist roles, a passion or a talent for performing within a specific area of the Quantity Surveying role, or just for the sake of trying something new.

Other roles that Quantity Surveyors could branch into include:

  • Claims / Disputes Consultant
  • Estimating / Bid Management
  • Expert Witness Consultant
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Contract Management
  • Bank Monitoring

I want to focus on the last profession on that list; Bank Monitoring.

What is Bank Monitoring?

Bank Monitoring is a role in which you work directly with the lender to provide advice and support for a planned development.

The role in essence is to undertake an initial appraisal of a proposed development. This comprises a review of the borrowers cost plan and a detailed risk analysis of every aspect of the planned development to assess the risk to the bank / lender.

If lending is agreed, this role often progresses throughout the development, as you will carry out regular site inspections, attend progress meetings and valuation meetings whilst providing monthly progress reports to the lender.

The reason that this is seen as a Quantity Surveying role is due to Cost Consulting element of the role where you will prepare cost estimates, manage payments, advise and prepare contractual documents for the client and generally advise the lender on the progress of the project and where they need to take action.

Quantity Surveyors operating in a bank monitoring role will typically manage a portfolio of developments from the initial pre lending appraisals through to the completion of the project.

How Common is the Bank Monitoring service?

In short, it’s much more common that you may realise. Many years ago banks would often use their own judgement as to whether they provided funding for construction projects. However, asking Bank Managers to make sound financial decisions on complex construction projects was often a flawed process and lead to losses being incurred. Therefore the banks sought assistance from specialist Consultancies providing an advisory service on the risks involved in relation to specific developments.

There have been specialist property consultancies carrying out this role for over a 100 years, however it was by no means common for banks and other lenders to seek this advice.

However this appears to be changing.

Having had numerous economic downturns in recent decades, particularly the 2008 crisis; banks are looking to protect their money and be far more stringent on who and how they lend their money. Bank’s seem to more cautious lending money in general these days, but is especially true for the lending of funds for construction developments which can often be valued in the tens, if not hundreds of millions of pounds.

We’re seeing more Consultancies getting involved in providing this advice to banks and this is clearly being driven by an increase in banks demanding these services.

Do you need previous experience in a bank monitoring role?

No. Not necessarily.

Whilst many Consultancies prefer candidates to have performed Bank Monitoring duties previously, they appreciate that there is a shortage of good candidates with this experience.

For that reason, most are very happy to consider good, Chartered QS’s with the right personality traits and experience to suit the role and teach them the bank monitoring process.

The bank monitoring aspect of the role is a very methodical and analytical process and can be easily taught to those with a good basic knowledge of the construction process. To give those struggling to understand the type of work involved in this role, you will literally be going through a set process and using your analytical skills to assess the risk associated to all areas of the application, such as:

  • Who is borrower?
  • What are their abilities?
  • Do they have Consultancies already appointed for the development?
  • Who are the Consultancies?
  • Do they have PI cover?
  • Has a Contractor been appointed?
  • How were they appointed (tender process)?
  • Who is the contractor?
  • How fixed is the build cost?
  • Planning - Have they got relevant approvals to build the project yet?
  • What building regulations are applicable to the development?
  • Looking into areas such as ground investigation reports
  • What is the building schedule for the project?

And so on…

Your role will continue once funding has been granted and you will be responsible for visiting the site (approximately once a month) to check on the progress and continue checks to ensure that the development continues to be a safe investment.

Quantity Surveyors performing this role will often manage a portfolio of developments in which they will be responsible for managing on behalf of the lender.

Who would suit a Quantity Surveying role involving Bank Monitoring?

The role would suit Quantity Surveyors that are naturally very methodical and analytical in their approach to work. Such individuals will relish this role where they can use their professional experience to review the various aspects of a proposal documentation and analyse the data in a methodical way.

There is one key criteria to carry out this role and that is that potential candidates looking to get into this type of work must be Chartered Quantity Surveyors. Ideally they will be a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), however other professional bodies will be considered.

Candidates entering at a junior level may find some success getting into this niche sector by demonstrating a desire to become Chartered and ideally providing some evidence that they are already working towards becoming a Chartered QS.

Finally, you will need strong client facing skills. By this, I mean you will need to have the confidence and the presence about you to communicate effectively with senior level bank managers and stakeholders as well as the ability to maintain a level of respect on site with various parties that you will need to liaise with. For this reason, you need to be almost like a Chameleon in the sense that you can effectively communicate with different personalities throughout the construction process in order to get the information you require to do your job effectively.

Salaries

Salaries are comparable to traditional Quantity Surveying roles.

Candidates with previous experience performing bank monitoring duties may be able to demand a small premium for their prior experience.

Consultancies carrying out these types of services are often highly reputable, professional Consultancies that offer competitive basic salaries with excellent benefits packages as well as a discretionary bonus.

Summary

The bank monitoring service is a growing industry within the construction process. Whereas specialist Consultancies used to dominate this marketplace, many of the mainstream Consultancies are now starting up divisions offering this service due to increased demand.

The role may provide Quantity Surveyors looking for something a bit different from the traditional QS role an outlet into a specialist analytical role within a secure, rapidly growing sector of the construction industry.

Whilst previous experience in performing a bank monitoring role is preferred for vacancies within this sector, the sheer demand for Quantity Surveyors outweighs the supply of Surveyors with this experience. For that reason, we’re seeing demand for Chartered Quantity Surveyors with no previous experience in a bank monitoring role at intermediate and senior Quantity Surveyor level.

Therefore, if you’re a Quantity Surveyor wanting to explore a career specialising in Bank Monitoring, then Maxim Recruitment would love to hear from you to discuss your options.

 

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Stuart Hackett
Senior Recruitment Consultant

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