For a businessperson and property professional who has just seen a typhoon of unprecedented ferocity sweep through her sector, Amanda Cameron appears remarkably sanguine.
And, unlike many people in the country, the only female partner in DM Hall, one of Scotland’s foremost firms of Chartered Surveyors, is also managing to remain unusually busy.
Her phlegmatic demeanour may stem from the fact that, over the course of a career which has seen her excel in legal, financial and property circles, she could with some validity claim to have seen it all before – though she diplomatically refrains from so doing.
“Of course, no one really saw the Covid-19 pandemic coming, with all the personal tragedy it has entailed,” she said. “Or the extent of the Government’s measures to try to contain it and the effect these restrictions are having on the economy.
“But we are still busy albeit with a reduced team, the market is still functioning as best it can be in these challenging circumstances and it is obvious that, once the worst of this period is over, the housing sector is one of the many ways that the Government can choose to kick start economic activity again in the UK.”
Amanda Cameron manages DM Hall’s hugely successful Legal Search and Property Services Department from her office in Dunfermline, providing a comprehensive health check on residential and commercial properties and providing assurance that people own what they say they own.
Since she took the department over in 2011, she has increased its fee contribution to the nationally-operating firm from 1% to 8%, and she would have been on target for 10% this year if events had not pushed her temporarily off course.
She has also increased staffing from four to 13, with a new, dedicated sales capability which is allowing the department to venture into new business areas as well as servicing its long-standing existing client base.
She said: “We are the only department of its kind in the country which is operated by a wholly Scottish company. All our competitors are owned either by English or US multi-business concerns.
“We are also unusual in that we have no admin staff. All of our people are classed as fee earners and they are all multi-functional and qualified to produce reports from start to finish.”
Ms Cameron has been with DM Hall for 16 years now, becoming a partner at the start of 2019, and regards her current role as a natural progression from her former positions as a bank manager with the Halifax and also with a legal firm.
“I have seen conveyancing from every angle and I am able to understand the positions that different professionals are coming from, allowing us to create a comprehensive service to reconcile these positions.
“When I took the department on, it was concerned pretty well exclusively with Property Enquiry Certificates. It was clear that a multi-search product was needed and now we also provide legal and conveyancing reports, environmental and mining reports and land registration services, as well as dealing with building warrants, boundary disputes and unauthorised alterations.
“Solicitor clients can order every report required for a transaction and, although the market leaders offer a similar service, we have the attraction of being better value and a more bespoke service because we are smaller.”
Ms Cameron oversaw the digital transformation of the service, from an office submerged in documents to a completely paperless operation. The early adoption of technology came into its own, she said, when the closedown of mid-March dispersed her staff to work in their own homes.
Her biggest challenge now is business retention. While new business is coming in at a satisfying rate, there is no doubt that the solicitor landscape is changing quickly and dramatically.
“Small solicitor firms, especially those with an estate agency operation, are disappearing,” she said. “They are being swallowed up by much bigger firms and the target we must aim for is making inroads into these bigger concerns as well as maintaining a quality service for our traditional base.”
Her department is still firing on all cylinders, she said. The Registers of Scotland is still open and although the Law Society of Scotland has proposed an “emergency-only” environment, transactions are still happening and searches still need to be provided.
“The Registers and the Law Society are working hard together, in previously unimaginable circumstances, and their efforts have allowed us to continue,” she said.
“I am optimistic that the current situation will end quickly and we will recover quickly. I think DM Hall, a firm with a 123-year history, will emerge stronger, leaner, more efficient and ready to continue to compete.”
Amanda Cameron is a Partner in the Dunfermline office of DM Hall Chartered Surveyors.
For further information about DM Hall’s nationwide network, please contact:
Caroline Wayte, Marketing Manager, DM Hall, 220 St Vincent Street, Glasgow G2 5SG.
M: 077863 62517
Issued by Michael Crawford at Blueprint Media on 0330 223 4288.
Date: April 2020
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“When I took the department on, it was concerned pretty well exclusively with Property Enquiry Certificates. It was clear that a multi-search product was needed and now we also provide legal and conveyancing reports, environmental and mining reports and land registration services, as well as dealing with building warrants, boundary disputes and unauthorised alterations.” Read more here@@
– Amanda Cameron, Partner, DM Hall Chartered Surveyors.