Action man at the helm of ARMA
18 March 2018
Posted by: Katie Spackman
How did an adventure junkie with an impressive international career history end up running the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA)?
It was a circuitous route according to CEO Dr Nigel Glen, whose degree in animal behaviour (Ethology) was followed by senior executive positions at BP, the International Petroleum Exchange, the investment bank J P Morgan, a software business start-up, and as co-founder and director of a residential property management firm.
From London to Australia, New York, Vienna and Istanbul, world travel was key to Nigel’s global success. And when he’s not working he has been known to venture even further afield – he once flew to the edge of space and back in a Russian Mig- 25 super jet! Nigel’s taste for adventure has also seen him dive with tiger sharks, nearly freeze to death in August on the Equator, on a mountain, and canoe up the Amazon.
With his feet firmly back on the ground, Nigel now concentrates his efforts on guiding ARMA to its next stage. When he took over in April 2016 the Association - the leading trade body for residential leasehold management - had a number of problems.
Working just two days a week Nigel’s challenge was to revitalize ARMA, directing its longer-term strategy and direction, and representing the Association to the outside world, particularly concerning legislation and policy.
After such a glittering high-powered career, why would Nigel want to run such a niche association? “Small companies are much more fun,” he says. “I’m able to change the destiny and strategy. Being responsible for that is far more fun and much more rewarding than being a tiny cog in the front office of JP Morgan.
“We have a good team at ARMA. There are only eight of us but there’s a lot to do. I handle strategy and external events and my COO looks after internal operations. We punch above our weight and our sphere of influence for the members we represent has grown as we engage more with the Government, politicians from both side of the House and senior civil servants.
“We’re sorting the finances out at the moment. We’ve been losing money for the last couple of years because of loss of members when we introduced a straight self-regulatory regime in 2014. We are also changing the culture, bringing the needs of our members to the fore.
“We also needed to improve the membership benefits for affiliates (the service providers that supply our members) – they were losing out and not getting the chance to talk to members and integrate. We’ve introduced a new category for affiliates, called ARMA Partners, giving them greater access to our members and an input, via an Advisory Committee, into ARMA’s thinking.
“Part of the job is very political which I’ve not had too many dealings with before – I’m probably in Westminster one day every week.”
Realising he had to raise ARMA’s profile, Nigel took on a business development manager to promote the organisation to potential new members and to recruit more ARMA Partners.
“We also launched the ARMA Awards, a great event that makes people feel they belong,” adds Nigel. “We’ve introduced regional chapters to encourage more events and training locally. For our members, we’ve introduced bulk buying schemes for electricity and gas (ARMA ENERGY) and insurance products for our members through NFU Mutual (ARMA Insure), including Client Money Protection for their clients.
“We’ll have the finances sorted out by next year, I’m confident about that,” concludes Nigel. “The future looks good for ARMA.”