On Day 4, NHC turned its attention to money matters. As with the rest of the economy, housing associations faced numerous financial challenges in 2020. The sector continues to enjoy the confidence of funders but challenges lie ahead and housing associations will need to manage risk effectively to ensure that they can invest for the future.
Nick Pollard, speaking as Group Finance Director at Scotland's second-largest RSL landlord, made clear that some fears did not materialise throughout the lockdowns and arrears are less than 12 months previously. However, there were significant challenges looming, with the need to pick up repairs that haven't been done and deal with the impact of furlough drawing to a close. Added to that will be the inevitable tightening of financial assistance from the Government in coming year and the potential impact of inflation.
Michael Leslie delved into the inflation issue a little more deeply and also what the impact might be on interest rates. However, he believed that the Scottish sector is still attractive to investors given the relatively safe cash flow.
RSLs are also attractive from the environmental, social and governance (ESG) perspective. ESG is becoming increasingly important, as investors want to show that they are taking these goals and values seriously when it comes to their portfolios. Sustainability is important and RSLs who meet ESG tests and standards can take advantage of this.
Other issues covered included:
- Regulating sustainability
- Maintaining affordability
Watch the full sessions
Nick is currently Group Finance Director at Link Group having joined them in April 2020 and has been in the Scottish sector for more than 15 years. Before that Nick was Finance Director at Kingdom Housing Association in Fife and prior to that was Director of Finance at Argyll Community Housing Association. Nick was a consultant with Tribal working on local authority several stock transfers and was also a Financial Analyst with the English housing regulator, The Housing Corporation in the Midlands. Nick worked in a variety of roles in Lloyds banking group and TSB Scotland over a 14 year period before joining the social housing sector latterly in foreign exchange and money market Treasury operations.
Nick is a director of East Lothian Housing Association’s subsidiary repairs and maintenance company, R3 Repairs and is also a founder of Festv, a new performing arts streaming solution aiming to support the delivery of festival performance and artists’ content, predominantly connected with the Edinburgh festival but also worldwide.