In Conversation: Bill McClintock

Bill McClintock

There are a wealth of leading figures in the property, investment, finance and charity sectors and we want to speak to them about their work. If you would like to feature in this series, or to suggest someone who might, please get in touch through our contact us page or let us know on twitter.

Why not take a lucky dip into our In Conversation archives and discover:
Richard Blakeway, Mayoral Advisor on Housing
Liz Peace, Chief Executive at British Property Federation
Jo Causon, Chief Executive of the Institute of Customer Service

Today we speak with Bill McClintock, Chairman of The Property Ombudsman Service.

In one sentence, could you sum up your role?
I am chairman of the operating company for The Property Ombudsman Scheme which has now been in existence for more than 20 years.

And in one sentence, what your organisation does?
Broadly, we resolve disputes between consumers and sales or lettings agents on a less formal basis than the courts but which is nevertheless binding on member agents and free of cost to consumers.

Could you tell us a bit about your background?
I started in agency in 1959 with Henry Duke in Dorchester and have progressed through the worlds of residential and commercial estate agency in the intervening years, taking senior positions both in the UK and abroad.

As Chairman of the Property Ombudsman scheme, how do you see it evolving over the next 10 years?
I would like to see all lettings agents required to have a redress scheme in place as well as professional indemnity insurance and client money protection insurance. More generally, I see the TPO scheme expanding its remit to other property-related areas. We have already started this process with The Glazing Ombudsman.

Have you noticed any changes in the industry since you started working with the Property Ombudsman scheme?
Yes. The most significant is the Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Act which required all residential estate agents to join an approved redress scheme. But it’s also worth remembering that standards in sales are improving as the value of individual awards made by the Ombudsman has almost halved in the last five years, indicating that professional standards have risen. Now we need to achieve the same for lettings…

What does a typical day look like for you?
There’s no typical day, except I seem to start about 7.45 a.m. and often take a train to London or long trip in the car because there’s a lot of involvement with Government departments and professional bodies. I try to finish by 7.00 p.m.

What are the main day-to-day challenges you face in your role?
It used to be getting everyone to understand what TPO is all about, these days it’s striking the delicate balance needed to keep the company viable and the costs containable while ensuring the Ombudsman’s role remains entirely independent. That’s why we are looking for other property-related sectors in which to offer redress.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your role?
Seeing an improvement in professional standards across the estate agency industry, but I also get great pleasure from the personal contact with the many people in the industry

What would you say is your most memorable moment or proudest achievement?
Raising standards across estate agency through my work with TPO by helping draw up its Codes of Practice and negotiating hard with OFT to agree them. Naturally, I did not achieve any of this by working on my own!

What is your favourite London landmark?
Fino’s Wine Bar in North Row at Marble Arch.

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