On 1 October, Michelle Dickens, founder and former CEO of credit bureau TPN, took on the role of Deputy CEO of PayProp South Africa. We caught up with her the week before, at PayProp’s group head office in London.
What are your goals and objectives for the role?
I’m very excited to join PayProp. It's a beautiful opportunity to reconnect with property clients who I've had long-standing relationships with, in a new role and under the PayProp banner.
PayProp is an extraordinarily unique tool in the property market. And when I say unique, I really do mean no one else offers what PayProp can offer, and that is the ability to transact in the banking environment, both in the collection as well as the disbursement of funds in a fully reconciled environment. The trust that brings into the property market cannot be overstated, both from the trust account or the agent's perspective, as well as the landlord's and tenant's perspective, knowing their funds are safe and secure.
Great message. So where do you want to take the brand?
I feel that this is the type of service and offering that every single estate agent should have in their back pocket. The Property Practitioners Regulatory Authority issues Fidelity Fund Certificates (FFCs) to protect consumers, the agent’s clients, and their money. And the PayProp service absolutely creates that very foundation of security of funds, complimented by transparency to all concerned through real-time updates.
What growth strategies will you be pursuing?
The South African rental market is a stable, growing market in terms of the number of tenants. As the housing market becomes tougher for prospective homeowners, with rising interest rates and inflation, more people are entering the private rented market instead and staying longer. We see it in the population of tenants growing and in the advancing age of tenants. This is an exciting opportunity for rental agents themselves to grow their portfolios, and PayProp will be looking to support that growth opportunity, processing the rental money flows of a growing portfolio of estate agents who are growing their books. Beyond that, we’ll want to look at regions we’re not that active in. We could also consider adding other property segments, such as commercial, industrial or social housing.
As the co-founder of TPN, which built the country’s largest database of tenant payment profiles, where do you see the data opportunity for PayProp?
Data is a great strength of PayProp's. PayProp is in the wonderful position of having extraordinary data on tenants – who the tenant is, where they reside, the rental prices they pay and their payment performance. And from there we will in future be able to delve into portfolio costs and yields, helping landlords become more profitable with a data-centric view of rental increases, as well as acquisitions or disposals of properties, ultimately maximising their net operating profits.