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Professional societies - a missed opportunity?

| News | Corporate Law and M&A

Santiago Fuertes reflects in the magazine of the Association of Surveyors and Technical Architects of Seville, about the constitution of professional societies.

Do you know how many professional societies have registered in the last five years with the Official Association of Quantity Surveyors and Technical Architects of Seville? Well, the truth is that you can count on the fingers of one hand. To glimpse a professional society of Technical Architects in Seville is almost as strange as observing an Iberian lynx outside the Doñana National Park.

Why is this? Could the common practice of this profession be different from that of other professional activities where professional societies have proliferated successfully (lawyers, doctors, engineers, economists, etc.)?

I sincerely believe that, in my humble opinion, the exercise of the profession of Technical Architect and the very wide range of activities and services that he can provide does not justify this situation. Moreover, it may prove to be a particularly positive element for the joint development of various professional activities linked to the construction field in the current circumstances.

In order to respond rigorously to the subject of this article, we must reflect on the following key ideas:

1. Business Project/Plan?

The first thing is to define what type of business project we intend to carry out in the exercise of the profession and, above all, alone or together with others?

In other words, is it a common business project between several professionals that will act in a coordinated way, sharing expenses and income and the result of our common activity; or on the contrary, do we only intend/need to share expenses and common services and facilities, collaborating punctually, depending on each specific project?

Aiming more on the target, the professional society only makes sense if the objective is the development of a common business project by several professionals with a long-term perspective where their professional qualities and aptitudes form the basis of the project.

If this is not your case, the professional society is most likely not your "type" and you may be interested in many other forms of non-associative business collaboration (media sharing contracts, subcontracting, outsourcing of services, etc.).

2. What activity will be developed

Although it may seem obvious, in order to assess the suitability of a professional society it must be defined beforehand which activity is intended to be carried out jointly, in such a way that if the professional activity is intended to be carried out directly through a society it is not that this is the appropriate means, but that it is obliged by law.

On the other hand, if the aim is to pool resources (property, furniture, etc.) and for each of them to carry out their activity, or if the aim is for the company to act as an intermediary between the professional and the client, the professional company is not the appropriate vehicle.

Reinforcing the idea of the exercise of the profession of Technical Architect, it is necessary to specify that in the professional society would fit the exercise of this profession, the multidisciplinary exercise of the profession of Technical Architect, and, at the same time, any other one for whose exercise official university degree is required and inscription in the corresponding Professional Association.

3. Current market situation and foreseeable developments   

Today, we are all witnessing the change in the real estate and construction sector, and how traditional real estate developers have been gradually replaced by investment funds, real estate investment vehicles and financial institutions that are increasingly concentrating the market in their different areas (real estate development, marketing services and real estate management, etc.). This is `causing the concentration of the main players in the real estate sector and the consequent reduction in costs by resorting to economies of scale.

On the other hand, the continuous technological evolution is changing the methodologies and construction processes known to date, which seems to result in a situation of automation of processes and services in the field of construction in which machines will take more prominence.

Regarding the typology of professional services, there is an ever-increasing trend towards "turnkey" delivery, where the coordination of the multiple disciplines and trades integrated in a project is fundamental.

In this context is where the Technical Architect develops and, surely, will exercise his activity, so I venture to point out that to successfully exercise this profession, like many other professional services, will act as key factors specialization and excellence in the provision of service, which will cause the starting point to consider in the provision of services is the generation, development and retention of professional talent.

In order to attract, cultivate and maintain this talent, it is clear that it will not only be a question of retribution, equal or more important, in my opinion, is the sense of belonging to a project; in order to attract and maintain the best professionals the key is that they feel part of a first level project where meritocracy prevails and clear rules of coexistence, in short, a professional career where one departs as a worker and it is possible to become a managing partner of the project.

In order to achieve this objective, the professional society, without a doubt, has all the necessary characteristics, due to the flexibility and the facilities that its legal regulation allows, which facilitates that the partners elaborate a "suit to measure" for each situation that allows them to establish the bases that assure the necessary coexistence to develop a common business project with the greater guarantees.

In short, the main conclusions we can draw from the above would be the following:

  • The option of setting up a professional society for the development of professional activity, exclusively, with a multidisciplinary character within the profession of Technical Architect or with other professions, is the result of a previous work of reflection and definition of the business project, existing different mechanisms and formulas to collaborate entrepreneurially with other professionals.

The exercise of the professional activity of Technical Architect directly by a society must be developed through a professional society, which represents an opportunity in competitive terms compared to the individual exercise because:

  1. A team of professionals, from the same or different professional disciplines, is concentrated for the development of a common business project, where personal qualities and aptitudes prevail, offering the market both the specialization and the multidisciplinary manner that it demands;
  2. It is an optimal vehicle for attracting, motivating and retaining professional talent in the long term, undoubtedly a factor that clearly differentiates it from the rest; and,
  3. Liability for debts not arising from professional activity (financial institutions, suppliers, tax administration, etc.) Limited to share capital (in the case of a capital company).


You could read the article on this link.

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