Advice and Opinion

South African Institute of Auctioneers (SAIA) launches portal to reduce paperwork

The South African Institute of Auctioneers (SAIA) has just launched a Communication and Database portal that will do away with much of the tedious paperwork associated with membership renewal and accessing essential regulatory documents.

The streamlined process will make compliance simpler for auction houses to maintain their membership and thereby ensure consumers’ rights are protected by the industry oversight body’s rigorous complaints and disciplinary procedures.

The portal also offers a new communication feature that provides instant access to newsletters, industry alerts and SAIA notifications.

But according to SAIA Chairperson John Cowing, the tool that auction houses will find most useful is the now entirely digitised annual membership renewal process.

“Wearisome is the only word to describe the membership renewal procedure that was in place previously, besides the obvious environmental disadvantage of several trees being sacrificed in the process,” he notes. “It entailed reams of emailed documents that had to be downloaded and filled in, and everything then had to be sent back to us.

“Forms included the SAIA membership renewal application and Professional Indemnity & Fidelity Guarantee Insurance proposal form, accompanied by an Estate Agency Affairs Board Certificate or proof of application (for property auctioneers), a current BEE certificate and proof of membership fees payment.

“Only once all the documentation was submitted, checked and processed would SAIA issue a membership certificate for the year.”

SAIA Public Relations Director Joff van Reenen says in the past the onerous process had more than once seen renewals being delayed beyond memberships lapsing, which was problematic from a consumer protection and recourse point of view, as well as financially detrimental to auction houses.

“But the new portal has been taken the extra mile to simplify processes in an effort to prevent this, thereby ensuring auctioneers remain accountable to the public in accordance with SAIA’s Code of Conduct.

“When members log into the new Communication and Database portal they’ll now find all their membership information pre-loaded. Renewal documentation is completed on the portal and submitted with a simple mouse click, while provision has also been made for the quick upload of supporting documents. It couldn’t be easier!”

The portal’s development has been spear-headed by SAIA Administration Executive Sonja Styger, who says the stream-lined and print-free process will unquestionably be far less time-consuming and convenient for members.

Styger explains that the new process involves just a few simple steps:

  • Members must log into their portals, check and update information before the deadline of 31 December 2017;
  • All sections must be completed and carefully checked, because incomplete or inaccurate information could delay invoicing, the issuing of certificates and members’ Privy Seals;
  • All necessary supporting documents should be uploaded; and
  • Members must ensure that the information is saved and submitted for capturing.

“The SAIA administration and finance department will generate invoices in the first week of January 2018 at the start of the financial year and membership certificates and Privy Seals will then be sent to members as well as uploaded onto the portal for quick and easy access,” says Styger.

“The portal will also be a one-stop, convenient repository of all regulatory documents members might need, and which they can access at their leisure all year round.”

SAIA was founded in 1989 to provide a clear set of auction industry professional standards that promote ethical practices. It is the national association for auctioneers and the stakeholders and clients of the auctioneering industry.

Van Reenen says another exciting new element of the portal is the unique database of information for each registered member of SAIA that entitles them to a Privy Seal.

The digital Privy Seal is significant because it is an electronic seal of authenticity or validity. Digital Accreditation seals and certificates confirm the authenticity of qualifications, professional status, corporate roles and more.

“Privy Seals are embedded in email signatures, social media profiles, websites and digital signatures. These will enable SAIA-accredited auctioneers to protect the integrity of their qualifications, designations, standards and license, and reassure the public that they are dealing with a company that has all bona fides in place.

“The Privy Seal effectively opens a Certificate of Verification that offers details about the member company and assures clients of their membership status with SAIA.”

A complete list of SAIA’s accredited auctioneers can be found at SAIA-registered members have to be legally compliant in every way, be in strict compliance with the Industry Code, the SAIA Code of Conduct and be members of the requisite affiliated associations. Very few government agencies, SOEs and large corporates will do business with auction houses that are not accredited SAIA members and prospective auction clients are advised to check accreditation before engaging with a company to sell or buy.

Van Reenen says another crucial portal component is members’ enhanced, one-click access to information, industry news and SAIA notices.

“We’ve provided this channel to encourage SAIA members to make greater use of the valuable resources available on the association’s website and app. Our traffic statistics have been showing steady growth in 2017, both from the market and within the industry, but we have no doubt those numbers will rise substantially with the new functionalities that have just been launched to assist our members,” Van Reenen concludes.