Speech by 2M Indranee Rajah at Singapore Institute of Surveyors and Valuers (SISV) 41st Anniversary Dinner
Nov 3, 2023
Good evening. I am very happy to join everyone to celebrate SISV’s 41st Anniversary today.
SISV represents two important professions – Surveyors and Valuers. Both play crucial roles in the development of Singapore as a global city within the Built Environment (BE) and Real Estate (RE) sectors.
SISV has been instrumental in charting the transformation of these sectors. Your valuable insights had contributed greatly when we refreshed the BE and RE Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) last year.
Now as we look ahead, we will need your help, your expertise and your support as we collectively bring Singapore through its next stage of development and build our future Singapore.
We launched the Forward SG exercise in June last year to take stock, reflect, and consider how to chart the way ahead together.
a. More than 200,000 of you participated in this exercise. We received many valuable suggestions from Singaporeans on what they want for Singapore, and more importantly, how we can get there.
b. These have been gathered in the Forward SG report that was published last week.
c. You can find out more on the Forward SG website that you can access by scanning the QR code on the screen. Let me highlight two key areas.
One, the conversations reaffirmed that home ownership remains a key part of our Singapore Story. We want to ensure that our public housing continues to achieve the three important objectives of affordability, maintaining a good social mix and fairness.
d. To achieve this, we are adjusting the way HDB sells flats and will do away with the classification of mature and non-mature estates for new HDB projects.
e. Instead, they will be classified by locational attributes under a new framework.
Two, we want our nation to continue being a liveable city. This means balancing land needs for economic development, public housing, and precious green and recreational spaces.
f. To achieve this, we must continually relook our land use planning and refresh our use of space as needs change, no matter how challenging this may be.
We want to continue this conversation with you and create more opportunities for co-creation. So, we have also launched the Forward SG Festival.
g. This is a series of roadshows, which will run all the way until January next year. The roadshows will take place across different locations in Singapore.
h. I hope you will attend this with your colleagues, friends and families.
Forward SG is the roadmap for our future Singapore. It sets out our renewed social compact and articulates what we must do together. However, between vision and realisation of that vision there is much work to be done.
Let me touch on how the surveyors and valuers can help make the Forward SG vision a reality.
The Built Environment and Real Estate sectors are key components of building our future Singapore. This is because these sectors affect the city we want to build and the homes that we aspire to own and live in. But the key to achieving the future laid out in the Forward SG vision is industry transformation.
To build a liveable sustainable city that meets both our essential needs and aspirational wants, as well as affordable, accessible homes we will need new ways of building, new ways of collaborating, new technologies, new methodologies, new frameworks.
i. Given the pace of change, professional services have to transform to keep up with evolving trends and times. The need for this is pressing and real.
j. It is no different for surveyors and valuers.
We want you to be at the forefront of change so that you and your members can be ahead of the curve and be ready to capitalise on growth opportunities, increase productivity and harness efficiencies.
Let me touch on a few crucial areas of transformation.
A major enabler of transformation is digitalisation. The emergence of digital technologies empowers us to design, construct, and maintain our buildings more productively. These technologies have also revolutionised the processes involved in property transactions. These also allow valuers to access more data and create more accurate valuations.
You will not have to make your digitalisation journey alone. The Government has various support schemes to help you along the way:
k. The Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) provides up to 50% co-funding support for pre-approved digital solutions to help local SMEs strengthen their digital capabilities and improve productivity.
l. The SMEs Go Digital programme and Chief Technology Officer-as-a-Service aims to empower our SMEs to digitalise. These grant SMEs access to market-proven and cost-effective digital solutions as well as enables them to engage consultants for in-depth digital transformation advice.
m. Many firms have found these schemes useful. I encourage you to tap on these if you have not already done so.
SISV too has been supporting their members on their digitalisation journey.
n. SISV has been collaborating with industry partners on a digital valuation platform to help valuers produce efficient and secured valuation reports. This aims to allow users to better manage business processes, translating into accurate, timely and comprehensive valuations for their clients.
o. I look forward to hearing more about this initiative when SISV launches the project next year.
Digital transformation also typically catalyses job transformation because it changes the way jobs are done. For instance, for the QS profession:
p. We can automate cost estimations, reducing the time needed as well as human errors.
q. There are also tools to predict and highlight areas that may be prone to cost overruns or delay. These can help QSes to proactively manage risks and develop mitigation strategies.
Similarly, for the RE profession:
r. Real-time data analytics on property prices can provide RE professionals timely and accurate updates on market trends. This will enable RE professionals to advise their clients better.
s. Generative AI, such as ChatGPT, can also help RE professionals save time on basic copywriting, content generation and translations. Coupled with new social media platforms, this will allow RE professionals to amplify your reach and connect with prospective clients.
Using digital tools to cut down time-consuming and repetitive tasks frees you up to focus on other higher value tasks. This is a better use of your time and better for the clients.
To keep up with the industry transformation, professionals themselves will also have to transform. This requires a growth mindset and a willingness to embrace change. Change is never easy, but always possible. It is easier when you have adequate support. I encourage firms to support your employees by investing in education and training to equip them with the skills they need to succeed.
The Government has also worked closely with Institutes of Higher Learning and industry partners, like SISV, in this regard. For instance:
t. The BCA Academy and Institutes of Higher Learnings offer training in digitalisation, and other critical transformative skillsets.
u. The SISV Academy also offers various certificate courses in surveying and managing agent practices to upskill RE professionals.
v. Firms can tap on existing WSG/SSG support schemes for these training programmes.
And for the individuals, please embrace the change. Make the change before it is thrust upon you. So do work with your employers and colleagues to ensure that you all can move forward together.
Let me now touch on two other areas of change and growth.
First, collaborative contracting. This seeks to align the goals across the players in a contractual value chain, so that we can share risks more equitably, and better tackle unanticipated events.
QSes are well-placed to advocate, champion and facilitate the mindset shift that underpins collaborative contracting.
w. For instance, QSes can advise clients to include fluctuation clauses for key construction materials or pain and gain-sharing mechanisms. These can create a more balanced risk allocation between project parties and align their commercial interests.
I am glad to have SISV’s support in these efforts.
x. SISV is a member of the working group that developed the option module for collaborative contracting in the Public Sector Standard Conditions of Contract (PSSCOC).
y. The working group is now overseeing the drafting of clauses to enable local projects to pilot the NEC4 - a standard collaborative contract form adopted overseas.
z. I look forward to your continued support.
Second, sustainability. Climate change is urgent and real. For many countries it is a severe problem. For a small low-lying island like Singapore it is not just a problem, it is an existential issue.
In line with global efforts to tackle climate change, Singapore is working hard to achieve our net zero target by 2050.
As buildings contribute to over 20% of our carbon emissions, the imperative to green our buildings cannot be overstated.
aa. Given this, developers are increasingly focused on gaining better control over their carbon emissions, leading to a growing demand for carbon impact assessment.
bb. At the same time, developers are looking to better account for longer-term benefits in investing in sustainable solutions through a Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA).
cc. As the name suggests, this goes beyond upfront costs, and evaluates costs across the entire building lifecycle.
QSes are well-positioned to seize opportunities arising from these developments.
a. For instance, you can leverage your skills and experience in managing financial budgets to manage carbon budgets. Existing processes for business units to report cost overruns and savings can also be adapted to manage carbon impact.
b. You can also support assessment on whether the merits of investing in sustainable solutions outweigh the upfront costs of investment to better inform decision-making.
I also encourage our RE professionals to familiarise yourselves with the latest trends in sustainability.
dd. Take BCA’s Green Mark certification scheme as an example. This evaluates a building’s environmental impact and performance and provides meaningful differentiation of buildings in the real estate market.
ee. With this, you can help your environmentally conscious clients find properties that best meet their needs.
There are many benefits of buying more sustainable properties – from longer-term cost savings to enhanced liveability.
ff. On top of supporting clients who already demand more sustainable buildings, you are in a unique position to grow this demand by encouraging your prospective clients to choose more sustainably.
gg. Such increased demand from building end users will in turn motivate developers to design and build with sustainability in mind.
As you can see, there is much to be done. However, I am confident that all the effort put into the transformation of your industry and your own personal growth and development will bear fruit and you will reap the rewards in good time.
In closing, I would like to thank SISV for your invaluable contributions over your distinguished history. I look forward to working with you as we build our future Singapore together.