LAS VEGAS—It’s the dawn of a new day for brokers around the country, and the new parameters of business are forcing industry associations to redefine the services they provide their constituencies.

“There are three primary issues impacting the brokerage community,” says Mike Hillis, 2013/2014 president of SIOR and principal in the local office of Avison Young. “Number one is the consolidation of service providers. You can see it in our membership.  It used to be that 60% of our members belonged to independent boutique brokerages and 40% were national companies.  Essentially, that’s been reversed.”

Mergers and acquisitions by the majors, firms falling by the wayside in the economic downturn and brokers fleeing to the safety, services and platforms of larger companies all contributed to this demographic shift. “And the needs of these firms are vastly different from the independents,” Hillis points out.

He cites the educational programs SIOR offers. “The independent brokers don’t have any other national platform of education and they look to us to provide that service. The challenge for us becomes to not lose sight of the needs of all of our constituents.”

The second paradigm shift as Hillis sees it is technology. “The methodologies for broker communication in transactions is shifting at lightning speed,” he says. “The very way we do business is changing, and it is necessary for us, as an industry, as an association, to stay ahead of the technological curve.”

The last major shift has been the ongoing globalization of business. SIOR has been extremely aggressive in spreading its international net, he notes, growing its presence at international conferences, such as MIPIM, and opening networks of communication for brokers worldwide. 

It’s an initiative that circles back to the other two areas of change, he says. On one hand, that technology can be employed to speed cross-border communication. Simultaneously, the association’s growing network provides a global platform that independent brokers would not otherwise have. To date, the association has a presence in 34 countries.

Hillis tells that July will be a watershed month for the association in identifying methodologies for addressing a changing industry. That month will mark the completion of a yearlong research effort designed to identify the direction the industry is taking and “how it will affect SIOR,” he says. Armed with that information, the association can then “create action plans to address the issues I’ve mentioned and define other areas of change.”

Possibly the most important effort will be the sharing of the data with other industry associations so that the entire brokerage community, SIOR members and non-members alike, can be equally prepared for the changes to come.

The critical issues facing a shifting marketplace will take center stage when SIOR convenes for its Spring World Conference in Las Vegas, April 22–25. Click here for details.