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REALB Drives Home Ethics, Professional Responsibilities, Key Priorities At Conference

REALB Drives Home Ethics, Professional Responsibilities, Key Priorities At Conference
Real Estate Licencing Board acting chief executive officer Virisila Tuimanu.
September 01
10:00 2018

With the success of the first 2018 Real Estate Conference for Agents and Salespersons, Virisila Tuimanu is hopeful there will be more fruitful conferences in the future.

The feedback from the conference particpants at the Pearl Resort, Pacific Harbour on Thursday was very constructuve.

The Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Lands and Mineral Resources Faiyaz Siddiq Koya officiated at the  Professionalism and Ethics themed conference organised by the Real Estate Agents Licensing Board (REALB).

Ms Tuimanu said: “Post-conference – topics were arranged around the theme being – Professionalism and Ethics.

“Advertising issues were raised over the months so we introduced a session in Ethical Advertising.

“We usually like to put our other stakeholders in these seminars because they also play a vital role in the real estate agents’ business. For example, consumer protection awareness where the Fijian Consumer and Competition Commission (FCCC) chief executive officer Joel Abraham was invited to speak on.

“We also invited the tax authority and the Police who we have a very close mutual arrangements with that we will assist each other in relation to respective roles carried out by these agencies.”

Excerpts of an interview with Ms Tuimanu:

 

1.Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am from Barotu, Saivou, Ra. Married with three children – Josh, Esther and Luse.

High school days was spent at the Lelean Memorial School and earned a Bachelor of Law from University of the South Pacific in 2005.  I worked in several Government departments as temporary relieving clerk before thinking that maybe I should go to university and get a degree.

A Bachelor of Law from USP then I got admitted to the High Court of Fiji as a Barrister and Solicitor in 2005.

In 2008, I was awarded an Australian Leadership Award under the Australian Government to do a double Masters in International Relations and International Trade Law at the Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.

Returned 2009 and continued working at the Solicitor General’s Office until 2012 to join the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism.

 

  1. Can you tell us a bit about your role?

Responsible for the overall operations of the REALB Office

Establish strategic directions through the successful implementation of the Key Performance Indicators outlined in the REALB Services Agreement.

Responsible for the compliance mechanisms in place and reports to the Board on the current matters on hand.

  • Co-ordinate and strengthen the partnership with other institutions and Government agencies through the negotiation of Memorandum of Understanding between agencies like Investment Fiji, Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority and the Fiji Financial Intelligence Unit.

Carry out functions of the Board upon delegation of the Board.

 

  1. You assumed a number of senior roles and responsibilities, including acting as the CEO. How has taking such positions molded you to become the Acting REALB chief executive officer?

I was seconded to this position in 2012 whilst still a Principal Economist at the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Tourism. So this is basically a secondment appointment from the Ministry.

Before that, I handled World Trade Organisation (WTO) matters at the Ministry from 2012 which included monitoring WTO changes and progress and provide analysis.

Also looked into compliance requirements of the WTO by stakeholders in Fiji.

I still retain my Practising Certificate so in most other occasions I also provide in-house advice in Ministry matters that request legal interpretation from time to time. From 2006 till 2012, I was appointed a Legal Office then a Senior Legal Officer at the Solicitor General’s Office.

 

  1. You have worked under successful business leaders and their leadership style is different. How has it influenced you and the way you lead?

I have worked under four leaders who have actually have made an impact in my career life and the way I have carried out my responsibilities till today – two Ministers and two Permanent Secretaries. Different styles of leadership but a common thread running through all of them, that is, work hard then work hard and work harder because it pays off! Those principles remain till today.

 

  1. Could you talk about some events that influenced you to become what you are today? One’s family upbringing has a great impact on his/her life and I guess I am not any different.

My parents worked and tried their very best to sustain our livelihoods. Being the eldest in the family and having lived with half a dozen other cousins, I had to grow up very fast.

I was being responsible over so many things and those experiences have  actually helped me till now.

 

6.What are your current goals?

I believe I can do better every day so with that in mind I strive to become a better person – a better mother, a better team player, a better manager. My career goals is very interesting but it is a secret and still have yet to get there.

 

  1. Can you tell us a bit some of the challenges faced by REALB?

The REALB is an statutory agency mandated through the 2006 Real Estate Agents Act. It is the regulator for the real estate industry. Main functions of the Board being to grant licenses to real estate agents, salespersons, branch managers and also grants permits upon applications made to the Board.

There are a few challenges worth noting –

i)There is a much greater need to educate the industry in ethics, professional responsibilities and priorities.

The Board is working closely with the industry to improve on these areas.

  1. ii) Unlicensed agents – 12 official complaints have been received over the last year and reported the matter to the Police.

The Police are carrying out their own investigations on the cases. Three have been charged in the court of law. We are asking the public to report of such illegal activities carried out by people. Further, if vendors involved could ask people of their identification cards to verify whether these agents are licensed or not.

 

  1. What are your key priorities?

(i) REALB key priority is the review of the 2006 Real Estate Agents Act which will commence soon.

The marketplace has changed together with its needs and priorities.

This is a 2006 set of legislation which obviously needs to be amended to suit the current needs in the industry.

As regulator, there is a need to make sure that the laws and regulations in place are suitable to the real estate climate of this country.

(ii)  Continuing Professional Development for Agents and Salespersons – CPD will be introduced soon and that will be a prerequisite for renewals of licenses and salespersons approvals.

Six hours of credit will be required and as time goes on there will be a need to increase the credit hours.

(iii) Information dissemination to the public – there is also a need to educate the public on the basics of hiring agents and getting their properties sold through real estate agents.

We have found out that much needs to be done in this area and we are looking forward to engage specially the media in this area.

 

  1. What are some of your future plans?

We may need to increase manpower and branch out to Nadi or Lautoka in the future. There is a great need for compliance and monitoring in the industry and as such there needs to be officers stationed out of Suva and in these areas to carry out monitoring work.

 

  1. What is the best advice you would give to young professionals to succeed?

I have a very simple approach – you have to work hard because working hard will pay off. It’s not about luck; success is a decision!

Feedback:  maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj

 

 

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