Pinnacle Group’s Claire Kober on why for-profits are key for housing supply

Earlier this month, the Financial Times reported a stark warning from housing associations: “We can’t build houses.”  Some said they had ceased all new development for the coming financial year; others said the system was “maxed out”.

A perfect storm of high interest rates, inflation, low government grants and rising construction costs, as well as net zero and remediation obligations, means traditional registered providers (RPs) are struggling to build. Put simply, the finances do not stack up. In fact, housing associations say building new affordable homes is becoming financially impossible, which is worsening the downturn in supply.

Alongside this, demand continues to grow. In 2022, there were 1.2 million households on social housing waiting lists. Statistics released last month show this has increased by 6% to 1.29 million. In 2021-22 alone, 173,550 households who received a social letting were new to the social sector. Meanwhile, households in temporary accommodation now number more than 109,000, with costs exceeding £1.74bn in 2022-23. Something has got to give.

What the FT piece neglected to mention was that for-profit RPs (FPRPs) are moving into the space and helping to bridge the gap. There are 69 FPRPs registered with the Regulator of Social Housing – two of these owned by Pinnacle. With this number continuing to rise, albeit at a slower pace, it is clear institutional investment’s role in the sector is vital and will continue to grow. There is a real opportunity for traditional RPs to support this growth.

In 2023, I was part of a working group, drawn from the British Property Federation’s (BPF’s) Affordable Housing Committee, that developed a toolkit to provide greater understanding of partnership models for investors and RPs. Its aim was to boost the delivery of affordable homes by providing greater understanding of how investors and housing associations can collaborate.

Encouragingly, a recent Savills survey of traditional housing associations revealed that 89% would consider a partnership with a for-profit and 43% are already working with them in some way. The ever-growing pressure on housing associations to find alternative sources of investment is shifting attitudes among traditional RPs. Five years ago, an earlier survey found that only 62% of traditional housing associations thought that for-profits had any part to play in solving the housing crisis.

It is clear there is a rapidly growing recognition of the role equity has to play in unlocking financial capacity. This collaboration is set to be key in the sector’s future growth.

Capital funding

Rapidly scaling up long-term institutional investment in the sector is vital to boosting affordable housing supply. Analysis by L&G and the BPF reveals that £34bn is the additional capital funding needed per year to meet demand.

But if we are to scale up, we must create the conditions to encourage private capital to enter the sector. These include longer-term rent settlements, a review into subsidy provision and the creation of a level playing field between traditional RPs and their for-profit counterparts. New tax and grant initiatives would remove obstacles for closer collaboration between institutional investors and RPs.

As the gulf between supply and demand broadens, the housing crisis is set to take centre stage in the upcoming general election. It is already shaping up to be a key battleground, with the industry and communities patiently waiting to hear how parties intend to address the issue should they retain or take power. Whichever party wins, they need to adopt a pragmatic approach, acknowledging the role institutional investment has to play in delivering the affordable homes the country needs.

Claire Kober

Managing Director (Homes), Pinnacle Group

This article was originally featured in Property Week, on 1st May 2024.

Pinnacle expands affordable homes contract – becoming Legal & General Affordable Homes’ leading managing agent

Pinnacle Group is set to more than double the number of homes it manages on behalf of Legal & General Affordable Homes (LGAH) as it becomes the provider’s leading managing agent.

In recent weeks, the housing services provider has taken on management services for an additional 900 homes – a mix of affordable rented and shared ownership – spread across the Southwest and Midlands, including The Berries in Paignton, Devon and Cross Trees Park in Shrivenham, Oxfordshire.

Now, a further 40 shared ownership homes at a variety of locations across England will be managed by Pinnacle after we signed yet another agreement with LGAH. 

In total, Pinnacle will now be responsible for managing around 1800 homes for LGAH, with a pipeline of new properties expanding the portfolio to at least 2600 homes over the next few years.

“Having begun our relationship with LGAH back in 2019, we’re thrilled our reputation for providing market-leading housing services has resulted in us becoming their leading managing agent. With our teams already delivering on the ground for the first tranche of new homes, we now look forward to serving even more communities across the country as the additional homes come under our management.”

Claire Kober
Managing Director, Homes at Pinnacle Group

Pinnacle’s role will include tenant on-boarding and management, building compliance, defect management, maintenance and void management.

Pinnacle will also work in close collaboration with LGAH in advance of the handover stage, including liaising with relevant local authorities on nominations agreements and the production of welcome packs and home user guides for prospective tenants.

Shaun Holdcroft, Operations Director, Legal & General Affordable Homes, said: “Pinnacle is a trusted partner of Legal & General Affordable Homes, and we are proud to have formed a robust and long term relationship over the past five years. We look forward to working with the Pinnacle team as we continue to serve our current and future residents by providing high quality, affordable housing right across the country. Our aim is to better people’s lives and ensure that everyone has access to our vision of a sustainable and affordable home.”

As we approach our 30th anniversary, Pinnacle continues to see considerable growth, having recently announced a new instruction with Funding Affordable Homes as well as its first Brighton-based contract.

Pinnacle Group wins first Brighton contract to manage hotel apartments

Pinnacle Group has won its first Brighton-based contract to provide management services to residential apartments above an historic seafront hotel.

Kew Green Hotels, which owns and manages over 55 hotels across the world, has selected Pinnacle to manage sixty-four leasehold apartments in the building, which overlooks Brighton’s Grand Pier.

Kew Green Hotels’ portfolio covers several leading global brands including IHG Hotels & Resorts, Hilton and Marriott International, alongside managing several independent hotels and operating over 25 Holiday Inns under franchise across Europe.

The former Bedford Hotel, now Holiday Inn Brighton-Seafront, is an iconic landmark in the city, dating back to 1829. It counted Charles Dickens among its historic guests, though the current iteration of the building opened in 1967. Today, eleven floors of the hotel are used for luxury residential apartments.

"As we celebrate our thirtieth anniversary this year, we’re delighted to be expanding into Brighton, especially with such an iconic building.
This new contract represents yet another geographical expansion of our market-leading services, enabling us to deliver for local leaseholders while also exploring further opportunities in the region.
We look forward to working with our partner, Kew Green Hotels, to maintain high quality management standards and create a first-rate customer experience for the residents.” 

Alex Elsy
Director of Assets and Residential Management, Pinnacle Group

Alongside residential management of the apartments, which begins this week, Pinnacle will also work in close collaboration with the hotel team on shared building services.

This instruction is another example of Pinnacle’s vast experience in forging partnerships to deliver comprehensive community solutions. It will see the organisation deploy its unique expertise to respond effectively to client and customer requirements, particularly in complex residential developments.

Chris Dexter, CEO of Kew Green Hotels said, “We look forward to working with the team at Pinnacle, supporting them in delivering exceptional services to residents at Bedford Towers, complemented by the operational excellence delivered by our team at the Holiday Inn Brighton-Seafront. At Kew Green Hotels, we set ourselves apart by combining years of experience with innovative ideas to deliver outstanding hotel services, delivering exceptional returns for hotel owners and partners throughout our portfolio of independent hotels through to global brands.”

Shane Willmoth, Director of Property at Kew Green Hotels added, "We are pleased to be working with the team at Pinnacle, who demonstrate strong experience in the UK residential services sector with a robust infrastructure and employee community.”

Pinnacle Group secures new contract with Funding Affordable Homes

Pinnacle Group has been appointed by Funding Affordable Homes Housing Association (FAHHA), a for-profit Registered Provider and Homes England investment partner, to provide management services at a new-build home counties housing scheme.

Sterling Gardens, a development of 119 apartments, including 27 for social rent, 30 shared ownership and 62 for affordable rent, is built on brownfield land in Newbury.

Pinnacle will act as managing agent at the scheme, conducting a full range of tenancy and estate management. The contract marks a new relationship for Pinnacle, which currently provides housing management services across a portfolio of over 70,000 properties nationwide.

As it approaches its 30th anniversary, the Group continues to see considerable growth, with plans to announce further contract wins in the coming weeks.

Just Jus - stock.adobe.com

Laura Newey, Head of Partnerships - Homes, Pinnacle Group, said: “We are delighted to have been appointed by FAHHA as their housing manager of choice on this exciting new scheme in Newbury.

‘Drawing on our experience of place-making, and place-keeping new communities on new build developments, we look forward to working with FAHHA to bring our market-leading services to the residents of Sterling Gardens.”

Paul Munday, CEO of FAHHA, said “FAHHA are hoping this project will be the start of a long-term relationship for the delivery of housing services by Pinnacle. Funding Affordable Homes (FAH), whose investment advisor is Edmond de Rothschild Real Estate Investment Management (EdR REIM), invested institutional capital alongside grant from Homes England to deliver 119 affordable homes from what was to be an entirely private sale development. The scheme demonstrates FAH’s commitment to providing tangible social benefit from its capital”.

Property Management 50 Awards Success for Leading Industry Influencer at Pinnacle Group

Rochelle Menville, Head of Operations (Homes) has been awarded a top spot in the 2023 Property Management 50 awards for leading the way in the property industry and being recognised as a top Influencer.

Rochelle is a CIH qualified Housing professional with over 18 years’ experience across social housing, leasehold and commercial management.

Rochelle said “It’s lovely to be nominated and be a Winner, and always nice to recognised for the work we do!”

Director of Assets and Residential, Alex Elsy, commented “I am so pleased that Rochelle that been recognised as an influencer in the 2023 PM50 Awards. It is well deserved recognition for all that she does both for Pinnacle Group and our clients, customers and the wider community.”

Congratulations to Rochelle and all of the other worthy winners. You can view the full list of winners here: 2023 Property Management 50 Winners

Pinnacle Group’s Claire Kober on why BTR deserves more attention from Whitehall

The housing landscape is undergoing a rapid shift, and if the prime minister wants to stand any chance of meeting his housing target, much more attention must be paid to alternative development models, including build to rent (BTR).

For many, traditional home ownership is either completely out of reach or something for much later in life. In 1960, the average first-time buyer could have expected to unlock the door to their first home at 23 years old. Now, market analysis shows that they will be stepping on to the property ladder in their mid-30s.

Societal shifts, the cost-of-living crisis, rocketing house prices, rising mortgage rates and a lack of suitable accommodation mean people are spending longer in the rental market, which is pushing up demand. Coupled with an increasing awareness of renters’ rights and a post-Covid-19 emphasis on the quality of accommodation rather than simply location, renters are no longer happy spending their days in substandard properties.

When the wait to get on to the housing ladder is likely a long one, the quality of a rental home takes on new significance; it’s not just a place to lay your head.

This is where BTR comes in. Research from Savills has found that investment activity in the sector grew to a record high of £1.26bn in the second quarter of this year. The sector is seeing significant growth and backing. And the government should take note.

Offering flexibility and quality services, BTR presents a tangible alternative to the conventional approach. To make it work at scale, BTR models need to be refined to provide investors with more certainty, while delivering homes that genuinely resonate with residents’ needs, budgets and aspirations.

The sheer demand is evident. This year, our average occupancy rates soared to 98%. We’ve witnessed a staggering growth from managing approximately 300 units in 2021 to nearly 1,000 in 2023.

Incorporating digital tools is instrumental to achieving positive results. Today more than 60% of residents are engaging apps as their preferred means of communicating with their property manager. From both a management and investment perspective, this contributes to the insight and data that drive effective decision-making.

But the properties need to be built to meet the demand – and that means mid-market single-family rental properties, not just the highly amenitised multi-family homes synonymous with the BTR sector.

The statistics from the latest English Housing Survey are sobering. Over the past three years, 5% of privately rented households experienced overcrowding. Only 62% of private renters expressed intentions to purchase a home in the foreseeable future, primarily due to affordability concerns. These numbers underline the acute need to bolster the UK’s BTR inventory with a budget-friendly offer.

The prime minister has just recommitted the government to build one million new homes by the next election, with a renewed focus on cities and brownfield. But he won’t hit this unless the government gets real about the challenge and focuses on the right areas.

To address the UK’s housing shortage, BTR must surely play a pivotal role. It melds stability and certainty for residents, professional management and, combined with discount market rent, homes at different price points in the market.

With economic growth fundamental to tackling the cost-of-living crisis and new rental homes needed to offset the 151,000 buy-to-let disposals last year, it’s high time policymakers acknowledged the transformative potential of the sector and act on it by supporting BTR initiatives that plug the supply gap. As the housing crisis continues, it could be a real solution to ensuring every UK resident has a place to call home.

Claire Kober, Managing Director (Homes), Pinnacle Group

This article was originally featured in Property Week, on the 11th September.

Groundbreaking Eco Pod Build in Huddersfield

A fantastic new eco classroom space designed and built in SEND school, using cutting-edge technology to create a unique space for students to learn about sustainable living.

The team in Kirklees, where Pinnacle provides total FM services to three Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) schools in a 25 year contract on behalf of Kirklees Council, has completed a new standalone eco-building at Castle Hill School.

The SEND school is for students ages 3 to 19, supporting and educating children with complex special needs. This new impressive space will allow for a teaching space that is suitable for students to learn about green objectives and the value of recycling.

Led by Michael Cooper, Lifecycle and Variation Manager at Pinnacle Group, the collaborative team worked with architects, William Saunders, and specialist builders, BlokBuild, to build the new classroom structure using sustainable modern methods of construction (MMC), environmentally friendly construction techniques.  

The build was designed using a Passivhaus methodology, which is a performance-based set of design criteria which create very low energy buildings. Some of the environmentally friendly features of the new space include; solar panels, a living roof, a heat recovery system, and a unique multi-faceted curved lattice wall with thermal wood cladding. 



The mechanical and electrical installations have been designed to provide an energy-efficient building and to include reducing loads, selecting systems that make the most effective use of ambient energy sources and using efficient equipment and effective control strategies. An integrated design approach has been adopted to ensure that the architectural elements and the engineering systems work effectively together.

Electrical systems installed:

  • High efficiency LED light fittings with intelligent automatic controls.
  • Photovoltaic electricity generation.

Mechanical systems installed:

  • Eco water heater with smart technology giving high energy efficiency.
  • Electric LST fan heaters with intelligent low energy consuming EC motors.
  • High efficiency energy recovery ventilation unit with night time summer building heat purge facility.

The building project, which was featured on the latest series of Channel 4’s Grand Design, was delivered on time and within budget, with the installation being under two weeks during term-time, without disrupting staff or students at the live SEND school site.  The school and the students are delighted with their new classroom space.

Michael Cooper said of the project, “School are delighted with the completed project, this will be their flagship building proudly situated at the front of the school site, the students are further overjoyed as the building also includes superb views over the ancient Castle Hill monument.

Steve Perren, Principal at Castle Hill School commented, “We are also grateful to Pinnacle for collaborating towards success.

The innovative project has been recently shortlisted for three categories at the Structural Timber Awards for:

  • Project of the Year
  • Installer of the Year (Blokbuild)
  • Product Innovation award (Blokbuild)

 

The project has also shortlisted on one of the awards for Education Estates:

  • Client of the year

Social Impact in Affordable Housing Through a Registered Provider and Residents’ Eyes

Originally featured in Local Government Chronicle,  written by Ann Xu, Portfolio and Impact Manager at CBRE Investment Management. 

Institutional investors measuring social impact in UK affordable housing is a nascent endeavour. CBRE Investment Management (CBRE IM) has one of the long­est track records in this space and yet it is still only around five years old.

Ann Xu, Portfolio and Impact Manager at CBRE IM

In 2018 CBRE IM developed a social impact framework which represents the governing principals of how the CBRE UK Affordable Housing Fund invests. This framework continues to evolve.

Fund managers often focus on quan­titative metrics such as internal rates of return and yields; as an impact fund, CBRE IM has prioritised the delivery of resident outcomes alongside finan­cial returns by partnering with best-in-class registered providers. Social impact is therefore best illustrated through residents’ stories, which illuminate the human side of the affordable housing investment thesis.

With this in mind, we sat down with Kate Donovan from Pinnacle Group, which manages homes exclusively on behalf of Pinnacle Spaces, a registered provider of social housing and part of Pinnacle Group. Across the UK, Pinnacle Group provides comprehensive landlord services including lettings, repairs and estate, tenancy and leasehold management to over 65,000 homes.

Lewisham Exchange, London

Pinnacle Spaces operates most of CBRE IM’s London affordable housing portfolio, and we heard directly from Kate about Pinnacle’s experiences of working with institutional capital in the affordable housing sector, impact measurement and the experiences of residents.

Kate Donovan, Head of Operations – Homes Division, Pinnacle Group

Affordable housing has evolved, but motivations remain the same

Kate has an almost 30-year career in social housing. She has worked across local authorities, housing associations and for the past three years as head of operations (homes division) at Pinnacle Group, including two years working directly with CBRE IM’s UK affordable housing team.

“I have seen a lot of changes in the sec­tor, but the drivers remain the same: to provide high-quality accommodation for residents with great customer service,” she says. “In my two years working with CBRE IM, no two days are ever the same.”

Pinnacle manages a mixture of schemes on behalf of CBRE IM. These new developments include two buildings in Lewisham – with 67 and 43 affordable units – a 50-unit scheme in Slough and a 245-unit scheme in Abbey Wood. “It involves making sure we are on top of any issues, helping residents settle into their new homes and building relationships in the local community,” Kate says.

Pinnacle is also responsible for mobi­lising new schemes. This involves pro­curing energy suppliers, working with local authorities to ensure section 106 agreement compliance, and with hous­ing allocation teams to ensure properties are appropriately let to residents on their waiting lists.

“It is quite challenging,” says Kate. “Every scheme has different pressures. Last week we signed up 33 tenants. Not only did we have to sign all residents’ con­tracts, give them the keys and an introduc­tion to their property, we also completed welfare benefit checks and affordability assessments for all residents.”

Lewisham Exchange, London
Abbey Place, London

Securing apartments 'feels like winning the lottery'

Kate says the most rewarding parts of her role are when launching schemes. She recalls a few examples from Meadow House in Lewisham.

“Seeing residents’ faces when they see their new properties for the first time at viewings is priceless,” Kate says. “Recently we saw two women literally singing, danc­ing and cheering. They hugged me and the developer. For many residents, securing a new-build apartment is like winning the lottery because many have been on wait­ing lists for years.”

Residents talk about their lives previ­ously being on hold, Kate says. “When residents secure one of our properties it is an incredibly emotional moment. It allows them to finally put down roots in a community and build a better life for themselves and their fami­lies. One of our residents had previously been living in temporary accommodation for a decade – always on the move and with no permanent home. Now she plans to finally start her own jewellery business.”

The stability also supports working families raise children with a stable edu­cation – parents know their kids can go to schools in the same community for the duration of school life.

Kate recalls the story of another resi­dent, a 21-year-old man who had been in hospital for months suffering with sickle cell disease. “This young man came with his nurse from Lewisham Hospital and couldn’t believe how lucky he was to be offered such an amazing flat. He was espe­cially pleased as even though the heating wasn’t on during the viewing, the flat felt warm, which is crucial with his condition. His nurse said the flat would make such a difference to the quality of his life.”

In another story of life transformation, Kate remembers a resident who had been living in temporary accommodation since she was 17, when she came out of the care system. “She is now 27 and has suffered domestic abuse in the past and has sig­nificant mental health issues,” Kate says. “This lady was crying with tears of joy when she saw the flat, which she said felt safe and somewhere she could feel settled to enjoy her new life.”

Affordability is paramount

Kate says many residents cannot believe they are able to afford these units because the standard of the finish is very high while rents – as specified in the section 106 agreement – are below the local hous­ing allowance rate.

“There is no trade-off in housing qual­ity under the capped rental levels,” she says. These are new build flats, with the latest technology in heating systems and wifi, and are well ventilated and insulated, crucial for low income earners during the cost of living crisis.

Abbey Place, London

The commitment to affordability is paramount. “The housing product resi­dents receive is high-end compared with existing housing stock from traditional housing associations and local authori­ties,” Kate adds. “Testament to that is the acceptance rate of almost 100% from viewings.”

Working with institutional capital

“I had never worked with institutional investors before working with CBRE IM, so I did not know what to expect,” Kate says. “The similarities to working with housing associations and local authori­ties are a driving ambition to provide quality homes with excellent customer service, but institutional investors go about achieving these goals with a fresh approach unburdened by ideas of what social housing traditionally means.

“CBRE IM works at a much faster pace, is more agile, less bureaucratic, and introduced a more collaborative relation­ship. Institutional investors are also much more data-driven.”

She says the clearest example of this is in relation to sustainability. “We collect a huge amount of data – such as meter read­ings on energy consumption. Data is an incredibly important driver of decisions for institutional investors. In the tenancy agreements, green clauses are included to ensure data can be collected.”

Kate says aligned values is the most important driver of the success of Pinnacle’s relationship with CBRE IM. “Our ESG [environmental, social and governance] strategy aligns with CBRE IM’s. I remember a conversation about our mutual values in the early days. We discussed working with a sense of purpose to make a difference in residents’ lives and building lasting communities. We share those motivations deeply.


Pinnacle Group's ESG Pillars

“To do that, you need to start with what residents want: good quality accommo­dation, affordable rents, and a landlord that listens and responds. They also want to feel part of the community and be able to contact a person they know if problems arise. If these needs are met, they will be satisfied tenants.”

She continues: “We provide residents with knowledge of key local services – from schools to the doctor’s surgery, lei­sure facilities and community hubs of interest, as well as location of property managers.

“We are experienced in developing relationships within local communities and managing mixed communities. We have a tenant app that coordinates and promotes community services and infor­mation. The app helps drive performance – to be best in class and upper quartile in the market, but we look beyond compari­sons with registered providers to custom­er excellence across all industries.”

Evolving KPIs

Performance measurement is crucial to delivering on these expectations. CBRE IM and Pinnacle have agreed key perfor­mance indicators (KPIs) which include measuring rent collection timing (at around 97% for Q1 2023) and response times to emails and complaints.

Kate says: “We look to understand our residents through the data we collect, including regular in-app ‘pulse’ surveys, which capture emerging issues in real time. The KPIs continue to evolve over time, based on data insights.”

Pinnacle’s KPI targets align with CBRE IM’s ‘tenure blind’ approach, designed to provide an equal high-qual­ity service to all residents, regardless of rental level and tenure. “Pinnacle listens first-hand to what residents need and we then have an open dialogue with CBRE IM. Investors need to choose a good man­aging agent that aligns with their values. The level of satisfaction in our ‘move in’ surveys is more than 90%, reflecting our responsiveness, engagement, participa­tion, as well as housing quality.

“At the start of our working relation­ship with CBRE IM, it was a case of learn­ing together, setting a collaborative tone which has since matured. As our teams have increased in knowledge and experi­ence together, we better understand what is important to residents and the most effective ways to mobilise a building, help­ing to fine-tune processes.

“Our teams have since expanded, improving collective capabilities, execu­tion and service delivery, adding to the effectiveness of our working relationship and outcomes for residents.”

CBRE IM continues to see increasing institutional capital appetite for invest­ment in the social and affordable hous­ing sector, as the social impact becomes clearer. Hearing residents’ stories and learning the impact of affordable housing on people’s lives drives our motivation to continue to invest in affordable and sus­tainable homes across the UK.

Pinnacle Affordable Homes Strengthens Board With Two New Independent Non-Executives

Gerri Scott (left) and Dominic Grace (right)

Pinnacle Affordable Homes has appointed two new independent non-executive directors, Gerri Scott and Dominic Grace, to its board.

Gerri and Dominic each have more than three decades’ experience in the sector and will strengthen Pinnacle Affordable Homes' mission to provide high-quality affordable housing solutions to residential communities.

Pinnacle Affordable Homes, a Registered Provider of Affordable Housing and a subsidiary of Pinnacle Group, has been a trusted provider of affordable housing since 2012. With a demonstrable commitment to excellence and a proven track record, Pinnacle Affordable Homes is well-positioned to meet the growing demand for affordable housing in the UK.

Gerri Scott assumes her role on the board following three successful years as Executive Director of Customer Service at L&Q, one of the UK's largest housing associations. Gerri's previous positions, including Strategic Director of Housing and Modernisation for the London Borough of Southwark, have equipped her with a deep understanding of the operational and customer service aspects of the sector. Her comprehensive knowledge and insights will enhance the quality of Pinnacle Affordable Homes' services.

Gerri Scott

Dominic Grace joins the board after an illustrious 37-year career at Savills, where he played a pivotal role in establishing their highly successful London Residential Development team. Dominic brings invaluable expertise in property development and sales. His consultancy and advisory skills will prove instrumental in shaping Pinnacle Affordable Homes' strategic initiatives for sustainable growth.

Dominic Grace

"We are thrilled to welcome and Gerri and Dominic to our Board," said Nick Wright, Chair of Pinnacle Affordable Homes. "Their extensive industry experience and remarkable leadership qualities will be invaluable as we continue to address the critical need for affordable housing in the UK. We are confident that their contributions will greatly benefit our organisation and the communities we serve."

Gerri said: “I am delighted to join the board, having worked in the affordable housing space for many years, I welcome the opportunity to contribute my experience in strategic housing management, customer service, and performance improvement to further enhance the impact of Pinnacle Affordable Homes. Together, we will strive to address the pressing need for affordable housing and contribute to the well-being of individuals and communities across the country.”

Dominic said: "I am thrilled to join the board as an independent non-executive director. Having spent my career in the real estate industry, I have witnessed the crucial role that affordable housing plays in creating inclusive and thriving communities and I am honoured to be a part of an organisation that is committed to making a positive impact on people's lives.”

The addition of Gerri and Dominic to the Pinnacle Affordable Homes board underscores the organisation's commitment to delivering affordable housing solutions that empower individuals and families to thrive. Their unique perspectives and expertise will help drive innovation, foster sustainable growth, and ensure Pinnacle Affordable Homes is at the forefront of the affordable housing sector.

For more information about Pinnacle Affordable Homes, please click here.

Pinnacle Group launches new market rent offering for property investors

Pinnacle Group has launched a new end-to-end property management service for investors and developers looking to deliver long-term growth within the UK’s emerging Build to Rent (BTR) and market rent sectors. Place by Pinnacle expands the Group’s existing market rent offering, providing services direct to investor clients for the first time.

A nationwide provider of urban and suburban property solutions, Place by Pinnacle offers a fully integrated range of market rent services. This includes investor consultancy and insights, property and lettings management, as well as active management of single and multi-family occupancies for the sector, and marketing and brand support.

With an existing management portfolio of over 2,000 homes, Place by Pinnacle responds to clients’ emerging needs for data-led decision making, bespoke reporting and flexible management. Place by Pinnacle embeds market analysis within the service, using its large database of information on market trends and consumer behaviour to help clients make better decisions about their investments. It provides best in class services at competitive prices, whilst protecting both brand and returns. 



Place by Pinnacle’s team is made up of letting and management specialists, with combined expertise across private rental housing services. They are complemented by the capacity and capability of the wider Pinnacle Group and nearly 30 years of property management experience.  

"Demand within the UK’s rental sector – whether that be BTR or market rent more generally – is growing and we are seeing more people seeking high-quality rental accommodation which offers them flexibility as well as affordability. Naturally that means that investment into the sector is growing too.

“Place by Pinnacle offer investors and developers the support they need to maximise their investment into the sector by leveraging the expertise of our specialist team. We have decades of experience as well as the wider resource available within Pinnacle Group. This allows us to support investors looking to enter or make the most of their position within the BTR and market rent space and achieve attractive returns and long-term growth.

“Our dedicated team takes a holistic, integrated approach to service and scheme delivery. Place by Pinnacle’s bespoke approach is driven by ensuring best value for our clients and protecting their reputation. It is also tailored to each client’s needs, integrating seamlessly with their business objectives and underpinning a wider portfolio offer.”

Ollie Miller
Director of Rental

Place by Pinnacle has extensive experience in the residential marketplace with clients including Legal & General, CBRE IM and Pictet Group – supported by the expertise of the wider Pinnacle Group.

For more information about Place by Pinnacle visit www.placebypinnacle.co.uk.

Paul de Kock: The Positive Impact of ESG

Following the publication of Pinnacle Group’s flagship ESG Impact Report, Head of Projects and Governance, Paul de Kock, sat down with FM Director to talk about how stakeholder support and strong data is the key to ESG success.

“ESG (environmental, social and governance) goes way beyond what CSR (corporate social responsibility) was and is. It’s business-critical, which is why having a good framework, the right pillars and buy-in from every level of your organisation is key to ensuring it works.

That’s the view of Paul de Kock, Head of Projects and Governance at Pinnacle Group. As he discusses Pinnacle’s  ESG impact report with FM Director, Paul is frank about the challenges involved in developing and implementing an ESG strategy. He is also clear about the benefits it offers, adding that the significant success Pinnacle is enjoying in this area hinges on quality data and support from stakeholders across the business

This success is reflected in Pinnacle’s ESG first impact report, a comprehensive document for financial year 2022, titled Transforming Communities, Changing Lives. It outlines the organisation’s achievements in areas like sustainability, community impact, nurturing its team and being a responsible business, drilling down into the progress it has made across the four pillars of a robust ESG framework.

Notable achievements include a 12% year-on-year reduction in tonnes of carbon emitted per employee (in its Protect our Planet pillar) and a 33% growth in FTE employee numbers (as part of its People and Culture initiative).

While Paul and his team produced an ‘ESG Year End Review’ for 2021, this document was geared towards establishing the business’s ESG framework and setting up working groups.

2022’s impact report “tells a story”, both about what has been achieved, and how Pinnacle hopes to build on its progress in future.

Paul commented: “It’s great when we produce a report like this because we can see that there are one or two areas where we haven’t necessarily gone forward, but we also haven’t gone backwards. On the whole, we’ve made some really good strides, and some great achievements over the last year.”

Planning ahead

Paul adds that the report is enabling Pinnacle, not just to reflect on its progress, but to plan ahead.

“One of the key drivers is about being able to plan strategically for the future, and without a report like this it’s difficult to do that,” he explains. “Our board has fully embraced it, and is ensuring that all future decisions are based on both the targets we’ve set ourselves, and the results of the report.”

The document has also been well received by clients, strengthening their confidence in Pinnacle and its approach.

Paul comments: “Those that have had the opportunity to read it already have fed back with great positivity, which is obviously quite rewarding – but it also shows that they’re very happy with who they’ve partnered with to deliver their services. We don’t just say that we do these things; it proves that we do it for all clients, not just certain clients.”

Marketing tool

Indeed, while not its primary purpose, the report has already proved to be a valuable marketing tool, and Mr de Kock is quick to acknowledge the commercial significance of ESG.

He says: “ESG has become a huge part of all of our bid submissions. Just three years ago, it might have attracted maybe 5 or 10% weighting in terms of the evaluation and the scoring. We're seeing this is now between 20 and 25%, especially with central and local government. That’s because the pressure is on government to ensure that we’re all doing our part, particularly when it comes to achieving net zero targets and good corporate governance.”

Paul suggests that, without strong evidence and an impact report, it is difficult to substantiate the ESG claims upon which bids often rely.

Data is key

Key to producing such a report, he adds, is good quality data. With this in mind, Pinnacle established its own data analytics team around four years ago – a move that has proved transformative.

“The team has grown, and we’ve been able to gather an immense amount of data across all spheres of our business,” Mr de Kock says. “We use Microsoft Power BI (a specialist software product) to gather, analyse and present this data, and are at a point now where we are comfortable enough to produce statistics, because we’ve got four years of history – not on all data, but we’re continually building on this.

“It ensures that we can produce reports substantiated with good data capturing and analytics.”

Paul explains that this data-gathering drive began with Pinnacle’s vehicle fleet.

“That was the first major project for our data analytics team,” he recalls. “Making sure that our whole fleet had telematics. And once we really started to see the power of the Power BI tool and the data, we rolled that out across the FM business.”

Pinnacle uses a second tool, Job Watch, to manage its soft FM services and produce daily workflows. This information is fed straight into Power BI, producing valuable insights.

Paul adds: “We have an ESG dashboard as well, where we’re capturing our carbon footprint and all our ESG initiatives. We’re capturing the amount of time and money spent on the initiatives we’ve introduced across the group.

“We’ve got dashboards for everything – mobile phone usage, the distance people travel every day. It’s great to have that information at our fingertips, and now we’ve got enough data, it’s helping us to think strategically about where we need to be going forwards.”

While generating data is relatively easy, interpreting it presents more of a challenge. Establishing its own data analytics team has enabled Pinnacle to overcome this particular hurdle.

“It has transformed the way we operate and the way we can interrogate data,” Mr de Kock comments. “And as I said, we’re continuously rolling this out, especially on the FM side of the business, because there’s just so much data you can gather – as long as you’ve got the tech in place.”

This data serves a dual purpose, enabling Pinnacle to better support its FM clients.

Paul adds: “It’s about pre-empting asset failure – being proactive about how we maintain the buildings we look after, the client assets. Without data, we can’t do that.”

The 'G' in ESG

Security is key, and he readily acknowledges the importance of processing this data safely and efficiently.

“We need to have the right ESG elements in place, especially when you look at the ‘G’ in terms of governance,” he explains. “Data privacy and data protection are key, and we made sure that we became Cyber Essentials Plus-accredited before going down this road. It’s the highest data privacy accreditation you can get.

“Now that we’ve got that in place, our clients know their data is secure. You can’t afford for anything to go wrong; it just takes one mistake, and significant data is out there, leading to fines and lost business.

“That’s why having those processes and principles in place under each of the four pillars is absolutely critical. And although a lot of companies don’t place enough emphasis on governance, for us it’s one of the most important elements, because of the impact it could have on any business.”

Neither, Paul adds, should businesses underestimate the complexity of ESG, which is more than just an extension of CSR.

“That was exactly my thought at the beginning, before I got involved and entrenched in it,” he admits. “I’ve headed up ESG since 2021, and I learnt very quickly that it is absolutely way beyond what CSR was and is.

“And it’s not only for us – it’s for our clients, our auditors. Even two years ago, they weren’t asking questions about ESG, and now the queries I get are incredibly detailed. It’s definitely taking a much higher priority in all spheres of business.”

Paul believes that, for smaller companies without adequate resource, implementing ESG measures is a “minefield.”

He comments: “You could almost say that CSR is a bit of a tick box exercise, but with ESG, if you don't have the right processes and principles in place, it’s not something you can blag.

“You need to be very sure of what you’re doing and have dedicated immense time and resource to getting it right for your organisation, which I believe is what Pinnacle has done.”

Solid foundations

Having embarked on its own ESG journey just two years ago, Pinnacle still has a “long way to go.” Nevertheless, it is already enjoying the fruits of its labours, as evidenced by the flagship impact report.

“There’s a lot of work still to do, but we’ve got the framework, and the rest of the journey will hopefully be relatively easy by comparison,” Mr de Kock says.

This early success would not have been possible without the support of Pinnacle’s senior leadership team.

He adds: “Our CEO and CFO have both had immense input. When we first started, they were fully involved in the quarterly ESG working group sessions, just to get it off the ground and agree on targets, roles and responsibilities.

“They’ve now taken a step back, but I still update them on everything ESG-related on a monthly basis, to ensure they’re up to speed with what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.”

This support means that ESG is now “business as usual”, which Paul believes “sends a strong message to everyone.”

Indeed, he and his team have secured buy-in from employees across the business, encouraging them to read the report and engage with Pinnacle’s ESG efforts via a dedicated intranet page.

“To ensure that our workforce understands the impact report and embeds ESG into their daily activities and the operational side of the business, we are in the process of identifying ESG champions,” Mr de Kock adds. “It was something we started about six months ago, slowly at first to ensure the process worked and we got the right level of buy-in.

“We’ve trialled it on a few contracts, and will be rolling it out across the wider group. We’ve got good evidence that proves how well it works, and the buy-in from clients has also been positive.”

These champions will help Pinnacle’s workforce to understand its ESG goals, as well as supporting clients without their own people or processes in place. While Mr de Kock and his team initially considered rewarding individuals for their efforts, they have found that “doing the right thing” is incentive enough.

“There’s the opportunity for recognition through our Pinnacle Awards, but the response has generally been ‘this is something I want to get involved with because I believe in it’,” he says.

Key challenges

Despite the positive response from employees and clients alike, creating Pinnacle’s first ESG impact report was not without challenges.

Paul adds: “Producing a report like this is never easy, because so many people need to be involved in reviewing and analysing the statistics. We also need to ensure there’s a story to tell – we don’t want to just produce a report that isn’t substantiated by good examples and working practices.

“So it was very much a collaborative effort, and it took some time to get the bones in place, as well as really identifying the message we wanted to convey.”

Guaranteeing that the report contained the right balance of information, statistics and evidence was key, as was ensuring that it was a “worthwhile read.”

“Our marketing team worked for many hours to get the presentation right, ensuring that it reads easily and flows nicely,” he remembers.

The result was a report that, despite taking longer to compile than anticipated, is an “interesting read for anyone who picks it up”.

With these foundations in place, Paul expects the production of Pinnacle’s second impact report to be quicker and easier.

“But we will need to keep it fresh and relevant,” he adds. “We don’t want to just update a few words and statistics every year; the images need to be different, the statistics need to be new, and the stories too.”

Room for improvement

According to Paul, future reports must highlight, not just Pinnacle’s achievements, but the areas in which progress is required.

“If we’ve failed on something we committed to the year before, we need to state that as well,” he says. “We need to be open about what we’re doing, and hopefully if we do fail to achieve something, there will be a very good reason for it.

“We’re a growing business, and things change – what we say today might not be relevant tomorrow. But as long as we explain it, there’s no reason to hide any of that.”

Some developments – the energy crisis, for example – are impossible to predict. In these instances, Paul adds, it’s about saying “nobody could change that, but this is the effect it had, and here’s what we learned.”

Indeed, reacting quickly to change is a priority for Pinnacle, which was a “very different organisation” when Paul joined in 2005. He believes that this ability to adapt - underpinned by the right processes and board support – has been key to its success.

Core values

While adaptability has helped Pinnacle to achieve sustainable growth, five core values (respect, involve, trust, challenge and deliver excellence) define its culture.

“As a minimum, we discuss these values with employees on a quarterly basis,” says Mr de Kock. “We have a lot of information available, and regular communications that go out every month as well, where we remind people of our values, our ESG pillars, and how we all need to play our part in delivering them.”

Paul explains that the business is often expected to define its culture in bid proposals, particularly for central and local government.

“They want to know how the organisation is run,” he comments. “Things like how we embody staff collaboration, how we ensure that employees are well looked after and happy in their work; Our People and Culture is another of our key ESG pillars.”

Increasingly, he adds, clients are looking to partner with service providers that share their values. This is also true of Pinnacle, which recently purchased a new FM business, AM Services Group, on the strength of its culture.

“They were very similar to our own values,” he says. “It was evidenced in their workforce, who embed those values in the way they work and deliver services. And we also want to partner with clients and organisations that share our values, or at least have similar values to ours.”

Significant opportunities

Paul adds that, after several years of growth, Pinnacle is now “on the cusp” of some significant opportunities – including larger contracts and central government framework agreements.

“We’re bidding on a number of opportunities with central government in various sectors, some of which we haven’t necessarily operated in ourselves before,” he comments. “But we have the experience to be able to operate in those fields.”

With bigger contracts comes further growth – and, inevitably, more carbon. Over the last two years, Pinnacle’s workforce has grown from 2,200 to just short of 4000.

“That means our carbon footprint is growing as well,” says Mr de Kock. “But what’s great about the report is that, although we’ve grown so much, our carbon footprint is still coming down on a per-million pounds of turnover level, and also on a per-employee basis.

“That’s why you need all these different metrics – to be able to show that we are still heading in the right direction. And that yes, carbon did go up, but there are very valid reasons why.”

Indeed, while new projects, new acquisitions and an influx of new employees led to increased emissions, Paul explains that Pinnacle’s carbon footprint had begun to decrease by the end of the financial year. Now, the business is striving to achieve net zero direct emissions in 2025.

Electric fleet

While Paul admits that it “still has a long way to go”, the 2022 impact report outlines several projects developed to support this goal. Among them is the electrification of Pinnacle’s growing vehicle fleet – around 85% of which belongs to the FM side of the company.

Supply chain issues have hampered these efforts to electrify, while ensuring that each of Pinnacle’s depots is fitted with the correct charging infrastructure poses a unique challenge. Nevertheless, it has made good progress, and is currently awaiting the delivery of 120 electric vehicles.

“Because these are large orders, we were able to go directly to the manufacturer rather than working through a middleman,” Paul says. “And we’re also bringing our fleet management in-house. We've recently brought on a fleet manager who can help us with this whole transition, and the installation of EV charge points.

“They will ensure that we've got a fleet that is fit for purpose for our organisation and has the right accreditations, as well - because again, we're seeing a lot of requirements now from clients for vehicle fleet accreditations.”

By bolstering its in-house capabilities, Pinnacle hopes to remain agile, adaptable, and in control of “things at a micro level.”

Ultimately, Paul is optimistic about Pinnacle’s ESG strategy, and hugely proud of the business’s first impact report.

“The report itself is very positive, in that we have been able to produce it, and back it up with really good evidence and statistics,” he concludes. “But the key to this is having access to good data; without good data, we cannot produce reports like this, and we cannot ensure that we are futureproofing our business.”

This interview was published in FM Director's March edition: 

FM Director March 2023 by FMBD Media 

Pinnacle Group celebrate the King’s Coronation

Many colleagues across Pinnacle Group celebrated the Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III and Her Majesty Queen Camilla.  Here we take a look at some of the joyous moments of celebration from our colleagues celebrating this momentous occasion in the communities which we serve:

Canning Town Celebrates in style

On the eve of the Coronation, residents of Ruscoe Road Sheltered Scheme in Canning Town, London, got into the spirit with a celebration event in the common room organised by Pinnacle Group’s housing management team alongside local volunteers. The celebrations included a buffet lunch, special Royal quiz, bingo, raffle and a singalong of some old school East End classic songs.

One party goer said “What a brilliant treat! It’s been a fantastic afternoon… ..it’s a shame we can’t have a Coronation every week”. 

Paul Williams, Head of Housing echoed the residents sentiments: “It’s brilliant to see such a great turnout today and so many happy faces. It’s events like today that make our job so worthwhile, as housing is about making that difference to our residents lives and social events like this do just that!” 



Proudly taking part

Many of our armed forces and veteran colleagues took part in official Coronation events. As a company, we are incredibly proud of our armed forces community and their involvement in this event.

Pinnacle Service Families, Area Manager and RAF Reservist, Kayleigh Pennington, was selected to represent the Royal Auxiliary Air Force at the King’s Coronation along with her husband, WO David Pennington of the Royal Lancers.  Kayleigh said of the historic occasion, “What an absolute honour”, she said “to top it off, I even managed to find my husband amongst the troops”. 

Lance Corporal, Ashleigh Simpson
RAF Reservist, Kayleigh Pennington

Crowning glory across Castle Point

To celebrate the Coronation, our facilities management team at Castle Point got together to design, build and install two sleeper planters outside of the Council office filled with beautiful begonias and coloured stone to create a wonderful crown. Led by Mark Wells, Area Manager, the team then went on to create large crowns onto the grass banks outside of Benfleet train station.  


A feast fit for the King

The Catering teams at from Yeadon Rufford Park, Rawdon and Rothwell on the Leeds School Contract, and Craylands Primary School on the Swanscombe Schools Contract last week prepared Royal standard picnic boxes for the pupils to celebrate the Coronation. The children were delighted with their lunch time celebration.


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