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
Combat Stress becomes Pinnacle Service Families’ charity partner
Pinnacle Service Families (PSF), part of Pinnacle Group, have chosen veterans’ mental health charity, Combat Stress, as their charity partner and will now embark on 12 months of awareness-raising and fundraising activities in aid of former service personnel with complex mental health issues.
Over the course of the next year, PSF is aiming to raise both awareness and vital funds to help support veterans on their road to recovery, as well as linking in with Combat Stress’ work to help veterans access its programme of career and self-employment coaching.
PSF is contracted with the Ministry of Defence to provide administration services for 49,000 service family homes, putting military families at the heart of what they do. With many of their own staff connected to the Armed Forces – either as partners, veterans or reservists – they understand the challenges individuals and families face. Some of the PSF team have themselves benefitted from Combat Stress’ support as they’ve battled mental health issues transitioning to civilian life.
As part of their broader work to support ex-service personnel, PSF provides a career and self-employment coaching programme, with tailored one-to-one mentoring sessions for ex-personnel, spouses, partners and their families.
Perry Lloyd, Pinnacle Group Chief Executive, whose brother had a long career in the Army and retired as a Colonel, said: “Having close family in the Armed Forces has given me a level of insight into the lifestyle and pressure families are under. Personnel put their lives on the line for us, so it’s right that we do whatever we can to provide the best service. I’m proud that we have a dedicated team who share my ambition to not only fulfil the obligations of the contract, but to go over and above in all that they do to support service families.
“It’s easy to write a cheque but – through a lasting collaboration with Combat Stress – we really want to support families more broadly to tackle the issues they face.”
Garry Burns, Senior Head of Corporate Partnerships and Events at Combat Stress, said: “On behalf of Combat Stress and the veterans we treat, I would like to thank Pinnacle Service Families for choosing us as their charity of the year.
“As the UK’s leading charity for veterans’ mental health, we provide specialist clinical treatment and support to veterans with complex mental health issues arising from military service. The support of staff at Pinnacle Service Families in raising money for, and awareness of, our charity will ensure we can help more veterans across the UK to rebuild their lives.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
“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.”
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
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.
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.
"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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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:
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”.
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.
Pinnacle Group Sells District Heating Business Pinnacle Power to DIF Capital Partners
Pinnacle Group Limited has signed an agreement with independent infrastructure fund manager DIF Capital Partners (DIF) that will see DIF owning a significant majority in the company, with the management team retaining a minority stake. Pinnacle Power plans to invest in £1bn worth of green energy infrastructure projects, leading to the deployment of town-and-city-scale heat networks across the UK.
Pinnacle Power has been a leading developer and contractor in the UK district heating market since its inception by Pinnacle Group in 2012. The group has played a key role in promoting the development of Pinnacle Power over a decade, These range from installing city scale networks, through to operating large scale low carbon power plants and running its own heat utility.
Peregrine Lloyd, Group CEO at Pinnacle Group, said: “This agreement is the culmination of a ten-year journey since founding Pinnacle Power. I am incredibly proud of the work our management team has done to grow and nurture Pinnacle Power to see it become one of the country’s leading heat network platforms. The time is now right to hand over the reins to DIF, who will take Pinnacle Power to the next level and enable the scale of investment needed in the energy market. I look forward to following this exciting next phase in Pinnacle Power’s development.”
Toby Heysham, CEO at Pinnacle Power, said: “We are excited to be working with DIF to deploy the scale of investment this market needs. We are looking forward to unlocking the vast amount of local, wasted heat and delivering that heat into homes and businesses. Many towns and cities have declared climate emergencies with 2030 targets, but very few have credible solutions to the ‘heat challenge’. This investment offers a clear pathway to achieving decarbonisation, through local investment in locally generated, low-carbon heat. I would like to thank the Pinnacle Group, where we have grown and developed hugely as a business and we are now looking forward to the next step.”
Gijs Voskuyl, Partner and Head of Infrastructure at DIF Capital Partners, said: “We share Pinnacle Power’s view that district heating networks will play a pivotal role in the energy transition story of the UK. We are impressed with what the Pinnacle Power management team has achieved to date and firmly believe in their ability to grow the business, backed by strong regulatory tailwinds. Pinnacle Power represents a compelling investment proposition for DIF, with an opportunity to invest in a build-to-core sustainable energy platform operating in a rapidly growing market.”
Pinnacle Group and Pinnacle Power were advised by Eversheds Sutherland and Opus Corporate Finance. DIF was advised by AFRY, Deloitte, Evolution Infrastructure and Travers Smith.
Investors in People Accreditation
In recognition of our positive workplace culture and values, Pinnacle Group has been awarded silver status from Investors in People following a period of considerable change and organisational development since the last assessment in 2019.
This is the 23rd year that the accreditation, which reviews a company's ability to lead, empower and grow its employees, has been awarded to Pinnacle. Out of the survey respondents, 74% agreed or strongly agreed that they are trusted to make decisions within their roles, with 79% either agreeing or strongly agreeing that their behaviour within their roles reflects the values of the business.
The assessors found that Pinnacle displayed ‘advanced’ qualities in areas of organisational values and behaviours, colleague empowerment, sustainability and setting a culture of continuous improvement.
Areas of ‘outstanding practice’ in the way people were led and managed were noted in the wide-ranging report, including one-to-one meetings where people can discuss their career development needs and team meetings where people feel there is an environment of positive praise. A regular engagement survey, allowing colleagues to contribute their views on and ideas for improving their experience of working life, and encouraging managers and their teams to take responsibility for the feedback was also noted as contributing to the overall feeling of continuous improvement.
“This past year has seen us demonstrate measurable success in areas of collective responsibility. Our values are determined by an approach to delivering services that make a positive difference to people’s lives. This accreditation showcases how this permeates right through to the very individuals that are consistently upholding high quality standards in the communities we serve. We’re proud of our continued vision to create an environment for our team that will allow them to grow with the business and consistently enjoy their work.”
Group Chief Executive, Pinnacle Group
Significant ESG Successes Reported In Pinnacle Group’s 2022 Impact Report
A new report detailing a series of key ESG pledge successes has been published by Pinnacle Group, highlighting the company’s progress across the four key pillars of its ESG Framework.
The company’s 2022 ESG impact report, covers its achievements in a range of areas, including sustainability, community impact, nurturing its team and being a responsible business.
Leading successes were found in Pinnacle’s ‘Protect our Planet’ pillar, where there was a 12% year-on-year reduction in tonnes of carbon emitted per employee, and a 583% increase in the number of electric vehicles in its fleet.
There were also key improvements in its ‘People & Culture’ area, with a 33% growth in FTE employee numbers and an impressive 141 people undertaking leadership and development training – an increase of 292% from the previous year’s figures.
The report also details areas in which Pinnacle has helped individuals in the communities it serves, recording 192 instances where the company supported residents that had faced financial barriers, and 33 further residents receiving employment training.
“This is a significant report and one that as a business we are incredibly proud to publish. This is our first ESG impact report and it highlights the significant progress made across our ESG Framework, delivering increased transparency regarding how our community, people and sustainability focused company values permeate throughout our business operations.
“Pinnacle has long recognised the importance of ESG to all stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, clients, suppliers, partners, and the communities where we live and work. I would like to congratulate our teams for all of the actions and progress made in each of these areas illustrated throughout the report.”
Pinnacle Group Chief Executive
Alongside the headline statistics, the report also details Pinnacle’s key ongoing initiatives, including responsible procurement of chemical-free cleaning products in collaboration with supplier BUNZL, and the company’s partnership with Planet First Energy, a social value enterprise and green energy broker, to help manage its transition to green energy.
“Over the last year, our teams have worked tirelessly to ensure that the key pillars of our ESG Framework are delivered upon. There is a real feeling of collective responsibility across the business, and this is crucial in ensuring that we can continue to deliver great service to the communities we serve while remaining a responsible and ethical business.”
Paul de Kock
Head of Projects
These initiatives follow on from Pinnacle’s ‘Plan to Net Zero’, which was released earlier this year and last year and detailed how the business is approaching achieving carbon net zero across all emissions by 2035.