NAVA president and managing director of Golding Young & Mawer Auctioneers
Back in 1986, when I started in this business, all auctioneers and partners were RICS or ISVA qualified. As an unqualified junior, I could sell and value under the guidance and training of the partners in a regulated environment.
The bad news is that, 30 years later, there is still no legal requirement for any auctioneer, auction house or valuer to be qualified or regulated.
Yet we want buyers to have faith in the services we offer.
There are now a great number of non-regulated firms in existence, living off impressive websites.
I believe all auctioneers and valuers should be members of a professional body, be it NAVA (of which I am now president), RICS or SoFAA.
My goals for NAVA include promoting the NAVA Propertymark logo as a guarantee of service, client accounting and complaints handling.
It proves to buyers that there is some substance behind members’ websites and marketing.
You might ask what comes first, the qualification or the job? It really doesn’t matter, as long as you get both.
Owner of Adam Partridge Auctioneers in Macclesfield and Liverpool
Being a good auctioneer is much more complicated than simply taking a course with a certificate. You need practical experience and it’s better to learn on the job. This is by far the best way. It’s probably the only way.
We have sales with 30 different sections, so what course can equip someone to value such a range of goods? If you do a course, you really only get to study items in their collection.
To work in this business you need to be able to go into a house, deal respectfully with the client and know how to assess items as different as a violin, a watercolour or a microscope.
It would be nice if it was possible but I just don’t think there’s a course out there for learning all this.
I left University to work in an auction house and, while I agree some form of education is good for working in any industry, to be a good auctioneer you have to be prepared to start out unpacking boxes and getting your hands dirty. You then go on to learn about valuing and conducting sale from the rostrum.
When I employ someone I look for people who are bright, interested in the job and willing to learn rather than necessarily having a formal qualification.
Specialist courses in particular areas– like silver or watercolours – would have more value. I also thought the ISVA’s idea of giving auctioneers with 10 years experience a qualification after an exam was a sensible idea. I managed 7 or 8 years but then they merged with RICS.
In fact, I believe some sort of licence or regulation might be a good idea, as client accounts should be compulsory to protect vendors and auction houses, especially new ones, need to be aware of legal issues.
“You need to get practical experience, so it’s better to learn on the job