Appraisers are like snow leopards, one of the most elusive animals in the world. Those in the valuation space, both fee and appraisers in banks, tend to go it solo. Depending on the species, most animals travel in groups, offering safety in numbers and camaraderie. Prides are groups of 2-40 lions, though snow leopards live solitary lives. Is there a cost to this isolation?

Detrimental avoidance

Snow leopards avoid other cats and humans. This avoidance mechanism may work for this particular species, but it is detrimental to appraisers. Professional support peer groups is a game changer. It helps appraisers get through issues that keep you up at night, whether as an appraisal firm owner or a chief credit or appraiser at a bank. Peer groups are instrumental in providing the ability to learn from others. Avoid going through the same school of hard knocks.

Camaraderie is what you’re missing

Hearing peers discuss problems provides camaraderie, but also insight on best practices. Any issue that you’ve had is guaranteed to be experienced by somebody else. Starting conversations with your peers lifts the isolation from your valuation island, allowing you to sleep better since you know where to go. What to do and more importantly, what not to do. A common misconception is that veteran appraisers don’t need to learn anything new.

Let’s kibitz

Wisdom Circles is a once a month (currently Zoom) meeting hosted by the Financial Institution Valuation Advisors – FIVA. These discussions are very helpful to determine what your peers are doing with day-to-day issues that you’re facing. Relationships are built and trust allows a further deep dive into how best to run your department.

We started FIVA as membership only for those valuation professionals that work in banks. For fee appraisers, we need to start something new. Local chapter meetings are a great start. However, I think appraisers need casual networking, driven with an inspirational entrepreneurial coach-like agenda.

In a previous blog, I interviewed a subject matter expert (SME) regarding a compliance topic that’s going to hit appraisers hard (not in a good way). If you’re doing any bank work for large institutions, you need to pay attention. But the end result might be positive. It will definitely start discussions, conversations and likely partnerships between firms that never thought it necessary. Stay tuned.

Make new friends

If you’re thinking, why would appraisers share? You’re probably right. Then again, have you even tried? If you don’t, guess what? Every day, week, month, year is the same. No improvement. Rinse and repeat.

Let’s face it, appraising is a business. And like any business, the issues are pretty much the same.  Employee, client and cash flow issues. Having conversations with peers that you trust provides a realization that you don’t have to solve this alone. I find most commercial appraisers are very helpful, willing to share what they’ve learned. 

If you think you know everything, then you do

Peer workgroups work best when there’s an absence of ego. If you have a huge ego, I recommend you don’t join any peer groups. No one wants to hear sentences starting with “I” over and over and over. Organic sharing of experience is the goal. Not war stories focused with the “me-me-me” lens.

“More the knowledge lesser the ego, lesser the knowledge more the ego.”

Albert Einstein

Find people that you like and trust with your personal and professional information. Gain confidence on discussing things that may be holding you back. Even if you’re an appraiser that’s been at it for decades; I guarantee there’s lots of new stuff to learn. It could range from implementation of technology, struggling to keep young appraisers or thoughts about making an exit. All important stuff.

Come out of the isolation cold. Find your people. Find your voice. Have a conversation. Don’t be a snow leopard.

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