Change or Die

Over the past few months I have posted on some of the encroachments into the art profession and allied fields by both Sotheby's and Christie's as well as other auction hosues. As we have noted, the major auctions houses have expanded into or expanded non auction departments. For example, to name a few areas of growth opportunities beyond auction sales at auction houses.

  • private sales
  • collection management
  • appraisals
  • art market trends
  • art advisory
  • scientific and technological analysis
  • logistics
  • storage
  • education
  • curated sales
  • exhibitions
  • finance
  • adventure, personal growth and lifestyle enrichment auctions

So, what does this mean for appraisers?  For one, we cant just sit back and expect our profession to operate as it did just a few years ago.  The growth and interest in the art market, the sheer volume and dollars involved, connected with technology has see a paradigm change within the profession. Perhaps the big houses are leading the way, but that still leaves opportunities for appraisers. I think we are in a period of adapt and change, or suffer the consequences and be left behind.

I have spoken with several appraisers over the past few weeks about expanding appraisal practice opportunities. One private conversation with an art appraiser in Florida who has scheduled appointments with managers from two banks for wealth management and estates and trusts. The pitch will be in part that banks need to use qualified appraisers and not just someone who calls themselves and appraiser.

Another appraiser gave a talk to a local estate planning board and  auction house representatives were very interested in changing appraisal standards and experience criteria for qualified appraisers and qualified appraisals.

I recently had a great conversation with fellow appraiser and auctioneer Tim Luke of Treasure Quest Group in Florida.  Tim has a multifaceted professional art services business offering of course appraisals, but also includes freelance auctions, benefit auctions, expert witness testimony, brokering, professional speaking engagements and a certified USPAP instructor.  

One of the interesting service Tim mentioned he offers is to review fellow appraisers appraisals for USPAP compliance. This makes a lot of sense and builds upon Tim's experience as a certified USPAP instructor.  Lets say for example an appraiser preparing a report for a court case and of course states his report is USPAP compliant. The appraiser would feel more secure if a USPAP certified instructor reviewed the report before submission to ensure it was in full compliance with the standards.

The point being is we as leaders and participants in the appraisal professionals need to expand our offerings in this expanding market to sustain and increase business, gain better assignments and added to the credibility of the profession.  We dont wish to be taken by surprise, or see other allied professionals step into spaces we are capable of servicing. The auction houses are doing it and encroaching on other art professional fields and services beyond auctions, we as appraisers need to think along the same lines,and also find ways to protect the legacy aspects of our professional practices.

Shameless plug, on December 15 I will be co-hosting a webinar with Rebecca Rosenfield of Collectrium. The topic is Managing Clients and Getting New Business with Collectrium and
learn how to manage and grow your client base with the leading appraisal management platform.
In the webinar we will go over ways that the platform connects you with new clients and features that streamlined communications between you and your clients:
  • Gain new clients with Service Hub referrals
  • Securely share collections by using a Private Viewing Rooms
  • Automatically update groups by implementing Smart Groups
Point being that a collection management firm, Collectrium understands the importance of networking, and professional cross pollination of services. In order to grow their platform they are looking for oppotunties for their users to exapnd and grow. In doing so, Collectrium will grow and prosper. Please join us on the 15th if you can. Click HERE to register.

And finally, fellow appraiser Soodie Beasley sent me a clip from an Artsy article on the growth of private sales at the major auction houses (see the block quote below). The lesson here is that private sales are growing, clients like the reach of the auction houses without the risk of burning at a public auction, and the auction houses targets the dealer market with offerings of advisory, art market trends, collection management, logistics, finance, scientific analysis.........

If we are to compete we have to grow as a profession and expand our services beyond basic appraisals. Also, a word of caution, and I have mentioned this in a few earlier posts, beware of second rate diploma mill type of associations and less than professional offerings and presentations. Make sure you are associated with a professional society which promotes its members and holds them to high appraisal and ethical standards. Do they all offer a road-map to accreditation and offer continuing education opportunities and business development assistance? Is leadership changing with new members and ideas, are is it the same rotation of the same appraisers? Are they aware of the changes in the appraisal profession and are they preparing their appraisers for the future of professional appraising?  Are yonger members reverse mentoring technology trends and social media opportunities? Are they sponsors of the Appraisal Foundation, do they follow AQB experience criteria, do they require USPAP qualified reports, USPAP classes and updates?  

So, keep in mind the type and level of appraisers you associate and collaborate with.  Review any offerings and opportunities carefully and see that they are professionally developed and that it is the type of program which will enhance an appraisal practice and not detract from it.

"It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change" --Charles Darwin

"Change before you have to." —Jack Welch

"The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking." —Albert Einstein

Artsy reports on changes at Christie's and private sales growth 
The realm of private sales has continued to swell in value and importance to auction houses’ business models; it currently accounts for 16% of business at Christie’s, according to the auction house. And in today’s softened market, this percentage will likely only grow, as collectors increasingly prefer selling privately rather than putting their work up for auction publicly and risking it getting burned. The rising importance of private sales for auction houses increasingly puts them in competition with dealers—and means that there is also increasingly an overlap in the skill sets necessary to work in each sphere.
Source: Artsy

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