Introducing Jane Shankland

20 May 2020

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In the first of a series of articles introducing members of the Cooke & Arkwright team, we speak to Jane Shankland. Jane is a director working in the Cooke & Arkwright business rates team and talks us through how she started out in property, what she loves about her work and her experiences of working from her cabin during lockdown.

What was your route into property as a career?

When I was in school deciding on A levels and thinking of career options, I initially thought I wanted to be an estate agent.  I wanted a job that would allow me to be out and about and not 9-5 in an office every day so thought property would be a good option.

I started to focus on property related university courses and found the estate management course at Reading, I thought it sounded interesting and decided to apply.  Three years at Reading flew by and made some great friends.  I graduated in 1993 amid a recession, graduate positions were limited.  I stated working for the old Mid Glamorgan County Council as an admin assistant in the social services department.

Cooke & Arkwright advertised 2 graduate posts in 1994: one for the valuation and rating department and a second position for the investment department. I was successful and started on 15 August 1994 in valuation/rating and Justin Millett (now JLL) joined the same day working in investment.

Tell us about your work at Cooke & Arkwright

Early days involved a mix of valuation and rating, but I soon started to focus on more and more rating work.  I now specialise in providing rating advice to commercial property occupiers and Welsh local authorities and I’m a director in the business rates advisory team.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

I love the variety that rating provides, no two days are the same, one day I could be dealing with school rating assessments, the next I could be inspecting a police station or a factory. Our clients are located throughout the UK so my role can often involve travel.

What advice would you give someone starting out in property now

I’d encourage anyone contemplating a career in property to go for it.  As a rating surveyor your work will be varied and challenging.  Advising clients on  ways to reduce their rate liability can be so rewarding, realising that the money you have helped your client to save has helped their business to prosper or in the case of local authorities and other public sector clients, the savings secured have helped to protect delivery of front line services.

And how have you found working from home during lockdown?

Life during lockdown has brought some changes and new challenges.  On the plus side I no longer have to battle with the A470 and my daily commute to my cabin office in my garden now takes a minute, but I do miss the team at Cooke & Arkwright.  Team calls are good but its not the same as seeing everyone face to face, and I look forward to getting back into the office and seeing everyone properly again soon.

Cooke & Arkwright have been providing rating valuation advice to The Welsh Rugby Union Limited (“WRU”) and Millennium Stadium plc for many years. They were recently successful in achieving substantial reductions in the assessments of the Millennium Stadium, covering both the 2005 and 2010 rating list. These negotiated reductions yielded savings of c.£3.5m which, crucially, allows the WRU to re-invest in rugby throughout Wales. They advise the WRU across the group portfolio including the National Centre of Excellence in the Vale of Glamorgan. The valuation issues across the WRU portfolio are complex requiring a high level of understanding of the funding and finances of professional sport in Wales. Cooke & Arkwright’s experience and understanding of these issues and application to the rating valuation have yielded these substantial negotiated reductions. The WRU and the Millennium Stadium entrust our work to organisations with the required levels in experience and expertise in dealing with these complex issues. I am glad to say we have this expertise in Wales. I would have no hesitation in recommending ratepayers making use of this Welsh based expertise.

Steve Phillips, Group Finance Director, Welsh Rugby Union Group