Mothers’ Bunch Club of UK’s top investment agents urge new code of practice to curtail ‘double dipping’.

Plans are being drawn up to create a new code of practice for investment agents to curtail growing worries about conflicts of interest created by “double dipping”, Property Week can reveal.

A group of the UK’s top investment agents who meet as part of the Mothers’ Bunch Club has approached the Investment Property Forum (IPF) about the creation of a code of practice for agents.

The IPF is setting up a cross-industry committee comprising representatives from institutional investors, REITs, opportunity funds, property lenders and the agents themselves that will debate the issue and come up with a protocol.

The aim is to create a code to which all the top agencies, as well as those further down the pyramid, will sign, and it is understood to have broad support from all the members of the Mothers’ Bunch Club, who include JLL’s Chris Ireland, CBRE’s Franco Sidoli, GVA’s Rob Bould, Cushman & Wakefield’s David Erwin and Morgan Williams’ Mark Morgan.

The need for self-regulation has come about because of the perception that the practice of “double dipping” or “double running”, where agents act for both seller and buyer on a deal, or even multiple bidders, is becoming increasingly common.

Top investors such as Nick Leslau and Rupert Clarke have this year written in Property Week arguing that unless the industry regulates itself, regulation could be imposed from above.

While no conclusions have been reached about what the code of practice will comprise, it is understood that there is a feeling that while acting on both sides of a deal cannot be eradicated in a world where the number of large agencies is shrinking, greater transparency from agents is required so they can keep clients informed.

Max Sinclair is the current IPF president, with Chris Ireland taking over next year. Ireland told Property Week: “It is some time since a detailed review of how the market works has taken place… It’s right that there is a debate and a review, with a view to drawing up a protocol or code of practice, and the IPF is the right body to conduct that review.

“The IPF review will include representatives from funds, property companies and advisors. It’s about making sure there is transparency, and that there are checks and balances for all firms.”