Simply speaking, facilities management is a broader sense of property management. With the changing economy and business world, International Facility Management Association president and chief executive David Brady defines it thus: 'Facilities management is a profession that encompasses multiple disciplines to ensure functionality of the built environment by integrating people, place, process and technology.' The concept of facilities management became widely adopted in North America and Europe 20 years ago, but did not really come to the 'forefront' in Hong Kong until five or six years ago. The association's Hong Kong chapter president, Richard Myers, says: 'The evolution of Asian organisations, businesses and the economy has shaped the changing roles of facilities managers. With this new definition, it helps to make the profession stand out as well as match closely to today's environment.' The Hong Kong chapter has gained about 220 members since its establishment in 1991. On a worldwide level, the association has more than 17,000 members. Most members are facilities and property managers, engineers, architects, designers, surveyors and furniture suppliers. Facilities management carries a lot of weight within a corporation. It accounts for the second-largest amount of corporate spending after human resources; it comprises all ranges of assets, including building maintenance, security and cleaning as well as landscape, administration and others. The association is striving to help its members gain professional recognition through certification. 'We want our industry professionals to be educated and recognised on a legitimate basis, rather than to be based and assessed solely on work experience. The Certified Facility Manager recognition is to acknowledge the professionals' experience and knowledge,' Mr Myers says. Hong Kong professionals seeking accreditation must submit a written application that demonstrates their expertise and knowledge. The application is reviewed by the head association's team and the local chapter's board members. 'It is quite a comprehensive and lengthy application and assessment form which usually takes a month to complete. We have recently held a mentoring session to help the applicants to prepare for the application,' says Mr Myers. Applicants are required to give detailed answers and real examples on topics such as leadership, human and environment factors, planning and project management, operations and maintenance, real estate and finance. According to Mr Myers, who works as a director for EastPoint Property Management, the profession continues to grow. Besides multinationals and local service providers, key employers include large domestic corporations such as PCCW and MTR Corp, which also have in-house facilities-management teams. Professionals must also possess good communication, management and financial skills. 'They have to communicate with the top management to explain some very technical terms in laymen's terms,' says Mr Myers. 'On the other hand, they have to make numerous decisions on budgets which will affect the corporations' operations on both a short-term and long-term basis. 'One day, I hope that a facilities manager can be considered on par with an engineer and architect; so that we will have a clear identity of professionalism,' Mr Myers says.