So you're in a seat at your condominium's Annual General Meeting and you're staring at an auditor with a microphone.
You're trying to listen to him attentively as he appears to be providing you and your fellow unit owners with information about your building's financial status.

Problem is, you don't really know what the heck he's talking about - and you're not alone. This, unfortunately, has been the case for many condo owners for far too long. Shlomo Sharon thinks it's time for the auditors' bafflegab to stop. It's all part of his determination to see a clearer life for all condo
stakeholders, including building managers. "Sometimes, I could swear that people really don't understand what the auditors are saying," says Sharon, CEO of Taft Forward Property Management Group, based in Toronto. "Individual auditors have different ways of presenting financial statements. This makes it confusing for people. The auditors stand there and they say things that often are too difficult for the average person to comprehend. I believe this has to change."

And it would, Sharon suspects, if the Association of Condominium Managers in Ontario (ACMO) were allowed to standardize a format for financial statements. "Every auditor," Sharon says, "should be obligated to deliver financial information the exact same way at every condo in Ontario. If this happened, it would go a long way in ensuring the financial integrity of the statements given to the
unit owners."

But Sharon doesn't want to see the integrity end there. "This is only one area, one example, of where condominium owners could
benefit if ACMO were free to standardize regulations," he says. "If standardization would occur, I think it would raise the level of
professionalism for property management companies and would gain the respect of condo owners and the Ontario government."

At the moment, the Ontario government is in the process of conducting a thorough investigation and making a boatload of recommendations designed to update the I5-year-old Condominium Act. The hope is to offer greater protection to the one-million-plus condo dwellers in the province. As Sharon notes, however, one of the government's recommendations appears to be to replace ACMO with its own body that would oversee the management of condos. The government is calling its would-be creation the "Condo Office,"which would regulate property managers. "There's no doubt that one association, an association with teeth, is needed for the regulation of property managers," Sharon says, "but it shouldn't be a government body. We as property managers need our own professional association to govern us, just as accountants, lawyers and doctors have. The government needs to give ACMO the authority to regulate property managers, not do it itself. The government needs to stay out of this and the public should be aware of the possible intrusion of the government. I don' t think the public would appreciate government involvement when what we all really need is ACMO to do the job."In other words, Sharon says, condo owners do not need life being
bogged down by government bureaucracy. They need action from a professional association such as ACMO. Mind you, in order for
ACMO to perform effectively, it would need the authority to decide on regulations and standardizations, which it doesn't have at the
moment. As it stands, ACMO sets standards but not all property managers - in fact, most of them in Ontario - ignore the
standards. Why? "Because they don't have to follow them," Sharon says. "They can pick and choose. That's why you see different things going on in different condos. That's why you see different auditors using different formats. Only about 40 to 50 per cent of management companies in Ontario use the standards set by ACMO. But what if this changed? What if it's a law that managers must follow what ACMO sets as standards? Life would be different for all condo stakeholders. I think life would be better."
And you might even be able to understand the auditor at your next AGM.