Is our profession fit for the future? - Robert Peto, President of the RICS

In recent years, a great deal has changed at RICS, so during my presidential year I am making sure that the membership and their clients understand what RICS is about, what it means, and what it is doing.

Globalisation has made a united, international property profession essential, to meet the demands of suppliers and users of surveying services for a trusted international qualification and associated standards regime. Since 1998, the RICS has been successfully working to realise this vision with the result that it is now the leading professional body in the field internationally. As well as allowing us to remain relevant to international capital and corporate markets which need property assets that are measured, traded and valued consistently by people who can be trusted, I believe this has huge knock-on reputational benefits to all members.

Being a very broad profession, wise leadership is essential if we are to remain coherent and well understood. In my view continued success will hinge upon our ability to be globally connected and locally relevant, use our broad skill base to distil knowledge across a range of interconnected disciplines, self-regulate effectively, and communicate to the public on the quality of our standards.

Of course the other immediate challenge in Europe is ensuring that the property market returns to a stable footing in the wake of the financial crisis that continues to hit many of us hard. There are lessons for us all in light of the fact that the global financial crisis was caused by the anchoring of layers and layers of financially-engineered weapons of mass destruction built on the alleged rock of real estate collateral. And yet, ironically, in the rush to make money, there was an absence of regard amongst some financially-orientated clients for the standards which we have been promulgating over the years, with the result that many chartered surveyors found themselves under pressure to compromise their professional ethics and standards.            

But against this dramatic backdrop, what has RICS been doing during the last two years to promote our relevance in a world which has suddenly reawoken to the need for standards? The list is long but highlights include: an effective new business planning regime, providing up-to-the-minute professional guidance on urgent issues both domestically and internationally; raising its status with public authorities; introducing a brand new training team which can deliver technical courses and conferences across the world; building a regulatory regime that is independent and starting to enforce it immediately; preparing to start the all-important process of registering and monitoring Red Book valuations and developing more flexible routes to entry into the profession.      

Some people invest in property because they want to make a quick buck. But fundamentally it’s about collecting the rent, asset-managing the property, dealing with obsolescence dilapidations, planning and waste disposal, meeting sustainability requirements, and valuing.

Who does all that? Chartered surveyors – and we’re good at it. So while the financiers have an existential crisis trying to work out what went wrong and whether they should be here, we’re going to collect the rent for them, asset manage the property, advise them on their market options, and, what’s more, do it well. The banking community was tarnished by self‑interested behaviour, so the property profession must learn lessons from this and show its ability to self-regulate properly. RICS is good at professionalising – it’s what we’re about. It is the time of RICS.

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