081 A Chat About Regulation with RICS

Recently, Marion had a chat with Sarah Cantrill, Richard White and Charlie Jackson about the significance of RICS standards and regulations. 

Sarah Cantrill leads a team at RICS supporting regulated firms and members with the implementation of RICS rules and best practice. Sarah’s career at RICS started in 2002, and over the last 19 years she has gained substantial knowledge of RICS regulation, risk, and compliance.

Richard White is a Chartered Surveyor working in the Profession Support and Assurance team within RICS Regulation. Through different types of review visits, workshops, and other training and advice, the team provides support and guidance to help firms and Members come into compliance with the requirements of Red Book.

Charlie Jackson is a RICS Fellow and Registered Valuer with 20 years of commercial experience, specialising in healthcare valuation. For the past five years, Charlie has been working in RICS Regulation, supporting RICS’ firms and members in Europe with the practical implementation of Red Book rules and best practice.

RICS Standards and Regulations

Sarah explains that regulations start from the moment that a surveyor signs up as a student. Charlie goes on to describe what RICS membership is for and how to differentiate regulations from standards. 

“Regulation starts from the moment you decide to sign up to being part of RICS,” Sarah explains. “Now you’re signing up to the fact that you want to work to the standard. You want to behave in accordance with the standards. By signing up to RICS, you are allowing us to verify that commitment. We give confidence to the public that those standards are embedded in everyday working life.”

“RICS membership is not going to be for everyone,” Charlie continues. “You can operate as a surveyor, but you won’t be a chartered surveyor. It’s supposed to be the gold standard. We have high standards in terms of our conduct. We have high behavioural and ethical standards. If you become a valuer, we have an even higher set of valuation standards.”

“That’s the thing about regulation, we’re watching,” Sarah says. “Our members have to submit an annual return every year. Every single one is looked at in detail. Standards and regulations are two sides of the same coin. One doesn’t influence the other. If you look in the Red Book, for example, if you’re a valuer, it’s a set of standards. Standard is the rule basically. The regulatory framework sits in a different department. That is up to us as the regulator how we’re going to make sure that those rules are being adhered to.”

Supporting Surveyors to Navigate RICS Regulations

Richard and Sarah talk about how RICS helps surveyors navigate regulations through webinars and resources on the website. Sarah and Charlie encourage surveyors to ask for help rather than let something go wrong. 

“One of the things that we’re doing more of are member support visits,” Richard says. “At the moment, we’re not doing them on-site because of COVID-19. We are engaging with firms and looking at their controls and procedures and a sample report. We talk through their processes and controls and a bit about their business. Then, in a fairly lengthy conversation, we run through with them what they’re doing well and where they need to improve.” 

“Everybody wants to do a good job, but sometimes they just need a bit of help,” he continues. “They need support in terms of what they should be doing with their terms, reporting formats and conflict of interest. The feedback is generally very good. People are happy that we’ve been able to spend time with them and to help them through the Red Book.”

“We are starting to do more and more webinars,” Sarah says. “There are workshops as well that Charlie and Richard and the rest of the team are going to be doing. We’d encourage any member firm to come to us if they want a bit of extra help with understanding a rule or what they need to do.”

Process of Investigating Surveying Firms

Charlie explains the reasons why RICS might contact a surveying firm and details the investigation process. 

“We come out and see firms for a variety of reasons,” Charlie says. “It could have been a complaint, it could have been something that’s come through investigations or it could be a press article. We have teams that monitor publications and the press where RICS might pop up in the words.”

“We’ll ask you things,” she continues. ‘How many evaluations do you do every year? How many valuers do you employ?’ If they say they employ two valuers but they do 10,000 valuations every year, alarm bells will ring. Depending on what we believe we know about you, we will contact the firm and say we want to come and do a review. If it has been a complaint or an investigation, we tell them why we want to come and see them.”

“Sometimes it could just be a conversation,” Charlie says. “It can be a phone call and we set things straight. Sometimes we want to come out and have a good look through the files. But you would benefit from us coming in to explain how it should all look and how it should all be, it isn’t all about us gathering information. We believe the firm would benefit from us having that conversation with them.”

Reporting Claims to RICS

Richard and Charlie say that RICS also looks into claims reported to them. They remind surveyors to keep complete documentation of their work and stay within their area of competence. 

“We get an idea from talking to them about the type of work they’re doing, how much risk they pose,” Richard says. “More importantly, whether they are recording it because that can be a shortcoming. We like to see them recorded. There should be a final note of what they’ve done and how they’ve done it.”

“We’d expect them to do what any member is expected to do and only work within their area of competence,” Charlie adds. “As part of our reviews, one of the things we look at is the supervision measures the firm has in place for its more junior staff. Will your more junior staff only be able to value up to a certain level? Are there certain types of properties you wouldn’t let them do? How do you document that you’ve even checked their work?”

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