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The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has experienced a turbulent few years and its members, industry leaders and the press are waiting for the next stage in the saga.
Member satisfaction is significantly down, but is it justified?
As we await the findings of the delayed review into allegations that it tried to suppress a damning internal financial report, and the parallel review into the future purpose of the organisation, we do know one thing already - member satisfaction with the organisation has crashed to an all-time low.
Member satisfaction is significantly down by nearly a third from 81% last year to 58% in 2021, while the number of respondents who said they are satisfied with their membership fell from 63% last year to just 43% this year.
The initial report delivered a stark warning to the organisation with the lowest possible “no assurance” rating for its treasury controls and significantly warned that it was at risk of “unidentified fraud, misappropriation of funds and misreporting of financial performance”.
Clear benefits remain, but change is needed.
Members are, rightly so, raising a wider range of concerns about RICS and are questioning the ongoing benefits of a RICS Membership. Many are going as far as to ask if they want to be associated with an organisation that is having such turbulent times? Ultimately, they want to know if membership will still give them credibility, respect and be seen to have the highest professional and ethical standard.
Historically attaining RICS status afforded you a prestigious professional qualification, seen as the gold standard in the industry, that really did offer a genuine competitive advantage that would see you in demand globally, with ever strong career development opportunities. Plus, of course in certain areas of business, such as consultancy, it is the ticket to full autonomy and necessity for working independence.
But many believe the focus of RICS has changed over the years to its detriment. A heavy focus on making money has led to the inclusion of many other professionals as members and there has been a clear drive to sell the brand abroad. As a result, day-to-day issues challenging UK Chartered Surveyors are often now ignored for more global and trendy topics which are not relevant to many members, including Building Surveyors.
There have also been many concerns raised over a lack of transparency and poor member engagement since the organisation shifted power and dismantled the member-run branch network in favour of RICS-run regional boards. Members who were previously heavily involved in the running of their professional body lost their democratic voice and are feeling more and more disengagement and are demanding change.
There are still clear benefits to being RICS qualified as it offers employers a level of confidence and trust and that potential new employees can ‘hit the ground running’ and manage and deliver projects with little oversight required. This will always be an attractive proposition to any employer.
Are we reaching a tipping point?
Significantly though there is an ongoing shortage of building surveyors at all levels, RICS qualified or not, and often employers are using pay rises and promotions as employee retention methods; making it harder for businesses to attract new staff.
Many are forecasting a ‘tipping point’ if numbers of new entrants into the industry continue to reduce year-on-year where non-RICS Building Surveyors, with relevant experience, will become more and more desirable to hiring managers. This in turn could mean being Chartered is not as necessary as it previously was for both a growing business and a building surveyor’s career development. This is especially true in today’s modern world where it is so much easier to create a professional network using free tools such as LinkedIn and with COVID driving many events to be held virtually.
Despite these concerns, there will always be a role for a governing body to set and maintain standards. However, it is clear something has to change and RICS needs to invest more into encouraging and promoting a career in building surveying to young people. Members want their membership to offer more than just letters after their name and to do so, RICS will need to make the reforms necessary to be seen as the formidable governing body again.
Are you a building surveyor considering whether to study for your RICS qualification? If you’d like advice or guidance on how this can impact your career progression or the avenues open to you, we’d love to help. Contact Daniel Scott in the first instance.
Article written by Daniel Scott, Managing Consultant - Construction & Property.
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