Introduction

This document sets out proposed changes to the way we regulate firms. We invite professionals, firm representatives and all others with an interest in how we regulate the chartered surveying profession to provide us with their thoughts on the potential impact of these changes. All comments we receive will help inform the Regulatory Board's policy in this area.

About RICS Regulation of Firms

Professional standards in property, land, infrastructure and construction advisory services matter to the welfare of society, the environment and the economy.

In addition to our regulation of individual members, we regulate 11,000 firms around the world. Regulation by RICS means that clients of surveying services and employers in the sector can be confident they are dealing with service providers / professionals that embrace our professional, technical and ethical standards of practice and work in the best interests of their clients while appropriately upholding the wider public interest.

RICS first began regulating firms that provide surveying services, in 2007. This step was taken in recognition of the increasingly important role that firms (as well as the individual professionals within them) play in ensuring appropriate standards are met and also to assist with efficient regulation. Since then RICS has registered a growing population of firms, mostly in the UK, but increasingly across the world. Through association with RICS, Firms demonstrate their commitment to external scrutiny and regulatory oversight with international standards underpinned by a robust, independent disciplinary regime. A valuable effect of our regulatory regime is that it helps to enhance registered firms' professional reputation and market standing,

Under our current regulatory rules firms that offer surveying services to the public and have 50% or more RICS-qualified principals in the UK are required to register with RICS for regulation. This rule was introduced in 2007 to ensure RICS regulatory control over firms led by RICS-qualified professionals.

Firms with at least one RICS-qualified principal anywhere in the world are eligible to apply for regulation by RICS.

The scope of what constitutes a "surveying service" is broad and often misunderstood. In order to assist common understanding of this proposal we have included the existing definition, along with some explanatory notes on our interpretation of the definition in the appendix. The appendix also includes the definition of other key terms such as principal, firm and contact officer.

How does RICS regulate?

RICS regulates the profession against principles-based Rules of Conduct (for Firms and Members) underpinned by mandatory and advisory practice standards covering professional behaviour, conduct of business and technical competence.

RICS' regulatory oversight and enforcement falls into three principal areas of activity:

  • Proactive assurance - through monitoring compliance with standards. We monitor firms which are 'Regulated by RICS' for compliance with the Rules of Conduct for Firms. These rules cover requirements for client indemnity, solvency, handling clients' money safely, complaints handling procedures and training of employees. Monitoring of firms is carried out through a combination of annual returns provided by the regulated firm to RICS, and regulatory audits by RICS experts to check compliance with valuation standards and (in the UK) compliance with regards to security of clients' money. We also review individual registered valuers for compliance with valuation standards
  • Investigation - of concerns arising from our compliance monitoring, or from complaints / wider public criticism
  • Disciplinary enforcement action - In cases of compliance failure, misconduct or incompetence, RICS can impose a range of actions through its disciplinary regime which, for the most serious cases, involves referral to an independent regulatory tribunal.

The role of firms in meeting professional standards is summarised in the diagram below.

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