Public advantage: What does this really mean?
Public advantage: What does this really mean?

John Hughes FRICS

President 2017/18 (RICS)

Of the many charges levelled against political and business elites, perhaps the most damning is that they have abandoned the interests of society.

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This is particularly resonant for the chartered professions, whose code of ethics goes beyond mere compliance with the law.

Our Royal Charter, obliges us to act for the “public advantage”; something beyond the profit motive and broader than individual client needs.

Join me on live Twitter as we discuss this topic

What does this mean beyond mere words of aspiration?

How do we make it real? This is the debate I would like to re-ignite during RICS' 150th Anniversary Year.

There are numerous published essays on the topic and we return to it regularly through our CPD. But for all the deep thinking, I can find no single definition to encapsulate what we mean by public advantage. And whatever our founders intended by public advantage in 1868, is it likely that the same intention applies in the 21st Century?

The aggregated public advantage contribution of the entire profession can go far beyond that of individual professionals or regulated firms. If so, how does our collective contribution exceed the sum of our individual actions? 

A group approach

Answers to this lie in pooling our expertise, developing standards, giving politically impartial advice to governments and upholding our reputation. But these need not be an end in themselves. With creativity and determination, all of the above can serve a higher purpose if we choose to define it.        

Individuals can contribute in small ways. Above all they must stick to our established values of integrity and expertise. Easily said, but real-world pressures can make these choices difficult. 

This is why I am anxious to hear your opinions, and for you to share them with everyone in our profession.

Join me to discuss on Twitter

Join me for a live Twitter debate as we discuss "public advantage" and what it means to our profession.

  • Where? @RICSNews
  • When? Wednesday 31 January 4.30-5.30pm GMT

Don't forget to use the hashtag: #AskRICS

Comments (1)

  1. Sorry but I don't indulge in twitter BUT in essence my view on the "Public Advantage" which has been debated for many years to my knowledge is wholly founded on an individual and keen sense of personal responsibility. Sadly, indemnity insurance (which is of course necessary to protect a client's interest, or by another word the public advantage, in default of a professional's financial limitations) is regarded as a first resort rather than a last resort. Hence professionals and others can "shelter" behind their insurers and fail to recognise their personal responsibility. I am happy to indulge in further debate.

    Peter McKendrick Peter McKendrick, 29 January at 18:24PM

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