The second annual meeting of the RICS Governing Council took place in November, featuring this year's annual general meeting and the inauguration of new President John Hughes FRICS.

RICS headquarters, Parliament Square, London, HQ

Governing Council, our governing body, meets twice a year, once to discuss strategy and once to cover oversight of organisational performance. The Council meeting on 6 November and 7 November 2017, reported on below, was an oversight meeting, held in Toronto, Canada.

The gathering concluded in RICS’ AGM, now held in November (moved from its previous timing in June), and the inauguration of new President John Hughes FRICS. As part of the AGM, there was an announcement of election results for the new transitionary Governing Council which will lead RICS during a period of constitutional change over the next two years. 

As part of its recent agenda, Council has been reforming its own structure, role and remit and, as part of this, themes of leadership, communication and relationships were very much to the fore at the meeting. This report covers the main themes of the meeting and decisions made.

Leadership for a 21st Century Professional Body

Tim Neal FRICS, incoming Senior Vice President, led Council members in a session on the culture required to be a high performing leadership body for the profession. The aim of the session was to identify the most important attributes for a successful body of trustees and ways of working to pass on to the incoming transitionary Council members, many of whom were completely new to Council. Themes of trust, collegiality, outward-looking and accountability came out strongly in discussion and Council agreed to ensure that its successors would these pick up and further develop them to ensure a strong, progressive and future-facing leadership for the global profession.

Setting and enforcing world class standards for the profession

Governing Council agreed proposals for changes to RICS’ constitution to strengthen our approach to standard setting and assurance. In doing so, Council recognised that RICS is one of very few professional bodies in the world that remains trusted to set and enforce its profession’s standards. A new Standards and Regulation Board, independently-chaired, will be set up to lead our global strategy and oversight for standards and their enforcement, ensuring that the profession’s credentials continue to meet public expectations and be in demand by markets, governments and employers worldwide.

Annual Assurance Reports

A major part of the Council meeting was spent on oversight, with reports on performance being provided by the responsible governance bodies: Regulatory Board, Management Board, Knowledge Board, Audit Committee and Remuneration Committee.

Management Board – overall organisational performance

The Chair of Management Board, Paul Marcuse FRICS, and CEO Sean Tompkins presented a report on performance. He confirmed that 2016-17 had been a positive, albeit challenging year which saw us meet 80% of our corporate objectives (including considerable ‘stretch’ goals). Highlights were our progress in standards adoption; the new strategic partnership with IFMA to promote standards in facility management; and the opening of a second school of built environment in Mumbai, India. Sean Tompkins also emphasised the concerted focus on diversity and inclusion in the profession, now beginning to produce results in attracting new entrants from a wider range of backgrounds, ethnicities and gender.  It had also been a profitable year, producing an operating surplus of £2.3m to reinvest in our core purpose of setting and embedding standards in the built environment.

Regulatory Board – effective enforcement of standards

The independent Chair of the Regulatory Board, Stephen Haddrill, and Director of Regulatory and Corporate Affairs Gillian Charlesworth, informed Council that regulation of the profession is being delivered efficiently, with increasing global consistency and robustness. 

Key features of the 2016-17 year included increased public expectations, legal challenges on process, ever-greater political scrutiny and globalisation. In order to meet these challenges, the regulatory function is strengthening its people, processes and systems. Major investment in new digital regulation systems would enable a risk-based approach, with regulatory effort being targeted towards higher risk firms and practitioners.

Knowledge Board – international professional standards

The Chair of the Knowledge Board, Steve Williams and Director of Professional Standards, Ken Creighton gave an overview of our strategy on international technical standards across the breadth of specialisations and conduct standards which are universal to all RICS-qualified members and regulated firms. They reported that new professional groups leadership will ensure that the standards we create reflect market risks and needs.

Remuneration Committee 

Chair of the Remuneration Committee, Geraldine Kelly, and Director of People and Corporate Responsibility Alistair Milne, presented the Remuneration Committee’s report to Management Board. Key committee activities in 2016/2017 included a review of the short-term Incentive Plan, the long-term incentive plan and succession planning at the executive level. The Remuneration Committee was pleased to report to Council that its review had confirmed RICS remuneration policy was in line with best practice.

Audit Committee

The Chair of the Audit Committee, Amit Shah, presented the Audit Committee’s annual report to Council, the first year of reporting on the basis of International Financial Reporting Standards. The Committee proposed that KPMG be replaced as auditors by Grant Thornton, enabling KPMG to provide advice in other areas such as taxation.

The Audit Committee has a strong focus on risk and has devised a new assurance map. It has recently undertaken a review of RICS’ readiness for new General Data Protection Regulations and was confident we are well placed to meet the obligations.

Incoming President – John Hughes: closing address to Governing Council

At the end of the Council meeting, incoming President, John Hughes shared his ambitions for the year ahead, reflecting that the 150th year represented a pivotal point in the development of RICS marking the beginning of a new era. He suggested that the profession and the built environment are on the cusp of change and would continue to see significant disruption, not only from technology but in terms of client expectations. He encouraged Governing Council to think about how the profession and RICS can remain at the forefront of leading change and shaping the future of the built environment.

RICS AGM

Following the Council meeting the outgoing President, Amanda Clack FRICS, opened the AGM which was attended by over 100 members of the profession, some remotely via technology. AGM business was successfully concluded, with the annual report and accounts accepted and auditors appointed. CEO Sean Tompkins gave an overview of organisational performance and outgoing President Amanda Clack provided a summary of her activities during the year. At the end of the AGM, John Hughes FRICS was inaugurated as President for 2018, with a warm welcome from the profession.

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