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News & opinion

27 FEB 2018

Ban of dual agency practice welcomed as positive step forward

Our new mandatory standards that put in place Conflicts of Interest (COI) requirements for RICS regulated agents involved in UK commercial property investments, have been welcomed as a positive step forward for the industry.

Among other things, the rules will ban the controversial practice of dual agency, where one agency represents both the buyer and vendor in a single transaction.

Here, Ben Hunter, director at independent building consultancy firm Silverstone – based in the North of England – discusses the importance of firms adhering to this new mandatory standard and its benefit for clients.

Importance of non-conflicting advice

When Silverstone was launched in 2009, one of our founding principles was to offer our clients non-conflicting advice, a situation made less complex by us not offering any agency services. Over the past eight years we have found that this fundamental point of non-conflicting advice, has become increasingly relevant and important to our clients. The RICS COI standards come at a time when there is a growing concern over falling professional standards within our industry.

Since the recession there has been significant consolidation across the property agency and surveying profession. This trend has seen the creation of a small number of very large, multinational agency firms, which leaves investors and developers with restricted levels of choice when it comes to seeking professional advice.

With larger companies, the risk management around conflicts of interest becomes more complex due to client lists and, it is therefore more important than ever that firms put in place effective policies for managing conflicts when they arise.

Boosting client confidence

As a fully independent, specialist firm, we are proud of our ability to avoid conflicts of interest and provide our clients with piece of mind that we will always act in their best interest.

It is important for all firms to adopt these robust industry standards, to boost client confidence in the industry. Failure to do so may well damage the integrity of the profession and undermine client confidence

Increasing transparency

We live in an age where greater transparency is increasingly part of our everyday lives. It is a point of principle which now spans from the world of industry and commerce right through to politics and entertainment. Surely this can only be a positive step forward and for the clients of tomorrow, openness and honesty will be a foregone conclusion.