Sean Tompkins, RICS

RICS is an independent professional body originally established in the UK by Royal Charter. Since 1868, RICS has been committed to setting and upholding the highest standards of excellence and integrity – providing impartial, authoritative advice on key issues affecting businesses and society. Sean Tompkins has been Chief Executive of RICS since September

What have you been involved with this past year?

“As CEO of RICS, I have been ensuring the overall performance of RICS against our business plan and I am pleased to say that despite the challenging economic conditions, the organization has outperformed its objectives.

“With significantly increased worldwide reach, the profession continued to grow by over 2,000 during 2010/2011 (in particular in continental Europe). As an organization which is expanding rapidly in many markets, one of our main priorities during the past year has been to set up a crystal clear vision to our focus and success. Our governing body is determined that RICS will be the leader in setting and enforcing professional standards worldwide and offering talented people access to the most high profile professional status.

“Gaining recognition of our standards by markets and governments in valuation, construction, built asset management, real estate agency brokerage and embedded carbon measurement has been also one of our key priorities. As a result, recognition by markets and governments for RICS standards is gathering pace with a notable success in both Europe and Asia for Real Estate Agency and Brokerage Standards.

“At the same time, we have achieved strong market demand for RICS Valuer Registration worldwide with over 13,500 members across all Europe, including UK. Ensuring the quality of property valuations, the RICS Valuer Registration Scheme will provide lenders, asset managers and investors a clearly identifiable designation for the best regulated and qualified professionals in the business.

“Also one of our goals last year has been to provide property professionals with standards and leading edge products and services to help them in their daily practices.

And what’s on the horizon for the year ahead?

“In the coming year, RICS will concentrate its efforts on new opportunities to advance the recognition of our standards with employers, policy makers, opinion formers and society as a whole. The core driver of our direction is our ambition for recognition, by markets and governments, of RICS as the leading body that sets and enforces professional standards in the real estate sector.

“Also we will continue the transition to a global body, with a strategic look at new markets, such as Africa.

What distinguishes your organization from the competition?

“RICS is here to create and enforce the highest international standards in real estate, land and construction that society and sustainable markets demand. For any profession and the industry it serves to be taken seriously on the international stage – as this is now a fundamental requirement. With almost 150 years’ experience in setting professional standards, regulating and providing education and qualifications for the industry, promoting technical and ethical excellence is at the heart of everything we do. This wealth of experience and a commitment to serving society’s best interests makes RICS not only successful but unique.

“Another thing that differentiates RICS from other professional organizations is that we are representing a very broad profession, able to be globally connected and locally relevant. With qualified members in all property related disciplines, RICS is spreading knowledge and providing the best possible platform of professional qualifications, practice standards and life-long learning information adapted to each local market.

“Given that real estate accounts for some 70% of global wealth and employs roughly 10% of the workforce you can see the importance of having a unified property and construction profession which the global market place both recognizes and trusts. Our international reach is one of our huge strengths and clearly reflects the fact that RICS has become the world’s leading qualification in land, property and construction.

Which parts of the world do you focus on? Why there?

“RICS is in a state of transition from a UK organization with offices outside the UK to a worldwide organization operating across many markets including the UK. For this reason, we are focusing our resources on achieving recognition and cross-border standards in a number of established and emerging markets. Most prominent among these are the growth markets of Russia and CIS, Greater China, South East Asia, Brazil and Mexico, and our established markets in mainland Europe and UK.

“Much of the last financial year has been spent on establishing a strong understanding in new and emerging markets and ensuring that in our most established markets, such as the UK and Ireland, we continue to pursue ambitious plans for the development of the profession.

What are your priorities in Europe?

“RICS has an ambitious European business plan and our priority focus is on Germany, France, Poland and Russia. We have recently invested further in our operations in Russia and increased our media reach into Poland and we will of course continue to make investment in other European countries. Valuation and commercial property are the predominant disciplines of our practising members in Europe. However we are also working towards increasing our presence in construction, project management, and facilities management.

“Given its importance to our collective future, sustainability in real estate and construction, is really at the top of our agenda. In addition to this, we are further promoting our latest guidance in construction and property, such as guidance on technical due diligence and the global Real Estate Agency and Brokerage Standards.

“On the valuation front, we will create new international/European guidance, keeping the existing translations of the RICS Valuation Standards (the Red Book) up to date, and adding some new translations (Polish and Greek). In September last year we launched the Valuer Registration Scheme (VRS) to increase market confidence in the profession and provide chartered valuation surveyors with a regulatory scheme that monitors their compliance with RICS Valuation Standards.

Can you tell our readers something to look forward to in regards to Europe’s property markets for 2012-2013?

“The ongoing economic instability in parts of the world has prompted many people to question their confidence in professionals and the reliability of the advice they provide. Despite the volatile times, globalization of the property market continues apace, with inter-regional volumes more than doubling year-on-year. So it is little wonder that governments and regulators, clients and customers will continue all calling for proven performance and high professional standards.

“I do not have a crystal ball to predict the future, but RICS publishes a range of respected market sentiment surveys which reflect the collective views of leading professionals active in the world’s major property markets. And according to our latest survey, the outlook for rents is predictably negative across much of Europe with the noticeable exception of Germany. The prospect of a renewed, although shallow, recession is clearly weighing heavily on the real estate sector."

“Roughly three-quarters of property professionals who responded to the RICS Distressed Property Monitor also expected rising levels of foreclosure on commercial property this year.

"On a more positive note, commercial property markets in Brazil, Russia and China are continuing to perform well, with respondents indicating that rents are set to rise further into Q1 2012. In Europe, Germany and Poland, underpinned by strong tenant demand, outperformed others despite the ongoing euro area crisis. Elsewhere Canada and Japan also record largely positive results.

“In the residential sector, according to our latest European housing research, outside of a few countries, house prices in 2011 were relatively stable across Europe and in the absence of new dramatic turmoil, major falls are not expected in the months to come. However, after five years of European housing downturn, full recovery is not on the horizon.

“The future of the housing market in Europe will clearly depend on a good supply of mortgage credit and the ability to cope with the economic and financial crisis in the Eurozone. But ongoing austerity measures are not helping to ease the situation. Public intervention today is more likely to undermine, rather than stimulate, the residential market.

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