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RICS apologises to wronged NEDs & sets out new values charter
The four wronged NEDs expelled by force from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, have now received private and public apologies.
It is unlikely that Bruce McAra, Simon Hardwick, Steve Williams and Amarjit Atkar will feel vindicated. After all, they just wanted to do what they were in post to do, provide oversight into affairs at a critical time where the financials of the RICS organisation were extremely opaque.
Nevertheless, we move forward and the focus is now on the “cultural change” that RICS, like a penitent sinner, is now embarking on. The six pillars that it claims will drive its cultural change are the norm for most organisations, rather than breakthrough concepts.
The new pillars of change are integrity, transparency, inclusion, collaboration, advocacy, passion. Reproduced below in full is the RICS document issued by its Governing Council.
Our commitment to cultural change Concerns over the culture, values and behaviours of certain executives and non-executives within RICS were raised in Alison Levitt QC’s recent report and, while some of these concerns will be subject to an imminent independent review into purpose, governance and strategy, the report recommended that:
“As a short-term measure, Governing Council should commission an over-arching statement which emphasises that culture and behaviours such as openness, transparency, ethical conduct (including fairness to all members, whether employees or non-Executives), accountability, collegiality, cooperation, and openness to change are as important as governance structures.”
The report also noted an overwhelming ‘sense of pride felt at being members of RICS’ and it is this residual pride we seek to restore and establish as the bedrock of the Institution. Ethical culture and behaviour are at the core of RICS’ identity and critical to its position as a unifying force, bringing members, companies, the public, industry, and government stakeholders together in the public interest.
We are following each one of Alison Levitt’s recommendations to the letter and this statement has been foremost amongst them because it sets the tone for our leadership’s vision. One key aspect of that vision is transparency. For that reason, this statement will be released not only to members and employees but also to the public and media, to show our commitment and accountability for its contents. We are keenly aware that RICS is at a cultural crossroads.
To ensure its future is fit for purpose, the vital first step is a binding adherence to the values outlined below. But they are only words, which must be followed swiftly by decisive actions. Only a wide-ranging programme of cultural initiatives will realise the radical transformation that RICS members deserve, and key announcements will be made in the coming weeks.
The values outlined below detail the behaviour we expect of all those who represent RICS. They have been developed in line with the forthcoming Rules of Conduct for Members and Firms, the outcomes of Alison Levitt QC’s independent review and in consultation with colleagues across RICS.
Integrity We will reflect the behaviours that we ask of others and ensure that we act with integrity in every aspect of our work.
Transparency We will be transparent about what we do, how we are doing it and our use of resources. We will be accountable to our members and stakeholders through the information we publish about the outcomes we achieve and the value we deliver for members and society. Our accountability will be underpinned by open and effective governance.
Inclusion We believe in the positive benefits of diversity of race, background, gender, sexual orientation, and physical abilities, thought and outlook, achieved through an organisation where people feel included, valued, and able to thrive in their own unique way.
Collaboration We will seek out insight and feedback from members and stakeholders, listen to what they say, and undertake activity in a collaborative way. We will also be open to challenge and change, in pursuit of the highest professional standards.
Advocacy We will not be afraid to speak up in the public interest on behalf of the profession and our industry. Through regular commentary and campaigns on key issues, we will become sponsors of positive change and increased awareness of issues relating to the natural and built environment.
Passion Our passion and dedication to the future of our sector will be unstinting. We will redouble efforts to engage with the next generation of talent and go the extra mile with training and development to create a sustainable future of which all members can be proud.
We will embed these values into the organisation through our policies and actions and the ways in which we work with members and stakeholders, and critically we will measure their success through independent benchmarking, regular feedback and reporting against clear targets.
Nested pivots from iBuyer to franchiser
If you spend enough cash, it all comes good in the end. This is a mantra that many venture capitalists use as they invest, re-invest, and continue to invest in operations that seem to continually lose money.
Nested, formerly Nextday Property Ltd, is now throwing money at its latest incarnation as the go-to hybrid estate agent franchise, tempting would-be agents with the lure of £25,000.
For some years Nested had been an iBuyer model similar to Zillow, but it is now firmly looking to buy itself pole position as the big cheese in the hybrid agent vertical. Why? As we all know, it’s not a hugely lucrative marketplace. Many companies have failed here.
Keller Williams is a global hybrid model, so too is eXp. There are plenty others. But over 30-plus years few have survived, and even less have thrived. The brands that do survive churn players inside the company at an alarming rate.
Ultimately, good agents are good agents. If they join a hybrid scheme, they will at some point leave and be their own agent. If they are poor agents, the lack of income will make them leave the hybrid model, too. However you slice it, it’s always a stopgap.
There are only a handful of exceptions. For example, if the hybrid company had some pedigree, like Chestertons, it would make things very different.
But, at this precise moment in time, what value is there to say that you are a Nested agent? My advice before looking to gain new recruits is to get a brand specialist and get a new name. I have a few suggestions for free.
Andrew Stanton is the founder and CEO of Proptech-PR, a consultancy for Founders of Proptechs looking to grow and exit, using his influence from decades of industry experience. Separately he is a consultant to some of the biggest names in global real estate, advising on sales and acquisitions, market positioning, and operations. He is also the founder and editor of Proptech-X Proptech & Property News, where his insights, connections and detailed analysis and commentary on proptech and real estate are second to none.