Conduct rules, ethics and professional practice
This competency is arguably the most important of all. In order to be successful in the APC final assessment you must demonstrate your awareness of and intention to act within the RICS Rules of Conduct. This includes those for both members and firms. The Rules of Conduct are critical to the profession for it is these and the underpinning values that give confidence to the public and our clients that we are a 'safe pair of hands' and that we are regulated by our professional body. Unsurprisingly this competency must be achieved to level 3.
See ethics and professional conduct in isurv professional skills for detailed commentary on the Rules of Conduct, the ethical standards and the role of RICS Regulation.
The knowledge and understanding required of the candidate at level 1 is wide-ranging. It covers the role, function and significance of RICS; an understanding of society's expectations of professional practice; RICS Rules of Conduct for both firms and members; and the general principles of law and the legal system, as applicable in your area of practice.
To understand the role and function of RICS, you should carry out some reading around the structure of RICS, the various professional groups, group boards and committees, and the functions performed, such as advising the government on housing, taxation, planning and landlord and tenant issues and bringing an influence to bear on all relevant aspects of society. Apart from keeping abreast of developments in newspapers, a good source of information is the RICS magazine, Modus, and the various other RICS and 'property' publications.
The other requirement at level 1 involves the candidate understanding the role of the professional person and of society's expectations of such a person. The general principles of professional integrity (the 5 standards listed below) hold good in all professional-client situations. An important issue is that of 'ethics', which have been defined as a set of moral principles extending beyond a formal code of conduct.
RICS expects members to act both within the Rules of Conduct and within the global framework for professional and ethical standards. Members are expected to apply a set of 5 global standards to their behaviour in order to meet the high standards of expected of them. All members must demonstrate that they:
- act with integrity;
- always provide a high standard of service;
- act in a way that promotes trust in the profession;
others with respect; and
- take responsibility.
Level 2 in this competency requires you to provide evidence of practical application in your area of practice, being able to justify actions at all times and demonstrate personal commitment to the Rules of Conduct, ethics and the twelve standards.
At level 3, you should be able to provide evidence of the application of the above in your area of practice in the context of providing proefessional advice to clients or others.
This particular mandatory competency is a huge and expansive topic - but it should be kept in perspective. The final assessment panel will keep their testing and questioning within the confines of the knowledge and experience that a person with two years' experience in the surveying industry, and occupying a fairly junior position, will have gained. Therefore you will not be expected to have first-hand experience of some of the more detailed areas of the Rules of Conduct, such as your firm's professional indemnity insurance or the Members' Accounts Regulations, but you will be expected to demonstrate your knowledge of the requirements of RICS in these areas and how this would be implemented in practice.
The assessment panel may also test your knowledge around some of the basics, such as why RICS has Rules of Conduct, and aspects of the 5 standards. They may also test your knowledge of key areas of relevant legislation, for example, the Bribery Act 2010.
Your training should incorporate a mixture of practical experience, structured reading and perhaps some CPD-type events on current issues. This competency is obviously also an ideal subject for your professional development. The APC guidance recommends that training in this area accounts for 16 of the 48 hours per year of professional development experience required.
A useful source of information is the APC guidance on the Rules of Conduct, RICS guidance note for APC/ATC candidates, supervisors and counsellors: Rules of Conduct.
Levels 2 and 3 will involve you developing your practical experience at work, with an emphasis on taking instructions, understanding and dealing with conflicts of interest, and applying the rules and the standards.
At your three-monthly and six-monthly reviews, you can discuss this with your supervisor and counsellor. You may wish to consider the following:
- the role and function of RICS;
- the 5 standards: How are these applied within your workplace, what examples does your supervisor and counsellor have of situations they have faced?;
- Rules of Conduct: How does your employer ensure that all surveyors comply with these and what policies and procedures are in place?