APC: ethics, Rules of Conduct and professionalism
5 November 2018
Susan Hanley details what APC candidates need to know about the competency Ethics, Rules of Conduct and professionalism
Ethics, Rules of Conduct and professionalism is the only mandatory Level 3 competency in the RICS APC, so it is imperative that candidates have a detailed understanding of what is required. Ultimately, the aim is to assess whether you are a safe pair of hands and will foster trust in the profession.
Candidates are required to complete the ethics module in the portal of the Assessment Resource Centre in the 12 months before final assessment, and can record the time spent doing so as part of their CPD.
The final assessment process itself starts with the assessor reviewing the candidate’s summary of experience. Before submitting this, candidates should have checked that it complies with RICS documentation, and the content should also have been tested and approved by an APC counsellor. A guide to what the summary of experience should contain is given in Table 1.
|Indicate sources of learned knowledge||
|Demonstrate what you know about the module||
|Give evidence of practical application with real-life, project-specific examples||
|Offer evidence of giving reasoned advice||
Table 1: What should your summary of experience contain?
What to expect at interview
At final assessment, 10 minutes are set aside towards the end of the interview for demonstrating that you have fulfilled the competency’s requirements. This time is defined in the APC Candidate guide as 'Chairperson’s area of questioning [and it] may include professional and technical matters, CPD, Rules of Conduct and mandatory competencies'. In their questions, the chair may ask candidates to put themselves in hypothetical scenarios and consider how they would react or respond to these.
What you need to know
Candidates must know RICS’ 5 ethical standards:
- act with integrity;
- always offer a high standard of service;
- act in a way that promotes trust in the profession;
- treat others with respect;
- take responsibility.
Most candidates will soon identify that they are, in the course of their role, already complying with these, and will have copious examples showing where they have demonstrated as much.
While there is no way to predict what questions candidates will be asked at final assessment, they need to have detailed Level 1 knowledge of the competency description. Many candidates make the mistake of memorising the ethical standards alone, and this is not enough.
The examples of what candidates need to know contained in the competency descriptor are an excellent starting point for revision and include:
- the structure of RICS;
- the organisation’s global and professional ethical standards;
- mandatory professional statements, for example Conflicts of interest;
- guidance notes;
- RICS’ CPD policy;
- the role of professional groups;
- bodies within RICS, such as Matrics and LionHeart;
- the Rules of Conduct for members;
- the Rules of Conduct for firms;
- policy documents;
- RICS bye-laws;
- government legislation and regulation;
- common law;
- relevant case law.
The regulation pages of the RICS website and the detailed guidance notes, all listed at the end of this article, will help you gain an understanding of these.
Candidates must take the following due diligence measures while on placements.
- Ensure they are familiar with their employer’s policies in relation to professional indemnity insurance – who does this cover, and at what level?
- Investigate the company’s complaints-handling procedure.
- Look into the policy on gifts and hospitality, and how this relates to RICS guidance and the Bribery Act 2010.
RICS ethical standards form a basis for providing professional services. All APC candidates and RICS members are required to embrace and adopt the organisation’s ethical standards, both as part of their professional practice and in life outside work.
RICS guidance states: 'All members must maintain a relevant and current understanding of our professional and ethical standards during a rolling three-year period.' Divergence from this will generally affect public and professional perception of RICS and potentially your membership.
Counsellors should also be up to date with professional and ethical standards, ensuring they comply with their obligations to undertake ethics-based CPD.
Susan Hanley is Director of the APC Academy and RICS Regional Training Advisor for Scotland
- RICS ethics and professional standards
- Conflicts of interest global professional statement
- International Ethics Standards
- Information for APC assessors and counsellors
- Related competencies include Contract practice, Ethics, Rules of Conduct and professionalism [previously Conduct rules, ethics and professional practice]
- This feature is taken from the RICS Construction Journal (November/December 2018)
- Related categories: APC (candidates), APC mandatory competencies