What is RICS and why it matters to Aurora and our staff
An interview explaining the meaning and importance of RICS to the company and to staff.
What is RICS?
Founded in 1868 in London, RICS delivers confidence through respected global standards, in the development and management of land, real estate, construction and infrastructure, adopted and enforced by over 134,000 qualified and trainee professionals worldwide. Today RICS has over 420 qualified professionals and candidates in the Nordics. Through their qualification, their ethical behaviour and professional standards they stand out from the crowd, creating confidence in these markets and being recognised for effecting positive change in the built and natural environments where they operate.
There are a number of reasons why it is important to work with an RICS qualified professional, as doing so can provide you with huge peace of mind and confidence that you are working with someone who has undergone the best possible assessment of competencies, lifelong learning and best practices. RICS members’ commitment to international standards and ethics protects consumers and businesses by ensuring the utmost level of professionalism is employed across the built and natural environment.
Regulation and why it matters.
In an industry which is constantly changing and within which the need for transparency and accountability is becoming more needed especially within the Nordics, RICS regulation sets a benchmark for a business. RICS Regulation sets the benchmark in the industry requiring business to adequately cover their work with professional indemnity insurance which equates to over 10 times the local Nordic standard for consultancies. It also supplies confidence for clients, assuring them that the business operates and practices professional and ethical standards which are recognized globally.
Aurora and the RICS
With all of our Nordic firms regulated Aurora is the first Quantity Surveying to have a base of operations in each region. We strive to push the importance of the RICS model with members actively engaged in developing the RICS brand in the local markets and our overall aim being to have the entire team accredited as MRICS professionals or on the pathway to becoming one.
With the above in mind we decided to look into how the RICS was perceived by members of the team, both existing MRICS members and those aspiring to become either AssocRICS or MRICS. We asked four existing members to undertake a short interview with their colleagues to identify how they felt and why the RICS is important to them and to the built environment in the Nordic market.
As a newly appointed Director and an experienced consultant already, what has driven you to now pursue attaining your MRICS status?
Achieving MRICS status is a highly respected level of development within the career of any Surveyor that provides a comparison and consistency measure for the supply side of the market and a quality benchmark for the demand side of market.
I firmly believe that achieving Director status within an RICS accredited practice inherently demands that I personally achieve MRICS status in order to successfully manage and develop the Aurora AS business.
Having recently relocated to Norway and having worked globally what opportunities do you see for the RICS and its members to affect change locally?
From a cost management perspective, Norway subscribes to their own measurement guide and standard forms of contract, with the role of the Quantity Surveyor not commonly known or understood, I firmly believe there is huge potential to affect change locally.
Recent involvement with a local developer led to extremely positive feedback when submitting a detailed Cost Estimate based on limited design information. The Cost Estimate provided a level of detail the Client had not previously experienced with local consultants.
The Norwegian market predominantly places emphasis on a design led solution with reduced focus on costs and contract administration, a balance I see changing in light of the recent COVID 19 pandemic and associated adverse effects on currency exchange rates, fluctuation in commodity prices, material and labour supply.
Do you think local consultants will see the benefits of attaining their MRICS status in the construction field and if not, why?
Until the hearts and minds of local developers are educated on the benefits of engaging an RICS accredited consultant, little emphasis will be placed on achieving MRICS status by local consultants.
The RICS is not as prevalent in the Nordics as it is elsewhere in Europe. Why did you want to achieve AssocRICS status?
The fundamental reason for me wanting to achieve a Globally recognised accreditation, especially in the Nordics, is because my career stems from a work experience only pathway. I wanted to emphasise that I am professionally competent to deliver the service and thus becoming RICS accredited was an essential stepping stone in furthering my career within the Industry.
Your case study was on a design due diligence review and cost estimate undertaken for the refurbishment of a historic hotel. Completing the case study required you to assess and evaluate how you undertook these tasks. Has completing the RICS process changed the way you would undertake such tasks in the future?
Having now gone through the RICS process there are some areas that I would carry out differently. The main area would be to try and mitigate the time poured into analysing and measuring elements of the project that were not the main cost drivers. This was quite evident during the client presentation of the report as the majority of the discussion was about these cost drivers such as structural alterations and MEP upgrades, as opposed to the level of detail we measured all the Hotel room walls for example.
Based on your experience, what advice and tips would you give any aspiring RICS members? (remembering that your submission was initially rejected…..)
My advice would be to not rush through your submission, you will be much more grateful that you took your time to complete it once and correctly. Another tip would be to always have your particular candidate pathway guide open and in front of you while writing down your experiences and interpretation of the competencies. This was a great checklist for me to go through, which really helped me make sure that I had provided what the assessors would be looking for and that my understanding of the principles was unquestionable.
Before joining Aurora, had you heard of the RICS? And what made you want to be an RICS individual?
I must admit that before joining Aurora, I had been working only in one project with a Member of RICS. RICS is not that familiar player in Finland, there’s just around 90 members in the country. I was working as a Contractor’s PM in an investment, where Client did recruit a Member of RICS to solve a demanding issue in that project, that did effect on my project too. In that project, collaboration between us and Client’s representative went well and resulted a project where both parties were satisfied. This Client’s representative was Jim Pearce, and he made an impression with way how issue was solved with such a professional manner and with high respect on all stakeholders. We did remain as friends after that project for years, and later when I was offered a possibility to join Aurora and develop myself as MRICS, it was an easy choice for me. RICS forms frames and background for professional project management and commercial management, while in Finland similar organization and way of thinking has been missing.
As you know, Aurora are the only RICS accredited project management and quantity surveying company here in Finland. Now that you are a qualified member, how would you describe to a potential client the value this brings?
Finland is full of project managers, but way of work or ethics is not harmonized. A clear need here in corner of Europe is to get high-quality contract managers and common way of work in project management. Finns have long traditions in project management from forest industry and heavy industry that we have had for decades, but professionals don’t have common way of work, and thus a Client will not know what they get when they are looking for a PM. In addition, traditions in contract management differ from other Europe, as in Finland it is common that a PM takes care of everything, and quality of service may differ. After I have seen references from other countries and great role models with membership of RICS, it is clear that membership increases trust and brings confidence foe Client’s, that person who has membership in RICS will deliver high quality service. Membership guarantees to Clients that they will get professionals with certain knowledge on processes and methodology, commercial management and contract management, and special skills at various other aspects that are needed in management of every investment. I really like the way of thinking at RICS, that expectations for services are harmonized.
Out of all of the RICS competencies, which 2 are your favourite and why?
All competencies have interesting aspects; amount of information is vast once you start you dive into some of them. If I need to select only 2 pieces, first belongs to my favorite topic in project management, which is Leading of Projects, People, Teams, with focus on leading of teams. I do feel that a project is like an engine, and stakeholders are the pieces of which that engine consists of. It is super interesting to gather correct team, set goals and targets, and then make that team work together so that targets are met. This requires problem solving, and understanding of different characters and strengths of teammates, and how to make them work in best possible way.
Second selected competency could be Project brief. “-Say what?”, would ask a Finn. A direct translation is hard to find, as well as for Quantity Surveying. After learning a bit more on Project Brief, it means making a written introduction for new members when they are onboarding to the project, which gives them general information of the project. This sounds like a self-evident task, but in my opinion this kind of induction is not held in all projects, although I find it as one of the most important tasks in the project. Each member of project must know the scope, schedule, organization expectations before they start anything. A project brief is something that I have been taking care of also before learning more about project management, but from now on I have an ability to for it in a correct way and to present it in a correct way to stakeholders. A well-prepared Project Brief improves communication and efficiency in project, and it’s one good tool in professional project management.
How has your RICS pathway helped you to further understand your role and your place within the Project Team?
The RICS pathway is a summary of the technical skills I am using in my role as a Quantity Surveyor. Having it as a written text has guided me to further understand my role and what I bring to a project. Specifically, by writing the case study I have had a chance to reflect on a project which I have completed and I can see how my skillset was part of the project’s success.
As a young professional, graduating and starting your career in Sweden, why do feel it is a benefit to you to achieve RICS status?
A RICS qualification is recognized worldwide and will open doors to a global career opportunity. I am still not sure if or when I want to work abroad and if so where. However, by being an AssocRICS will certainly make the transition from a career in Sweden to a career abroad easier.
How do you see Aurora and its association with RICS as a platform for your future career within Sweden and other countries?
I think that both Aurora as a business and me personally benefit by working to the RICS ethics, code of conduct and competence related standards for the profession. International clients know that we follow the same procedures as they are used to and hence it is more likely they will use us for services rendered in the Nordics, compared to someone that is not qualified.
I personally believe that my work at Aurora and following the RICS pathway will benefit me in future aspirations to work abroad.