Highlights from a watershed year for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), one of the oldest and most esteemed professional bodies in the construction industry, has had a turbulent year to say the least.

After reports emerged at the end of 2020 that four non-executive directors had been abruptly ousted from its governing council, the institution initially tried to play down the story.

RICS hq 2

The RICS’ headquarters on Parliament Square

But it quickly snowballed into a full-blown governance crisis, resulting in a huge backlash among members that forced the RICS’ embattled chief executive Sean Tompkins to order an independent inquiry.

The saga rumbled on throughout the year as more details emerged of why the non-executives were fired, culminating in the publication of Alison Levitt QC’s report in September.

It revealed that the institution’s leadership had attempted to suppress a damning financial report and dismissed the non-execs when they raised concerns.

It led to the immediate resignations of Tompkins, president Kathleen Fontana, former president Chris Brookes and management board chair Paul Marcuse, and the launch of a fresh independent inquiry into how the RICS should reform itself.

That inquiry is now underway and is being chaired by a former senior civil servant Michael Bichard. 

Its conclusions, due to be published next year, are likely to prove to be a watershed for the institution.

Here are some of the highlights from this year as the story played out.

RICS facing revolt over financial report scandal

Published: 11 January

Four former presidents of the RICS have written to the body’s current leadership calling for an independent inquiry after a group of directors were dismissed for trying to raise the alarm about a critical financial report.

RICS bows to pressure and sets up inquiry into governance furore

Published: 22 January

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has said it will now set up an independent review into a scandal which erupted last week over allegations that a report criticising the group’s governance had been suppressed.

Fired directors hit back at RICS’ claim they asked for their departure to be kept secret

Published: 28 January

The four fired directors at the centre of a row that has shaken the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors have hit back at the organisation’s claims they asked for their dismissal to be kept under wraps.

Former chief construction adviser wades into RICS row, calling it ‘arrogant and naive’

Published: 8 February

The UK’s former chief construction adviser has called the current leadership of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors “arrogant and naive” over its handling of a governance scandal which has rocked the organisation.

RICS reforms: Members demand sweeping changes

Published: 17 February

In the wake of the recent scandal that has engulfed the RICS, the surveyors’ body has faced a backlash about whether it is offering the membership what they need. We decided to open our own informal consultation, inviting suggestions from RICS members – here are their responses

Industry veterans query RICS appointing own bosses to lead review of group

Published: 15 March

The UK’s former chief construction advisor has called the decision of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors to ask its own bosses to chair a review into its future purpose a “disaster”, adding the organisation’s leadership should leave their posts.

Members’ anger laid bare as satisfaction rate with RICS slumps to historic low

Published: 20 May

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has promised to regain the trust of members after initial responses to a review into its future purpose revealed satisfaction rates have crashed to an all-time low.

Heads roll at RICS as chief executive and president go following governance scandal report

Puiblished: 9 September

The chief executive and president of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors are both stepping down from their roles as a damning report into the governance scandal that has gripped the body for much of the year was published earlier today.

Independent review into the RICS scandal: key findings

Published: 10 September

A “power struggle” at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors resulted in the unfair dismissal of four members of the body’s governing council, a damning review into the scandal concluded yesterday.

RICS issues grovelling public apology to wrongfully dismissed non-executives

Published: 30 September

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has issued a grovelling public apology to four former members of its governing council who were unfairly dismissed after they spoke up about the suppression of a critical financial report.

’We will make you proud to be RICS members again’

Published: 2 November

Interim chief executive Richard Collins responds to Building’s open letter to the institution’s new leaders

RICS appoints former senior civil servant to lead future purpose review

Published: 2 December

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has appointed a former senior civil servant to lead the external review into its governance and future purpose.