RICS market surveys underline our members’ expertise

In her monthly column, RICS President Ann Gray highlights the valuable research published by the Institution and says its highly respected reports wouldn’t be possible without member insight


  • Ann Gray FRICS

05 September 2023

Photography by Ball & Albanese

Photo of Ann Gray FRICS

One of my favourite things about RICS is the research it generates on technical topics that often guide public policy and is also a resource to practitioners as they carry out their daily work.

This month I’d like to highlight some of this research – most of it member-led and informed by experienced practitioners. 

The measure is in the method

Thought-leadership is a much-abused term, but to my mind, what sets true expertise apart from enthusiasm is method. If we are descriptive in our methodology and consistent in how it is applied, the resulting information and the conclusions it implies can be used to make confident decisions.

This is not merely the essence of chartered surveying practice. It is also the foundation of RICS’ influence and advocacy. From regular industry surveys and in-house research to collaboration with governments and international organisations, RICS is dedicated to building trust in the value of our professional methods. And it is worth recapping some highlights of this important work. 

Member expertise creating policy change

A core element of RICS’ research activity is its market surveys, both global and regional. These have continued to underline the importance of our members’ expert insight across the various sectors of the built environment working all around the world. These surveys cover commercial and residential propertyconstruction and infrastructurefacilities management, and farmland sales and prices. Alongside topical analyses and discussion papers, these reports develop an in-depth picture of evolving market dynamics from the perspective of RICS professionals on the ground, providing governments, central banks, investors and other built-environment stakeholders around the world with the insight they need. 

Other RICS initiatives focus on themes that cut across our whole profession. Infrastructure sector lead Anil Sawhney and tech lead Andrew Knight produce the annual Digitalisation in Construction Report that supports a proactive approach to leveraging technology and data for societal benefit. 

The annual Sustainability Report led by Fabrizio Varriale and Kisa Zehra, measures shifting trends in the challenges faced by practitioners as they implement net zero goals into their practices. Expect to see this released to coincide this fall with COP28. 

I would particularly like to highlight the inaugural Women in Surveying insight report spearheaded by RICS Head of DEI Sybil Taunton, published in July, that explores challenges to inclusion from a binary gender perspective. Like all the RICS endeavours mentioned, this provides a benchmark for positive change. The survey to inform next year’s reporting remains open until 30 September.

For an overview of construction trends check out Anil Sawhney’s RICS Construction productivity report 2023.

Of course, the value of these initiatives depends entirely on the insight and expertise of members themselves who have current knowledge at the ‘coal face’ of their specialisms. The quality of the insight and data generated by RICS’ unique professional community alongside our respected standards positions RICS to lead in significant ongoing collaborations with stakeholders at the highest levels. 

Our Global Quarterly Performance Reports give a regular overview of this activity, with recent highlights including RICS’ chairing of the G20 Valuation Working Group, key adoptions by the UK Government and the European Commission, as well as ongoing input into policy development across multiple markets. Many are unaware that our predictive Global Commercial Property Monitor, spearheaded by RICS Chief Economist Simon Rubinsohn and his team including Tarrant Parsons and Donglai Lao, is referred to by the European Central Bank to assist in setting monetary policy.

“One of my favourite things about RICS is the research it generates” Ann Gray FRICS, RICS President

On the boards

Coming soon from RICS’ professional practice team, led by Charlotte Neal, keep an eye out for Tony Mulhall’s work on digital planning and be sure to weigh in on the ongoing consultation on new guidance on home retrofit advice, an initiative led by Antony Parkinson. 

Leading the way to a greener built environment and opening up new service lines for surveyors, RICS has teamed up with government and industry experts to release the Whole Life Carbon Assessment standard for a September launch. 

In addition, RICS is currently putting together a series of market-led policy reports which are based on Fabrizio’s decarbonising UK real estate report. As part of our COP28 work, these will be focused on how India, Greater China, Europe, the Middle East and the UK are decarbonising their built environment. Consisting of a policy review and a set of recommendations, they will promote the role that the profession and RICS can play in helping decarbonise the built environment.

“RICS is dedicated to building trust in the value of our professional methods” Ann Gray FRICS, RICS President

Embedding member insight in the institution

Going forward, members’ knowledge and understanding of market dynamics and technical disciplines must continue to inform how RICS plans and prioritises its work to support the advancement of the profession. This is one reason why the ongoing establishment of Professional Group Panels (PGPs) and the Knowledge & Practice Committee (KPC) as part of our transformation is so exciting, as it creates unparalleled opportunities for members to shape RICS priorities. 

Proposed changes in the composition of RICS’ Governing Council includes adding representatives of professional specialisms at the highest levels of the organisation ensuring that key sectors of the profession are integral to decision-making.

The recent update from Simon Rawlinson, RICS Board Member and KPC Chair, makes for encouraging reading, setting out recent progress in recruiting chairs for the six PGPs who will also sit as members of the KPC. The process is expected to complete this month, after which PGP panel member positions will be advertised, and I urge all members to consider putting themselves forward for the panel relevant to their area of specialism.

Email to stay up-to-date and learn about the appointment process, and please continue to take all opportunities to share your knowledge and wisdom to help RICS stay on the leading edge.

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