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Hot Topic Highlight - Mandatory Competency - Conduct Rules, Ethics & Professional Practice

RICS APC and AssocRICS mandatory competency business planning

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What is today's blog about?

In this article, we will focus on what you need to know about conduct rules, ethics and professional practice for your final assessment interview. We've written it as a helpful crib sheet with additional links to find out further detail. Essential reading for RICS APC and AssocRICS candidates.

You can also listen to our CPD podcast on Anchor for more free AssocRICS and RICS APC training and support.

Who are RICS?

  • Global leading professional body promoting the highest standards in the property industry

  • Gold standard of professional regulation

Brief history of RICS

  • 1792 - Surveyors Club formed

  • 1868 - John Clutton elected first president of Institution of Surveyors

Incorporation by Royal Charter

  • Sets out objective - to promote usefulness of the professional for the public advantage

  • Changes to byelaws (RICS constitution) ratified by UK Government Privy Council after being approved by majority at a general meeting

Functions of RICS

  • Consumer protection

  • Influence policy

  • Set standards

  • Accredit professionals

  • Quality assurance


Not regulated by Government - legislation only required if self-regulation not working

5 principles of better regulation (TPACT) - transparent, proportional, accountable, consistent and targeted 

Benefits of being Regulated by RICS

  • Commitment to highest standards

  • Open to independent scrutiny

  • Ethical approach

  • Protection (via Professional Indemnity Insurance - PII)

  • Security (via Complaints Handling Procedure - CHP)

  • Guarantee of professional training and experience

5 RICS Ethical & Professional Principles

Remember, ethical behaviour is a key part of being a professional.

  • Act with integrity

  • Always provide a high standard of service

  • Act in a way that promotes trust in the profession

  • Treat others with respect

  • Take responsibility

Rules of Conduct for Firms

  • Part I - nominate a Contact Officer to liaise between the Firm and RICS, plus submit the Annual Return

  • Part II - conduct of business - ensure professional behaviour, act competently, provide a high standard of service, ensure staff undertake CPD, have a Complaints Handling Procedure (CHP), preserve security of clients' money, hold adequate Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII)

  • Part III - firm administration - advertise in a truthful and responsible manner, ensure finances managed appropriately, ensure arrangements are in place to cover incapacity/death of a sole practitioner, display Regulated by RICS designation in line with RICS' requirements, provide information to and co-operative with RICS as requested

Rules of Conduct for Members

  • Behave ethically

  • Act competently (with due skill, care and diligence and proper regard for technical expectations)

  • Service instructions in a timely manner and to a high standard

  • Keep CPD up-to-date

  • Manage personal & professional finances appropriately

  • Provide information to and co-operative with RICS as requested

Disciplinary procedures

Know what happens if things go wrong. Potential sanctions by RICS include fixed penalty notices, consent orders, interim measures, panel hearings and expulsion from the institution.



PII has several purposes:

  • To protect firms from financial loss in the event of a negligence claim and consequences to pay third party damages

  • To protect clients from financial losses which the firm cannot meet

Firms must have adequate PII cover under Rule 9 of the Rules of Conduct for Firms. This means that it must be:

  • On an each and every claim basis / fully retroactive - covers claims made during the insurance cover period irrespective of when the original act occurred

  • Includes the RICS minimum policy wording

  • Provides a minimum level of indemnity based on turnover

  • Provides a maximum level of uninsured excess

  • Underwritten by an RICS approved insurer

  • Covers past and present employeesIncludes run-off cover when a firm or member ceases to trade

Ensure you read the RICS guidance to check the limits for cover - you may be asked in your final assessment interview.

CPD requirements

Qualified members must undertake a minimum of 20 hours' CPD each year (i.e. completed by 31 December and recorded online by 31 January).

At least 10 hours must be formal, e.g. structured learning with clear objectives and outcomes.

Every three years, members must undertake CPD relating to professional ethics, e.g. the RICS online ethics walkthrough. Remember, these are different to the requirements for APC candidates.


Firms must have a CHP in place to deal with client complaints. The RICS publish guidance on how to fulfil this obligation.

Setting up in practice

From an RICS compliance perspective, the key things to do are to:

  • Advise RICS you are setting up in practice and registered for Regulation

  • Ensure you meet the requirements of the RICS Rules of Conduct

  • Put adequate insurance in place

  • Write appropriate policies, e.g. health & safety

  • Use Regulated by RICS designation appropriately

Holding clients' money

We will explore this topic further in a future blog article.

However, the key principle is to ensure that clients' money (not solely belonging to the firm holding it) is kept safely, securely and can be clearly linked to the client at all times. 

Potential funds held include deposits, rent, service charge, interest (in a client account), sale proceeds, Arbitration fees etc.


Acting professionally and ethically is an absolute MUST for Chartered Surveyors - it is at the heart of the RICS and provides clients with the confidence that we really are the gold standard of professionalism. 

In your RICS APC final assessment interview, getting an ethics question wrong will be an automatic fail - so this mandatory competency is perhaps the most important of all. Make sure you know the detail, as well as how you apply the concepts to your daily practice. You'll need to include examples in Level 2 (how you did something) and Level 3 (why you did something, how you provided reasoned advice) - so ensure you understand how you behaved ethically and professionally in these instances.

How can we help?

  • Head to our blog archive to access even more free CPD and AssocRICS and RICS APC training and support.

  • Download your free AssocRICS and RICS APC resources, including e-books and revision quizzes.

  • Find out more about our bespoke AssocRICS and RICS APC training and support, before booking your free 15 minute consultation and signing up for your services online.

Not sure about signing up? Make sure you read what our recent successful candidates have to say in our Testimonials.

Stay tuned for our next blog post to help build a better you

N.b. Nothing in this article constitutes legal or financial advice.