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Rekindling connections: The urgent call to revitalise RICS local branches

Rekindling connections: The urgent call to revitalise RICS local branches

The decline of local branches within the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is closely examined as a significant factor contributing to increased member dissatisfaction according to a recent article published by RICS North East London Association Chair,Peter Gunby.

Over the past two decades, since the cessation of these local branches, there's been a notable rise in dissatisfaction among members. This connection between the decline of local branches and member discontent is underscored by findings in "The Bichard Review," which recommends the revitalisation of local branches as a means to foster networking and support among members.

Reflecting on the history of local branches, the author recalls attending their first meeting in the mid-1980s, a time when attendance was modest, often not exceeding ten participants, even with guest speakers. The introduction of mandatory Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in the mid-1990s marked a significant increase in local branch activities, particularly noted in the North East London branch, which saw a surge in demand for CPD events. However, a pivotal change came around 2000 when RICS altered its funding arrangements, restricting local branches from independent fund collection, leading to a decrease in their autonomy and, subsequently, their decline.

Despite these challenges, under the leadership of Mike Spall, the local branch mentioned in the narrative managed to sustain its activities. It continued to offer valuable CPD events and networking opportunities, drawing members from neighbouring branches that had shut down. Currently, with nine meetings a year, this branch has managed not only to survive but to profit modestly, reinvesting these funds back into the group.

For the future, reinstating local branches is viewed as a crucial step that requires substantial resources and support from RICS staff. This initiative would enable local branches to independently raise funds for events and speakers, thereby playing a critical role in offering grassroots feedback and disseminating information throughout the organisation. The local groups are seen as offering unique value propositions that can both complement and enhance the offerings of RICS to its members, advocating for a collaborative approach to rebuilding the local branch network within the institution.


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