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Jeremy Leaf: RICS scandal shows members’ needs should come first

Jake Carter

September 15, 2021

Following the departure of four senior figures at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, outlined that this shows issues need to be dealt with quicker and members’ needs should be foremost.

He said: “This shows that when a potential issue arises it needs to be dealt with as soon as possible, whichever institution it is – that is the lesson that needs to be learned.”

The departures come following the publication of a 167-page report which outlined that senior management did not like being challenged and were “quick to take offence” when criticised.

Sean Tompkins, Kathleen Fontana, governing council chair Chris Brookes and management board chair Paul Marcuse have lost their jobs as a result of the report.

A process is underway to appoint a new interim chief executive.

Leaf added: “From a personal point of view, I would like to see more member involvement because otherwise institutions can lose sight of the fact that they are there for the purposes of the members rather than the institution itself. Members need to play as big a part as possible.”

Earlier this year, QC Alison Levitt was asked to conduct a review into the crisis after it was revealed that four non-executive directors had been ousted in 2019.

This was due to the non-executives discovering the existence of a 2018 financial report by accountant BDO warning that RICS was at risk of “unidentified fraud, misappropriation of funds and misreporting of financial performance.”

Tompkins, who was already being paid £265,000 annually, had been paid a bonus of £73,911 in January as part of the group’s 2019/20 incentive plan and was also set to receive £189,720 in 2022 under a deferred part of the plan.

James Adkin, financial adviser at London Money, said: “The findings of the BDO report do not read well, nor do the staff exits, some voluntary, some not!

“Hopefully changes to the internal processes will improve how the company operates and the service they offer to the industry.”


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