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The (Emerging) Professional Choice

15 November 2006

The FM sector will not be able to advance or increase its value to government, the economy or society without high calibre and well educated professionals entering the market. This is not happening fast enough, says Mike Cant, and the mechanisms for supporting such development remains fragmented, parochial and with insufficiently robust accreditation.

Membership bodies and corporate associations have been operating in FM for a number of years. Whilst these bodies are generally some tens of years old at best, they do rest upon many years of effort of key individuals based not only in the UK, but the USA, Australia and around the globe. Some are young, some represent a handful of organisations - whilst others number members approximating ten thousand and evolved over some twenty-odd years. In all cases the quest is to develop a credible, robust and responsible representative organisation, and to advance the reputation and value of the 'professional' practice in FM.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has taken a slightly differing path to the door of FM. It has had to, but the journey has been one of increasing importance to our sector, and is a necessary first step in the development of a credible and professional industry. With in excess of 120,000 members, representation in over 120 countries around the word, RICS is recognised as the 'custodian'of Property Management regulation and Best (not just Good) Practice, and it has a vital role to play in FM - locally and globally. RICS has existed for over 130 years, and is the preeminent representative in property matters.

The links between assets in the form of physical property, the working environment and facilities services (soft and hard) is clear. Designation as a Chartered Facilities Management Surveyor (CFMS) is one of the routes, and is one that is tough to get. Nevertheless the route is becoming better signposted. And I hope useful to those considering becoming a professional FM practitioner.

There are a few 'Must Have''s'. These are there, not to create exclusivity to our sector, but to provide the basis for status that encourages the best graduates and the best practitioners.
...A formal and relevant educational background
...Structured FM training
...Assessment of all facets of FM training and CPD through the Assessment of Professional Competence.

Such professional competences must also include:
...Conduct rules, ethics and professional practice
...Client care
...Communication and negotiation, H&S , accounting principles and procedures
...Business planning
...Conflict avoidance, management and dispute resolution procedures
...Data management
...Sustainability
...Team working.

For the senior professional route, leadership, managing people and managing resources are also considered to be key competences.

RICS has carefully considered its future, and is now increasing the number of alternative chartered designations which defined categories of Chartered Surveyors. The CFMS is one such accredited designation. Becoming a Chartered or 'professional' Facilities Manager is, I consider, top of our agenda. There are several routes to chartered status. Further details can be found on the RICS website or through the FM Faculty's Careers and Advisory Service.

From the perspective of the school leaver (age16/17) studying for A-levels, advice should be sought from careers advisors, but it is unusual for such individuals to have the requisite expertise. The RICS FM Faculty has an advisory service, which can be accessed via www.rics.org and 08703331600.

The 'Graduate Route' is also available to a non RICS members, Undergraduate (with, for example, engineering or architecture qualification), or a Postgraduate with an MBA. This individual is looking to advance their career to top level management through business infrastructure, and views business infrastructure or FM as a potential fast track to main board.

For those who have a RICS accredited degree, membership can be earned through a period of structured training and submission of a record of professional development for assessment (as well as other evidence in some cases). All candidates are required to attend a final assessment interview. Experience before structured training and assessment is not required in some cases.

There is also an Academic Route. With a RICS accredited degree or with non accredited degree related to surveying, an academic can achieve chartered status. Accredited degree holders require three years of research and teaching experience (whereas holders of a non-accredited degree require four). Assessment is made on peer reviewed papers in the aforementioned four years and written statement describing the applicability of the research to the profession. An interview is also required.

The Senior Professional Route involves existing RICS members, RICS exams, and practice as, for example, an estates surveyor in a corporate environment. A career path ¨C progressing up the management chain but getting towards the top end of estates surveying without getting to Board equivalent, is the main driver. A relevant degree (or degree level professional membership) is required with ten years of experience or attainment of a professional membership and in a senior post. Five years experience is required for those in a senior post with a PhD. With no requirement for structured training, evidence should be submitted in the form of case studies, CV and record of professional development.

The RICS FM Faculty has a Careers and Advisory service open to anyone who is aiming for Chartered Status. Do contact us for a preliminary consultation.

¡ñ Michael Cant is Vice Chair RICS FM Faculty, Chair Action FM and Director Larch Consulting www.rics.org


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