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The popular saying, ‘Every day is a school day’ implies that we never stop learning and when you’re a new graduate in a property surveying practice, every day is a work day too.  Thomas Campbell is based in the Huntingdon office of Barker Storey Matthews - now part of Eddisons - and he is one of the firm’s graduate surveyors.  He shares his thoughts on combining work and study as he strives towards full membership status of the RICS.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is our industry’s professional body.  The gold standard of achievement for any new graduate in our profession is the attainment of the RICS Assessment of Professional Competence  (APC) qualification and, thereby, full chartered surveyor status.

There are a number of routes - called ‘pathways - endorsed by the RICS to achieve the APC qualification.  Most graduate surveyors in Barker Storey Matthews choose the Commercial Property pathway.  And this is the one I am now pursuing just under a year after graduating last summer (2018) with an honours degree in Real Estate from Sheffield Hallam University. 

The APC assessment, by way of a written submission, and the accompanying panel interview are held in two bursts in any one year – the spring and the autumn.  It’s a general expectation in our profession that a graduate surveyor should sit and complete the APC process in short order once enough relevant industry experience has been gained to demonstrate what is termed, ‘competencies’.  

The RICS specifies a number of mandatory competencies and there are also technical competencies which APC candidates are expected to achieve.  Mandatory competencies include:  Accounting Principles and Procedure; Conflict Avoidance, Management and Dispute; Data Management and Health and Safety, among others. Technical competencies can cover aspects such as Agency, Development Appraisal, Valuation and Inspection.

I am working towards the APC with a view to achieving MRICS status with the ‘M’ standing for Member but there is an APC pathway towards ‘Associate’ status – AssocRICS - too.

Regardless of which chosen pathway, the RICS APC is a globally recognised qualification and it’s acknowledged as a marque of excellence and professional competence in the property surveying discipline - and that’s worldwide.

It’s not easy balancing study for the APC and the demands of a full time job so time management skills are vital.  On average, I spend about five to six hours on study, weekly, in addition to my ‘paid’ working week hours.

As with any course of study, it’s important to read around the subject to reinforce and supplement an understanding of our profession and its commercial application and execution.

Trade journals such as Estates Gazette and Property Week, among others, are essential reading to keep up to speed with industry trends, thought leadership from industry opinion formers and influencers and latest best practice.  You can bank on the APC assessors having read the latest editions when the time comes for the panel interview.

While formal study and supplementary reading are an investment in my future career, Barker Storey Matthews supports study with holiday leave and by paying the fees for the APC qualification.  I can also take time to study within a working day if required.

At Barker Storey Matthews, we are assigned a dedicated mentor in the office in which we work.  This is always somebody senior who has years of professional experience in practising chartered surveying.  I work closely with my mentor, Michael Beardall, particularly on valuations, but he also oversees all the work I do and it’s reassuring to know he’s there with guidance and constructive input on every aspect of my working day.

Michael is my professional ‘agony uncle’ but there are other current and newly qualified APC students in other Barker Storey Matthews’ offices across the region with whom it’s good to consult and share thinking and APC study tips.

The RICS’ MATRICS  network is useful and I’ve attended events in Cambridgeshire which are designed for APC candidates, exclusively.  The firm is a member of PAI Commercial Property Network where a group for APC candidates is hosted to discuss different topics.  These networks are proving really useful for insights from APC applicants working in property sectors other than commercial and in all sizes of property consultancies.

It’s reassuring to be within such a supportive and collaborative network of peers in property practice but, ultimately, attaining APC status is down to an individual’s effort and achievement.

It’s the next step - after completing a degree - on a career path where continuous professional development is a requirement to the benefit of the individual RICS member, the practice and, of course, the clients.

For information about current vacancies at Barker Storey Matthews, see https://www.bsm.uk.com/useful-pages/vacancies-at-barker-storey-matthews/