Chartered Surveyors and their businesses provide a wide array of critical, professional services across the asset life cycle in the construction and property sectors. They lead teams and ultimately organisations. They work on the consultant or client side for customers that vary in sophistication from mums and dads through to governments and tier one contractors.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has the responsibility as the caretaker of this global profession to maintain and promote the usefulness of Chartered Surveyors. This includes assuring their services are provided to customers with adequate skill, integrity and level of cover.
Why is this important?
Because we want a better built environment. And, in choosing the high level of service from Chartered Surveyors, customers achieve two key things. First, they enjoy protections commensurate with the quality of service, and second, they lock in a much-needed advantage to the public, now and for subsequent generations.
BCC2020 was an evolution of this thematic scope first advanced in the inaugural BCC2019.
The series has now established itself as an important voice in the wake of the Building Confidence Report (Australia), from which BCC takes its name. However, whilst the genesis is local, the relevance is regional and we are pleased that BCC is now resonating through the geographic neighbourhood.
From a practical standpoint, Chartered Surveyors and their businesses are often not limited to any one market and this is reflected in the increasingly open nature of supply chains that impact procurement decisions. There is therefore much regional knowledge to be shared and good reason to provide a forum for this exchange.
To do that, we assembled a world-class talent pool. Speakers brought their diverse perspectives, knowledge and experience in the construction and property sectors across SE Asia, Australia and New Zealand, working either on consultancy or client side within industry, government and academia.
Discussion throughout the day reinforced that ‘building confidence’ in the construction and property sectors is not about any one problem or solution over another. There are many challenges and opportunities for the sectors to tackle and a rich intersection of roles, responsibilities and focus that have been hereto resilient to change.
‘Building confidence’ was pitched as a project to progressively upgrade a weary machine that once worked well but now needs an overhaul. The machine is losing capacity to meet evolving requirements (more collaboration and transparency, greater reliability, less resource intensiveness and time on site, greater value, less disputes and delays) and sometimes abjectly fails (major defects, non-compliance, enforcement oversight).
The failures are well reported and are driving reform along with the understanding that machines for other sectors (retail and hospitality) have leveraged technology to upgrade and deliver substantial benefits. The opportunity to create new roles, new business models, greater productivity and orient output around customer satisfaction equally apply to construction and property.
There was a common desire on the day to explore mutual dependencies (competence and risk management, ethics and productivity, professionalism and insurance, data and assurance) and how the many elements that comprise the sectors may better work in consort to drive an outcome responsive to the needs of customers.
Dr Jon Lamonte FRICS and Dr Simon Longstaff book-ended the conference, providing an important frame around people, teams and collaboration. It was great to have these topics approached from different directions. Jon explained how he is delivering Australia’s largest public transport project with focus on fairer risk allocation, pipeline transparency and industry collaboration on procurement models. Simon offered a six-point checklist to assist businesses put ethics at the centre of operations. His formulation implied open communication within businesses was important if policy ‘from the top’ was to be implemented.
With Singapore, Australia and New Zealand all facilitating greater involvement of industry in government led reforms particularly in the past 12 months, it was no surprise that collaboration featured in many discussions. The NSW Building Commissioner praised the work of RICS around championing recognition of competencies particularly for those specialisms involved in assuring construction and building work – quantity surveying, project management, building control and building surveying.
It’s very commendable and quite impressive that RICS has moved so quickly and brought to the table a scheme offering professional indemnity insurance without the cladding exclusion.
The Hon Kevin Anderson MP
Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation (NSW)
Skills training was identified across the board as an essential pillar to address risk factors and improve productivity. This was complemented by a general interest in removing barriers to attracting and retaining new talent. Speakers also agreed that new roles will likely emerge as business practice incorporates new technologies (in the workplace and on site) in response to evolving end-user expectations, and as insurers and regulators pursue more sophisticated models for compliance.
Australia’s federated structure provoked a timely discussion around coregulatory reform, particularly given the reduction in consumer protections caused by inconsistent recognition of competencies and associated role descriptions across licensing regimes. It was agreed that Australia must embrace internationally recognised competencies for surveying specialisms and, as the ABCB goes about steering implementation of recommendations from the Building Confidence Report, it was reassuring to hear the Hon Alan Tudge MP encourage an appropriately inclusive view.
We need to go to the next level in some cases in terms of recognising international standards here in Australia…I think you can have a role as an association to continue to prosecute this case and to keep both state and federal governments on their toes so it’s constantly on the agenda and I’d certainly encourage you to do that.
The Hon Alan Tudge MP
Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure
The Minister also struck a positive chord, confirming that Australia has positioned itself strongly post COVID-19 and will double down on commitments for a substantial infrastructure pipeline. This underlined the essential status of the construction sector as a productivity engine and will likely encourage sustained domestic and foreign investment.
In between sessions, it was great to catch up with Simon Chatwin FRICS, Commercial Hub Director, Laing O'Rourke Australia at Building Confidence Conference 2020 last week, Adrian Dwyer, CEO, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia and Dr Andrew T Harris, Director of Engineering Excellence, Laing O'Rourke to get their thoughts on industry topics.
Broken down by session.
Dr Jon Lamonte FRICS, Chief Executive Officer, Sydney Metro
"For the number of projects that we’ve got, competence is crucial. It’s not only about attracting and retaining key staff, we also want to make sure that we train people and add to the skill base in NSW and Australia, more generally. If we do that, we can target and have more transferable skill developments, and we can associate that with national skill shortages."
Moderator: Annabel Crookes – ACA Vice President and Laing O’Rourke General Counsel
Romilly Madew – Chief Executive Officer, Infrastructure Australia
Dr Jon Lamonte, FRICS – Chief Executive Officer, Sydney Metro
David Carter – Executive Chair, Beca
Adrian Dwyer – Chief Executive Officer, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia
"It’s important to consider the challenges we now face are cyclical, we’ve seen similar sorts of challenges in the past but what’s changed is the scale of the projects and the scale of the pipeline. The projects that Jon’s running are testament to this – we casually reel off numbers with multi-billion dollar figures for tunnels and rail lines that 10 years ago, $1Bn was a big project, now that’s a bit of a training wheels project. There’s questions about whether we have the depth of skills public and private sectors, to deal with that scale of procurement because we haven’t done it much before."
The Hon. Alan Tudge MP
"I’d just like to say thank you for all of the work which you do as an industry, it’s an industry which many people take for granted which is absolutely fundamental to the brilliant infrastructure which we typically have in Australia and are known for around the world for having."
The Hon. Kevin Anderson MP
"I’d like to thank Chris [Chris Nicholl FRICS Managing Director, RICS, SE Asia, Australasia and Japan] and the RICS team for their advice, guidance and valuable feedback that we’ve worked with as we worked our forward to get this reform agenda landed. And that strong association, we greatly value and that association has led to the work being done, to bring to the Australian market, a viable insurance option for buildings with combustible cladding."
Moderator: Andrew Harris – Director of Engineering Excellence, Laing O’Rourke
Eugene Seah – Senior Director (Special Projects), GCEO's Office, Surbana Jurong, and, Managing Director, Surbana Technologies Pte Ltd.
Evan Byrne – Chief Executive Officer / Managing Director, Icon
Chelydra Percy – Chief Executive Officer, BRANZ
Moderator: Benjamin McDonald – Head of Policy and Corporate Strategy, Australasia, RICS
Roxane Marcelle-Shaw – Chief Executive Officer, Professional Standards Authority
Andy Cochrane – Director Beacons - Construction Accord, Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment
Professor Srinath Perera – Director, Centre for Smart Modern Construction, Chair of Built Environment & Construction Management, School of Built Environment, Western Sydney University
Corey Nugent – Senior Operations Manager, Insurance Council of Australia
Moderator: Nick Deeks, FRICS – Managing Director, WT
Michael Di Russo – Director, Joint Head of Property, Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC)
Esther An – Chief Sustainability Officer, CDL
Cate Harris – Group Head of Sustainability & Global Head of Lendlease Foundation, Lendlease
Dr Simon Longstaff – Executive Director, The Ethics Centre
Thank you to all our partners.