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Case Study 6

ROC Case Study - 06

These case studies are examples to help you to apply the Rules of Conduct in situations that may arise in your professional practice.

When making ethical professional decisions, you need to:

  • consider the facts
  • identify the relevant RICS standards in the Rules of Conduct and other guidance
  • use your professional judgement, which may require you to balance different interests and principles.

What matters is that you can show that you have done your best to follow the professional standards set by RICS.

Read the case study below

Scenario 6

I’ve recently completed a valuation report. The client wanted a higher number and my employer has asked me to increase the valuation figure in my report. The increase they want is within 10% of my number and they are an important client. If I don’t change it, I think they’ll just ask a more junior colleague to re-do the valuation. Should I just change the number to keep the client happy?

Summary

  • Your professional opinion needs to be honest and objective.
  • Commercial pressure or client desires are not good reasons to change your professional opinion.
  • You should protect other professionals from pressure to change their opinion and not revise other professionals’ work without legitimate professional reason.

Rules and behaviours

Rules 1 and 3, and behaviours 1.1, 1.2, 1.5 and 3.5 are relevant here.

While doing what the client wants is important, you also need to consider the detail of the behaviours in Rule 3.

Behaviour 3.5 expects members and firms to undertake their work in a timely manner and with due care, skill and diligence, and in accordance with RICS technical standards. There are detailed technical standards for valuation set out in RICS Valuation – Global Standards, for example. These standards require valuations to be based on verifiable information or reasonable assumptions, which are recorded by the valuer and shared in the valuation report.

These requirements are included in the technical standards because they support the ethical requirement for members and firms to act with integrity as set out in Rule 1. Behaviours 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3 are particularly relevant to this dilemma.

Commentary

Changing a valuation purely because a client has requested it is not giving an honest and objective professional opinion. Where it is done to keep the client happy or to secure future instructions, this suggests that you are allowing yourself to be influenced improperly.

Valuations of assets can affect the value of companies and decisions made by investors or lenders. Changes that are not made for proper reasons could lead to others being misled about your professional opinion. While a client may be happy to have the valuation changed, your willingness to do so could also undermine their confidence in the profession. How can they or the public have confidence and trust other valuations in the knowledge that professionals can be persuaded to change their reports?

Honesty and integrity are two different concepts. Changing a valuation knowing that it is incorrect and is likely to mislead others (for example a lender or investors) is likely to be dishonest because the intention is to mislead. But even allowing yourself to be persuaded to change a valuation without an intention to mislead could be a failure to act with integrity, because a valuation is required to be the valuer’s professional opinion, not a number that can be influenced by a client.

We understand that there are commercial pressures on members and firms. However, professional services only have real value where they can be trusted and relied upon. It is particularly important therefore that colleagues support each other in refusing to amend valuation reports without good reason. Those in leadership positions and who run firms need to recognise and value ethical behaviour in their directors, partners and employees, and avoid situations in which they are pressured to change their opinions or advice.