Mandatory Competencies

RICS APC – Mandatory Competencies – Business Planning

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Introduction.

Business Planning is a mandatory competency that APC candidates from all pathways need to achieve at Level 1.

Candidates from the Art & Antiques pathway may elect to take this competency to Level 2 or 3 as part of their optional selection.

Business Planning is a Core Competency at Level 3 for the Management Consultancy pathway.

Please note that the requirements at Level 1 when taken as a Technical Competency within the aforementioned pathways are slightly different from the requirements as a Mandatory Competency. You should refer to your specific Pathway Guide for more details.

What is it about?

The official RICS definition is:

Level 1 = ‘Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how business planning activities contribute to the achievement of corporate objectives’.

It includes several topics:

  • Legislation and principles of law – See Pg. 33 of the RICS Practice Management Guidelines (Download available at the bottom of this blog)
  • Types and essential elements of Business Plans
  • Short term / long term strategies
  • Market analysis
  • Organisational structures / Staffing levels – recruitment / turnover
  • Business support services – administration, secretarial, HR, IT etc.

Most APC candidates will have come across the key concepts of Business Planning – knowingly or not – at some point during their graduate studies. Some of the largest employers may also offer on-line management training modules. Alternatively nothing stops you from picking up a basic book on business management to brush on your knowledge in strategy, organisational structures, market analysis, etc.

You may download at the bottom of this blog the slides of a presentation on Business Planning that I delivered some time ago and will provide you with some key revision points.

I also very strongly recommend you to read the RICS Practice Management Guidelines (Download available at the bottom of this blog) to understand how business planning is relevant to surveyors. Those working in the largest companies may recognise some of the tools used by their employers and gain an understanding why those are in place. Those working in small practices or as self-employed may find very useful advice to grow their business acumen.

Potential APC Questions

Due to time constraints, assessors will only have time to ask you a few questions on Business Planning. As a minimum they will expect you to know what a business plan is, be familiar with your company’s business plan and business model, and understand how you contribute to the achievement of your company’s corporate objectives. Depending on your employment circumstances, it may be more appropriate for the panel to ask you about the RICS’s business plan and organisational structure.

Some very classic textbook questions would be;

  • What is a business plan? What do you find in a business plan?
  • Can you tell us about your company’s current business plan?
  • What is your company’s management structure / business model?
  • What are your company’s values?
  • What tools does your company use to manage its business?
  • How do you ensure that you contribute to the achievement of your company’s objectives / business plan?
  • What is contained within an appointment document? What are your company’s terms of business?

Some points that you may have stated in your Experience Record may trigger some questions more specific to your experience and personal knowledge.

For example you may state in your Experience Record that you have studied Porter’s Five Forces Model, SWOT analysis and PEST analysis as part of a business module at University. This may lead the APC assessors to ask you to explain what they are and to give an example specific to your company.

Tips and Advices

Business Planning is a crucial competency for those considering setting up their own practice or progress to a management role after attainment of the MRICS status. I therefore recommend that you do not neglect it both for your APC and future career development.

Familiarise yourself with your company’s business plan and its management structure and tools. Consider how you personally contribute to achieving its objectives (‘achievement of corporate objectives’ is contained within the definition of this competency). This may be by completing your timesheets and expenses in a timely manner or assessing your own competences and planning your CPD’s to acquire the relevant skills.

Make sure that you understand how to build a business plan and how it should look like. Use Google to read the business plans of the RICS and other companies if you work for a very small practice. Knowing your competitors and the RICS is a way to show your interest in the industry, in particular if you are struggling to find any information on your own company.

Read the RICS Practice Management Guidelines!

REVISION SESSIONS

Are you near Manchester and in need of further information on Mandatory Competencies?

Why don’t you join one of our Big Revision sessions? This is a one-stop seminar that will save you dozens of hours of study!

You can find all dates and booking links here: http://wp.me/p5Nraq-5j

If you have any queries feel free to drop us a line on Twitter @APCsupport_NW or e-mail us at Sonia@APCsupport-ltd.co.uk.

Best of luck!

DOWNLOADS:

APC Seminar – Business Planning – March 2015

Practice_management_guidelines_3rd_edition_PGguidance_2010

RICS APC – Mandatory Competencies – Accounting Principles and Procedures

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Introduction.

Accounting Principles and Procedures is a mandatory competency that APC candidates from all pathways need to achieve at Level 1.

Candidates from some pathways (Art & Antiques, Commercial Property Practice, Property Finance and Investment, Rural Surveying, Valuation) may elect to take this competency to Level 2 or 3 as part of their optional selection.

Accounting Principles and Procedures is a Core Competency at Level 3 for the Taxation Allowance pathway.

Please note that the requirements at Level 1 when taken as a Technical Competency within the aforementioned pathways are different from the requirements as a Mandatory Competency. You should refer to your specific Pathway Guide for more details.

The examples provided in this post are more focused on the Quantity Surveying and Construction pathway but you should be able to relate our tips and advices to your own pathway.

What is it about?!

The official RICS definition is:

Level 1 = ‘Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of accounting concepts and the format and preparation of management and company accounts, including profit and loss statements, cash flow statements and balance sheets.’

This gives you the first clues to your study list;

  • Company Accounts & the Companies Act 2006
  • Management accounts vs. Financial accounts
  • Profit and loss statement vs. Balance sheet
  • Cash flow statements

Less obvious topics depending on your experience and CPD records may include;

  • Taxation
  • Capital allowances
  • Ratio analysis
  • Profitability / Insolvency
  • Auditing

Another basic question you should ask yourself – and that the panel may ask you at your Final Assessment – is why are Accounting Principles relevant to your pathway?

All candidates may potentially set up their own practice or join their company’s management team in the future, therefore a basic knowledge of Accounting Principles is required;

  • For monitoring your own business accounts.
  • For assessing your competition.

Candidates may use Accounting Principles for different purposes depending on their pathway and experience;

  • For assessing the financial strength of contractors (for example in PQQ’s in a tender process or to assess initial signs of insolvency).
  • For assessing the financial strength of potential landlords and tenants.
  • For profits-method valuation

Potential APC Questions

Due to time constraints during the interview you are unlikely to be asked more than one or two questions on Accounting Principles… but it may depend on the quality of your answers!

Some very classic textbook questions would be to describe or compare and contrast some of the accounting documents;

  • What is the difference between a profit and loss statement and a balance sheet?
  • What do companies need to provide every year in accordance with the Companies Act 2006?
  • What is the purpose of a cash flow forecast?

Some points that you may have stated in your Experience Record, your Case Study or previous answers may trigger some questions more specific to your experience.

For example as a Quantity Surveyor you may state in your Experience Record that you have reviewed the contractors’ financial information as part of a PQQ. Or that you have carried out a credit check before recommending the appointment of a contractor in your tender report. This may lead the APC assessors to ask you questions such as;

  • How do you carry out a credit check / analyse company accounts?
  • What type of financial information do you usually request in a PQQ?

Which may lead to;

  • What type of ratios can you use? (liquidity ratios, profitability ratios, gearing ratios)
  • What are the signs of insolvency in a credit check / company accounts?

Which could in turn lead to;

  • What measures would you recommend if your client insists on appointing a contractor with low credit rating?

Or you may state that you are aware of your company’s accounts which were presented to you at a staff meeting. The panel would then expect you to know the answer to this question;

  •  What is your company’s current turnover and profit?

Tips and Advices

Remember that you are expected to achieve this competency at level 1. While you should be aware of the main accounting ratios, you are not a qualified accountant and you should not claim that you are analysing companies accounts for your client. (Do not fall short of the RICS Rules of Conduct!)

If you are comfortable talking about a specific example when you came across Accounting Principles and Procedures in your job, do not hesitate to mention it in your Experience Record. But if you write something, make sure that you are able to answer questions about it!

Put Google to good use and research the key study topics to prepare brief and precise answers to, at least, the standards textbook questions.

REVISION SESSIONS

Are you near Manchester and in need of further information on Mandatory Competencies?

Why don’t you join one of our Big Revision sessions? This is a one-stop seminar that will save you dozens of hours of study!

You can find all dates and booking links here: http://wp.me/p5Nraq-5j

If you have any queries feel free to drop us a line on Twitter @APCsupport_NW or e-mail us at Sonia@APCsupport-ltd.co.uk.

Best of luck!