In their latest meeting, the Trustee Board members discussed the Presidential Terms of Reference, a future model for professional review, and learning lessons about governance.
Presidential terms of reference
Trustees discussed the updated terms of reference for the ICE President, having listened to feedback from extensive consultation with ICE regions and other stakeholders over the summer.
The consultation shows us, not surprisingly, that views are very wide-ranging as different people expect different things from the role and the way it is carried out. This means that there will have to be some compromise.
That said, there is – as we would expect – a very clear agreement that the candidate selected to become President each year must be the best candidate from the nominations made in that year.
A good majority of people seem to be clear that the President should be both a chartered civil engineer and also a fellow of the Institution. There is a similarly widespread feeling that the President must have made a prolonged contribution to the Institution and must have a very strong professional reputation that marks them out in their professional field.
Trustees were also clear, however, that the terms of reference should not seek to exclude good candidates even if they have not managed organisations (or parts of them) with complexity or scale
Trustees noted the importance of separating two distinct aspects: the role of the President (which is well defined) and the desirable attributes of someone fulfilling the role of President, and then agreed to seek Council’s advice before making a final decision.
Professional reviews: a future model
In March 2020, at the onset of the pandemic, the ICE Trustee Board directed that professional reviews should move from face-to-face to digital delivery. In 2021, ICE has delivered just over 2,000 digital reviews. The Trustees had asked the Membership Committee to review the policy and identify lessons learned after a year of operation.
The Membership Committee recommended that, going forward, the default will become digital reviews, supplemented by six face-to-face review sessions that rotate around the UK throughout the year plus an annual review session in Hong Kong.
This means that members will have the option to secure a face-to-face review if they wish. The Trustee Board agreed these recommendations so they will be taken forward for 2022.
Trustees considered the Institution’s reserves strategy and agreed to move to a risk-based policy. They noted that our long-term reserves expenditure policy and plan must allow us to forecast how we intend to generate, and spend, reserves.
This involves identifying likely material risks faced by the organisation and assessing the likely impact of that risk materialising in practice.
Trustees have therefore directed that, by taking a five-year approach, we can plan when and where we will use our reserves, and for what. Taking this approach, it will be possible to keep an eye on the 10-15 risks most likely to affect the ICE Group, together with their potential financial cost, which in turn allows Trustees to identify if and when we might fall below the reserves target, then manage that risk in line with the status of other strategic risks.
Based on this analysis, Trustees have directed that the Institution should hold unrestricted reserves of between £11.5m and £14.5m. This is to be revisited when the budget is agreed in November when commitments and risks for the following year are updated.
Learning lessons about governance
Trustees considered the independent report into RICS governance prepared by Alison Levitt QC.
They noted that the ICE has held two governance reviews in the last three years, but wanted to review the findings of the RICS report and identify any lessons for the ICE.
They noted the importance of those in governance positions providing both oversight and assurance. Trustees agreed that the ICE should consider this report in more depth and the President will work with the Senior Vice President to review the roles and responsibilities of key personnel and ensure that accountability, authority and responsibility are correctly aligned.
This work will report in the first half of next year.
Adapting to a new reality
As I enter the last month of my presidential year, I have been delighted to see more and more members beginning to attend events in person. Whilst we have learned much about adapting to a new reality of virtual meetings and found new ways of engaging with people that will still have value past the pandemic, we have all missed the simple pleasure of meeting friends, colleagues and fellow members face-to-face.
We are working hard to make sure that we take advantage of the opportunities that hybrid events will bring in the future.