CPD Changes for Chartered Surveyors: Blogging doesn’t count

New CPD (Continuing Professional Development) Rules for chartered surveyors came into effect this month.  They are simple and straightforward, commit us to a minimum of 20 hours CPD a year and a requirement to record our CPD on the RICS website.

The new rules are a welcome simplification of the previous somewhat complex requirement concerning Lifelong Learning.  The sound thinking behind lifelong learning is retained, but its application is simplified.

All chartered surveyors, full time or part time, must achieve at least 20 hours of CPD a year and this must now be recorded online on the RICS website.  The process of recording is simple and straightforward, and you get the option to download a record of your CPD in pdf or spreadsheet formats.  I tried the new system for the last few months of last year and found it easy to use.  You can see my pdf file record on this link.

At least 10 hours of the annual 20 hour requirement must consist of ‘formal learning’.  Formal learning is distinguished by a clear statement of ‘Learning Outcomes’, ie a clear statement of what you should be able to do or know at the end of the session.  Here are examples of Learning Outcomes from some of the sessions I have run for clients:

  • Enhanced familiarity with DCF (Discounted Cash Flow) approaches to appraisal in the context of the Red Book, associated guidance, and its concepts of ‘value’;
  • Enhanced familiarity with modern applications of the Investment Method of Valuation;
  • Appreciation of the scope for marriage, or synergistic, value arising from different investment approaches;
  • Understand the implications of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Regulated Activities) Order 2001 for professional advisers involved in insurance matters
  • Understand the RICS Designated Professional Body Scheme
  • Comply with the requirements of the scheme
  • Distinguish insurance advice, recommendations and arrangements
  • Deal appropriately with commission and disclosure
  • Comply with the regulation’s training requirements
  • Advise on matters to be considered in establishing a new tenancy agreement, both Farm Business Tenancies and succession tenancies under the 1986 Act
  • Evaluate alternative tenure arrangements including contract and share farming, grazing and other agreements
  • Supervise matters requiring attention during the continuation of a tenancy, eg repairing responsibilities and other tenancy obligations of landlord and tenant
  • Prepare for and undertake Rent Reviews in accordance with legal requirements and published guidance
  • Advise on the termination of farm tenancies
  • Consider the valuation requirements which arise on the termination of a tenancy
  • Advise on succession issues following the death or retirement of a tenant farmer
  • Understand the various dispute mechanisms available to resolve matters which cannot be settled through negotiation, and the surveyor’s role within them.

And so on!  All the RICS Web Classes include Learning Outcomes (including my rural ones) so perhaps this would be a good year to try this very cost effective form of CPD for the first time.  The details can be found in one of my previous blogs and on the RICS website.

A new requirement is for CPD to include an update on professional ethics at least once every three years, starting from 1 January 2013.  A straightforward way to cover this is via the RICS Online Ethical Standards Walkthrough Module, which is also free and provides about an hour of Formal CPD.  But other forms of CPD will also touch on ethical standards, as my own CPD record shows.

A helpful summary of the new CPD requirements has been issued by the RICS on its CPD webpage.

Sadly the guidance makes it clear that running a personal website, blog or newsletter cannot count as CPD.  Yet I have found that blogging on new developments has been enormously helpful in developing my own understanding of them.

Nevertheless I’d be delighted to hear from you if you would like to discuss your own or your organisation’s CPD requirements, tailored to specific requirements and designed to qualify as ‘formal learning’ for CPD purposes and including the ethical aspects where required.

Dairy Farming

In 1983 I qualified as a chartered surveyor, and started working in Cheshire, mainly with dairy farmers.  At that time, a lot of farmers had signed up to development schemes under which they received government investment grants for new buildings, machinery and other farm improvements.

All this was turned on its head in 1984 when, overnight, Milk Quotas were imposed.  Farmers stopped spending on major investments and, by and large, battened down the hatches.  Until then, we had been working with dairy farms from 30 cows upwards.   Most cows were milked through herringbone milking parlours, housed over the winter in cubicle housing and fed about 6 tonnes of silage and 1.5 – 2 tonnes of cake a year.  Typical milk yields from a productive dairy herd were about 6,000 litres of milk pa.  A large herd was anything over 150 cows, and cows typically joined the herd at about 2.5 years old, leaving it about 4 to 5 years later.  Although an acre a cow was often mentioned, most cows actually enjoyed a slightly higher stocking rate than this, about 1.25 acres of grass each.  A few pioneers like Giles Tedstone were producing reasonable yields of milk entirely from grass, with no supplementary feeding.  They were however, generous with the Nitrogen to achieve these levels of production.

The other big legal event of 1984 for dairy farmers was the implementation, after 10 years on the statute book, of the Control of Pollution Regulations 1974.   Suddenly our work switched from advising farmers on new investments and herd expansion/improvement, to how to deal with slurry and silage effluent, in the wake of vigorous enforcement campaigns by the National Rivers Authority or its predecessors (Regional Water Boards?) (now the Environment Agency).  This was a body blow to many farmers.   Milk quota was allocated on historic levels of production, not the levels planned for under ambitious development schemes, and buildings had been erected for which there were now to be no cows.  And on top of all that, investment was now required in waste management schemes which would show no return other than the avoidance of prosecution and fines.

Driving around Cheshire now, it is easy to see the legacy of this period.  Buildings which were thought to be very smart at the time are now looking forlorn, and it is clear that many of the dairy farmers have struggled since then to keep up with the reinvestment requirements of their businesses.  A lot of the cows have simply gone.

But we have also seen the emergence of much larger dairy farms: 400 – 600 – 800 and more cows.  Robotic milking technology, and the return of the large rotary milking parlour – itself a piece of precision engineering undreamt of in 1983.

What are the implications here for the human side of the management of larger dairy herds?  Once upon a time the cowman did all the jobs, with the help of  an assistant and perhaps a relief-milker.  Are we now likely to see the emergence of greater specialisation in the management of the dairy herd, for example the milking team, the health team, the feeding/forage team, the waste team, the data analyst and so on?  We hope to be exploring these questions in the near future.