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RICS scandal - chief executive in talks to stand down

The chief executive of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Sean Tompkins, is in talks to step down according to an exclusive in the industry publication Property Week.

The news comes one day before a virtual news conference to be held by Alison Levitt QC, who has led an independent review into the governance scandal which has engulfed RICS in recent months.

Tompkins is the third high profile departure from RICS according to Property Week.


In August, managing director Matthew Howell left to take up a position at the British Medical Association, and in June chief operating officer Violetta Parylo resigned unexpectedly.  

The controversy follows allegations earlier this year, chiefly in the Sunday Times, about apparent failures by RICS senior figures to act on a report by accountancy firm BDO.

This report said that two years ago RICS was at risk of “unidentified fraud, misappropriation of funds and misreporting of financial performance.” 

BDO’s report gave the lowest possible 'no assurance' rating for the effectiveness of RICS’ financial controls. 

The newspaper allegations also claimed that four RICS non-executive directors who wanted the organisation to act on the report’s concerns had their appointments terminated.

Shortly afterwards RICS made some 140 people redundant while Sean Tompkins - chief executive since 2010 - was paid £510,000 including £250,000 in bonuses.

On August 12 this year Levitt, the independent QC asked to prepare a report into the financial conduct row at RICS, delivered a 400 page report to the chair of the steering committee of the governing council.

At the time Levitt advised the members of the governing council to take time to consider her report before deciding what action to take in relation to it.

You can see the exclusive Property Week report here.

  • Algarve  Investor

    Leaving. Sinking. Ship springs to mind. Just one day before a no doubt damning news conference - doesn't look suspicious at all!

    I'm sure he's been, ahem, compensated well to head off into the sunset and say little, but is a further real stain on a once highly trusted and respected business. They were once the standard-bearer in the property world for decency, trust and respectability, but seemingly no more.

    I still can't understand how someone can, in good conscience, rake in that kind of salary with bonuses while letting 140 people go during a pandemic. Even more so when you consider this scandal he was overseeing. I doubt many will be sad to see him go, is the sad truth, after over a decade in the role and a previously unblemished stint.

  • Richard Rawlings

    Just goes to show, if Director-level behaviour is anything to go by, that RICS affiliation does not necessarily equal "professionalism". Very sad for all those who carry the designation to have it undermined in this way. Why can't people just be decent and straight. These are the very attributes that the vast majority of British estate agents work hard to promote. Sad day.

    • N W
    • 08 September 2021 15:07 PM

    well said Richard

  • Andrew Ireland

    As a Chartered surveyor, I am appalled by this news.
    You may be interested to know that minutes before this press release, I had an email from the chair of the Governing body informing me of the report's release tomorrow whilst omitting to say that Thompkins had resigned.

  • David Porter

    It took me six years to pass all the RICS external exams doing day release and two years of the APC to get qualified - what a waste of time. At our firm's last RICS external audit they made a big fuss over 50p of interest sitting in our client account (we've never 'lost' even a penny of client money in 12 years). This was at the same time that Countrywide Surveyors had a £10M hole in their client account on RICS' watch. Now they can't even keep their own finances in order. This scandal is nothing less than a betrayal of its own members. A bit of public hand-wringing isn't going to cut it.


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