Leading Hong Kong property consultant Nicholas Brooke has taken office as the first overseas president of the London-based Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics). During his one-year term, he plans to expand the institution's overseas links to reflect the globalisation affecting the property sector. Mr Brooke said he wanted to introduce more Rics-accredited courses in China, and to merge the organisation with sister bodies in North America to give it bigger clout in government and business circles. His plans are in line with expansion initiatives that saw Rics link up with the Australian Property Institute in May. Rics has members in 120 countries. Mr Brooke wants other property professionals, including architects and developers, to join the institution so that it can represent the whole property sector. 'Rics members will benefit from other professions [joining],' he said. 'It will enable a cross-fertilisation of ideas. For people from other professions, it will provide access to knowledge, information and surveyors.' The new president said he also wanted to explore the growing overlap between property and other business sectors. 'It is a sign of the times. Fund managers are looking for closer integration and, in many markets, there is a definite movement toward viewing property as an investment rather than a traditional trading commodity.' Cross-border investment was going to grow, he said. 'This requires a whole new skills set for the property professional.' Although internationalisation was a growing trend, Mr Brooke said he wanted Rics to remain sensitive to local issues. 'Removing barriers while respecting differences is the key to business success,' he said. 'The Far East is taking a different tack to Europe. They are talking about an increasingly common business language and understanding rather than anything resembling full integration. 'Local expertise will always win through, which is why we are growing local talent by accrediting universities in places like China and Malaysia to train chartered surveyors in their own countries and markets.' Mr Brooke will need to be sensitive during his presidency when addressing issues in Britain, where disquiet has been mounting about the institution's global ambitions. Some Rics members in Britain fear the globalisation plans instituted by the body's previous president, Peter Fall, will lead to neglect of grassroots issues. Mr Brooke is keen to assure British surveyors, who make up 80 per cent of institution's 113,000 members, that he will not overlook their interests. He will spend half his time as president in Britain, and wants to devolve power within the organisation so that members have more control over local issues. A 42 per cent increase in annual subscriptions to GBP456 (about HK$5,900) a year from HK$320 - partly to fund the institution's overseas expansion - has generated anger among members. Defending the rise, Mr Brooke said: 'We cannot stand still as an institution. We have to raise the brand and provide a wide range of services. If we are to do these things we do not have any choice but to raise subscriptions.' Mr Brooke will be Rics' first full-time president, enabling him to balance the institution's expansion plans with its day-to-day administration in Britain. 'With the scale of the challenge and the size of the parish, I do not think you could be anything else [but full-time],' he said.