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Finance downturn and upturn due to commerce

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One of the great riddles of Alex Reid's time as director general is the 'miraculous' way he is said to have sorted out the RIBA's finances.

Having been on RIBA Council since 1995 my recollection of events is somewhat different to those of a number of his supporters.

The RIBA's finances took a nosedive not through financial mismanagement by council, as is often claimed, but through massive losses from RIBA Companies. This was due in no small part to poor trading figures and huge redundancy payments to company staff in the early 1990s. RIBA Council had no control over this.

It seems logical that if RIBA stands the losses from the companies in bad years it also takes the profits in good years. The fact that after 1995 the companies returned good figures and the national economy took an upturn may be more than coincidental in the recovery of the RIBA's finances.

Sam Webb, Canterbury, Kent

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