We had the pleasure of chatting recently with Joe about a variety of current industry topics.
Below is that interview…
CMT: Joe, in your view, what is the biggest edge brokers can offer consumers today?
JP: Our biggest edge is that we offer information and guidance. We have knowledge and experience and we should be positioning ourselves as mortgage professionals who can offer true counsel to our clients. By being able to look at a client’s whole financial situation and offer the best solutions, then it’s easier for us to retain them in the long term because we have become valuable advisors.
CMT: If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing about brokers, what would it be?
JP: I would want them to focus on the relationship with clients and not just the transaction. Too often, we just complete the deal and it’s over. We have to continue to develop and enhance our relationships with them so they recognize our value, not only as mortgage professionals, but as trusted advisors. We need to send the right message and stay in touch with them so that when the time comes to renew, they still see the benefits of working with us.
CMT: What are two things CAAMP will do to help brokers better compete with banks in 2011?
JP: The first thing we need to do is make clear to mortgage professionals the importance of the AMP designation. Our market share is 25%—only British Columbia’s market share is higher at 35%. We don’t own a name like Realtors, so as individual professionals we need to make consumers aware that having the AMP designation differentiates us from other mortgage originators and that we meet high standards of industry performance, which adds to our credibility.
Secondly, as an association we will be heavily promoting the importance of the AMP designation through public advertising. The research shows that consumers are becoming more aware of the AMP designation so we’ll continue our efforts to promote it through a media campaign that starts in April. The campaign is financed through AMP dues—90% gets directed back into promotion.
CMT: Brokers have always offered wider choices to consumers than banks and credit unions. Is there a threat to the industry if lender status programs compel brokers to deal with fewer lenders and limit consumer choice?
JP: Lenders have a business model that allows them to stay competitive and allows them to stay in the market, which I understand. And of course, the problem is that consumers have access to these lenders, sometimes on a daily basis. This is something we have to accept and meet the challenge.
We have to send a different message to consumers. Not that we have access to 30 or 40 lenders – because realistically we only work with four or five – and not that we shop for the best rate, but that we work in the best interests of our clients. The real threat is putting clients into products that don’t suit them because that speaks to our integrity as a profession.
CMT: What progress is being made to standardize broker licensing and educational requirements across the provinces?
JP: CAAMP has taken a leading role in working with standardizing licensing requirements in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the Atlantic provinces. We work closely with AMBA and MBABC as well. As far as education is concerned we are creating cohesiveness inter-provincially and changes are coming.
CMT: In the Internet age, is it necessary for consumers to meet face-to-face with a mortgage broker? How much growth do you foresee in online mortgage planning over the next few years?
JP: Using the Internet is not necessarily in the best interest of both brokers and clients. First of all, there is greater potential for fraud. Secondly, technology separates us from people and people want to be with people. I think we’ve evolved to the point where we’re going to put greater emphasis on sitting down with clients and establishing relationships with them. This is added value for them and strengthens our position as advisors.
CMT: What do you see in terms of market share growth for brokers?
JP: Our industry is not the healthiest. We have to get our house in order and to grow. Our channel has to make sense for lenders, for agents and for consumers.
CMT: Okay. One last question about CAAMP. How does CAAMP plan to deliver more value to broker members this year?
JP: We’ve made changes to the AMP requirements that will ensure brokers continue to educate themselves. We’ve also become more broker-focused and are listening more to what brokers want from us. There will be a lot more education available online. We’ve also created two broker focus groups to engage the brokerages.
We would like our industry to grow organically. No one wakes up one day and says I’m going to school to become a mortgage broker, but that’s the awareness we are working towards creating.
Gina Monaco, CMT
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