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One Mortgage Association, or 6

Industry-AssociationThere is no lack of threats facing the mortgage broker world:  disintermediation, mortgage commoditization, shrinking compensation, the potential of banks leaving the channel, lack of awareness of brokers’ value proposition, new regulatory hurdles, and the list goes on.

Various organizations want to lead brokers through these choppy waters. And now, there may be another upstart association with its own ideas for change.

Constructive new ideas are what our industry needs. What it needs less of: a fragmented constituency split into multiple associations with diluted influence.

In business and politics, strong unified voices get heard—and that voice in our business is presently the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals (CAAMP).

Among the mortgage trade groups, CAAMP:

  • maintains the biggest membership
  • has the highest-level relationships with most regulatory and governmental bodies
  • advocates for the broker channel on the widest scale
  • is the most financially sound
  • is the most respected internationally
  • generates the best research
  • is relied on most by the national media.

No other Canadian broker-related association comes close to its influence. That matters. Credibility on a national scale (with governmental agencies, lenders and the public) is indispensable for shifting thought about our business and mitigating risks to our livelihoods.

Word cloud for Trade associationThat said, no association is everything to everyone. So it’s not surprising that some brokers take issue with CAAMP. Some feel the AMP designation is flimsy, some feel CAAMP needs to be harsher on ethics violations and some want fewer, less expensive and more practical conferences—all legitimate concerns.

But disenchanted brokers have a choice. They can start splinter cells, create their own small advocacy campaigns and maybe get their causes noticed temporarily. Or, they can accept that CAAMP is necessarily imperfect, recognize its strengths and leadership, bring concerns directly to its elected representatives and ensure they do their jobs and represent those interests.

One thing that CAAMP could do far better at is providing a simpler conduit for member feedback. Why not have a secure member portal where brokers can private message directors and regional reps, vote on (crowd-rank) which priorities CAAMP should focus on, and view quarterly progress reports from CAAMP leaders on those priorities?

Regional broker representation is undoubtedly vital and the MBABCs, IMBAs and AMBAs do a tremendous job in so many ways. But at the same time, there are too many politics, too many organizations to be members of, too many dues to pay, too many expensive events for lenders to sponsor, and too much overlap of initiatives. Imagine the influence our industry would have if there was only one voice, a formidable unified voice with substantial pooled resources.

Maybe that’s just a dream. Maybe the leaders of the regionals and upstart broker organizations don’t want to lose their own causes…or jobs. Fortunately, there are at least some who would sacrifice autonomy and consolidate associations for a greater good.

It would be gratifying to read a story about how the organizers of the proposed Canadian Mortgage Brokers Association (CMBA) decided to work together with CAAMP to make CAAMP better. We first heard about CMBA in 2011 and it hasn’t yet organized. Building and operating a worthwhile association is laborious and time consuming. Instead of creating a new wheel, perhaps those organizers, and all association critics, would be better off greasing CAAMP’s wheel.

Rob McLister, CMT