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A New Path for Broker Associations

Gary Mauris, Special to CMT

Gary-MaurisLife is funny. As I sit here and write this column, I scratch my head and ponder the irony of an article like this.

After all, it was only a handful of weeks ago that I was publically calling out CAAMP about the purchase of Canadian Mortgage Trends.

Why would CAAMP purchase a broker-focused site when its membership so clearly and desperately would like to see CAAMP do a better job spending its hard-earned membership dollars educating the public on exactly what a mortgage professional does?

How does it make sense to purchase a site that has, up to this point, primarily been a resource to mortgage professionals, not to the public at large? The purchase of a broker/agent-focused site seems counter-intuitive to what we need most in our industry — consumer awareness and consumer education.

Furthermore, why would CAAMP ask the site founder to stay on as editor, when his own model is fundamentally different to the hard-working, full-service members that make up the majority of the CAAMP membership? Shouldn’t the editor of Canada’s largest mortgage association be someone who is prepared to stand on a mountaintop with a megaphone shouting out the virtues and values of the full-service mortgage professional?

Now, I support all models. In fact, I support anyone with the chutzpah to try something different and to go against the grain. We are living in the decade of change. The status quo is for those who wish to die a slow death in quicksand. I just question if this is the best use of CAAMP dollars and the best choice as the voice of our Industry?

And the best question of all is, “Why would they ask me to be the first guest columnist of CMT under its new ownership, after the hoopla that I created after the original announcement?”

Well, since that day CAAMP has worked hard to convince me that they are listening, that they recognize membership concerns and that they have made this purchase as a launching pad to begin doing a better job with their public-facing persona and consumer education on behalf of their paying members.

They have assured me that they will not be censoring my column, or any column for that matter, so that real industry members with real concerns are heard without out any spin, so that members can begin to feel like the association is finally listening to them.

Here are my concerns in a nutshell:

There are way too many associations across Canada siphoning off our valuable time and money. Brokers are tired of the cash grab. Networks and agents are tired of having to attend every endless event from province to province. How many parties, golf tournaments, symposiums and conferences are we expected to pay for and attend each year?

We all want to be involved. We all want to make a difference and contribute to our industry. But isn’t it time CAAMP and all the other associations put some urgency to working together? You tell us that you are making strides, that the associations are meeting and making progress. We have been hearing that now for years. How effective is it when the associations meet once and schedule a follow-up meeting four months later? If we ran our day-to-day businesses with that kind of urgency, we would all be bankrupt.

Now, I am not dismissing the good intentions and the hard work of all the board members and volunteers who contribute their time to our industry. My concern is that some of the associations have become so slow to react, so top-heavy, that they have lost the ability to be nimble and responsive. They tell us they are listening, but are they really?

Many of us feel that some paid staffers at these associations are more interested in keeping their high-paying jobs than doing what’s right for the membership. It’s the mentality of preserving rather than progressing!

So what do we do about it? We let the associations know that as an industry we would like to see them collaborate and form one national association, with consistent national messaging and a consistent national name and designation.

We vote with our dollars. If the associations do not come together in the next 12 months, we begin pulling memberships. As super-brokers we let our associations know well in advance that we are tired of duplication and want them working diligently to come together as a national, united front.

I am not suggesting that we have to eliminate or close down provincial associations. I am suggesting that provincial associations become a charter/chapter of CAAMP. I say CAAMP because they already have the largest membership and have a reasonably good infrastructure and the ear of government.

If we continue down the path that we are on we will continue to be fragmented, we will continue to have mixed messaging and membership will continue to be frustrated. I look forward to the day when my national association carries enough weight to truly get the attention of the public. I look forward to the day when my national association has the horsepower and influence to become a defining voice alongside with our regulatory bodies and government. I look forward to the day when past-CAAMP members are sprinting back to be part of a national association that can actually make a difference.

Shout it out, spread the word that we want our associations to make a concerted effort to become united, to become one. Draw a line, set a date and demand more. Don’t renew your membership if they are not making forward progress. Every raging bonfire began with a single spark. Be that spark and don’t settle for the status quo.

Just because it hasn’t been done doesn’t mean it can’t be done. It just means it hasn’t been done. That’s it; that’s all it means!

Thank you to CAAMP and to Rob McLister for listening and for being open enough to address our concerns head on. I look forward to CAAMP’s new commitment of listening, learning and doing.