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.

  1. A good, and timely, message. As a board member of one of the regional broker associations, I would also say that putting the focus on the brokers again is very important. And lobbying for legislation in EVERY province be at the top of any associations “to do” list is a must.

  2. No matter how you cut it we need an Associations National or otherwise that represents brokers and does not have the inherent conflict of interest of having lenders and insurers as members. By Broker for Brokers, the lenders and insurers will still come to the table with financial support without the self serving influence their contribution as members brings as the result of needing our support in the market place.
    We need a Mortgage Broker Association that advocates for the interests and needs of the Mortgage Brokers without the distraction of undo lender or insurer influence on the message or the conduct of management !

  3. “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!”
    This is a good quote that the author should embrace more wholeheartedly as it addresses all his concerns with regards CAAMP buying the site and retaining a good editor in Rob McLister.
    I don’t disagree with the majority of his comments; but have found this site very educational over time as it tends to be untop of industry relevant issues, which means that any industry participant that regularly reads it would certainly be in the position to provide better advice to their clients.

  4. When CIMBL, now CAAMP, was created a number of brokers got together to try a fill a void left when OBMA, which represented a number of brokers in Ontario at the time, went out of business. The need for an association was quite clear and from the ashes rose the current association.
    While it was quite clear for the need they decided that credibility would also go a long way to ensuring the success of any organization; so lenders and insurers where invited to join.
    While I understand this desire that is where the first mistake was made.
    Over the years the lenders have taken over strategic roles in the association and have brought in policies that serve to address their needs a regards the level of commitment and education they believe the mortgage community should have when dealing with them (the lenders).
    The problem: a number of the lenders, Royal Bank, CIBC, and Bank of Montreal, to name a few, have withdrawn from the broker channel but continue to direct how mortgage professionals should conduct their business.
    Seems to be a bit of conflict, in my opinion, that these lenders should maintain their membership while not supporting the people in the organization to which they belong.
    let’s bring back the basics and take back our association….ultimately bringing back our control.
    Just food for thought.

  5. To Gary Mauris- President-Dominion Lending Centre
    I am sure CAAMP has worked hard to convince you, as the president of the largest brokerage entity in the country, that they are a viable entity. CAAMP is in my opinion, in a death spiral that is accelerating.
    Why is CAAMP a moribund entity?
    1)Provincial associations are in touch with their Members, and are maintained by fees, lower than CAAMP’s, paid by individual members, who CHOSE to join of their own free will.
    2)The laws that we deal with daily in our businesses, Mortgages Acts, Consumer Reporting Acts, Registry/Titles Acts, etc., are all provincial. Our regulators and licensing are all provincial. Many of our lenders are limited to our respective provinces. We need provincial representation.
    3)Some provincial/ regional associations were formed after CIMBL/ CAAMP was formed because CAAMP did not meet, and continues not to meet, the needs of the members in those provinces/regions.
    4)CAAMP’s downfall was guaranteed when it was formed, as a top down “dictatorial”entity. Without grassroots/ bottom up support most entities wither & die.You build an organization just like you build a house, from the foundation up, not from the roof down.
    5)The most vocal supporters of CAAMP are heads of large national brokerage firms , such as yourself. From your perspective it is clearly the most convenient & cost effective way of dealing with the situation. One association, one cheque to write, one phone call to make. Not to mention you would be the biggest fish in the pond, able to sway votes & the direction of the association and the industry.
    6) The AMP designation is ridiculous. A one sparkling clear example. Jim Murphy, president of CAAMP, has, to the best of my knowledge( & his resume posted on LinkedIn), never worked for a financial institution or mortgage lender, never been licensed as a mortgage broker/ agent in any province, never worked for a mortgage default insurance company, never underwritten or funded a mortgage, BUT he is an AMP.
    The fact that the only people that don’t see the irony & the farcical nature of the designation are the leadership of CAAMP, is sad.
    7)CAAMP membership in Ontario represents less than 40% of all the licensed mortgage brokers & agents in the province. I can only believe that the numbers are similar in other provinces. An organization, with all the money that has been thrown at it over the years, by institutional & “big broker” supporters, and membership fees, that can’t attract even a simple majority of the industry is clearly in dying.
    8)The final reason CAAMP is in a death spiral is, in my opinion, the lack of leadership.Any Board of Directors, that would tolerate their organization’s CEO, making pro-AMP comments, to the detriment of other non-AMP members of CAAMP, as well as the rest of the industry, as published in last week’s Globe & Mail, without demanding, a public apology from the CEO, or in the alternative, his resignation, is my opinion, a Board not fulfilling its responsibilities to the members.
    Any CEO who thinks he can increase membership by denigrating the very people he needs to have join/support his organization is out of touch with human nature & our industry.
    Are there reasons to have a national association? You better believe there are, but an association where all Members are licensed mortgage brokers & agents, and are elected representatives of their provincial/ regional associations, and funded by regional/provincial associations. A truly new organization.Not CAAMP, or son/daughter of CAAMP, but a totally new organization designed by the provincial/ regional associations, by mortgage brokers/agents for mortgage brokers/ agents.
    Sorry Gary, you aren’t going to be able to bulldoze people into joining a dying organization, to serve your self-interest.

  6. It’s easy to have an opinion, an educated opinion on the other hand takes time to develop. Ask questions, get the facts then get on your soap box and tell people what to do based on realities.

  7. Although I agree whole heartedly with the idea of national unity, (as I’ve mentioned many times publicly in the past), “there is much rotten in Denmark,”-on the national level-, to quote Hamlet in the famous Shakespearean play we’ve all likely read at one point or an other during our secondary educational journey.
    Please allow me to clarify my position based on the endless postings we’re all privy to.
    Gary makes a comment about “some staffers of the associations are more interested in keeping their high-paying jobs, rather than doing what’s right for the industry,” which would actually lead to more membership. Well Gary is BANG ON on this one, but his comment does need to be dissected. It is actually CAAMP that has the high salaries that somehow are being preserved by those at the top, for not much in return to the industry other than the well published cash grab. Does any one ever wonder why the salaries are consolidated on their financials, and not broken down specifically? Is no member interested in exactly how those salaries are derived, and what each paid executive does to actually earn their keep? Who’s actually monitoring this? As the former Chair of CAAMP, I suggest a very small enclosed group, as opposed to it’s membership. The good thing is, the CAAMP membership and the industry is very much aware of this problem.
    Gary also comments about agents being tired of having to attend every endless event from province to province. Last I checked, IMBA, MBABC and AMBA, have never forcefully approached any of it’s members in part or in whole, to attend events, or even become members for that matter. CAAMP however, has had a policy of “all or nothing” dating back to my days as Chair in the year 2000 as it relates to it’s membership, which mysteriously has never been adhered to for a selective group. Really? So instead of actually taking a proactive approach by listening to the discontent of their membership and the industry to make positive change, they decide the strong arm approach is the better way to go. WOW!!! So much for the comment above that CAAMP has worked hard to convince anyone, let alone Gary, that they are actually listening and addressing membership concerns. Look no further than last weeks Globe Article by Mr. Murphy on the outrageous and unqualified comments about AMP superiority, that is still a bone of contention. My advice to Gary is to step to the plate with a public statement about how the very organization he writes about, has slighted the vast majority of his of franchise networks who do not believe in the valueless AMP.
    Lastly, although Gary’s comment may be coming from the right place, Gary’s comment about the provincial associations being simple chapters of CAAMP just won’t cut it. Why? because factually speaking, it is the provincials that have historically had the listening ear of the provincial regulators, and have been hugely instrumental in positive change that has supported the Mortgage Broker cause. I respectfully understand that between DLC/MCC, Gary represents approximately 30% of CAAMP’s membership, which in itself is a concern as to whether CAAMP would act in the best interest of the industry as a whole, but this is all the more reason why other unbiased bodies with governing power must be involved.- to protect the entire industry’s interest.
    In closing, if the provincial/federal structure can work in the insurance industry, it can work in ours. But the industry need make no mistake about it in believing it’s an easy fix. It’s actually a very long tough road, with the removal of the toxic personalities that can only serve to prevent a true national/provincial association from moving forward effectively, so we can all get on with what’s best for ALL!!!

  8. Gary
    Kudos for your efforts, and attempts at leading / getting discussion.
    MY concern is the “membership” of these organizations as much as with the organizations themselves. MEANING US . When I go to a CMP event as held yesterday in Toronto, that had quality presentations,and I see 50 to 75 agents / brokers from the GTA, I wonder how any of these associations can keep positive. ( and no, it is NOT that there are so many seminars / events that dilute the numbers,because the bulk o f the attendees at all of these events are the same people, Remove this core and the lenders, and you would not need to rent space – just meet at the coffee house. IMBA, Caamp etc must find it hard to keep positive about what WE want, when we dont show up in large numbers to events that are tailored to help us. Perhaps, we as brokers ( supers especially) should have compulsory attendance for all our agents at ALL educational ( and fun) events. This would do two things: provide huge (legitimate?) feedback from the attendees as to what we are receiving, if it is inadequate, but also the cost to attend these events could drop while allowing other options to be offered. We should talk / complain less and walk more, or simply tell these associations to stop diluting their efforts and simply focus on one concept – being our (weak ?) voice to the government and regulators. Stop trying to help us be better at our business.

  9. Thank you Gary for your insightful article. The associations would benefit from taking a page from the national brokerages playbooks

  10. I think this is great guest column and Gary makes many valid points.
    Virtually every other professional association in Canada uses the suggested model: National Association and provincial chapters. This is the system we should use.
    We should keep the lenders, insurers and tech people in CAAMP we need the money and support. All we need to do is create membership levels so mortgage brokers control the votes in in a REAL way in the association.
    We need changes in governance. The Board needs to be 75% brokers with mandated provincial representation. We cannot have an association board that does not have a single full time mortgage broker from Ontario on it. Seriously 4000 broker members in Ontario and NO DIRECTORS only network, insurer and lender directors. Something has to give on that. Change everything about the process, let’s open up nominations and let’s hold pod cast debates between nominees. Put is on YouTube and let everyone see it. Technology has made these things easy and virtually free. Real openness, real debate, let’s get the members feeling it’s THEIR organization. Why not podcast the AGM to the membership and let the questions fly from all over Canada. The devil is in the details but it can be done.
    Although we cannot expect 1 – year Chairs to entirely run the organization let’s have them in there talking with the media, I am sure anyone who can build up a successful mortgage practise knows how to talk about mortgages.
    I am not going to beat up people who put ton’s of hours into their jobs, frankly without Mike Ellenzweig and a few other folks all those years ago I don’t know if there would be an association here today but facts are facts we must have openness about how the association is run; if the feeling that it’s a closed shop is clearly epidemic that tells me something.
    Fix, streamline, rethink and retool. Gary is right. too much duplication, too much repetition, too much top down and not enough grassroots.
    CAAMP and an integrated provincial chapter system can work. Put all the players in a room over a weekend and don’t let them come out until there is REAL change. Well, maybe they can go out and shower every day.

  11. To Bruce:
    I read your commentary, and although I’m sure your heart is in the right place, I don’t believe you have grasp on the gravity of the situation when you place the onus on the membership. The problem does not lie with the membership itself, who is so fed up with the clear lack of support, lack of leadership and lack value add for their hard earned dollars.
    Compulsory attendance?…..Wow!!!…Let me know which coffee shop you’d like to meet at Bruce, and I’d be happy to fill you in.

  12. To Michael Ellenzweig:
    The growth of the industry has evolved and grown for many reasons that are far beyond any of the associations and their purported contributions. They just recognized the growth and demand of our industry, and went along for the inevitable ride, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But this is an entirely separate piece for another day.
    What makes me curious is, with the dismal failure of the AMP, and the failure of CAAMP to reach out to the consumer public effectively for the entire industry, (the national with supposed clout), what is the game plan to convince the industry that anything would any different with the same leadership at the helm, which has done nothing but dismiss the provincial organizations that truly support the industry, and not the self interest groups controlling CAAMP? – and please don’t say AMP…That ship sailed and sank many moons ago.

  13. Say what you will but CAAMP is providing this very forum that some of you use to criticize it. It should be applauded for allowing such an open discussion as it shows CAAMP is listening.

  14. To Bob
    CAAMP bought this avenue of communication that McLister built
    & had it well established.
    CAAMP did not start it.
    Big difference.

  15. Mr. Bargis:
    You talk about toxic personalities. From what I’ve witnessed in your comments here and elsewhere, your argumentative nature personifies toxic. Your rhetoric is plain empty:

  16. That’s beside the point. As owners of the site they control it and could limit criticism if they wished. Instead they are giving you this platform to air your concerns.

  17. Dear Complain less, do more;
    I assume both the last two comments were from you. If i was the person that was heading these changes up, you would be the person i would like on my side. Open to change, logical and not so narrow sighted that you would throw all the hard work out the window. Thanks for the valid, well thought out, balanced feedback.

  18. Very well said sir.
    With particular regard to item 6, this interloping of untrained opportunists in ‘our’ (actual mortgage professionals) industry must stop. To further illustrate the point, we need look no further than the writer of this article.
    Here again, he is not a mortgage professional; has never completed a single mortgage; has never worked in any capacity for any lender.
    These are the individuals that are discussing the fate of ‘our’ industry, while they wait for their buyout offers and/or retirements. The irony of this (and of this article) is not lost.
    You are absolutely right Gary, Individual mortgage professionals need to be the sparks that take back ‘our’ industry and nominate an Authentic organization for our collective voice.

  19. Missing in action? or non action?
    I am already missing Rob’s breaking news stories, like the Investor’s low variable rate introduction
    This hopefully isn’t the result of a change in editorial direction?

  20. I’ll quote another popular website’s respect for those of us who can’t use their real name, directed specifically at people like you:
    “anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. it thus exemplifies the purpose behind the bill of rights, and of the first amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation– and their ideas from suppression– at the hand of an intolerant society.”

  21. Mr. Complain Less Do More said…
    I have no time engaging with anonymity…Your refusal to put your name to your comments, is a cowardly way to express yourself…I’m far to busy to be chasing air.

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