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FSRA March 31 deadline

Relicensing deadline looms for thousands of Ontario brokers who have yet to complete requirements

With just days remaining, the Financial Services Regulatory Agency of Ontario (FSRA) says thousands of Ontario agents and brokers still haven’t completed two education courses required to maintain their existing licences.

FSRA is reminding Ontario mortgage professionals that they will not receive their licence if they do not pass the mandatory continuing education course by March 31, 2024. The course typically takes about five to seven hours to complete.

As of last week, FSRA said 7,122 people had yet to complete the continuing education course.

Jelena Pejic, FSRA’s head of licensing and risk assessment, said these numbers have been shrinking week after week as professionals book their exams, but stressed the consequences of missing the deadline.

“We’re certainly urging all agents and brokers to really act now if they haven’t already started,” Pejic said. “Time is of the essence at this point, given the date in the month that we’re in.”

Thousands yet to complete private mortgage course

On top of the continuing education course, March 31 is also the deadline to complete the private mortgage course and receive a Level 2 licence.

Under the new Ontario licensing system introduced by the provincial government and FSRA in 2022, a level 2 licence or a broker licence will be required by March 31, 2024, for brokers and agents wanting to handle both private mortgages and investments for private investors and mortgage lenders.

This class takes roughly a week of course work to complete, Pejic said, and also requires brokers to schedule and successfully pass the exam.

FSRA said 5,560 people had yet to complete their private mortgage course as of last week.

Mortgage brokers (including principal brokers) who don’t complete the private mortgage course by March 31 will have their licences downgraded to a level 1 status and won’t be allowed to deal in private mortgages.

Pejic said they also won’t be able to reapply for a Level 2 licence right away. Those reverting to Level 1 will need to wait at least a year before retaking the course. For brokers, it could take up to three years to rebuild their credentials, according to FSRA, and may significantly disrupt a brokerage’s business. This is especially true in the case of principal brokers.

New requirements enhance protections for consumers and investors

FSRA and the provincial government created the current licensing system back in 2022, with enhanced educational requirements for any brokers and agents working with private mortgage lenders and raising capital as part of their work.

According to the regulator, the new requirements better protect consumers and investors by ensuring agents and brokers are able to give appropriate advice when dealing with private mortgages.

Since announcing the new requirements in 2022, FSRA said it regularly reached out to principal brokers, brokers, and Level 2 agents to remind them of its new licensing requirements.

That included calling 40 individual principal brokers at Ontario’s largest brokerages, holding two FSRA webinars with 1,300 participants, and sending out monthly reminders in licensed communications by FSRA itself.

Between October 2023 and March 2024, FSRA said it sent out 58 email reminders and newsletter articles in its licensing communications. Additional resources are also available on FSRA’s website.

Mortgage Professionals Canada, along with the Real Estate and Mortgage Institute of Canada and the Canadian Mortgage Brokers Association – Ontario, are the three organizations approved to offer both the continuing education and private mortgage courses. The continuing education course became available last November while the private mortgages course has been available since early 2023.

While March tends to be a busy period for brokers and agents looking to renew their certification, Pejic said last year’s numbers suggest most professionals do complete their renewals on time.

She hopes that will continue this year, but warns the process may take a little longer this year. That’s because renewals on “odd” years only require brokers and agents to pay their fee and submit information to FSRA, while even years, like this year, also require that they complete the continuing education course.

“Last year, we had one of our highest on-time renewals, meaning many agents and brokers did renew on time, and successfully completed all of the requirements there,” Pejic said. “Given that there are a few extra requirements this year, it’s really important to get them done well ahead of the March 31 deadline.”