Interview: CAAMP Chair Dan Putnam and CEO Jim Murphy Date Published: February 18, 2015
Intro: This is Canadian Mortgage Trends. Bringing you the inside take from Canada’s mortgage leaders.
Rob McLister:Welcome everyone. We are speaking with Dan Putnam, Chair of the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals, known as CAAMP, and Jim Murphy, President and CEO of CAAMP. Gentlemen, thank you for being with us.
Dan Putnam:Thanks Rob.
Rob McLister:Where do we start? Lots of news happening at CAAMP. You guys made some big announcements earlier today on branding. Jim, we’ll start with you. Why is CAAMP considering changing its positioning, especially given how much the association has spent to brand the current name?
Jim Murphy: We want to ensure that our name represents who we are, Rob. There are a lot of people in the industry who are saying that we are not an association of accredited mortgage professionals. We need to look at who we are and who we represent. We do represent the mortgage broker channel, and as part of that process, part of that re-branding process, we’re going to obviously survey our members to find out what they think and also retain consultants, branding specialists to assist us in doing that. We’ve had that name for 8 years, and the acronym is well known. It’s invested a lot in the brand, but we should have a look at that. It’s appropriate to do that at this time to ensure that we represent who we are.
Rob McLister:With the name, is the goal to make it more consumer focused, the brand, or 50/50 industry/consumer?
Jim Murphy: I think at this stage CAAMP is a name that is both. We obviously are, within our own members and within the industry in terms of the mortgage broker channel, known. People know what CAAMP is and what we do. As an association, the services that we provide, whether it be education or research or events including our national conference, but we also have stakeholders outside of the industry. We deal with government, and we deal with regulators, and we deal with the media. These are all important also. When you build a brand, it’s important people do know who we are and what we represent, but by the same token, it’s important to look at the name. This was something that was brought in several years ago because the association was at that time as part of that strategic plan going to be an association of just AMP, and that is not what we are. We’re a very successful association in many ways, so it’s appropriate that we look at that, that we consult with our members, and that we also use the services of branding experts to ensure that we do represent who we are.
Rob McLister:Got it. CAAMP also announced changes to its accredited mortgage professional AMP designation. Dan, maybe you could chat a bit about that, specifically why did the association change its plan of having 2 separate accreditations. Before, I think that the goal was to have one for brokers and one for non-brokers, is that right?
Dan Putnam:Yeah, that’s right Rob. The board felt that today more than ever we needed to come together as an industry and that we really believed that one designation fits well with this purpose. Another to bear in mind is that while we will be moving forward with just one designation, we will be introducing two separate educational streams, one for brokers and one for non-brokers. In partnership with UBC Sauder School of Business, separate advanced level courses and proficiency exams will be offered to ensure more stringent requirements for qualifying and renewing.
Rob McLister:Speaking of having the industry coming together on the topic of the provinces, Jim I understand that CAAMP was hoping to work a bit more closely with the provincial associations, I believe, under one umbrella. What happened in those discussions, and why did talks of amalgamating the regional associations break down, if you will?
Jim Murphy: We spent a better part of a year, more than a year, our past chair, Paul Kozan did a great job. He spent a lot of his time as chair of the association at different meetings with the various provincial associations, and everybody came to the table with an open mind. Everybody wanted to look at the services we provide. We hear from our members. We hear from our sponsors about the need to find efficiencies. We understand that. There were several meetings held, actually over more than a year. The associations were looked at. What could we do better? What could we do more efficiently? CAAMP presented a proposal over the summer in terms of how we thought a new association might look, and in fact, it would be a new association with a new name. It would be the 5 associations if you include Atlantic, though not existing anymore. We proposed a national association that would have strong regional chapters. That was important because CAAMP was asked to say “How would you think that this all would look?”, and we made that proposal. Our board met. Our board adopted that structure that was presented by Paul, our past chair. As I say everybody came with an open mind. It was good that the discussions took place. The door always remains open. We’re all in this industry together.
But the board felt at a certain stage that we wanted to enhance our existing broker councils if there wasn’t going to be an agreement reached, and that’s what we’re doing. As part of the announcement we’ve made, we’re going to be renaming them regional chapters. We’re going to be enhancing their role. They meet on a quarterly basis. They will have their own newsletters and communications from the regional directors themselves to our members in their regions or provinces to let them know what’s going on, both at the national level and also within their province or within their region. We’ll have additional education-focused events and build on the government relations and the regulator engagement that we have to ensure the regional effectiveness, and because they’re unique, we want to customize also events. Our regional symposium this spring is going to be a little different. We consulted with our broker councils, our regional chapters to get their feedback and input in terms of how they should be structured. We’ve made some changes in that regard.
We want to get the local level. We want to get the regional representation. The country is a big country. So we’re going to power those regional chapters in terms of communications, in terms of government relations, in terms of events, and in terms of education.
Rob McLister:So if I’m a broker with limited money to spend and limited time to spend comparing the regional broker chapter to the regional associations, what’s different about the regional broker chapter to me as a broker compared to what’s already available through the regional associations.
Jim Murphy: I don’t know if I would quite look at it that way. I would say that CAAMP has over 11,000 members across this country, and we have strong representation in all provinces and in all regions. We have well over 1,300 members in both BC and Alberta. We have near 7,000 members in Ontario: brokers, agents, lenders, insurers, others that are part of the broker channel. Part of our message is inclusiveness. We’re all in this together. In terms of the broker channel, we represent 30% of the overall market. We want to work together. That is one of the messages of today, which is inclusiveness as Dan talked about in terms of the AMP. We’re going to offer those additional services. We have great arrangements with the regulators in all of the provinces. They get together at the national level. We’re able to provide feedback. We’re approved in most provinces for education and services.
As I said, the door is always open. It’s not an either or situation. But by the same token, CAAMP does bring resources, brings size and scope to the table, and we want to use that on behalf of our members.
Rob McLister:Thanks for clarifying that. The last topic is communications. Dan, maybe you can talk a bit about CAAMP’s strategy there, specifically what’s the board’s goal with the new Mortgage Dashboard and the new CMT?
Dan Putnam:My campaign this year, Rob, was communications, communications, communications. Those were my 3 main focuses. It continues to be a big focus on this year’s board. CAAMP offers an abundance of mortgage news, information, and reports. We’ve got member benefits, and we want to ensure everyone is aware of all of this information that we have available. We also just recently launched the new Mortgage Dashboard on February the 10th, and we will launch the revamped CMT site at the end of the month as well. Together, the Canadian Mortgage Trends site and Dashboard offers members a one-stop shop for relevant mortgage news, information, and data, but this is all about entanglement. This is about making sure that our members are aware of all of the tools and information that CAAMP has. And the only way that we can make sure that that happens is that we get expert in communicating these features and these value adds.
Rob McLister:How’s that new Find a Broker feature working out? Is it generating leads for brokers?
Dan Putnam:Since we’ve rolled this out, I’ve had a couple of brokers contact me personally to update some of their information because they were curious enough to go in and just see if their name popped up and all that sort of stuff, but it’s getting some good interest from brokers that I’ve seen thus far, but Jim, maybe you can comment on the Find a Broker feature.
Jim Murphy: It’s also to support the broker channel. The board is very committed to supporting the broker channel. As I say, we’re at 30%. What are the features that we can do to promote brokers and those lenders that work through the broker channel, and this is one of those features. The good site that you started, Rob, has over 500,000 visits a year. We want to maximize that. We want to ensure that our members have publicity, and the people that want to go on there and find a broker in their community can get that. That’s one of the advantages to being a member of CAAMP. It’s also one of the things that we want to do and our board wants to do in terms of supporting the broker channel.
Rob McLister:I think it’s a great feature. I talk to consumers all the time that can’t figure out how to pick a good broker. I know that you’re going to build that functionality in the future with respect to adding things like broker specialty or qualifications or whatnot just to make it easier for people to find broker. That would be quite value added.
Jim Murphy: Absolutely.
Rob McLister:This wraps it up for now. I appreciate you painting a clear picture of all the changes today and all the best with the transition.