It has come down to the wire for nearly half of Ontario’s 12,000 mortgage professionals – who, with only a month left on the clock, had yet to complete that do-or-die re-licensing course.
“What can I say? That’s the industry” Joe Rosati, executive director for the Independent Mortgage Brokers Association of Ontario, told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “FSCO told us that as of Feb. 29, only 55 per cent of mortgage brokers and agents in the province had successfully completed the required relicensing course.”
That slim majority means as many as 5,000 mortgage professionals nonetheless waited until the last month to take the course.
For IMBA and the three other course providers, that procrastination now translates into of flurry of activity in the last two weeks before the March 31 deadline.
Missing that drop-dead date has major consequences. Not only does the broker’s licence expire, but if he or she attempts to re-apply as a new agent or broker, they’ll be required to admit “non-compliance” and take the re-licensing education by June 30, 2012.
They’ll also have to dig deeper in their pockets and pay the $800 fee for a new agent or broker licence rather than the $700 fee to renew.
In the meantime, errant brokers will be blocked from dealing or trading in mortgages until all of these requirements are met and new licences are issued. The names of non-compliant mortgage professionals will also be posted to FSCO’s website.
A permanent record may also get placed on a broker’s file at FSCO, with the regulator free to use that information “should there be complaints or an audit finding against (the broker).”
Those consequences have been widely publicized since the course -- designed to improve compliance with provincial laws -- opened for registration in November.
While the majority of brokers moved quickly to take the course, a significant number may ultimately miss the deadline, argue industry veterans.
In December, the provincial regulator identified as much as 10 per cent to 15 per cent of the province's 9,000-plus licensed agents as no longer working at a brokerage and, therefore, unauthorized to sell mortgages.
Those mortgage professionals have likely abandoned the business since the 2010 renewal period or have taken up administrative or management positions within the industry, Rosati told MortgageBrokerNews.ca.
Either way, that group’s sheer size is likely the strongest indication to date that Ontario may lose as much as 10 per cent to 15 per cent of its registered mortgage professionals.
The figure jives with the estimates of other industry leaders.
Still, IMBA had already surpassed its target for course registrations even before March and the mad rush of brokers expected to take re-licensing evaluation just in the nick of time.