It’s a trend that may ultimately enhance the industry’s credibility, say advocates, but an increasing number of agents are training for broker licenses even before they’ve been two years in the business – a way of building on their own personal credibility as competition with the banks and other mortgage professionals grows.
“I’m actively planning to get my broker’s license,” Issac Jirjis, a Toronto agent with MortgageBrokers.com and now 16 months in the business. “Being a broker is a valuable designation that should help to increase my marketability and elevate my profile in a very competitive market."
It is, in fact, a growing trend according to stats from Ontario’s regulator, pointing to a more than seven per cent growth in the number of new brokers over the last year. They’re mortgage professionals with anywhere from two to 20 years of experience, and while a small number represent brokers from other provinces, the vast majority are Ontario agents who’ve taken the required Seneca College courses before sitting for the licensing exam.
The online and in-class instruction is focused on meeting the province’s Mortgage Broker Qualifying Standards (MBQS), through theoretical and practical components. The goal is to arm agents with greater compliance knowledge, supervisory skills, but also the ethics, conflict of interest and best practices basics needed to assume principal broker duties, including fiduciary ones. While agents with less than two years’ experience can enrol in the classes, they must wait until they've crossed that threshold to take the exam.
Still, the growing number of agents looking to make the leap to broker is being driven by younger professionals like Jirjis, keen to improve their marketability. The more usual course of events has been for even high-volume seasoned agents to get broker licenses only if and when they're prepared to strike out on their own.
Several Ontario mortgage professionals on this year’s CMP Top 50 are, in fact, agents.
But even agents with advanced degrees in business are actively considering taking on the broker license, a way of better defining themselves in the minds of clients and officially assuming the title “broker” in their marketing efforts.
“I’ve thought about it, but it’s really been a matter of priorities,” Andrea Meynell, an Ontario agent and MBA, told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “It would make it easier in terms of putting ‘mortgage broker’ on a business card. But I find that with the vast majority of clients, it’s less about your title and more about what you can do for them.”
Still, Jirjis and others argue it’s in the industry’s best interest to bump up the percentage of mortgage professionals licensed as brokers – a way of better differentiating independent mortgage professionals from bank reps.
“It’s the way everybody should be going in this industry,” he told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “I realize that education does cost money and perhaps takes time away from closing deals, but I see it as an investment.”