Ambitious agents chasing broker licenses

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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.”
 

  • Larry Rachlin on 2011-10-06 6:58:28 AM

    It is time that FSCO mandated compulsory education for licensed mortgage agents. Professionalism is related to education as well as performance. Any agent who cannot show that he/she is not currently progressing towards becoming a broker should have their license suspended until they meet the ongoing requirements. It is absurd to have more than six people working under the supervision of a single broker. The remedy is to mandate eduction. Those who are committed to professionalism will meet the requirements. The others seek another career.

  • AB Mortgage Broker on 2011-10-06 7:18:20 AM

    Perhaps I'm missing something here. Just because I pass the broker course doesn't make me anymore credible than an associate. If you think that's your ticket to instant credibility, time for a reality check. What good is a broker's license without a brokerage? The brokerage course deals more with day to day operation of the brokerage, compliance, etc...

    Our industry does not need a bunch of associates to take the broker's license who are going to run out on their own because "I can earn more commission". What the industry needs is ethics, morals and integrity and a broker license doesn't provide you with any over the above. I do agree that we as an industry need to raise the bar. And like I say in all my posts, the big brokerage houses need to take a stance and quit providing the rift raft with a place to do business.

    On with the mortgage revolution!

  • Paul Mangion on 2011-10-06 8:54:42 AM

    If you are doing it for self improvement to make you a better agent then my hat goes off to you. But unfortunately it has become a lot easier to get the broker designation now then in the past and two years of experience does not make you qualified to hire a new team of agents let alone provide training for them. It is this intention combined with many super brokers poor qualification standards that will do more harm than good.

  • Angela Wong-Liao, Invis Inc on 2011-10-06 10:04:27 AM

    I agree with AB Mortgage Broker, it makes no sense to obtain a mortgage broker license if one is not planning to open your own store. I explored this option in 2009 and I find the mortgage broker licensing course is focusing on the day to day retention of records, hiring of mortgage agents and operations, it does not provide additional focus on eithics, morals and integrity. I have been a mortgage agent for over 10 years and 28 years of solid banking experience, frankly, a mortgage broker licence does not added any further credibility to my current credentials. In my opinion, any mortgage professional who thinks that to get a mortgage broker license will fast tracking his credibility is wrong because it takes time to build up solid trust and credibility.

  • Ontario Principal Broker on 2011-10-06 9:09:31 PM

    Folks part of what Jirjis is doing is dealing with perception of a borrowing consumer. Even if he never plans on opening his own brokerage
    being a broker always trumps being an agent. A broker is percieved as being "better".
    Tons of people in real estate have no intention of opening their own brokerages, but they know real estate broker looks & sounds better than real estate agent or sales rep in their marketing materials.

    Don't knock somebody for trying something new to our industry, smart & legal

  • John Shearer on 2011-10-07 12:47:57 AM

    I did my broker course immediately after the FSU Program at Seneca so that I could become a broker after 2 years. 15 of my classmates did the same thing. Its a growing trend and irrespective of what other Agents think about it, it does lend something extra to my business now. Ones level of knowledge is independent of what type of license they hold - but for people trying to make a name or move up in the industry there is no downside to progressing from agent to broker in my opinion.

  • Brian on 2011-10-18 3:33:14 AM

    Working in the industry for over 14 years, running my own office and supervising mortgage agents, the only reason I got my Brokers license was because of the change to the supervisory rules that to run an office and have agents working for you, you had to be a Broker. If it was not for these changes I would never had got the license. As a high volume office I was always paid 100% this has not changed. You are fooling your self thinking that the Broker disignation will improve your buseness or that client will look at you differently. Its what you do for your clients that builds your credibilty and buisness and that's when you get the referrals. There are to many agents today that are not supervised properly and with out that direct supervision they will never move forward in their knowledge of this buiness. We should have a system like in the insurance industry that all new agents for the first two years, all their business must go directly through their supervising Broker.This will stem a lot of the problems out there, and after four years with experience you could take the brokerage exam.

  • Shubha on 2011-10-12 6:45:49 AM

    I completed the FSU "broker" program at Seneca it's last year of existance in 2008 and have to disagree that the course focuses on teaching day to day operations. Although there are some courses that focus on running the business end of it the majority of the 16 credits were spent teaching mortgage fundamentals such as extensive math, law, appraisals, reporting and just an overall understanding of the mortgage system in Ontario (where I'm licensed) and Canada. Even the ethics was taught in a seperate course worth 1 credit. The course itself was very theoritical which I hope would change a little.

    I find that overall the course makes me better at my job in advising clients as I have a better understanding myself. That's not to say most of the top agents in our industry have the same or more knowledge of what's taught in that course and the experienced agents have even more an upperhand when it comes to knowledge as they've seen every scenario present itself.

    As far as consumers go I really don't think it helps with credibilty as I have clients that refer to bank reps as "brokers". Most aren't aware of the difference and I don't think they care as long as the job is done well.

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