CAAMP chair answers AMP critics

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CAAMP’s chair is acknowledging, and even welcoming criticism of the AMP designation, and its qualifying standards, at the same time pointing to real progress – past and present – in strengthening it.


“This discussion about the AMP is great because it shows how much the industry is engaged,” Joe Pinheiro told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “The bar has increased over the last year based on input from the AMP taskforce and it makes sense to continually raise that bar. We are moving ahead with a plan to do that, to improve the designation. While I understand criticism about the pace of that process, the truth is that it can’t be done overnight.”

The comments answer a torrent of criticism unleashed last week with a MortgageBrokerNews.ca  article outlining concerns about the designation. Mike Cameron – head of broker network Axiom Mortgage and the “Mortgage Revolution“ – argued the barrier to entry around the AMP is simply too low to promote industry professionalism.

“I applaud all the work CAAMP has done in terms of lobbying for the industry, especially around the HST and GST,” he told MortgageBrokerNews.ca last week. “But around the AMP designation, I’m disappointed and have been waiting for seven years for it to mean something. Unfortunately it doesn’t and it’s time we start putting some pressure on the association to do something about it.”


Pinheiro largely rejects that criticism pointing to substantive changes introduced last year and meant to ensure a higher level of broker know-how and professionalism. Chief among them was the move to mandate four of the 12 continuing education units required for annual AMP renewal.


“Those four credits deal with professionalism and include topics such as fraud avoidance, consumer protection and agency law,” Pinheiro said. “They also speak to raising the professionalism of the AMP designation.


 As well, all new originator applicants must be licensed and carry errors and omissions insurance. New applicants without a minimum two years’ experience must also pass a strenuous 10-step equivalency course, what CAAMP calls its “Fundamental Mortgage Principles Program.” That course focuses on essentials, including regulatory compliance, fraud avoidance, housing and mortgage economics and advertising and marketing standards.


 “It’s a very difficult course, something reflected in the failure rate, which is comparable to other qualifying tests,” Pinheiro told MortgageBrokerNews.ca, “and the expectation is that the AMP taskforce, along with the association, will continuously look to raise the bar.”


Still, critics charge that the designation is years away from catching up to the rigorous testing standards of other financial advisory certifications, most notably the Financial Planning Standards Council’s CFP.


That designation also scores better on consumer recognition testing, with 50 per cent of respondents to a recent CAAMP-sponsored poll indicating awareness. Only 17 per cent answered the same in regard to the AMP.


It speaks to another criticism of CAAMP, namely that it hasn’t done enough to promote the designation. The association’s most recent numbers undercut that argument, said Pinheiro.

Of the $641,830 in AMP dues collected for the year ended April 30, 2011, $607,269, or 94.6 per cent, was spent on advertising.


“The reality is that that is still a pretty small sum in terms of promoting the AMP nationally,” he said, suggesting brokers may need to adjust expectations.


Still Cameron and other critics remain largely focused on improving the testing, training and educational requirements around the certification as a way of growing its usefulness to brokers and agents looking to differentiate themselves. Currently, 3,850 mortgage professionals hold the designation, a number that includes only about 50 bank specialists, their memberships grandfathered over from an earlier period. As an unlicensed group, they no longer meet regulation requirements.


“I am very concerned about what I see as the relaxing of the standards for regulatory compliance,” Cameron wrote in a recent blog posting. “CAAMP is now offering an online course that meets FSCO’s requirements for licensing for a cost of $395. With reciprocity (or internal trade agreements) you can now, or will soon be able to transfer your licensing education between provinces. This means that I can get licensed in Alberta via Ontario for an online course at a cost of $395.

“New entrants to the industry will be tempted to find the least expensive, least difficult path to education that meets regulatory minimums. This is not a good thing for our channel.”


Pinheiro agrees, arguing it has created issues within the industry. At the same time, he’s pointing to CAAMP’s ongoing work with provincial regulators and associations, focused on finding ways to increase educational standards across Canada.


CAAMP’s commitment has always been to work with our partners for the benefit of all participants and the consumers,”  he told MortgageBrokerNews.ca.

 

  • Dave Lytton White House Mortgages on 2011-09-15 2:22:48 AM

    I sure don't see much advertising about AMP in Kelowna. I've been in the biz 10 yrs and used to be an AMP, but felt the value was less than minimal and was a money grab so I stopped. I still take lots of courses; I agree with keeping up on my industry but the money I put out HAS to give me a positive ROI.

  • AB Mortgage Broker on 2011-09-15 2:52:10 AM

    I'm not sure CAAMP gets it! How can a bank rep "earn" an AMP? They can buy one, but by definition they can't earn one. Get real!

    Funny how CAAMP preaches ethics, yet they bring in Lance Armstrong to speak. He is not someone how should be speaking as his whole tour de france career was about blood doping and steroid use. Come on CAAMP. It's time you started making some better decisions! Laughable...

  • Johnathan on 2011-09-15 2:53:09 AM

    Actually the AMP application states that an "originator" must be licensed OR have completed the "equivalent education requirements". The application allows you to choose "Underwriter/Lender" as an option, which I assume Road Warriors are. Therefore, how is the AMP just for brokers? It seems to me that any CAAMP members can be AMPS, which means that our competition, the banks, have the same competitive edge as us when it comes to the AMP designation. Ads say choose an AMP. Well, that can be a banker. Using my membership fees to support my competition isn't helpful.

  • Ottawa Broker on 2011-09-15 2:57:27 AM

    I agree with Dave Lytton. I take courses, keep up on my industry and I don't need an AMP designation to make me do this. I feel there is no value for our AMP designation and no value with CAAMP being our national representative. I like the set up at IMBA in Ontario. Lenders can be members, but lenders are not allowed to sit on the board or have a vote on any issues. Plus there is no big salaries for people working at IMBA. IMBA is run by brokers, for brokers. In my opinion CAAMP is for lenders first, not brokers. The CAAMP annual conference, why do we pay almost $1000 to attend? Why isn't that paid by CAAMP and the booth rentals? Why is every single thing involving CAAMP cost us money and in the end, what do we get??????? I have never seen any advertising regarding the AMP and Ottawa is a very strong broker market. The insurance industries goiverning body does a great job of advertising and educating the public about insurance brokers, why doesn't CAAMP???

  • BC Lender on 2011-09-15 3:12:39 AM

    When and where is Lance Armstrong speaking for CAAMP? I don't see his name listed on as a speaker at any upcoming CAAMP events.

  • @kiltedbroker on 2011-09-15 4:15:45 AM

    Here is my personal assessment (and maybe its limited due to only 4 years in the industry) But I feel that Independent Mortgage Brokers & Professionals see little value in CAAMP or the AMP designation.

    The Strength of any organization is in its people, why was $607,269 spent on promoting a designation that most brokers don't see as valuable? I mean really, who made this decision? Regardless of how much you spend on advertising you will never make a difference if you can't mobilize your people to support and be proud of the organization or designation. I would say morale is pretty low here.

    I wonder how long it is until someone steps up to the plate and proposes an association with a professional designation that is for brokers only? Maybe that has already happened...

    A mortgage revolution perhaps?

  • Michael Cameron on 2011-09-15 4:23:42 AM

    I am glad to hear CAAMP's view, it is key to have a balanced discussion. I think it is important to not make this into a 'bash' session but to find productive ways to accomplish an end result. I think everyone agrees on the value of a professional designation. We need to make sure that ALL of 'Our Channel' are working together to make this work. If we remain fragmented and competitive then we are in for some real problems.

    My intent was never to discredit or condemn any organization but rather to open the discussion and voice concerns publicly so that they can be addressed. I'm glad to see that is happening.

    We have a fabulous industry that provides exceptional career opportunities for those that view it as a profession. Let's continue to work together in a productive, respectful fashion to make the kind of industry that I believe we all strive for. Do your homework, read the annual reports, discuss initiatives with industry leaders and voice your well thought out opinions.

    Together we can be better. As long as we continue to be better today than we were yesterday we know we are moving in the right direction.

  • Angela Wong-Liao, Invis Inc on 2011-09-15 6:58:10 AM

    I am glad CAAMP is open for discussion in regards to AMP designation. It is very essential that we have a voice from the broker channel and a strong broker organization can assist our industry for future issues with the lenders and the government. Yes, to raise the bar for AMP qualification and only restricted to mortgage broker (no banker) is a great idea because it distinguish the broker channel from the bank road reps.

  • Madison, Calgary on 2011-09-15 11:13:50 AM

    I think the AMP is a HUGE CASH GRAB. None of my clients ever ask about it or whether I have it. They don't care. Usually people ask what the AMP stands for and just shrug when you tell them. It is the most useless and unnecessary legislation and needs to be scrapped. I wouldn't mind if you just had to pay for it but to continually have to take course (and pay for them) to keep adding to the CE credits is such a waste of my valuable time and money. I get nothing out of the courses they are same old, same old, same ideas - nothing new or exciting. And, the money wasted on 'commercials' on the radio stations that no one listens to, is another big joke. Wake up CAAMP. We don't want the AMP. Thanks

  • @kiltedbroker on 2011-09-16 3:54:20 AM

    Madison, what do you propose instead of the AMP designation?

  • Stefano in Toronto on 2011-09-16 6:10:50 AM

    true AMP is pure rubbish. a bank teller with grade 12 education can be an AMP. I agree CAAMP is delusional, why not add Conrad Black to speak about fiduciary responsibiites and Bernie Ebbers talk about create the right culture in your brokerage. It is time for a national association FOR AND RUN by brokers. plain and simple. My MBA means much more than the $299 paid for designation. Also time fo rus to pay executives at work the industries betterment not their own self grandification.

  • AB Mortgage Broker on 2011-09-16 8:04:49 AM

    BC Lender, thanks for pointing out that I am incorrect and in fact, Lance will not be speaking at the CAAMP symposium-I stand corrected. My position is not to bash CAAMP simply to share my frustration with an organization I once supported whole heartedly.

    It's time for CAAMP to setup and take ownership for not listening to their members, and I mean the greater majority. It's obvious its membership sees little value, but what baffles me is that those same people complaining are still paying their dues. Lets speak with our wallet and stop paying our dues. Together we can move forward with the mortgage revolution and put our money into something we, as members, will have a say in. United, we can make a difference!

    I hope you are all having a great week! Cheers

  • @kiltedbroker on 2011-09-16 1:18:23 PM

    Stefano, what do you propose instead of the AMP designation? Okay... a National Association FOR and RUN by brokers... what does that look like?

  • stefano on 2011-09-21 2:39:43 PM

    it looks like a broker only trade association. much like CGA, PEng, etc. you have to be one to be a trade member.

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