CAAMP is now offering the country’s largest broker networks a “20-per cent administrative incentive” for collecting membership dues on behalf of the association, MortgageBrokerNews.ca has learned, but only if all their brokers and agents join up.
“Sharing the cost of operating an association is by no means a simple task,” writes CAAMP CEO Jim Murphy, in an offer letter sent to broker network heads Nov. 9. “As you know, (our) bylaw states that if a brokerage is a member (of CAAMP) all of its agents, sub-brokers or associates must also be members. Over the past year the board of directors has discussed in detail the aforementioned bylaw.
“We appreciate the time and effort it takes to collect and remit member dues on behalf of a large number of offices and people. With this in mind, the board has passed for 2012 a resolution that we feel will reimburse those firms that take on the effort of collecting and remitting membership. We have implemented a program, which provides you with a 20 per cent rebate on total member dues paid for 2012 (net of tax) in the form of a CAAMP credit.”
There are conditions attached to that offer: The administrative incentive cannot be redeemed in cash, but only in the form of CAAMP products and services such as education credits, AMP dues, event registration or sponsorship. The rebate cannot be applied to CAAMP membership dues. The dues the broker network does collect must also be submitted to the association on one cheque, a way of reducing administrative costs for CAAMP.
Also, the board is only making the offer to super brokers and networks that have a minimum of 500 members, and each organization must be compliant with the bylaw Murphy cites in his letter – namely all of its agents and brokers must be CAAMP members.
That last condition has raised eyebrows among brokerage heads and agents, alike, concerned it may place broker networks in the position of having to encourage all of their franchisees and agents to become members.
Others have told MortgageBrokerNews.ca that they’re concerned none of the incentive will trickle down to the agents and brokers actually paying the membership dues if the networks decide to use the rebate to promote their respective brands at CAAMP events and through CAAMP publications and sponsorship.
Yet others have suggested the offer should have been made to large brokerages with less than 500 members, a way of ensuring fairness.
That cut-off number reflects the reason for the offer, Murphy told MortgageBrokerNews.ca Wednesday.
“We have five people doing membership, so clearly receiving one cheque from a network instead of 150 individual cheques from (franchises or brokerages in that network) is a real assistance to us administratively, and that’s where the cost savings would come for CAAMP,” he said.
The CAAMP offer does, indeed, make good business sense for an association grappling to manage administrative costs at the same time stay connected to the networks that support it, said one broker. He is nonetheless concerned about a possible lack of transparency.
“I understand why CAAMP is doing it: it’s easier to collect from one rather than from hundreds of individual brokerages and agents in a network; and this incentive has the potential to help keep the super brokers and networks happy,” said Ron Butler, AMP, with Verico Homeguard Funding Ltd. “But what is potentially problematic is a situation where the brokers and agents actually paying the dues don’t receive any of the benefits of the rebate, and they are effectively underwriting a benefit for head office. Mr. Murphy, there must be transparency here.”
At least, one broker network has decided not to take up the CAAMP offer, although remains very supportive of an organization that continues to successfully lobby regulators and government on behalf of its members and the industry, as a whole.
“We are a franchise organization,” Paul Therien, director of business development for Centum Financial Group, told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “Our primary role is to provide systems and tools to our members, our franchisees. It really is not our role as an independent for-profit franchisor to mandate membership in any association or to collect for that association.”
The head of Ontario’s provincial association, IMBA, offered the same concerns.
“I don’t think that brokerages should be in the position of collecting dues for an association,” Albert Collu, also head of broker network Argentum, said Wednesday. “It’s up to an association to demonstrate the value of its membership, and membership in any association should be the choice of the individual – we don’t need to insert broker networks into that dialogue.”