Mortgage Revolution takes on AMP designation

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The head of a national broker network – and the “Mortgage Revolution” – is ramping up lobby efforts to increase qualifying standards for the AMP designation, arguing the barrier to entry 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,” Mike Cameron, managing partner of Axiom Mortgage, told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “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.”

That is, in fact, something he has already moved to do, planning to take his concerns to CAAMP directly. He’ll sit down with members of its leadership team this month.

Cameron’s concerns mirror those of many of the hundreds of mortgage professionals he’s dialogued with as part of his Mortgage Revolution, a grass roots campaign focused on addressing the ethical and integrity issues facing the channel and, in many ways, keeping it from moving forward. While the movement has its roots in Cameron’s Edmonton market, it has now spread to mortgage professionals across the province as well as brokers in B.C. and Saskatchewan.

Putting “some teeth” into the AMP designation figures prominently among those industry players, he said.

“In the last seven years since I first took out AMP designation, we have really only added the requirement to carry E & O insurance,” Cameron told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “If you look up my AMP online you will notice it will say AMP since 2007. That is because I let my AMP lapse when CAAMP re-introduced the grandfathering clause and did not raise the bar back in 2006. As head of a national network I re-instated it in 2007 to continue supporting what I still believe is a worthwhile concept.”

Cameron’s research and analysis suggest a continuing erosion of professional standards compared to the official designations of other finance experts, more specifically, the Financial Planning Standards Council’s CFP designation.

In fact, Cameron recently had a conversation with Council President Cary List, focused on gaining insights into beefing up AMP certification.

“I am a big proponent of raising the bar within our industry and taking us to a level of professionalism equivalent to that of other industries,” said the Edmonton broker, “I think that the CFP designation is an obvious place to start.”

Cameron outlined the main points of that discussion in a blog posting last month. They touch on the advantages the industry already enjoys thanks to broad regulation, across key provinces.

“The fact that we are largely regulated means that the easy answer is to get the regulators on board with requiring high standards,” he said. “After all ‘Why wouldn’t the regulators be onside with higher standards.’  This is an obvious first step. The challenge? Getting all of our channel on the same page as to what these ‘standards’ look like.”

The trend may be moving in the opposite direction.

“I am very concerned at what I see as the relaxing of the standards for regulatory compliance,” he writes in his 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.”

Still raising the bar for AMP accreditation may not be enough to win the kind of buy-in Cameron would ultimately like to see.

“I’ve chosen not to get the AMP, although I meet the education requirements and have earned the credits, because I don’t see the value in it,” Hal Tagg, broker-owner of MortgageFlex in Edmonton, told MortgageBrokerNews.ca “My thoughts are that the only way everybody in the country, including bank employees, is going to take it is if the designation is made compulsory.”

Click here for more information on the Mortgage Revolution

  • KED on 2011-09-08 2:48:24 AM

    As far as I'm concerned the AMP designation is just another money grab. It's way to easy to get.

    Oh and on another note the sub-brokers license in BC is also to easy to get as well and the UBC course should be revamped to include more relevant course material. Also I have almost completed the Diploma in Urban Land Economics at UBC and believe that the DULE should provide a specialization in Mortgage Brokering as well and that the diploma be required to enter our industry as a Mortgage Broker as it offers way more relevant information than the current requirements.

  • David Armstrong, AMP - Alberta on 2011-09-08 3:04:31 AM

    I agree wholeheartedly with Mike Cameron. I view the AMP as simply another fee I must pay, and have been seriously questioning the value of it. I am not sure why I pay this fee every year, few outside of our industry have heard of it, and if I did not have it, I could easily discredit it if asked by a potential client. I don't like to attend CAAMP conferences with my team, as they has simply become drink fests and high pressure recruiting grounds for national super brokers. The AMP credits required to keep the status, are often awarded willy nilly....not be negative, but its true.

  • Roberta Hardern on 2011-09-08 3:20:47 AM

    Great article

  • Mark Piers on 2011-09-08 3:23:05 AM

    As I have said in the past ... we need a broker organization that is by the brokers, for the brokers. When you have "bank" representation at the table, at over 50%, something is not right. CAAMP is not a true "broker" driven organization ... it is a "bank" driven one.

    With all due respect, the banks have never had our best interest in mind nor our clients. They are shareholder driven organizations ... and that is not bad ... its a fact.

    We have to keep in mind though that their main focus is the shareholders ... not the brokers that support them and definitely not the clients who pay the bills. That being said why would we share the table with them as part of a national "professional" organization?

    We have a great industry and it is time for us to have a national voice. Remember we do not need CAAMP ... they need us.

    P.S. In over ten years I have never been asked what my professional credentials were. My clients simply want to know that I am doing right by them.

    Seriously ... we need a National Brokers Voice

  • AB Mortgage Broker on 2011-09-08 3:23:21 AM

    I too agree with Mike! For CAAMP it has been all about the money. When I spoke with CAAMP about unethical brokers becoming AMP's, I was told...it's better to have them as a member than not. Really? They just don't get it and they are certainly not listening to their members!!

  • Michael Cameron on 2011-09-08 3:30:32 AM

    Thanks for the positive comments folks. If you too believe it is time for change register your voice at http://mymortgagerevolution.ca

  • Stella from Calgary on 2011-09-08 3:41:12 AM

    I totally agree, with the money grab comment. You not only have to pay the CAAMP regular fee, if you're an AMP you have to pay the AMP as well, when really there's no merit or added value to having the AMP designation.

  • Greg c on 2011-09-08 3:53:12 AM

    Forcing an expensive "continuing education" on Brokers and making them pay dearly for it in money and time does not make a "Professional" in any field. I was an AMP in 2004 but let it lapse because I did not/do not see any benefit in having to "educate" myself in things that I already know or had no interest in knowing. Take away the forced C>E and I'd join back in a heartbeat.

  • @kiltedbroker on 2011-09-08 3:56:39 AM

    Funny my AMP renewal form came in the mail today. The letter attached proudly states "CAAMP invests 90% of all AMP dues directly into promoting the AMP" this through National TV, Radio and Print Advertising Campaigns.

    I wonder if this is necessary? If CAAMP spends 90% of dues advertising a designation that seems to mean so little for its membership and has basically no public awareness, what is actually being accomplished?

    I too would like to see a designation specifically for brokers, but will renew my AMP designation for the simple fact that it is the designation that what we have now and I am proud of the job that I do for my clients!

    On a side note, I wonder what CAAMP is doing in social media with regards to promoting the designation...The cost of that is far better than investing in traditional advertising that doesn't work. Just my two cents

  • J. Darren Ings on 2011-09-08 4:06:33 AM

    I totally agree with Mike. As a mortgage broker for the past 11 years, I recently let my AMP "designation" slide, simply because I no longer see it as having a perceived value.

    The standards required by the Appraisal Institute of Canada to earn and keep my Professional Appraisal designation require standards so far over the top of the AMP criteria, I don't see the AMP designation as having true professional merit. I have tried several times to have CIMBL and then CAAMP raise the bar to achieve and make the AMP designation a sincere professional achievement, but to date the response is "it's coming".

    With CAAMP's standards set so low and not willing to recognize my much higher AIC standards to keep my CRA, I don't see the value or merit in bothering to "keep up" with further and lesser courses just to renew my AMP status. That's a step backwards, not forwards.

    When CAAMP decides to significantly raise the bar so that real professionals can earn and wear the AMP designation with distinction and pride, I'll jump back on-board.

    J. Darren Ings BA, DBA, CRA

  • Concerned on 2011-09-08 4:26:05 AM

    I am 100% in favor of Mike's revolution, however I can't help but think we may be missing the boat a bit. No question there needs to be stricter entry requirements for the AMP designation (or be done away with completely) as does there need to be stricter requirements to even become a mortgage associate. It is too easy for just about anyone to join our industry, especially on the Bank side of things. Where I believe we are missing the boat is that we continually turn to these third party governing bodies to get more strict in order for our industry to get better when we should be patrolling our industry ourselves. Where is the pride amongst us? Where is the concept of working together for a common good and I am not talking about not trying to outperform another broker, I am talking about protecting what we have. We should be concerned about the industry members that dilute the industry to the point where we have problems. A governing body by the Broker for the Broker is the only way to go. When 40-50% (my numbers) of the currently licensed Mortgage Associates are not producing, not producing quality business, and are only in the game as a part time job, the Broker/Owners have to wake up and get rid of these people. Too many Brokerages are ran based on having more licensees than the next guy, earning 3-5 BPS more VB by having the extra million or two in funding, getting to go to Vegas on a lender trip, etc. It is time to govern these Brokers, they need to get rid of the riff raff and the industry would clean itself up.

    In the past month I have taken a serious look at my own brokerage and made some changes. 2 of my members were not producing at a level they should be so they have been let go. A 3rd has been put into a business development action plan to get their business where it should be.

    Sad part about all of it is the 2 I let go will be relicensed with one of those "let's have a pile of warm bodies so we look bigger than you" type of brokerages. Bush league business if you ask me.

    Volume Bonuses, office rents to cover, 90/10 splits, etc have created this animal and until the owners of businesses start treating their operation as a business instead of a factory the problems we have will never go away, no matter how hard it is to get your AMP.

    If the AMP designation cost $500 to get instead of $200 does that make it harder to get? Yep........you get my point.

    Here is to good business and here is to you Broker/Owners who have recognized the need to clean it up, I stand by you!

  • Angela Wong-Liao on 2011-09-08 4:28:09 AM

    I agree with Mark Piers, we need a national broker voice not a money grabbing bank driven broker organization.

  • David O'Gorman CPMB on 2011-09-08 5:06:33 AM

    Disagree with Mike totally...and Mark is absolutely "on the mark".
    Mike wants to attempt to fix a designation of an organization that is absolutely off-side with mortgage brokers & is ultimately moribund. CAAMP is built from the top down, directed by the FIs & the insurers.They pay the bulk of the bills so they get the majority say. The joke in Toronto is that if you ever need an AMP, you stand out on a busy street with your hand in the air, the universal signal for hailing a cab, & you would get an AMP driving a cab.
    There is no sense trying to patch the AMP designations. So many people in the brokerage industry with decades of experience have seen the AMP for what it was/is & have never bothered with it. Why would any of them pay more & take more courses to get an "improved" AMP? I need an "improved" taxi driver? Humanely put the AMP designation & the organization "to sleep", and build a totally new national organization.

    We need a national organization, with a Board made up of representatives of each of the existing provincial mortgage brokerage organizations, plus any new provincial or regional organizations that are formed in the future. The great majority of laws that we deal with as mortgage brokers are provincial laws & we are regulated provincially, so without doubt we need provincial organizations.
    In matters where we need federal representation or where economies of scale can benefit the mortgage brokerage industry, then we need a national organization, but it has to come from the ground up, with control in the hands of provincial mortgage brokerage associations & only mortgage brokerage associations. It is not easy, but it will work & as an industry we will control our own industry & the destiny of the industry.

    You build a strong organization, like you build a sturdy house from the foundation up, not from the roof down.

  • Michael Cameron on 2011-09-08 5:27:50 AM

    David,

    Which part do you disagree with? I am suggesting we need to raise the bar on A designation that has some merit. I am also saying that we need to work together to achieve that putting aside provincial and national egos.

    I think we likely agree. The contributions to the industry by CAAMP can't be completely dismissed but I do think we have dropped the ball on certification/accreditation. I am proposing we (as a channel, not industry) come up with a resolution

  • Michael Cameron on 2011-09-08 6:12:50 AM

    David,

    Thanks for the chat on the phone today.

  • AB Mortgage Broker on 2011-09-08 6:54:12 AM

    WooHoo! On with the mortgage revolution! Gone are the days of renewing my CAAMP membership. Time to short CAAMP stock.

    To the brokerages out there (Invis, Mortgage Alliance, Mortgagebrokers.com, Centum, DLC, TMG, Mortgage Centre, etc...), you have a big roll in this as well. Time for you to cull your heard.

    To the lenders, it's time for you to stop protecting those shady brokers just because they bring in large volume. Cut them off and report them to their respective brokerage so the broker can punt them out on their head.

  • David O'Gorman on 2011-09-08 7:12:26 AM

    Mike you are trying to straddle a politically correct line. I am not. I belive CAAMP has done many great disservices to our industry. As a participant in the FSCO Mortgage Broker Working Group developing the MBLLA in Ontario, I did not once hear or have CAAMP support licensing for bank mortgage specialists. The RBC Rep issue in BC, seems to have been buried...and the list goes on.

    I am not one to get bent out of shape about designations, if they make sense, are acknowledged as relevant by the industry and that they differentiate skill levels. The AMP does not do any of that. A broker/agent/associate with 10, 15 or 20 years of experience/knowledge/education has the same AMP as the "5 day wonder" has in Ontario. It obviously escalates the prestige of the "5 day wonder" while reducing the status of those with more experience/knowledge/education...and an organization makes a lot more money, for a short period of time, because of the large number of "newbies" getting a designation as they pass through the business, at the expense of the others.
    Rather than putzing about with designations, why not just significantly raise the bar on licensing education? 40 or 50 hours "education" to be able to advise people on the largest debt they are ever likely to have, is the real credibility issue for the industry.

    Raise the bar all you want on designations that are non manditory, as long as you have a rigorous licensing education program, along with adding significant manditory CE, and you will have an industry that will develop its own credibilty.

  • Ottawa Broker on 2011-09-09 12:04:27 AM

    The funniest thing about all the comments posted is that no one at CAAMP will learn a thing. CAAMP will just blow it off and ignore it. CAAMP brings no benefits to our industry that could not be replaced. A fine example is the ridiculous price to attend the annual conference, almost a $1,000. What a money grab joke. The cost of the conference should be covered off by the lenders and other financial companies that benefit in having mortgage brokers from across the country in one place so they can sell their product.
    Where did this rant start? Oh ya, the comical AMP designation. LOL

  • Kevin J Power, President Power Mortagges Inc. on 2011-09-09 2:58:08 AM

    I was one of the first people in our area to obtain the AMP Designation. I didn't renew it the second year, as the quality of professionalism for a few individuals who obtain the designation after me, was questionable, I decided that I would set myself apart from them by not having the designation. I haven't regretted it and it hasn't hurt me.

  • Stefano in Toronto on 2011-09-10 12:12:29 AM

    I have a BA and MBA, CSC and used to be IFIC licensed. What does it mean that I have an AMP while a funding processor for a lender also has one with and no disrespect intended a high school education. The problem is the AMP has one sole purpose, revenue generation for CAAMP! Of course they need the the revenue to pay salaries, etc for the glorification of themsleves.
    CAAMP has failed brokers, what we need is a actual BROKER association.

  • Jm - Broker on 2011-09-10 3:50:46 AM

    I am reading the comments and I have to agree that it is too easy to get into this industry. I have been a mortgage broker for over 10 years. I first became a mortgage agent and worked for a few firms. I have a graduate designation from an accounting and finance field and moved into the mortgage industry. But seeing these newbies becoming mortgage professionals and ruining our industry is quite a shocker. Then the cost to be in the industry through E/O increased for one thing and that is for issues with mortgage professionals making mistakes in the first place that any finance and mortgage professional would not. They are letting anyone in this industry and they MUST make it tougher to get in for those mortgage professionals wanting to make a quick buck and hurting the rest of us.

  • J Broker on 2011-09-10 3:55:32 AM

    Waste of money and cash grab

  • Michael Perretta, MBA, CFP, Mortgage Broker on 2011-09-10 5:37:04 AM

    I don't think the AMP designation has any value or recognition. It is only another layer of costly, bureaucratic organization that is not necessary, similar to all the real estate designations that have little value.

  • Vera Holman, Associate Broker on 2011-09-10 12:48:33 PM

    I think part of the problem is that the various programs keep changing names, qualificatons, and there's different rules for different folks-- aka bankers! There's no comparison between a great mortgage broker who works hard to keep their clients and realtors representing them in the loop and happy, and the clerk from the bank who is able to do the same job, without the training especially Mortgage Brokerage, and Customer Service in Competition. My two-cents worth! I made a conscious decision not to practice Mortgage Brokerage or Property Management...regardless of the fact that one
    time or another I've been legally licensed!!!
    There's enough business for all of us, whatever your specialty--or mine!

  • Renee Stribbell on 2011-09-11 10:57:35 AM

    Great article. I also believe that we need to be held to a higher standard. Our clients see us as professionals and trust the advice that we give them. If they make a decision based on that advice, and that advice was wrong, we could put that client in a very precarious financial situation. If a financial planner gives the wrong advice the same thing could happen. Therefore, we should be held to the same standard as the CFP and our designation should hold as much weight-which means our education requirements need to be ramped up. Also we need to have a graduated licensing program. A new agent should, under no means, be left to "figure it out" on their own. I could keep going, but needless to say I agree with raising the bar. There are too many people in this industry that do not take what we do seriously and either need to shape up or ship out. Viva la Revolution!

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