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.”
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