The downside to good publicity

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It may be a matter of taking the bad with the good. But consumer comments about a Globe and Mail article lauding brokers have highlighted the challenges facing the industry, say mortgage professionals.

“This speaks to my point that regardless of consumer awareness, we still need to work on improving the quality of the product,” Mike Cameron, managing partner of Axiom Mortgage, told MortgageBrokerNews.ca.

Other brokers were also weighing in on a string of comments for the article, “Why use a mortgage broker.” It also appeared in Thursday’s newspaper.

While the article’s focus on mortgage brokers and their value proposition was overwhelmingly positive, the majority of the 60-plus comments were negative, alleging unethical behaviour and concerns around rates that ultimately proved to be less competitive than those of the banks.

“I have to say that our experience with a mortgage broker was a near disaster,” wrote one reader going by the name Dividend Investor. “Our broker offered us two fixed rate mortgages, either 5.4 or 5.8 percent. Naturally and naively we said, oh, we'll take 5.4. Our broker never even mentioned variable rate mortgages.”

“GrumpyGus” offered the same kind of kind of scathing analysis, at the same time challenging the Globe’s objectivity: “Hmph. My perception was that they were where people who aren't credit-worthy go to buy more than they can afford,” he said. “Nice press release.”

Those comments may back up the concerns of Cameron, whose Mortgage Revolution is focused on elevating broker ethical standards and lifting the bar on skill and professionalism. He’s also suggested that any move to increase consumer awareness of brokers and their value proposition should only come after real strides have been made in those key areas.

B.C. agent Adam Hawryluk, with Canadian Mortgage Experts, was also struck by the negative comments, although suggests they reinforce the need for more consumer education.

There’s obviously going to be a couple bad apples in any group and that’s unfortunate,” he told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “I think mortgage brokers in general have to do a better job of educating consumers about the process that goes into arranging mortgages. There are going to be people who are not happy with the process and that may be based on their misperceptions.”

The criticism aside, brokers celebrated the article, with hundreds tweeting and posting links to the GlobeandMail.com webpage late last week.

The story offered brokers a pat on the back, said CAAMP CEO Jim Murphy, one of the many tweeting the good news Friday. But it also helped efforts to promote the AMP. designation

“In addition to the benefits of using a mortgage broker, the article references using an Accredited Mortgage Professional,” he told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “It also points people to the CAAMP website to find an AMP closest to them. Brokers need to promote the AMP so that borrowers/consumers become aware -- always good to see in the media.”
 

  • John on 2011-11-16 3:19:07 AM

    Luckily the article didn't spend time on the AMP designation. Otherwise there would have been negative comments on who can get that designation. We all know their comments would have been something like "Able to breathe"? Get an AMP. Our industry is in big trouble. We need to make some serious changes. Giving a bank teller an AMP does not give the public confidence in us.

  • ON Broker on 2011-11-16 3:20:31 AM

    It is unfortunate that CAAMP does not do as an effective a job all year long as they do the 10 days leading up to the Conference given the amount of press (good or bad) as we have seen the past week. P.S. "helps promote the AMP designation" does that mean you are not going to get as good advice from just a FSCO Licensed Broker?

  • Julia Krause on 2011-11-16 4:38:06 AM

    There are countless mortgage brokers out there who don't know what they're doing. Why? Because there is no practical, real-life TRAINING available to them! Providing written material to read, and the so-called 'mentoring' system aren't working! It's dragging all of us down. Need proof of this? “I have to say that our experience with a mortgage broker was a near disaster,” wrote one reader going by the name Dividend Investor. “Our broker offered us two fixed rate mortgages, either 5.4 or 5.8 percent. Naturally and naively we said, oh, we'll take 5.4. Our broker never even mentioned variable rate mortgages.”

  • BC Brokerage Owner on 2011-11-16 4:49:54 AM

    Fog a mirror...get hired by any brokerage if you have a license. We get what we deserve. Start by turning CAAMP into something other than a giant recruiting venue. No brokerages should be allowed to take a booth in the trade area. How can an industry be surprised by bad consumer opinions of brokers when the entire industry is based on the top "leaders" of major brokerages and CAAMP basing their business model on how to break existing contracts that brokers have with other companies?! Brokers are worth $100 to $200 per month to major brokerages in "ad fees" and volume and reputation mean almost nothing. No wonder Don Cherry is our top spokesperson!Worst part is the lenders are telling us to stop it by how they deal with low producing brokers and we fix it by creating corporate hubs to present deals to lenders. Any wonder why BMO, HSBC, and Macquarie have decided to pull out rather than have our industry represent their products to the public? Don't be surprised when Firstline walks....

  • Bruce Smith on 2011-11-16 5:38:31 AM

    It's a shame that individuals with bad experiences tend to be more vocal than those with positive experiences. Despite the unfortunate histories had by these people, however, there is a need for the mortgage broker and we shouldn't be dogged based on a few bad experiences. Here's an article on the role of the mortgage broker - http://bit.ly/uuNATa.

  • Chris on 2011-11-16 6:07:50 AM

    The AMP designation doesn't mean much. No consumers know what it is, and frankly if you have a pulse and a chequebook you too can be an AMP. I've never had a client ask me about it. It's also unfortunate that there are brokers out there so desperate for a paycheque they'll do anything to get it. If this is you, you should probably look at a new career, some of us run ethical businesses, and because of our clients satisfaction, our business is purely referrals. I haven't spent $1 on marketing this year, yet I doubled my business in each of the past 3 years. That's how you run a brokerage.

  • Doug on 2011-11-16 7:01:35 AM

    Brokers across Canada need to realize something... CAAMP is NOT a Mortgage Broker association. They receive the bulk of their sponsorship dollars from the lenders. Lenders are members of CAAMP. When they launched the AMP we were told that the funds would be used for marketing it to the consumer... really? When? Where? Just in Ontario? Really? But they claim to be NATIONAL? Turns out that the AMP was/is nothing more than a cash grab. Why else would you allow those that do not actively conduct mortgage business with the consumer to have the designation? Why else would you allow people with no licensing requirements to obtain the designation? Why else would you make it MANDATORY that ALL agents in an office obtain it, or no-one can get it? Why get the big brands to write it into their franchise agreements? To make more MONEY!! Does CAAMP understand that they are NOT a regulatory body? They are a voluntary membership organization. VOLUNTARY. What we need in Canada is a national association that actually exclusively represents the broker channel in Canada. CAAMP is not that organization, they never will be. CAAMP is pushing the AMP designation at the expense of mortgage brokers, simply because it is not a BROKER designation. The designation ONLY has value if the consumer supports it, and too many consumers have misconceptions about brokers as it is. So let's muddy the waters and introduce the AMP and offer it to anyone who take a course - let's further confuse the consumer by adding a new layer... Bank, Mortgage Broker and AMP. One more tidbit... the AMP designation was spearheaded by people who work for LENDERS. They sold a song to brokers, the song they sold is the wrong tune, with the wrong lyrics.

  • Mike on 2011-11-16 7:23:00 AM

    Here Here!! Well said DOUG!! - - - I think that the big brands would be the ideal to get together and spearhead the creation of a BROKER association - just for licensed individuals. One that represents mortgage brokers exclusively. One who's mandates are: (1) Consumer education (2) Regulatory partnership with the Provinces (3) national representation of MORTGAGE BROKERS - which means people who ACTIVELY participating in the mortgage brokerage business (not lender underwriters, BDM, etc). (4) One that has an executive committee comprised of the people who actually represents 90% of the broker community - the leadership at Verico, Dominion, Centum, Invis, Mtg Alliance, etc. THEY have a vested interest in the success of the individual mortgage broker. We are THEIR customers, employees, and the back bone of their businesses and so we are guaranteed that OUR best interest as an industry will be looked after.

  • Ron Butler on 2011-11-16 7:27:13 AM

    I think it is telling there were so many bad reactions. I will agree that there are too many mortgage brokers who tailor their offerings to the public based on commissions, lack of product knowledge and imposed lender relationships.

    But I would also suggest it is not just mortgage brokers and that if the Globe ran an article about any banks mortgage offerings there would be a ton of bad comments. Buyer's remorse is a relentless thing.

  • Kev on 2011-11-16 7:30:44 AM

    Mike, fantastic idea. I have a hard time picturing some at the top working together, but if we ever want to change our image - I believe that they need too step up. I for one would support it 100%. The folks at the top of the brands have done more for this industry than CAAMP ever will be able to do. Let's look to them as our true leaders for support and guidance.

  • LISA on 2011-11-16 7:33:35 AM

    I let my AMP lapse because I got no value from it and I could never figure out what CAAMP does for me as a broker. I happily support what Mike said about a broker organization for brokers. I think that it is long overdue in fact. Never thought about the big cheeses at the brands before, but the more I think on it, the better it sounds.

  • Jason on 2011-11-16 7:38:47 AM

    I'll buy the first membership Mike.

  • Paul on 2011-11-16 7:41:44 AM

    I was only keeping my AMP and CAAMP membership because I thought there was no other national option. Give me an option that truly represents brokers like Mike has suggested, and I'll drop CAAMP like a hot potatoe.

  • Ron Butler on 2011-11-16 7:56:10 AM

    One point on Mike's suggestion number 4: please understand the leaderships of networks and superbrokers do NOT share the same interests as mortgage brokers who are dealing directly with the public everyday. The network and superbroker owners have their own agendas which are not the same as individual mortgage brokers and agents. We need people who are in the trenches brokering mortgages every day at the top of CAAMP before any meaningful change will occur.

  • Paul on 2011-11-16 8:05:17 AM

    Ron, I disagree. They have a huge vested interest in the success of their networks. Success is about more than just producing volume, it is also about reputation, and consumer confidence. If they did not share the same interests, they would never create the training, tools or technology that they have. They would never have stepped up and engaged regulators they way they have. Remember it was Gary Mauris that met with Flaherty, not CAAMP, over the new mortgage rules. The leadership at the brands spends 100% of their day working on enhancing the broker community, because they have no choice, it is the bloodline of their businesses.

  • Keith on 2011-11-16 8:12:10 AM

    Ron, Sorry but I'll have to disagree with you and agree with Paul. The leadership at the brands has been phenominal in advancing the brokerage community. Their motivation might be business, but their commitment is definately to the industry.

  • Nic on 2011-11-16 10:28:40 AM

    I love the ideas that are coming up here. I hope they can become a reality (as with a graduated licensing program). I agree that it this Broker organization needs brokerage owners and brand management on it. However it needs ortgage brokers in the treches. It needs to be balanced with brokers who have years in the industry and it needs to have a fresh face too.
    I dont support CAAMP and AMP for the reasons mentioned above but I would love to support an organization that is focused on education and creating change, not just on money. I think some of the provincial organizations have a good idea in this area, but even then, there is something missing. You need to get away from politics and stay grounded on the everyday happenings of mortgage brokers.
    If you build it, I will come...

  • Ron Butler on 2011-11-17 8:29:16 AM

    I said that super brokers and networks have a different agenda than we do and I am right. In some areas the brokers interests converge with the networks, no question; but at the end of the day, when the super broker sells their business to a totally different entity and walks away...... who is left?

    Its always just the broker who is left, so everyone who thinks the super broker or network boss's interest are IDENTICAL to ours.......... give your heads a shake.

  • Jake Rempel on 2011-11-19 6:11:45 AM

    I'll take the second membership mike. You can be the first President!

  • Blair Anderson on 2011-11-20 4:05:22 PM

    I’m glad to be reading such a healthy debate on our industry and its leadership. For the record, my AMP lapsed about 5 years ago. Enough said. We do need representation on a national level, exclusive to the broker channel, and perhaps we don’t need to look any further than the model used by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. They represent a network of over 420 chambers of commerce and boards of trade, representing 192,000 businesses of all sizes in all sectors of the economy and in all regions. How does the Canadian Mortgage Brokers Association sound? And there needs to be equal representation between regions, and small and large brokerages.

  • Paul on 2011-11-16 8:14:28 AM

    I just want to add: I've owned my brokerage for over 15 years - 1/2 as an independent. The leadership I have received from our head office is why I am still in the business. They support me in a way that no other has in this industyr, and I am certain that I am not alone in thinking this.

Broker news forum is the place for positive industry interaction and welcomes your professional and informed opinion.

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