Thousands of agents walk away from industry

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Ontario veterans hoping new re-licensing requirements would send a rush of “uncommitted” agents heading for the exit appear to have gotten their wish, with the province confirming as little as 72 percent of some 9,700 agents had renewed with only a day left on the clock.

As of March 30 – less than 24 hours before this year’s drop-dead deadline – only 7,022 agents in the province had submitted renewal applications, via their brokers, according to the official website for the Financial Services Commission of Ontario. That loss of 2,500 agents is considerably larger than the approximately 460 licensed brokers and principal brokers who failed to meet the cutoff date

For Ontario, the agent numbers, in particular, represent its biggest-ever drop-off in licensees. The figures also dwarf industry estimates of 10 per cent to 15 per cent, offered in the months leading up to the March 31 deadline.

Missing that drop-dead date has major consequences. Not only has the agent’s licence expired, but if he or she attempts to re-apply as a new agent or broker, they’ll be required to admit “non-compliance” and take the re-licensing education by June 30, 2012.

They’ll also have to dig deeper in their pockets and pay the $800 fee for a new agent or broker licence rather than the $700 fee to renew.

But most of the 2,000 agents opting to forego re-licensing likely have no real interest in staying in the business.

In December, the provincial regulator identified as much as 10 per cent to 15 per cent of the province's 9,000-plus licensed agents as no longer working at a brokerage and, therefore, unauthorized to sell mortgages.

Those mortgage professionals have likely abandoned the business since the 2010 renewal period or have taken up administrative or management positions within the industry.

Brokers have viewed their departure as generally a good thing, arguing part-time agents effectively erode industry reputation at the same time they lack the skill and commitment to manage increasingly complex client applications.

One broker, in fact, called on other brokerage heads in Ontario to cut loose those kinds of agents rather than renew them last month.

“I’m just now undertaking the process and choosing not to renew about eight of my agents who are just not committed enough to the industry and mortgage brokering,” Paul Mangion, principal broker of The Mortgage Centre - M.O.S. MortgageOne Solutions Ltd. , in Mississauga, told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “I’d like to see other broker-owners take a look at their own agents and look at not renewing them either as a way of increasing industry professionalism and efficiency.”

  • Nicholas on 2012-04-05 3:41:03 AM

    I suspect that this drop-off number is overstated as many offices waited until the last minute to send in re-licensing applications for all agents (I know that our office had some agents who didn't complete the RL course until March 29). Even though others completed the course much earlier, their application for renewal may not have been submitted until March 30.

  • Len Lane on 2012-04-05 3:42:15 AM

    Good call Paul, we let agents go who have not really done anything. It's hard but it cost money and time to retrain them every time they do a deal if they're not doing them on a regular basis.

  • Dedicated on 2012-04-05 4:27:10 AM

    I agree, time to take stock, too much at stake as a business owner plus you want full time dedicated Agents committed to this Industry. I think it is also an indicator of how lax the rules were, or how easy it was to get an Agent license. This is a great industry not without its challenges; we followed Paul’s measures some time ago and are better for it.

  • Elfie Hayes on 2012-04-05 4:49:08 AM

    As with any business, we need to work lean and mean in times of economic uncertainty. I have cleaned house and now I have more resources to share among those who are working full time. It's too costly both financially and emotionally to carry agents who don't take this business seriously. Doing a deal here and a deal there does not a professional Mortgage Agent make! I find this news refreshing in a world of much bitter mortgage news!

  • Paul Mangion on 2012-04-05 5:05:53 AM

    Thanks for the positive comments. Unfortunately there will be quite a bit last minute registrations and those agents and brokers that conduct their business that way are the exact people we want to leave the industry. I think there should be no late renewals without re taking the courses again. The other big concern I have is there will be a number of agents that will be allowed to become a broker now that the rules have change which only encourages the wrong type of people to hire and train agents because they have little time or money invested in this industry. Let's hope these numbers are correct and I am wrong so that we may have a respectable industry once more.

  • Ont Broker on 2012-04-05 6:46:56 AM

    How do you combat the part timers when you have a major Brokerage advertising on the radio for inexperienced and part timers. Maybe there should have been a closer look see not at just the agents but some of the company practices before a lot of the Brokerage Licences were renewed.....just saying

  • Paul Bath CPMB on 2012-04-05 6:56:57 AM

    Many business planners or coaches will tell a business to get rid of the bottom 10% of their sale force as they cost you valuable time and money. This renewal process saved a lot of Brokerages the headache of doing so. We should all take another serious look at our team a year from now.

  • New Part Time Agent on 2012-04-05 11:57:30 AM

    But what about the new agents who can't afford to start out in this industry on a full time basis due to family commitments, etc. Ont Broker makes the comment "How do you combat the part timers when you have a major Brokerage advertising on the radio for inexperienced and part timers". I am confused at this comment especially by the term "inexperienced". All new agents starting out, whether full or part time, are inexperienced, aren't they? And whats is wrong with a committed individual starting out on a part time basis and working their way up to full time status when the time is right?

  • Paul Mangion on 2012-04-06 12:31:36 AM

    Nothing is wrong with a part time agent that is committed. The problem is 90% will not commit the time and money it takes to be successful. They are happy with a couple of thousand dollars couple of times a year. They are the ones that never learn anything and cause most of the damage. We are supposed to be professionals. When last did you go to a doctor or lawyer that drives a cab part time? How can we call ourselves professionals when we don’t act that way?

  • Another new agent on 2012-04-06 6:31:01 AM

    I agree with the sentiment expressed, but I don't think it's fair to generalize. There may be agents who what to start part-time and transition into the field, rather than give up a well paying full time job while they still have a house and family to support. This doesn't mean they're not committed or that they won't become full time.

  • Paul Therien on 2012-04-06 7:29:28 AM

    If we view being a mortgage broker as a profession, and we are trying to increase that level of prefessionalism in the eyes of the consumer... then we need to start treating this as a real job, as a career. Do other professions have a flood of part timers? Financial planners, stock brokers, investment advisors, etc - NO they do not. Even in real estate - the ones that view this as a career - take the risk and work full time. It is the most effective and quickest way to build a career.

    Don't come in thinking "when I make enough money I will go full time" make the commitment right from the start. Have a starting plan, save some money, and take it seriously... if not for yourself, then do it for your customers.

  • New Part Time Agent on 2012-04-06 12:38:42 PM

    Paul Therien - very good points you make. I am very excited to begin in this great profession. I will work as hard as I can to get to full time status as I want this to be my career for the next 20-30 years.

  • Abdullah on 2014-06-29 5:53:11 PM

    If you want to compare yourself to prefessions like doctors or laywers.. shouldnt you pay out a salary so that you can encourage up and coming agents to make the comitment you are asking them to make. Its easy to say you should do this or that. Its entirely another to put you families financial stability at risk for a completely uncertain career where the business owners are worried about running a lean and mean system than to nourish careers. Thats why most people would rather start part time.

  • Sean Binkley on 2014-07-07 10:10:17 AM

    I know of no other industry in the financial sector that has low education requirements and very low fees including licensing and errors and omissions. Licensing fees should be double what they are today, that way people that want to "dabble" in mortgages won't renew. Let's face it, for the commission on most mortgages, we cover E/O, Licensing, Caamp, etc. for one year. Ask a financial planner friend what they pay for E/O and licensing. It's heading the right way, but still has a way to go.

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