Broker beefs aside, CAAMP realized a whopping 10 per cent jump in AMP memberships during its last fiscal year, according to data released this week.
“Our AMP membership grew to over 3,800, representing an increase of over ten percent,” said Jim Murphy, CEO and president for the non-profit association, in its 2010/2011 annual report released Wednesday. “Members value the AMP and support professionalism. The changes we implemented earlier in the year were well received and will continue to be an area of focus.”
It is unclear how much of that growth came from Canada’s existing pool of brokers and agents versus new entrants to the market.
Still, the impressive spike challenges the idea that a groundswell of brokers are choosing to walk away from the designation, citing weak qualifying standards and a low profile with consumers.
That criticism, in fact, led to the change Murphy and other CAAMP board members ushered in late last year and meant to address those concerns.
Chief among them was the move to mandate four of the 12 continuing education units required for annual AMP renewal, outgoing CAAMP Chair Joe Pinheiro told MortgageBrokerNews.ca.
“Those four credits deal with professionalism and include topics such as fraud avoidance, consumer protection and agency law,” he said. “They also speak to raising the professionalism of the AMP designation.
As well, all new originator applicants must be licensed and carry errors and omissions insurance. New applicants without a minimum two years’ experience must also pass a “strenuous” 10-step equivalency course, what CAAMP calls its “Fundamental Mortgage Principles Program.” That course focuses on essentials, including regulatory compliance, fraud avoidance, housing and mortgage economics and advertising and marketing standards.
“It’s a very difficult course, something reflected in the failure rate, which is comparable to other qualifying tests,” Pinheiro told MortgageBrokerNews.ca, “and the expectation is that the AMP taskforce, along with the association, will continuously look to raise the bar.”
Murphy is suggesting those higher standards have helped to bolster broker buy-in. To date, more than 637 AMPs have also opted to extend that designation with the addition of “specialist” recognition.
But AMP criticism also appears to have grown.
“I applaud all the work CAAMP has done in terms of lobbying for the industry, especially around the HST and GST,” Mike Cameron – head of broker network Axiom Mortgage and the “Mortgage Revolution” – 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.”
He’s not alone, with a number of brokers ultimately deciding to drop the AMP, citing its poor consumer penetration compared to other financial industry designations, including the CFA and CFP.
“I've been in the biz for 10 years and used to be an AMP,” B.C. broker Dave Lytton, wrote in commenting on MortgageBrokerNews.ca article last month, “but (I) felt the value was less than minimal and was a money grab, so I stopped. I still take lots of courses – I agree with keeping up on my industry – but the money I put out has to give me a positive ROI.”
Of the $641,830 in AMP dues collected for the year ended April 30, 2011, $607,269, or 94.6 per cent, was spent on advertising.