A CFP/broker is predicting the mortgage industry will more than double its number of dually-certified professionals in the next five years as brokers look to differentiate themselves from the madding crowd and broaden their usefulness to clients.
“What people will do is look at the CFP designation and want to have that prestige behind them,” Greg Stanley, head of Home n Work Mortgages and one of an estimated 20 mortgage professionals across Canada now holding Certified Financial Planner certifications. “I see the current number of us more than doubling in the next five years, with brokers who are of the mindset taking the CFP courses over a couple of years as a way of broadening their utility to the client, but also of better marketing themselves and truly becoming trusted advisors to their clients.”
That expanded advisory role effectively encompasses both asset and debt management. It also holds the potential to significantly strengthen the broker’s referral network, said Stanley, pointing to added credibility attached to the CFP, especially among other CFPs and other financial advisors.
“I give 20 talks a year to financial planners who are duly licensed in both the insurance and mutual fund industries,” he told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “Most recently, I spoke to 278 Canadian financial planners in Las Vegas that were all attending a National Advisor Conference about paying off mortgages faster to build faster net worth with their cleints. This is something I probably wouldn’t have been able to do without the designation as I am able to 'talk the talk and walk the walk' with my fellow advisors.
Outside of referrals, the designation has also been an important calling card with clients, often with little to no knowledge of the AMP certification Stanley also holds, but a much broader understanding of the CFP.
The difference in name recognition isn’t lost on CAAMP.
The Financial Planning Standards Council’s CFP, in fact, scored better on CAAMP’s own consumer recognition testing, with 50 per cent of respondents to a recent poll indicating awareness. Only 17 per cent answered the same in regards to the AMP.
Critics charge that discrepancy indicates that CAAMP hasn’t done enough to promote the designation. The association’s most recent numbers undercut that argument, said CAAMP Chair Joe Pinheiro. Of the $641,830 in AMP dues collected for the year ended April 30, 2011, he said, $607,269, or 94.6 per cent, was spent on advertising. “The reality is that that is still a pretty small sum in terms of promoting the AMP nationally,” Pinheiro said, suggesting brokers may need to adjust expectations.
The mortgage broker designation may be years away from catching up to the rigorous testing standards of other financial advisory certifications, including the CFP. It’s something that may ultimately limit the number of mortgage professionals willing to invest the time and money needed to take the mandated courses.
Still, that academic heavy lifting has the potential to strengthen the work brokers are already doing, Stanley suggested, pointing to the CFP emphasis on helping clients develop both short- term objectives and long term goals but also in continually monitoring their progress, long after the initial origination.
It’s why Stanley focuses on equipping clients with a cash management software program, which takes an holistic approach to debt management.
“The most important thing a mortgage broker should do is make sure that the client eliminates debt as fast as possible,” he told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “If you improve someone’s mortgage freedom date then you’ve made a client/friend for life.”