Nobody likes homework, and the Annual Information Return can seem very much like it for principal brokers in Ontario, now facing a $1,000 fine if they fail to hand in that assignment before April 1.
“Ugh!” says Paul Mangion, principal broker with M.O.S. MortgageOne Solutions, The Mortgage Centre. “I haven’t really looked at it yet, because I have until March 31.”
While Mangion and others concede that it is important for FSCO to collect the information, they argue the governing body tends to nit-pick more with the information than take real action based on its findings.
“They’ve come after me because my mortgage license number wasn’t on every page of the website,” he said Friday. “There are a lot of bad guys out there, misrepresenting and generating a lot of complaints in the industry – but FSCO doesn’t seem or want to go after them.”
Last year, 9 per cent of brokerages and administrators in Ontario failed to comply with this filing requirement, either filing after the March 31 deadline or not at all.
But for Enza Venuto, principal broker of Centum Streetwise Mortgages, it is an opportunity to reflect on the past year.
“I’ve already completed the AIR already,” she told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “It’s good to reflect on the results; we should always be learning in everything we do.”
Electronic filing (e-filing) of the AIR is mandatory in accordance with the Superintendent’s Rule governing the filing of the AIR. This rule formalizes the existing e-filing practice, which was implemented in 2009 using FSCO’s Licensing Link web portal.
The AIR itself is designed to collect information from mortgage administrators about their business practices, internal controls and market conditions. The information is used to FSCO in its risk assessment and oversight of mortgage administrators. The reporting period is January 1 to December 31, 2012.
“I’m compliant because I don’t want the headaches,” said Mangion. “But I know there are a lot (of brokers) out there who aren’t compliant.”
Mangion did tell MortgageBrokerNews.ca that although the requested information from FSCO can go into too much needless detail, it is a good indicator to reveal industry trends and possible red flags.
“For instance, one red flag would be if there is too much high-ratio business being done,” he said. “But what FSCO needs to do is follow up more on this. I don’t think they do.”
Mortgage administrators that fail to submit their AIR by March 31 of this year may be required to pay an administrative monetary penalty of $1,000.
“I always do mine early – I don’t want to be fined!” said Venuto. “Yes, it can be cumbersome to file on-line. You have to pull all of the balance sheets, get the insurance information, each agent’s license number. But I come prepared.”
For Venuto, it requires anywhere from one hour to an hour-and-a-half to file online.
“I come prepared. And I run a small to medium-size brokerage. I don’t have an administrator do this. But I treat it as a good indicator as to how sales have been over the year. It is a lot of information,” she said, “but you need this as a broker.”