Part-timer defends the controversial practice

Part-timer defends the controversial practice

A seasoned broker – now a part-timer – is defending that choice, challenging mortgage professionals who argue the industry has no place for him and a growing number of others.

“I take strong exception to someone saying that there is no room for part-timers in the industry,” Greg Barrow, a part-time agent with Dominion Lending Centres in Richmond Hill, Ont., told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “You know, I understand where they’re coming from, but there is no reason that a part-timer who is keeping up with all the changes in the industry – the lender products, the regulations and rule changes – should and could be distinguished from a full-time one. Certainly I make sure that I spend the time and make the commitment to ensure that there is no disadvantage to the client.”

Barrow’s comments are a direct answer to an increasingly loud call for regulatory changes that would discourage part-time brokering. Advocates view it as the best way to shore up professional standards and maximize client satisfaction while minimizing client complaints. The move has also been billed as a way to increase broker efficiency ratios and to re-establish a more profitable playing field for full-time mortgage professionals.

Barrow, who worked full-time as a broker for four years before taking a full-time position as a web developer last fall, understands the concerns of peers opposed to part-timers, but is himself concerned about stereotyping.

“I’ve made a conscious decision to take on a limited number of clients each month so that I can devote the time necessary to serving that client and ensuring they get the best deal possible,” he told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “I refer on most clients to other brokers because I don’t’ have the time to devote.”

More and more agents are opting to do the same, as they decide to go part-time and seek full-time employment outside the industry.

The number of Vancouver brokers taking a second job outside the mortgage biz is on the upswing, seasoned professionals told MortgageBrokerNews.ca, as the competition for a falling number of originations heats up and newbies find themselves without the established portfolios needed to grow referrals and refinances.

“A lot of people looked at broking in the last boom as very lucrative and they entered the market thinking that the money was always just going to flow in,” said Luisa Hough, owner/broker of Exclusive Mortgage Professionals in Surrey. “The market has now slowed, and it hasn’t worked out for them and they find themselves in a tough situation.”

That phenomenon is expected to grow with new relicensing requirements for Ontario mortgage professionals. CAAMP President Jim Murphy is, in fact, suggesting the province could lose a significant number of its brokers and agents by next spring.

“In the last license renewal period in March 2010, 15 per cent of Ontario licensees – agents and brokers – did not renew their license,” he told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “In the 18 months since ….They have made up for the 15 per cent loss. Brokers and agents in Ontario this time must also take a re-licensing course, which they did not have to do last time (and) my guess would be (the loss could be) 10 per cent to 15 per cent.”

That kind of chop would likely result from discouraged and inactive brokers opting to exit the business rather than submit to new education requirements introduced this year and taking effect next March. Still, just as many of those young mortgage professionals are likely to stick it out, opting instead to follow Barrow’s reluctant lead.

“Going part-time was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make, but it was nice to be offered a full-time salary contract position, that eventually turned into a permanent job,” he told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “I’m a relatively new agent and didn’t have a huge database of clients.”