A recurring theme that arises in conversations with mortgage brokers is the need to elevate the level of play. That doesn’t just mean doing the best job on files, better meeting client needs, and building individual business, but truly elevating the level of discourse and professionalism among the mortgage industry as a whole.
Some brokers think that a good place to start would be by raising the bar for entry in the first place.
Camilo Rodriguez, president of the Canadian Mortgage Brokers Association – BC, says that mortgage brokers should face a similar commitment as that of accountants, lawyers, and medical professionals, all of whom sink a lot more time and money into their careers than brokers tend to do. Rodriguez is an electrical engineer by trade and believes that brokers would be less likely to make poor decisions if they had a lot more at stake.
“In most provinces, including BC, you spend very little money, you have a couple months of study, and then you are given the opportunity to talk to the public or do deals,” he said. “If you have good, strong values, you will make the right decisions, but maybe you are going to get tempted . . . people may feel the urge to take the wrong path. That’s something that as an industry we should try to fix, and that’s always through education and commitment and time.”
He adds that the vast majority of brokers are always going to do the best by their clients, but those who don’t, or those who tear down other brokers, are allowed to hang around far longer than they should.
“We don’t have a feedback mechanism so the bad apples are reported properly and dealt with properly. I’ve seen people who have been bad apples for 10 years until they get caught—That is wrong. As an industry, we shouldn’t accept that,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said that regulators, associations, banks, and brokerages should get together and create a mechanism for a feedback loop, so everyone can identify and reprimand problematic brokers and agree on a course of action if their behaviour doesn’t change.
“We should not allow people to do the wrong thing for 10, 12, 15 years, or even worse. Because of confidentiality, one lender or broker house finds out about this individual, they fire them . . . but nobody else knows about it and that person continues to do the same thing at another house or another lender, and perpetuates this for many years. That is totally unacceptable an industry.”
Professionalism doesn’t always refer to the ways that brokers make decisions regarding clients. It also refers to the treatment of their peers.
One source who wished not to be named said that brokers are managing an incredibly sophisticated, complicated transaction from the perspective of the consumer, and yet some brokers operate with a frustratingly petty mindset to their colleagues. Instead of standing shoulder to shoulder with other brokers, they’re talking behind their backs and tearing them down.
“The degree of adolescence that comes out of this channel is so overwhelming. It’s like we’re kids,” the source said.
Bullying gets a lot of attention when it comes to adolescent behaviour on social media, but adults face it too, and it can—and does—happen in the broker community. The best brokers, however are able to engage with their peers and other professionals in instances where one opinion isn’t always right or wrong, said Shubha Dasgupta, President and CEO of Capital Lending Centre.
“I think it’s very important to elevate our peers and our colleagues,” said Dasgupta, adding that he thinks it’s a waste of time for brokers to go out of their way to speak ill of other industry members. “I think that there’s no time or place for that in our industry.”
There are always going to be issues and challenges with peers but as online communication becomes more prevalent, these issues can quickly swell out of control and into the public eye. Dasgupta thinks that any disputes should be handled in person. There’s a lot of opinion, he said, and not enough sharing of facts, and sometimes the conversations or conflicts can be handled easier offline than online.
“There’s room for everybody in our industry. There’s a growing need for the services that we provide. There’s leaders that have niche markets, there’s leaders that have great solutions that are available across industry, and if we all began working together, hand in hand, and allowing each other to succeed and drive forward, hopefully this can get pushed to the bottom rung of the ladder and become less of a problem,” Dasgupta said.