Enrolment numbers for a program focused on training new agents may be a wakeup call for an industry fighting to grow market share, said its developer.
“REMIC has seen a similar number of students enrolling this fall as compared to last fall – up by about 10 per cent, year-over-year,” Joe White, president of Real Estate and Mortgage Institute of Canada, told MortgageBrokerNews.ca “We feel that we as an industry can do more to attract qualified individuals not currently in our industry through innovative recruiting. It’s one thing to see agents move from one brokerage to another, but real growth occurs in any industry when there is an influx of new, quality talent.”
Many of the students now signed up for the institute’s agent licensing courses are, in fact, adults looking to change careers due to current economic conditions, said White. Still, the industry may not yet have realized its full potential in terms of attracting professional salespeople, among others, with transferable skills and the aptitude to learn the ins and outs of the mortgage transaction.
There has, however, been some growth.
While the total number of Ontario brokers grew nine per cent in the 12 months ending in April of this year – rising to 1,204 – the number of mortgage professionals in the province climbed by 27 per cent. That was before the country's stagnant economy cut 5,500 jobs in August. Brokers already in the business have grappled with that slowdown.
The slowing, yet increasingly competitive Canadian market will not only cull the number of new entrants to the broker industry, but thin the existing ranks by as much as five per cent, a veteran mortgage professional told MortgageBrokerNews.ca.
“There’s just too much competition from the banks, which have the power to squeeze us out,” Peter Majthenyi, a lead planner with Mortgage Architects in Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe, said. “We’ve lost market share from 2008. I don't see the industry expanding, but remaining flat and perhaps contracting 5 per cent.
“As an industry, we were much more attractive to bank employees, and other traditional sources of new entrants, five years ago. Now there’s little incentive for them to come over to the broker industry where they would lose their brand and wouldn’t be fed business.”
Still, the industry can, in fact, grow its numbers, at the same time education and training providers help grow its professionalism, said White.
“Regulatory requirements are necessary, but to increase market share requires a concerted effort by industry participants to hire the right agents, and provide support and ongoing training to these agents,” he told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “This is one of the reasons that REMIC provides a suite of ongoing training, free of charge, to new agents. The Centum Financial Group is a prime example of a brokerage that has adopted this principle, by providing our program at no charge to its agents. It’s time to work together to increase the quality of agents in our industry.”