Gary Siegle asked me on my last post what my thoughts were on the state of licensing education standards across Canada. I responded in the comments section but felt that the topic warranted a post of its own. For years I have lamented the fact that our industry standards of education have been set far to low. This makes the barrier to entry so low that there is little effort required, and therefore little risk, to enter our industry. This increases our collective risk that the consumers experience with a Mortgage Broker may not be a positive one. Here is a link to an article I wrote on ‘Why should I give a rip?‘.
Over the years I have helped to develop content for industry courses, I have taught the courses and I have taken many of licensing and continuing education courses that are offered. While there are some fabulous courses offered and some great instructors in our industry there are still some substantial gaps when it comes to setting higher national standards for licensing education requirements to ensure that every Mortgage Broker out there is operating at the highest standards possible.
One of the biggest issues I see facing us is the disharmony between all the provincial associations, our national association and the regional regulators. While our regulators start to work together to standardize educational requirements across the country and introduce reciprocity across provincial borders, our associations continue to compete with each other when it comes to education. We often talk about the race to the bottom as brokers when it comes to rate wars and buying down rates with compensation, yes that is a whole other topic, yet our associations seem to be doing the same thing with education. In an effort to drive more revenue they make access easier and courses cheaper competing with one another for the would be Mortgage Broker as a customer ultimately driving standards lower and lower. This is extremely alarming. When I discuss our circumstance with other industries, namely financial planning, they are stunned that we have so much difficulty setting the standards higher. After all, in most provinces you require a license to be a Mortgage Broker so the answer should be simple… get the regulators to buy into higher standards, and have them raise the bar for us. Wow, it should be relatively easy shouldn’t it?
Unfortunately the problem seems to be the fact that we as an industry do not have a unified voice on this topic and instead continue to compete with each other for the education revenue. It’s no wonder the regulators are taking matters into their own hands. Our regulators are listening, they have introduced reciprocity so that qualifications can be transferred from one province to another with relative ease. This is generally a good thing. The only challenge that this presents is the fact that, if I am a lazy broker, I can now go and find the province with the lowest standards, complete their licensing requirements and transfer those to my province of choice.
So what is the answer? Well in my opinion the first thing we need to do is come up with a unified front. I think we all agree that we want to raise the minimum standards of education. That said, lets work together to come up with a unified approach to lobby our regulators to ensure that that happens. If our regulators can see that we have our ‘poop in a group’ then they are more likely to work with us when it comes to setting the standards. Now please don’t get me wrong there are some great people who have made some great strides in making this happen but i truly believe that this is mission critical. If we cannot set our own standards one of two things will happen; 1) Standards will continue to erode and our industry will decline, or 2) The regulators will start telling us how we have to do business. I am not a fan of either of these options!!
What are your thoughts on the state of Educational Standards across the country?