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Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

Interprovincial Mortgage Brokers

The Internet has made doing business possible across the farthest reaches of the globe. It’s not surprising then, that technology is fostering mortgage brokering across provincial lines.

More and more, we see out-of-province brokers advertising and quoting rates in other provinces. This is making the mortgage market more price-efficient and lowering costs for consumers.

While some brokers may resist this development (and disdain far-away brokers who compete in their vicinity), interprovincial brokering is here to stay and it’s a trend that’s growing.

Interprovincial brokering is being fostered largely by a July 1 revision to the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT). Since mortgage brokers in Canada are regulated provincially, doing business in other provinces (prior to the AIT) required brokers to jump through some tedious licensing and compliance hoops.

In some ways, this kept brokers at a disadvantage to bank reps, who are regulated federally and can do business coast-to-coast. By comparison, brokers have eight regulators with different sets of rules and hurdles. (New Brunswick and PEI have no mortgage brokerage regulation of any kind.)

Fortunately, the AIT is starting to break down regulatory barriers in the mortgage market.

According to FSCO, the AIT is:

“an intergovernmental trade agreement signed by Canadian Premiers. Its purpose is to encourage improved interprovincial trade…and to establish an open, efficient, and stable domestic market.”

Effectively, the AIT enables duly licensed mortgage brokers to gain authorization to do business in another province “without having to complete additional material training, experience, examinations or assessments (or meet residency requirements).” The key is that the brokerage where the broker works must already be licensed there. “There still remain some differences in education courses but they are minimal,” says CAAMPPresident Jim Murphy.

CAAMP has been actively involved in the process of levelling the provincial regulatory playing field. Last fall at the CAAMP Expo, Murphy told us, “There should be some standardization” among provincial mortgage broker regulations. Since then, there’s been significant progress.

Standardization makes sense on numerous levels. For one thing, notes Murphy, “We call everybody different names. You’re a sub-broker in BC; you’re an associate in Alberta; you’re an agent in Ontario and everybody in Quebec is a broker.”

Differences like that serve no real purpose. All they do is confuse consumers and create compliance and marketing headaches for national brokerages.

In addition to licensing, there’s also been progress on equalizing errors and omissions insurance requirements. Murphy notes that Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario now all follow similar E&O models.

But more can be done; specifically in standardizing disclosures, says Murphy. (As agents who do business in multiple provinces, we enthusiastically attest to the inefficiencies created by different provincial disclosure forms.)

Canada isn’t the only country that is homogenizing its mortgage broker regulations. Australia (which has an analogous mortgage market to Canada in many ways) also recently proclaimed new legislation for mortgage brokers. “The Australian states agreed to upload mortgage brokerage regulation” to the federal level, Murphy tells us.

While federal broker regulation in Canada may be a distant reality, provincial regulators are thankfully easing our burdens and working together. In fact, mortgage broker regulators now meet twice a year says Murphy, who calls that “a positive initiative.” (They meet once during the spring and once during the CAAMP annual conference in the fall.)

All in all, interprovincial brokering is positive for consumers, says Murphy. The more efficient that regulators can make it for skilled brokers to do business nationally, the more competitive the mortgage market will become.

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