By the time this blog is posted, I’ll be somewhere over the Pacific Ocean heading towards Sydney, Australia. My final destination is Adelaide, Australia. The purpose of the journey is to attend the Mortgage & Finance Association of Australia National Conference. It’s a long, a very long way, to go to attend a conference. By the time you read this blog, I will be well into my 22 hour flight and, I suspect, I will be going a little stir crazy. I’ve traveled a number of times to Europe, but an 8 hour flight to Europe is like a walk around the block compared to “going down under.” It’s a trip I always wanted to make, but I always found a reason to put it off. Must be the thought of been cramped in a tin can for 22 hours. But now, there was definitive time and reason to go. The MFAA is Australia’s equivalent of CAAMP. As much as I’m delighted to remove an item from my bucket list, going to Australia, the primary purpose of the visit is to represent CAAMP, and to go for my own personal development.
Canada and Australia are similar in many ways; specifically as it relates to the mortgage industry, an oligopoly exists in both countries, but the big difference is the disappearance of mono-lines in Australia. That was a result of the credit crisis of 2008, or as the Aussie’s like to say, the GSS (Global Shit Storm). The mortgage industry in Australia changed significantly post-2008. As mentioned, mono-lines became a footnote in the annals of the mortgage lending history in Australia. Given limited competition, broker commissions where significantly reduced. The four major banks in Australia now control 90% of the broker market share. The banks imposed proficiency exams on brokers to do business with them, at a cost of $750 to write the exam. The major banks took an equity position in some of the larger broker house’s in Australia, and they exercise their influence and control by way of board seats. Yet, for all the challenges the Australian broker market has faced since the GSS, they still control a 40% market share. That’s what I find fascinating. The Canadian broker market came out relatively unscathed after 2008, and yet broker market share in Canada is not growing. The data would suggest that broker market share in Canada is actually contracting; so what is it about Australian broker market that enables them not only maintain their market share but actually grow it? That’s going to be the first question I ask of any stakeholder in Australia. I hope to garner some insights and to see if there’s some practical application to our market, given examples from Australia.
What I’m really looking forward to is talking to lenders and brokers who fully embrace a trailer fee model. Brokers and lenders in Australia are vested and fully committed to this model. So what I hope to gleam is, how did they get there? I believe the trailer fee model is now accepted by the broker community in Canada. It’s no longer viewed as the boogieman or the great unknown. In large part this is due to Merix’s commitment towards this compensation model, and it pioneering of the trailer fee model. Many lenders talked about in the past but Merix actually did it. I commend all the broker lenders in Canada that have created a hybrid of the Merix model. Lenders in Canada can call them renewal fees if they like but the fact is prior to Merix, lenders were not paying on renewal. My hope is that every lender jumps on board and helps to create future value for mortgage brokers in Canada. Who knows, maybe one day Aussie brokers and lenders will ask us, how did you do it?
Until next time