To The Pointwith Boris Bozic
Commentary, Opinions, Thoughts and Discussion on Current Events, Politics and The Mortgage Industry

4 Comments Public Awareness: Mortgage Industry

Article written by Boris Bozic on the 15 Sep 2011 in Mortgage

Is an awareness campaign necessary?

Few people really know what a mortgage broker does.- Some facts are indisputable; broker market share is trending in the wrong direction.

We must create a stable industry. This requires us to make this industry known and to attract the brightest so they can become the next generation of brokers, lenders and insurers.

Public awareness has been a topic of discussion in the mortgage broker industry for some time now.  It appears there’s a consensus that perhaps now is the time to create a public awareness campaign for the broker industry.  This is not unlike the recent campaign by the Insurance Bureau of Canada to enhance public awareness about their respective industry. I’ve had numerous discussions with industry leaders about this very issue, and it’s clear there is a will.  Ah, but is there a way?  Of course there is, it’s called money and who’s going to pay for it?  Creating public awareness through brand identification or defining what mortgage brokers do through an ad campaign is not cheap.  Let me rephrase that, it’s expensive.  To do it properly, and effectively, every mortgage broker will have to contribute.  It’s unrealistic to believe that someone else will subsidize the cost, i.e. the suppliers.  A commitment to a public awareness campaign will take significant resources, and a commitment to supporting the cause over a long period of time.  A two month campaign is a waste of good money.  Like you, I’m not enamored with the idea of wasting good money.  By the way, is there such a thing as “bad money”?  If there is, I don’t want to waste that either.

I guess a fundamental question industry stakeholders will have asked themselves is, “is an awareness campaign necessary”? There are varying degrees of necessity and each stakeholder will determine if there’s a compelling reason to participate in a campaign. Some stakeholders may want to maintain the status quo.  One could take a ‘let’s hope’ approach.  Things are okay today so why should I worry about the future, I’ll always get mine.  Some stakeholders may be reluctant to participate because such a campaign may impact negatively on other distribution channels.  Some stakeholders may say they reached their limit from economic standpoint. Irrespective of position or viewpoint, some facts are indisputable; broker market share is trending in the wrong direction.  Secondly,  human capital and organic growth has to be addressed.   Creating a stable industry, with long-term property, requires us to make this industry known and to attract the brightest so they can become the next generation of brokers, lenders and insurers.

In my humble estimation, the most compelling reason to take part in an awareness campaign is because few people really know what a mortgage broker does. According to a Meritz survey, which was commissioned by CAAMP, over 2/3 of the respondents said they did not have a good understanding of what a mortgage broker does.  How many cars would car companies sell if 2/3 of consumers really didn’t know what a car was?  The example is extreme but I think you get the point.  What percentage of the populace, if surveyed, would know what a realtor, an insurance broker or financial planner really does? I’m not sure of the results but I’m fairly confident numbers would better than the mortgage industry. 

If a solution and a way to undertake such a campaign were to be found, it may prove to be a turning point for the industry. That’s not hyperbole.  How many times in this industry have competitors got together, and agreed to put their own interest aside for the betterment of the greater good. This will only work if brokers can come to an understanding and if they agree they need to do this for their business today and in the future.  Kudos to the leaders of the largest brokerage firms who are willing to explore the possibility.  It will take great leadership, resolve and vision to make this happen.  Should it not come to fruition, let’s hope it’s not from a lack of trying.

Until next time



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Michael Cameron Reply

While I think that raising awareness is a necessary endeavor, I also think that we need to get better at what we do as a collective first. If we are going to raise awareness than we better be damn good at what we do. Today, we are not.

This comes back to raising the professionalism, integrity and quality of all of us in the channel. If we spend $7 million (pick a number) to raise consumer awareness and the consumer calls ‘a’ broker who happens to be part time, untrained and unskilled, then you can kiss that investment in raising awareness goodbye.

We have a fundamental problem with the channel that is far greater than a lack of consumer awareness and I believe that needs to be addressed first (or at least in parallel to raising awareness). I applaud all who are trying to increase awareness and again think that it is important, but even more important is raising the level of service that we deliver as a channel.

Lenders have acknowledged it by being selective on who they will deal with. I don’t think there is a lender out there that will deal with all 16-18,000 brokers in the channel. I love what we do and am passionate about driving us forward. I am more than willing to work with all that share that passion and professionalism. There are a lot of great brokers out there and we just have to come together to get better as a channel.

September 15 2011 13:18 pm Boris Bozic Website

Hi Michael,
Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I agree with your comments as it relates to raising the level of professionalism in our industry. It should be an never ending goal that we should all pursue. However, the reality is that every industry faces the challenge of varying degrees of expertise and competency. Be it lawyers, doctors, plumbers, engineers, brokers, lenders, insurers etc, every field must deal with reputational risk due to incompetence. Maybe some of the issues we face are more pronounced, but the issues are not exclusive to the broker industry only. Therefore, to delay an awareness campaign until a utopian state is reached will result in no campaign at all. An awareness campaign will serve two purposes, making potential borrowers aware of what we do, and planting a seed to those that may have never considered our industry as a possible career. Our industry has to find ways to attract the brightest, and those with higher skill set levels. If we're successful in that regard it will contribute to raising the level of professionalism in our industry. I believe an investment in this regard is sound and prudent. At the very least it should be considered and explored.

Michael Cameron Reply

Great comment! This is a fantastic discussion. I agree wholeheartedly and look forward to working together to achieve both goals.

1) Raising awareness
2) Raising our collective level of professionalism.

Count me in!

Jason Krist Reply

Boris, I enjoyed reading this. I have long felt that a “National” campaign to raise awareness to the consumer would be excellent! From broker to broker, to lender, to insurer etc… within’ the industry, we owe it to our customers, clients (and ourselves) to maintain best practices from start to finish in each transaction!
I agree with what Michael has said as well, and feel that “raising our collective level of professionalism” within the industry will go a very long way in assisting with a campaign in raising the awareness to the consumer of the very valuable role the Mortgage Broker Industry provides.
I believe each of us brokers have a professional responsibility to not only be “better” to ourselves and consumers, but to each other as brokers. I believe that being better and educating each other in “best practices” will also go a long way into raising the collective level of professionalism within’ the industry!

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