What’s in a name?

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For years, the mortgage broker industry was given considerable latitude when choosing titles.  The only restriction was your imagination.  Titles like, Mortgage Advisor, Mortgage Consultant, Mortgage Specialist, Mortgage Architect, Mortgage Planner, Mortgage God, etc.  You get the idea.  Oddly enough, what you saw less of was, Mortgage Broker?  I suppose there was a good reason for that.  In the early nineties, when mortgage brokers were becoming mainstream originators, servicing the prime lending space, at the same time, some were trying hard to distance themselves from the prevailing perception as, “lender of last resort,” associated with the subprime lending space.  Especially those who were serving the prime lending space, exclusively, anything but “Mortgage Broker” sounded better.  But without any formal accreditation or credentials associated with the profession, other than your license, mortgage brokers didn’t sound any different than their competition, the mortgage originators employed by the banks.  Often times the very same titles.  Hence, according to the Ontario regulator of mortgage brokers, there was too much confusion in the marketplace for the consumer as to who was a licensed mortgage broker/agent, and who was not.

In Ontario, that changed when the industry regulator for mortgage brokers, the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) rewrote the Mortgage Brokers Act, to become the Mortgage Brokerages, Lenders and Administrators Act, 2006 (MBLAA).  Among the many changes to the older Act, was a restriction on the use of titles.  With protecting the consumer a top priority of FSCO, they wanted to eliminate any confusion about who holds a mortgage broker/agent license.  Remember, FSCO does not regulate bank employees.  That is the jurisdiction of the federal government, under the Bank Act.  In Ontario, as per the MBLAA, mortgage brokers/agent have the following options for titles:  Mortgage Broker, Broker, Mortgage Agent, or Agent.  French equivalents, and short-forms aside, that’s it!  Not much latitude, but hopefully far less confusion about who you are dealing with.  Anyone not in compliance with this regulation can face severe consequences.

Getting and keeping your license as a mortgage broker/agent in Ontario is the subject for another day.  As a consumer, your first clue to confirming someone is a licensed mortgage broker/agent is no further away than the title you see on their business card.  You can also confirm their license by looking them up on the FSCO public registry – http://www5.fsco.gov.on.ca/mbsweblist/agents.aspx.

If I can help, let me know.