Do the global mortgage markets share anything in common?

One man is leading the charge on bringing the international mortgage sector together

Do the global mortgage markets share anything in common?

Mortgage brokers from all over the world gathered in Las Vegas last month for the inaugural 2023 World Summit of the International Mortgage Brokers Federation (IMBF).

The event was the brainchild of Peter White (pictured above), the managing director of the Finance Brokers Association of Australia (FBAA) and chairman of the global board of directors of the IMBF.

White spoke to Mortgage Professional Australia and its sister publications about the summit and why the successful event was a necessity for the industry.

The story behind the IMBF

Hosted by the National Association of Mortgage Brokers (NAMB), the voice of the mortgage industry in the US which is celebrating its 50-year anniversary this year, the very first IMBF world summit attracted more than 100 brokers and stakeholders from all over the world.

For the first time, attendees were able to gather together to workshop the issues and challenges facing brokers in their respective countries.

The IMBF, and the creation of the “global hub” it represents, was prompted by a research paper White was working on in 2015.

While writing the paper, White realised brokers, no matter where they lived, faced similar challenges and had similar concerns around a range of issues, from commissions to clawbacks.

While there was “a growing conversation in Australia” about these issues, White wanted to find out if other countries were talking about the same things.

It turned out they were.

After speaking to industry contacts in Canada, and realising they were “on the same wavelength,” conversations between mortgage professionals in the two countries started to happen on a regular basis.

International Mortgage Brokers Federation was formed in Australia and Canada

In 2018, the IMBF was formed by the FBAA and the Canadian Mortgage Brokers Association.

“At the moment, we represent five, technically six, but primarily five countries - so you’ve got Australia, Canada, Ireland, UK, and USA,” White said.

The Netherlands is an affiliate of the organisation and South Africa is also looking at joining, along with New Zealand and some European countries.

White said the IMBF was established to represent the best interests of brokers in those countries with discussions around their political and regulatory environments, property markets and economies having proven very important in recent years.

“The pandemic was a big conversation, we actually supported each other through the pandemic,” White said.

“By having these conversations, we found out we’re all suffering almost identically, from the same things. Except for Australia, our mortgage broking industry went nuts through the pandemic - [but] most countries suffered.”

He said the pandemic represented a good time for members of the IMBF to offer support so people knew they were “not on their own in this” and had the ability share strategies about how they could combat it.

According to White, one of the fundamental concepts of the IMBF is to take those conversations to regulators and politicians, reminding them “we are part of a global community and the people that are invested [in these conversation] are industry experts”.

“We are looking seriously at the issues in each country and writing a resolve to those issues based off the experts’ experience to ensure that we’re sitting in front of what should be best practice in each country, and how that plays out for their specific circumstances,” White said.

Issues specific to one country could also be brainstormed.

“We can intellectually think through what that problem is and come out with a solution for it,” he said. “This is the first time anywhere in the world where there’s been a gathering of brokers from around the world with multiple countries represented.”

Commonality between different markets

“When I first started doing this in 2015, I found very quickly that we’re all genuinely going through the same things, just at a different speed,” White said.

“So we’re looking at broker remuneration, for example. We’ve been through the wringer on that for eight years - we’ve now come to the end of it and won that battle.

“Yet, Ireland and other countries are still at the beginning of those debates so we can assist them with the knowledge sets, the papers that we’ve written in response to calling for submissions from government.

“They can then take that intel and look at it and how that potentially parallels to their environment and learn from that.

“We’ve done that in reverse with the UK - we went through a change of credit card servicing policies in Australia in about 2016 or 2017 and it was based on what happened in the UK.”

White said gender representation in the mortgage sector and appropriate remuneration for brokers had also been topics of discussion for many countries.

“The average broker in Australia I think earns about $85,000 a year … they’re not people that earn half-a-million dollars a year,” he noted. “And if they do, it’s probably because they’re paying half a dozen staff underneath.”

Locations of upcoming world summits

White said the organisation was considering Canada as the guest country for the next summit.

“The reason for that is that it was Australia and Canada that set this thing up,” he said.

“[However] Australia is difficult for everybody to go to because it’s the furthest for everyone; when we reverse it, it’s just us doing the long haul.

“So Australia, will probably be last on the list somewhere.”

White said while he wouldn’t completely rule out IMBF’s summit becoming an online event in the next five to 10 years, for now he said face-to-face interaction between delegates was crucial to the event’s success.

“There is nothing like in-person interaction with someone,” he said.

What do you think of this new global organisation for brokers? How will it help bring about change? Share your thoughts below