I attended the annual Mortgage Forum hosted by the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals (CAAMP) this past Monday and Tuesday; I know what you’re thinking…“bor-ring.” On the contrary, I would say anybody, from anywhere or from any industry, could have taken something valuable from this conference.
Most of the good stuff came on day two. I was shocked that our 600 or so group was blended with another 1200+ general attendees for The Art of Marketing conference. With the likes of David Usher, Singer/Song Writer from Moist; Randi Zuckrberg, (yes, she is related to Mark Zuckerberg), his Marketing-guru sister; Biz Stone, Co-founder of Twitter; Scott Stratten, President of Un-Marketing and an expert in social applications; and Mitch Joel, a digital visionary. Ron Tite was also an exceptional host and masterfully conducted the flow perfectly. There were many amazing quotes from the day and I urge you to discover the #tao or #caamp2012 hashtags on twitter to discover some of the brilliance that was shared that day.
Day one covered the mortgage-specific topics. I was looking forward to seeing Kevin O’Leary from CBC’s Dragon’s Den, however, he was cancelled after announcement of his new mortgage product hit the newsstands last week. Dominion Lending Centers, the session’s sponsors, didn’t want their investment promoting someone they now considered a direct competitor. There’s some exciting mortgage-biz drama, at the expense of my ticket value and personal disappointment.
There was just one thing more disappointing than O’Leary’s absence. I feel it necessary to address, as it’s too explicit to not mention. Within 5 minutes of sitting in my seat at our opening ceremonies, I realized something was lacking. Between the opening speeches, the structured sponsor advertisements, introduction to our next year’s Board of Directors and our entire speaker list, women were sparsely accounted for to the point of almost non-existence. Not one women speaker, except for the moderator, CBC business correspondent Amanda Lang, would be seen on stage. Only two women sit on our 18-person Board of Directors, both from the province of Ontario. And to a lesser extent, but still noticeable, the marketing components of the conference had a strong male directive.
I understand my industry is heavily male-dominated, especially in the higher ranks, however, when I looked around the room I noticed an attendance ratio closer to 50/50. It could have even tipped in favor of the females.
There is a powerful new force to add to the industry’s assets that I feel is currently being left untapped; women. Not only are women more involved from a business perspective, but more women are in the market of buying real estate. This generation’s buying habits are strongly determined by the women and children of the household and a larger purchase such as a home should not be discounted. If we ever hope break the near-decade stagnant levels of 25% market penetration, then I think we need to rethink the way we communicate externally as well as internally. It’s time to hang up the old boys club and make room for the unisex boardroom!
In addition to investing in women, we need to consider the strength of our human-power. The industry leaders were asking for the broker community to be the champions and the voice; to consider more investment in the promotion of what we do as a whole and help encourage the support of stronger, more recognized training amongst our colleagues. If the industry association is looking to the individual brokers, competitors or not, to join forces to increase our market share, I feel the interaction in at the conference will need to shift from a full “we talk, you listen” agenda to hybrid of speeches and “interactive” breakouts sessions or brainstorms that encourage our members to collaborate and develop concepts that CAAMP can help implement into action through it’s membership. More women, more involvement, more ideas, more opportunity…it’s just a thought.