May 8, 2019 by David Gambrill
As brokers across the country report difficulty in finding qualified employees, the situation in Alberta may be compounded by an “abysmal” pass rate on the provincial broker licensing exam.
“As it currently stands today, we are at a 36.5% pass rate for first-time exam writers,” said Anthonet Maramieri, chief operating officer of the Alberta Insurance Council (AIC), the province’s broker regulator. “That is an abysmal number and there is no sugar-coating that.
“My understanding is that exam results have not actually ever been higher than 50% in terms of first-time passes, so there is something to be done here. There is a problem, and how do we address it?”
AIC shared its current work to address the problem at the Insurance Brokers Association of Alberta (IBAA)’s 2019 convention in Banff, Alta.
Maramieri’s presentation observed that the IBAA has been “very, very vocal” for years in urging the provincial government to change the rules to allow for “equivalency.” Essentially, Alberta’s brokers want provincial regulations to be changed to allow designations offered by industry education providers to be considered the equivalent of passing the province’s broker license exam. In some Canadian jurisdictions, professional designations are considered to be the equivalent of passing the broker’s licensing exam.
Examples of industry designations include the Canadian Accredited Insurance Broker (CAIB) designation, offered by the Insurance Brokers Association of Canada, and the Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP) designation, offered by the Insurance Institute of Canada.
One of the AIC initiatives now underway involves figuring out what learners are doing to prepare for the licensing exam. Called the Data Validation Initiative, the AIC is attempting to validate student training methods and the course provider before the learner takes the exam. The purpose is to verify an educator’s performance by linking their student materials with validated exam statistics.
One of the AIC’s objectives is to publish exam pass rates of learning methods and course providers “with full transparency.”
As it stands, establishing a link between a student’s exam result, the study materials used, and the educational provider that creates the course materials is challenging. Course providers may not be aware that a student who has failed the exam used their course materials. And the AIC cannot disclose a student’s exam results to the education provider because of privacy legislation.
Under the Data Validation Initiative, before the licensing exam is written, the AIC would be able to ask the student what course materials they are using; the AIC would then ask the educational provider to verify that they provided the materials to the student.
“There are numerous [study] methods,” Malamieri said. “Everything from self-taught to ‘taught by my Dad,’ or ‘I took a course.’ We are working to make sure the information is independently validated and that we can work more collaboratively with course providers to the extent that they can ameliorate what they’ve put in place – the mechanisms, the studies, the instructors, the methods.”