By Brian Klingspon, Chair
I’d like to use my message in this edition of the Regulator to do something a bit different, and talk to you as one industry professional talking to another. Usually, I would outline the important initiatives happening at RECA. You can still see those in Council Highlights in this Regulator, and you can see the Council Meeting Agenda and Minutes (once they’re approved) posted on the RECA website. Today, though, I’d like to talk about self-regulation. Not just what it is and how it works, but why it is a privilege to be a part of a self-regulated industry.
We must take this privilege seriously in Alberta if we want to keep it.
RECA isn’t a government department; we administer and enforce provincial legislation, but are independent and separate from government. We, the professionals, regulate ourselves.
What does this mean? It means your industry peers on Council guide the regulation of the industry, not the government. I’m a real estate associate broker, coming up on 30 years in the industry. My fellow Council members are real estate associates, mortgage brokers, real estate appraisers, property managers, and two outstanding members of the public. We know the industry, and we work as a team to do what is in the best interests of consumer protection and enhancement of the industry. It’s a privilege to have industry members sitting around that table, providing that direction and guidance.
But we also recognize Council is just 12 people sitting around a table. We do more than that, of course, but we aren’t the industry. We represent the industry, but when I say self-regulation, I do not mean that RECA, governed by industry professionals, regulates other industry professionals. I mean everyday industry professionals must regulate each other.
Self-regulation is a philosophy that licensed professionals need to take on themselves.
Self-Regulation in Action
I’m going to give you a scenario: You, a licensed industry professional, spot an advertisement for your competition in your social media feed. You also notice the advertisement does not follow the RECA Advertising Guidelines, as the brokerage name is not clearly indicated.
What do you do?
Many professionals forward the ad to RECA, and that’s fine. RECA is obligated to look into it to determine if a breach has occurred. Perhaps the brokerage name is not clearly indicated and RECA sanctions the industry professional. Now they are out $1,500 and the decision remains permanently on the RECA website for potential clients to find, potentially costing them thousands of dollars in lost business. All that, and they might not have known they were doing something wrong, or perhaps it was a simple oversight and they meant to have their brokerage name more prominent in the ad.
That scenario doesn’t sound very professional, does it? That is not an industry regulating itself. That’s someone passing the situation on for RECA to regulate. We do not condone running ads that go against the advertising guidelines, of course, but what we do condone is professional courtesy.
Self-regulation means that when that industry professional came across the advertisement, their first call should be to the other industry professional. A respectful, professional reminder that their brokerage is not clearly indicated might be enough for that industry professional to change it. Then it’s done. We regulated ourselves, RECA issued no fines, and no industry professionals had a sanction on their record.
Even if the other industry professional does not agree that their brokerage is not clearly indicated, your next call can be to their broker. Or you can have your broker call their broker. The brokers are responsible for the activities of their associates. I can guarantee you they will take it seriously.
We all have a role to play if we are going to continue having the privilege of self-regulation. We are professionals. We take our professionalism seriously. I know I do. Are you with me?