'Irrelevant' questions on Alberta’s licensing exam keep pass rates low

'Irrelevant' questions on Alberta’s licensing exam keep pass rates low | Insurance Business

More than a year of industry advocacy work later by the Insurance Brokers Association of Alberta (IBAA), and the Level 1 licensing pass rates for Alberta’s broker-hopefuls are still too low, sitting at around 36%.

“We haven’t seen those pass rates really improve. The big push for us at this point in time is to have regulatory change from government where we can see our CAIB and CIP courses become equivalent to licensing exams. Most of the provinces recognize CAIB or CIP as equivalent to the licensing, whereas here in Alberta, we’re a little bit behind,” said Jonathan Brown (pictured), commercial and personal lines producer at Peters Insurance Agencies, and the recent past president of the Professional Young Insurance Brokers (PYIB) board at IBAA.

Nonetheless, there are signs that movement on this issue could be forthcoming, with the political winds changing direction after the recent provincial election.

“We are optimistic with this new government that that will be one of the pieces in their red tape reduction strategy, to allow another avenue of getting licensed,” said Brown. “Currently, we’re still doing what we can to work with the AIC [Alberta Insurance Council] in developing curriculum and addressing training as far as getting people through those licensing exams, but there is still a lot of somewhat irrelevant to brokers’ day-to-day operations questioning on those examinations, so that’s presenting a significant challenge to getting people through.”

Being a broker is about providing competent advice, whereas the questions being asked on the exam have to do with accounting and taxes, added Brown.

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Part of the bigger issue with the Level 1 licensing exam is that as the industry strives to attract new talent, low pass rates could be a deterrent for new graduates and other professionals hoping to get into insurance.

“In Alberta, it can be challenging outside of the major centres to find qualified candidates. This leads right back into the licensing issue because when we do find a qualified candidate who’s not currently licensed, if we want to try to bring them through the licensing process and get them working as a broker, we need the ability to actually get them to pass that exam,” explained Brown. “We’re talking in a lot of cases about people who are university graduates and made it through some very intense and difficult educational requirements that can’t pass a 100-question multiple choice exam. It’s disheartening.”

The coming year will see PYIB continue its work on both the licensing exam front, as well as attracting new talent into the world of insurance, and expand the ‘by accident’ or ‘by family’ avenues through which people typically get into the industry.

“We’d like to see less accidents and more deliberate choice of [insurance careers], but the talent is there – it’s just a matter of finding it in creative ways,” said Brown.