I'm researching the property management industry as an assignment. From what I understand, in most states property managers need to have a real estate broker license to operate.
Does this restriction apply to the owners of the PM company or just those doing the actual (rent collecting, tenant showing, maintenance contracting) property management?
I don't know if you need a license to "own" a PM company but I would think so. It wouldn't make any sense to own a PM company and not hold a license, IMO. As an owner you would need to be fluent in the RE rules of your area and know what your employees are doing that could impact your business. I don't know the rules in Canada but in the U.S. most states require a PM hold an RE license because there is much to understand with regard to accounting for money belonging to others and agency rules.
Many states require the majority owner and/or the active manager to have a broker's license. Check with each state's RE board or a real estate attorney to confirm.