CMP 14.12

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f o L L A H


E M A F 2019

CMP pays tribute to 20 of the industry’s brightest luminaries


Why it might be time to focus on the higher end of the market

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Veteran broker Debra Carlson on the old-school tactics she’ll never give up


What changes can the mortgage industry expect in the year to come?

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Still building your reputation? (As registered account administrators, we invest in reliability). IFC-03_Contents-SUBBED.indd 4

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ISSUE 14.12


f o L L HA

E M FA 2019


CMP honours 20 visionary leaders who have been instrumental in shaping the Canadian mortgage industry


Granite? Glass? Steel? All buildings are made with money. License # 10172

Romspen Investment Corporation is a non-bank mortgage lender specializing in commercial real estate across Canada and the United States. With over $2.7 billion under administration, we offer customized mortgage solutions for term, bridge and construction financing from $5M to $100M.

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Blake Cassidy or Pierre Leonard 800 494 0389 |


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ISSUE 14.12

CONNECT WITH US Got a story or suggestion, or just want to find out some more information?


36 38

UPFRONT 04 Editorial

Will 2020 bring some optimism back to Canada’s housing market?

06 Statistics

First-time buyers are frustrated by a lack of housing affordability – and they’re willing to relocate to find it

08 Head to head


BROKER INSIGHT Scott Dillingham is ready to shake things up in the broker channel with his own lead gen platform

Will digital mortgages make brokers a thing of the past?

10 News analysis

In certain cities, the luxury end of the market is having no trouble finding interested buyers

12 Alternative lending update Home Capital is back and better than ever



Centum’s Chris Turcotte explains why his network is doing things differently than its competitors



After almost three decades as a broker, Debra Carlson has never lost sight of the importance of building personal relationships with clients





KeyRate’s Danny Ibrahim outlines how his brokerage is doubling down on the client experience


DLC’s economist says the housing market is in recovery mode

16 Opinion

Brokers need to shift their mindset to bring the mortgage industry in line with the times

PEOPLE 46 Career path

Serial entrepreneur Jason Geall brings his skills to private lending

48 Other life

Hitting all the right notes with guitar player and broker James McCollum



What’s changed in the mortgage world over the past year – and what’s likely to shift in 2020?


14 Broker network update


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Going out on a high note


he ups and downs of 2019 have had Canada’s mortgage and housing industries grappling with issues of trust and responsibility. At the end of last year, Fortress Real Developments declared bankruptcy, and the news continued to spill over into the new year as investors shared their stories and experiences with CMP. Industry vets weighed in on where things went wrong and made the case that requiring a specific licence to sell syndicated mortgages could prevent the same mistake from happening in the future. The broker community also voiced disappointment and anger that FSCO dropped the ball on identifying dodgy brokers. The industry also saw the government’s First-Time Home Buyer Incentive come into effect in 2019. Some hailed the program as a positive model allowing borrowers to obtain smaller mortgages with lower monthly payments, but others saw it as an empty move ahead of the federal election, meant to sway frustrated voters who had been stress-tested out of the housing market.

The year might have begun cloaked in scandal and skepticism, but it’s ending with something close to optimism As brokers determined whether the initiative would help their borrowers, more details began to emerge about the prevalence of money laundering in Canadian real estate. Brokers concurred that transparency is key in fighting the practice, whether takes the form of public registries, task forces or a combination of both. The year might have begun cloaked in scandal and skepticism, but it’s ending with something close to optimism amid conversations about what the future of Canadian homeownership should be. The federal election showcased disagreements around approaches to housing affordability, but there is common ground on the need to increase sustainable housing supply across the board. There’s also been a greater acknowledgement that housing markets and economies face regional challenges and that builders, bureaucrats and lenders must work together to find local answers. Will that optimism translate into appropriate action in 2020? It’s hard to say, but CMP knows one thing for sure: Mortgage brokers are not shy about voicing concerns and offering solutions, which we hope will never change. We look forward to breaking more news, sharing more insights and forging more connections with dynamic industry leaders in the year ahead. The team at Canadian Mortgage Professional ISSUE 14.12 EDITORIAL Managing Editor Kimberly Greene Banks Writers Libby MacDonald Ephraim Vecina Kasi Johnston Copy Editor Clare Alexander

CONTRIBUTORS Shubha Dasgupta

ART & PRODUCTION Designer Joenel Salvador Production Manager Alicia Chin Production Coordinator Kim Kandravy Advertising Coordinator Ella Dayandante

SALES & MARKETING Associate Publisher Chris Anderson Vice President, Sales John Mackenzie Sales Executive Alan Stewart Global Head of Communications Lisa Narroway Project Coordinator Jessica Duce

CORPORATE President & CEO Tim Duce Office/Traffic Manager Marni Parker Events and Conference Manager Chris Davis Chief Information Officer Colin Chan Human Resources Manager Julia Bookallil Global CEO Mike Shipley Global COO George Walmsley



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Copyright is reserved throughout. No part of this publication can be reproduced in whole or part without the express permission of the editor. Contributions are invited, but copies of work should be kept, as the magazine can accept no responsibility for loss


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What did one broker say to the other when asked if the letters were mailed?... CENTUM! Jokes aside, we’re dedicated to helping our brokers look their best. Our custom design, marketing, and expert advice comes with zero cost.

It’s almost 2020, is your brand keeping up? | ®/™ trademarks owned by Centum Financial Group Inc. (C) 2019 Centum Financial Group Inc. The intent of this communication is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a solicitation to anyone under contract with another mortgage brokerage operation.

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Drive until you qualify

HOME-BUYING HURDLES Rising real estate prices are by far the biggest obstacle to homeownership among those gearing up to buy for the first time, but stagnating wages were also a top concern – 68% of all first-time buyers said their income wasn’t high enough to allow them to stash away an adequate down payment.

Rising prices are first-time buyers’ main hurdle – and many are willing to move to find affordability SEVENTY PER CENT of first-time buyers say the ever-rising price of real estate is the main factor standing between them and their goal of homeownership is, according to a new survey from Zoocasa. Given that much of the price inflation has happened in the nation’s largest urban centres, it’s hardly surprising that more than half of respondents said they’d be willing to relocate to another town



of homeowners say they might not be able to afford their home if buying today

of Canadians say the cost of buying a home in their location has risen faster than incomes

or city if it meant being able to buy a home. The fallout also exacts an emotional toll: 59% of respondents said dealing with rising housing costs has had a negative impact on their mental health. And while 69% of current owners said the increased prices had helped them build wealth, 54% were still concerned that their housing costs had risen faster than their income.


have had a conversation about housing or the real estate market within the last week


believe property ownership is the top socioeconomic class divider today Source: Zoocasa, October 2019



More than half of all would-be first-time buyers say they would be willing to move to another town or city in search of housing affordability.

Renters are far more likely to say that rising housing costs have negatively impacted their mental health at least once in the past 12 months, but half of all homeowners likewise report being stressed by increasing costs.














76% Source: Zoocasa, October 2019


24% Source: Zoocasa, October 2019

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All first-time buyers

All first-time buyers







20% 0%




Rising real estate prices

Earning enough income

Saving for a down payment

20% 0%




Income not high enough

Need more time to save

Rent costs are too high




Income not high enough

Need more time to save

Rent costs are too high

Millennial first-time buyers

Millennial first-time buyers












Rising real estate prices


Earning enough income


Saving for a down payment

Source: Zoocasa, October 2019



While the majority of homeowners agree that homeownership has helped them build wealth, more than half are concerned that ownership costs are rising faster than their income, and only 34% said they’d be able to afford their home if buying today.

Eighty-four per cent of Canadians agree that the cost of housing is negatively impacting the country – and almost as many believe it’s the newly elected government’s duty to do something about it.



Believe housing affordability is a major issue that’s negatively impacting Canadians



All respondents

My housing costs have increased faster than my income










Think the federal government needs to make affordability a priority


Owning a home has been effective in helping me build wealth





84% 80%



If you had to buy the home you currently live in today, would you be able to afford it? Source: Zoocasa, October 2019

All respondents

78% 72%










Source: Zoocasa, October 2019

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Will the broker channel soon become obsolete? As more and more of the mortgage process moves online, are brokers’ days numbered?

Jason Henneberry President, tech and partner integrations Tango Financial

Melanie McLister Co-founder and broker of record intelliMortgage

James Laird President CanWise Financial

“When asked how Amazon keeps ahead of trends in online selling, Jeff Bezos said they ‘focus on what will never change.’ For online retail, people will always want quick and relevant search results, a convenient purchase process, and ultra-fast delivery. In the mortgage space, our constants are that homeowners value convenience, choice and quality advice. Mortgage brokers play an important role by providing Canadians with choice and flexibility and by helping consumers navigate the complexities of financing. As long as we don’t lose sight of these never-changing constants, our channel will always find ways to adapt and meet its challenges.”

“The broker channel will never be totally obsolete; it will just get smaller. There will always be some lenders wanting to source business through brokers. And there will always be some clients wanting mortgage advice from independent, human mortgage professionals. That said, in time, the number of online direct-to-consumer originations will eventually tower above the number of commissioned broker/banker originations. Those most insulated from this shift will be non-prime and niche brokers. Tech-driven brokerages and DTC lenders will pick almost all the low-hanging fruit – AAA clients – within five to 10 years.”

“The broker channel is a third-party origination source for lenders across the country. Our channel provides value by offering a service to consumers while delivering a mortgage to our lending partners. In the coming years, technology will be involved in every step of the process, from initial online research through to close. Our channel must embrace this new world so that we continue to be an efficient source of mortgage volume compared to branch mobile specialists and direct-to-consumer models. To do this, we must deliver the combination of technology and human touch that consumers demand.”

ARE DIGITAL MORTGAGES THE FUTURE? Some industry players considered Kanetix’s purchase of and IntelliMortgage earlier this year a clear bellwether of the changes coming to the mortgage industry. Citing Kanetix’s backing by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, Ron Butler of Butler Mortgage warned that “deep-pocketed entities are here to bring consumers a digital mortgage environment.” But others are adamant that the complex nature of the mortgage landscape will ensure the importance of brokers. “It’s difficult to get a mortgage today, as well as to understand the products,” Steve Garganis of Mortgage Architects said at the time. “As much as we hate all the new changes the government has come out with, it’s driving consumers to seek out experienced individuals. In a strange way, it’s actually good for brokers.”


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Living in the lap of luxury Housing affordability might plague the average Canadian, but the luxury market is alive and well in certain parts of the country

WHILE MANY brokers are focused on helping frustrated first-time buyers maximize their purchasing power, the upper reaches of the housing market are seeing plenty of activity. New research from Re/Max reveals that sales of ‘uber-luxury’ residential properties – those worth $5 million or more – are accelerating in the GTA. “The one consistency in Toronto’s real estate market throughout 2019 has been value – and it’s evident from the bottom end of the market to the top,” says Christopher Alexander, executive vice-president and regional director for Re/Max of Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “Homebuyers at virtually all price points – including uber-luxe – are kicking the tires once again. As a result, momentum is building in the overall market, which is reflected in the

returns in the stock market. Although speculation abounds as to whether the economy will have a strong finish in the fourth quarter, unemployment is still holding steady at 5.5%, which, combined with the Bank of Canada’s recent decision to hold the overnight rate at 1.75%, suggests there’s still room for upward movement in those high price points. The GTA isn’t alone. Earlier this year, Montreal emerged as Canada’s most vibrant market for top-tier real estate. Don Kottick, president and CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, highlights the fact that homes over $4 million surged 267%; 11 such units were sold during the first six months of 2019, compared to three in 2018. “Montreal, for the first time, has experienced something really unique,” Kottick says. “Its

“Momentum is building in the overall market, which is reflected in the escalation in sales at both the $2 million and $5 million price points” Christopher Alexander, Re/Max of Ontario-Atlantic Canada escalation in sales at both the $2 million and $5 million price points.” Alexander attributes the uptick to a robust economy and record-low unemployment levels, along with more relaxed interest rates and strong


million-dollar-plus condos are outperforming Canada’s top two markets in year-over-year percentage gains. A robust economy and a lot of political stability are driving consumer confidence, and we have more cranes in Montreal

than we’ve had in quite some time.” Montreal’s luxury housing market had a very strong autumn: High-end sales during the first half of September accelerated by 38% year-over-year, paving the way for improved long-term performance. That figure might have been even higher were it not for a lack of available high-end properties. Another factor expected to boost Montreal’s prospects is the attached home sector, which enjoyed an 11% annual increase, with 41 units sold in July and August this year, compared to the 37 during the same timeframe in 2018. A mid-year analysis by Sotheby’s indicated that “Montreal remains well-positioned to set new records” by the end of 2019. In the GTA, Alexander says, luxury buyers’ confidence has been encouraged by solid economic factors. Activity in the high-end segment has surpassed 2018 levels; sales of

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CMHC will not insure new residential mortgages over $1 million

Conventional financing requires higher down payments

Interest rates are comparable to loans with lower loan amounts

Loan limits and calculations vary based on lender freehold and condo properties valued at more than $5 million reached 100 units between January and October, an 8.5% annual increase. Freehold properties in this price bracket

to the 3% year-over-year decline seen in the city’s overall single detached housing market. “Luxury home sales are climbing, prices are stabilizing, and demand is on the upswing

“People with million-dollar-plus budgets are able to get into [Vancouver’s] singlefamily home market, whereas a few years ago, that was way out of their budgets” Don Kottick, Sotheby’s in the GTA now fetch an average price of $6.5 million. Sales of Toronto homes over $1 million surged 12%, while sales in the $1–2 million range and $2–4 million range rose 13% and 9%, respectively. That’s in contrast

for upscale product,” Alexander says. “Sales of luxury properties between $3 million and $5 million are expected to climb in the year ahead as the ripple effect works its way through various price points.”

While the uber-luxury market isn’t experiencing similar growth in Vancouver, people with million-dollar budgets are somewhat more likely to find a home now. “People with million-dollar-plus budgets are able to get into the single-family home market, whereas a few years ago, that was way out of their budgets,” Kottick says. “But with price compression, we’re seeing new opportunities for those individuals.” Calgary’s $1 million-plus market has been somewhat inconsistent, but as the job market in Alberta improves, new listings are beginning to decline. While the city’s housing market is still quite shaky, there is great opportunity for a “trickle-up effect,” according to Kottick. “Based on business confidence, which is on the rise, it will have a trickle-up effect,” he says. “I do see it coming back, and hopefully it’s coming back strong.”

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ALTERNATIVE LENDING UPDATE NEWS BRIEFS Non-bank lenders hold thousands of delinquent accounts

Canada’s non-bank lenders have more than 33,000 mortgages in arrears, according to data from Statistics Canada. The arrears rate of insured mortgages among non-bank lenders was 2.1% during the first quarter of 2019, representing 13,069 delinquencies over a total of $2.48 billion in mortgage debt. Of those, 1,704 mortgages, representing $315 million in mortgage debt, were more than 90 days in arrears. Meanwhile, the arrears rate of uninsured products was 1.84%, which translated to 20,224 accounts amounting to $3.78 billion.

Down payments are still significant roadblocks

Around a quarter of first-time homebuyers admitted that socking away a 5% minimum down payment is a ‘major’ challenge, according to a third-quarter survey conducted by Pollara Strategic Insights for BMO. Meanwhile, 39% said it’s a ‘minor’ struggle to save 5%, leaving plenty of room for alternative lenders to fill the gap. Just 14% of would-be buyers said they’re prepared to make a down payments, while 55% said they expect to have down payment funds saved within the next two years. Around 38% are confident that they will be debt-free prior to purchasing a home.

Reverse mortgage debt continues to climb

Canada’s reverse mortgage debt grew by 1.33% month-over-month in August to reach yet another new high of $3.83 billion, according to the latest OSFI data. This represented a 26.23% annual increase; $50.63 million of

the total volume came from August alone. Over the past year, Canadian boomers and seniors have borrowed approximately $796.11 million. Together, these trends have made reverse mortgages one of the nation’s fastestgrowing debt segments, real estate information portal Better Dwelling said in its analysis of the OSFI numbers.

Neighbourhood CEO says it’s time to refine the stress test

According to Taylor Little, CEO of alternative lender Neighbourhood Holdings, the mortgage stress test is in need of some refinement. “The stress test was rolled out at a time when we thought we were going to be in a rising rate environment, and that, certainly in the short term, has gone away,” he said, but added that it would be risky to roll the test back without accounting for factors such as location. “There’s no doubt I think the stress test was a bit blunt when it was rolled out . . . [but] CMHC in particular would say that their stress test has been a success; it’s cooled the Vancouver and Toronto markets.”

Alternative lending platform wins major accolade

European P2P loan investment marketplace Mintos was recently crowned Alternative Finance Platform of the Year at the 2019 AltFi Awards. It also received the AltFi People’s Choice Award for the fourth consecutive year. “Our vision is to make investing in loans as common as investing in traditional investment assets – stocks, bonds, real estate and others,” said Mintos CEO and co-founder Martins Sulte. “The steady growth of our business, which was acknowledged by the two awards we won, reassures that we are on the right path, as investing in loans is becoming a common choice for investing among individual investors around the globe.”

Home Capital has weathered the storms The lender has, by and large, recovered from the crises that plagued it from 2015 to 2017

Alternative lender Home Capital Group’s shares have regained valuable lost ground ever since its near-collapse roughly two years ago, according to Bloomberg. This year alone, Home Capital saw its performance more than double; as of mid-November, it was the fourth best-performing stock on the Canadian S&P/ TSX Composite Index. “The stock surged as much as 14% on [November 13], the most in a year, after the Toronto-based lender reported third-quarter profit … that beat the highest analyst estimate and said it plans to buy back $150 million worth of shares,” Bloomberg reported in mid-November. Home Capital, along with fellow alternative lender Equitable Group, has benefited from the accelerated pace of mortgage growth, which has been largely spurred by the spring season’s home-buying spree. In a note to clients in November, CIBC analyst Marco Giurleo attributed the improved performance of alternative lenders to positive mortgage growth prospects and better market situations, especially in the GTA. These conditions led Giurleo to upgrade Home Capital to “outperformer” status, particularly as the company appears to be on “the path to doubledigit profitability.” Another likely factor in Home Capital’s renaissance is its plan to provide residential mortgage-backed securities regularly. CFO


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Brad Kotush said in late September that the lender is considering issuing two RMBS deals a year, after successfully raising $425 million in non-prime loans.

“[Home Capital’s] stock surged as much as 14%, the most in a year” Home Capital has navigated major highs and lows in its efforts to stabilize itself over the last few years. Back in 2017, the company was contending with the impacts of rapidly depleting deposits and allegations from the Ontario Securities Commission that it misled investors in 2015. One of the most crucial milestones was a bailout and a $2 billion credit line from Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway in June 2017. Hopes of Buffett-powered gains were short-lived, however, as Berkshire Hathaway made a “substantial exit” in its investment in the lender in December 2018. Fortunately, this did not derail the company’s plans for recovery, Home Trust president and CEO Yousry Bissada assured shareholders at the time. “With more efficient capital behind us, we expect it’ll be a better return for shareholders, and we’re going to continue to fine-tune capital.”

Hali Noble Senior vice-president, residential mortgage investments and broker relations FISGARD CAPITAL CORPORATION

Years in the industry 30+ Fast fact Noble is a frequent speaker, guest panelist and moderator at trade and regulatory conferences, both in Canada and abroad

Blazing a trail in private lending Amid the rush of regulatory changes, what have been the most significant challenges for Fisgard? Increased deal volume was the most notable. Also, the increased volume of requests for renewals as exit strategies dried up made capital management – investment funds coming in, committed mortgage funds going out – a critical part of our daily regime. This has changed somewhat over the past few months as many B lenders have launched innovative new products that many borderline private borrowers qualify for. Another challenge was in the form of poorly packaged mortgage applications – specifically, incomplete and/or incorrect information on applications, which significantly slows down underwriting and approval timeframes. Rush deals were also a major issue.

What kinds of borrowers do you typically serve, and what are their toughest financing issues at the moment? Our borrowers are no longer only those with bad credit history, self-employed, bankruptcies or foreclosures. They are everyday mortgage consumers with an array of issues, many of whom would have been a conventional borrower prior to B-20, from credit; income; business for self; those requiring equity from their homes for a variety of reasons, not just debt consolidation; investors; new to Canada; employed but on contract or on probation; builders ... the list goes on and on. I believe we have the best book of residential mortgages that we’ve ever had. One of the toughest financing issues beyond the usual credit and income would be those needing to close on pre-sales that were negotiated years ago at a value that might not be there anymore, and equity or cash isn’t available to obtain financing and close on these purchases. LTV higher than our 75% maximum is something we see numerous times a day. The request is often 85% LTV or higher – not our niche! Also, rush purchases or fundings. We know that professional mortgage brokers and agents do their very best to keep their clients out of a private mortgage, so we often receive the last-minute, must-fund-ASAP applications when there are no other options. This creates stress for the broker, the borrower, appraisers, lawyers and, of course, our underwriters.

How does Fisgard respond to these struggles? Our residential mortgage products are simple with straight rate, no lender fee, interest only and open mortgage terms. We are also early adopters of technology such as Newton Velocity, MortgageBOSS and Expert, creating the same mortgage application and underwriting experience brokers are already used to with their A and B lenders. We strive to be the best private lending partner in the industry, and our team doesn’t hesitate to refer brokers to lenders who better fit their borrowers’ needs – for instance, higher LTVs, lending areas we don’t serve, property types we don’t lend on and so on.

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DLC’s Cooper proclaims housing rebound While some trouble spots remain, things are looking rosy overall, says DLC’s chief economist

Meanwhile, home prices went up for the fifth consecutive month; the aggregate composite price index rose by 0.6%, a modest uptick that Cooper attributed to the regional nature of the Canadian residential market. “Recently, home price trends have generally been stabilizing in the Lower Mainland and the Prairies,” she explained. “While that remains the case in Calgary and Saskatoon, home prices in Edmonton and Regina

“The run of robust housing data gave the Bank of Canada another reason … to hold interest rates steady”

Based on data from the Canadian Real Estate Association, the national housing market has entered a period of sustained recovery, according to DLC chief economist Dr. Sherry Cooper. CREA figures showed that home sales across Canada enjoyed gains for the eighth straight month in October. “Existing home sales are now almost 20% above the six-year low reached in February 2019 but remain 7% below the heights reached in 2016 and 2017, when many fretted over a housing bubble,” Cooper wrote in her


mid-November analysis. She also pointed to the number of months of inventory as an important marker of balance in the housing market; at the end of October, there were 4.4 months of inventory on the market nationally, the lowest level since April 2017. “This measure of market balance has been retreating further below its long-term average of 5.3 months,” Cooper wrote. “While still within balanced market territory, its current reading suggests that sales negotiations are becoming more tilted in favour of sellers.”

M3 looks to provide humanized tech experience

Brokers’ tech tools don’t always enhance their engagement strategy with clients, according to André Boisvert, chief technology officer at M3 Mortgage Group. This year, M3 Tech has sought to address that issue with two tools that have brought value to both brokers and borrowers. Earlier in 2019, M3 launched a pre-qualification with Purplebricks Canada. It also rolled out For Me, a customer loyalty engagement program that provides consumers with discounts and coupons when they shop online.

continue to decline. By contrast, home price trends have started to recover in the GVA and the neighbouring Fraser Valley. Meanwhile, price growth continues to rebound in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. In markets further east, price growth has been trending higher for the last three or four years.” Combined with lower mortgage rates, these developments paint a picture of a largely recovered national market. “This report is in line with other recent indicators that suggest housing has recovered from a slump earlier, helped by low mortgage rates,” Cooper wrote. “The run of robust housing data gave the Bank of Canada another reason – along with healthy job gains and higher wage rates – to hold interest rates steady.”

Woodhouse blames stress test for Vancouver decline

Vancouver saw its first monthover-month price increase in 12 months in October, rising 0.17%, according to the Teranet–National Bank of Canada House Price Index. But prices are still 6.17% lower for the year and 7.26% below the peak reached back in July 2018, which Mortgage Architects president Dustan Woodhouse attributes entirely to B-20. “We’ve seen a 40% reduction in year-over-year real estate transactions,” he said. “People want to move, but they can’t move because they’re so handcuffed by the stress test.”


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Michelle Feng

Knowledge is power when using network tools

Owner/mortgage specialist VERICO SMARTYMORTGAGE

Years in the industry 14 Fast fact Outside of the mortgage industry, Feng is passionate about global travel, sailing and skiing

How has your business been in 2019? It has been steady. Volume has kept pace with last year but did not increase, I think partly because the market itself had been moving slowly in the first half of the year. However, we did see more activity in the second half, and we are busier now than we have been for awhile.

What were the highlights of the year? During the last two quarters, we saw a large amount of pre-approval inquiries and applications – clear signs that the market has picked up. We saw less activity than expected during the traditionally busy spring season, but second-half volume has made up for the slow start, and the surge in pre-approval qualifications was our major milestone.

What did Verico bring to the table that helped you this year? They have been continuously innovative with the additional products that they bring to the table and we are able to sell. Technology-wise, they just launched a new platform with Filogix, and this is going to bring everything into one system: the e-signing by the client, the documentation, the CRM and much more. We’re quite excited about that.

How have the network’s innovations helped your business? The ability to e-file and not having to scan, copy and print everything is a great time-saver. Our documents

Mortgage Centre Canada announces new VP

Mortgage Centre Canada has added former Verico VP Barbara Cook to its team as VP of franchise development. Cook previously served as VP of national business development at Verico, bringing more than $2.5 billion into the network in less than four years. “Barbara’s knowledge and experience in lending, training and brokerage operations will contribute to the growth and professionalism of MCC,” said MCC president Rich Spence. “Barbara brings fresh ideas and a perspective that will positively enhance our business for the future.”

are all filed digitally, and clients can even send me pictures of documents that I can easily convert to PDF format. All this technology has really raised productivity on our end. It used to be that an assistant’s main job was to process the documents and file all of it away. Now, my assistant does not need to do that part of the paperwork anymore, as our tools have become a one-stop shop, so to speak. The role of assistants has evolved a lot over the last few years; they are no longer bogged down so much by paperwork and can focus on more productive things and increase their knowledge base. However, I think this has also led to some headaches on my part. Finding qualified assistants has become more difficult, as I am not looking for them to do basic work. The administrative assistant role is quite different from what it was 10 years – and even just five years – ago.

What tips do you have for those who are just starting out, especially when it comes to selecting the right network? My advice is that any new broker should not make a higher split their primary goal, but rather finding a brokerage that is a good fit and a broker who is willing to help bring them up to speed over the first few critical months while they learn the intricacies of the business. Having some savings built up before entering the business, as well as working at it full-time with a dedicated, hardworking and professional approach, are the best ways to gain traction in the industry, which has a high attrition rate in the first year or so.

Filogix forges link with Axiom Innovations

Filogix has launched Axiom Innovations’ loan and deal origination solutions on FxLink Direct, which provides a direct connection to Filogix’s marketplace lenders. This connection allows mortgage brokers to use Axiom’s platforms to manage their mortgage deals and seamlessly submit them straight to Filogix’s network lenders. All users of Axiom’s mortgage technology, including Scarlett, are now able to submit mortgage deals from its new Loan and Deal Origination System [DOS] directly to Filogix’s network of lenders.

CMBA-BC adds new members to board of directors

The BC chapter of CMBA recently voted Marci Deane, Lee-Ann McEllister, Reza Sabour and Tiffany Pedersen onto its board of directors for a two-year term. The newly elected members have broad aspirations, including further developing the relationship between CMBA-BC and MPC; creating more opportunities for networking, education and training throughout the province; building membership; and injecting new energy into government liaison positions.

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Time to shift our mindset Pulling the mortgage industry into the digital future will require acceptance from agents and brokers, writes Shubha Dasgupta THE LAST great change in our lifetime happened circa 1980, when the world began to transform from analog to the digital world we know today. Much like the Industrial Revolution, this shift was initially met with great resistance, but it ultimately changed the way we live and work forever. Those born around this time have had a unique experience. The cohort born between 1978 and 1980 is neither fully Gen X nor complete digital natives. This generational subset was born into an analog life but moved into a digital world. In a nutshell, their experience – known as generational fuzziness – cleaves very closely to that of the Canadian mortgage industry, which is, figuratively, stuck in 1981. Opposition to digital transformation is something our industry faces; resistance comes in many forms. Those who have had their hands on the levers of power are now experiencing that transitional phase, and some just can’t accept doing things differently. Imagine travelling along a road for years with no intersections, no need to turn, and coming across everything you need to continue along the way – gas stations, food, hotels, etc. This was us, as mortgage agents, brokers and lenders, driving along a road called ‘status quo.’ Then one day, we hit a fork, and all of a sudden things changed. So why has it taken us so long to reach this point? We’ve taken advantage of a conservative nature. We’ve allowed a recession and then a thriving housing market to stand in the way of progress. At first, we were just


trying to navigate the murky waters through 2008, and then we didn’t want to interrupt the thriving market of the past decade. Put more simply, the reason it has taken so long is tradition. However, those who believe we are far behind in the race for innovation should think again. A quick trip to the digital mortgage conferences in Las Vegas showed me that we are not only keeping up with the early adopters, but are in a head-to-head race to the finish line.

Much of this transformation has to do with us. Mindset and perspective are huge influencers, sometimes greater than we know. As mortgage agents and brokers, our key role in this transformation is acceptance. Ask yourself: Years ago, were we ready for change? Were we willing to accept tools and resources that would simplify our lives but that came at a cost, whether time or money? Most importantly, were we willing to listen to what the world was telling us and change the way we do business? I would be so bold as to answer no for the majority of us. However, this mindset is changing. Agents expect more from their brokerages, brokers need more value, and together, we’re working to deliver a better experience to our customers. In order for us to fully embrace this transformation, we have to accept that our industry is evolving, our needs are changing, and we need help. It means we must be looking at our businesses today from the perspective of tomorrow – and we have an advantage. We can prepare ourselves for change. We can begin to arm ourselves with the tools that we will need to power our businesses tomorrow.

“We need our leaders to stop saying, ‘That’s the way it’s always been’ and begin listening to those who are shouting, ‘Imagine the way it can be!’” Most of the cutting-edge technologies we are developing and implementing here in Canada are the same as what’s being developed and implemented in global markets, from more seamless workflows and automated deal management systems for agents, all the way to adjudication and servicing solutions for lenders, along with a sprinkle of artificial intelligence. Today most, if not all, mortgage companies are shifting their mindset to digital strategies that will reshape their business and are thinking about how to apply technology to enhance the experience for customers, employees and industries.

We need our leaders to stop saying, “That’s the way it’s always been” and begin listening to those who are shouting, “Imagine the way it can be!” Don’t allow the past to overshadow the future, and don’t let change hinder growth. The answer you’re looking for might not be far – all you need to do is look and allow that door to open when it presents itself.

Shubha Dasgupta is CEO of Capital Lending Centre and is focused on and committed to the progression and advancement of the mortgage industry.

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MAKING THINGS PERSONAL Veteran broker Debra Carlson is a self-proclaimed caregiver who has built a career out of laying it all on the line for her clients

A CAREER in healthcare might not seem all that similar to one in mortgages, but industry veteran Debra Carlson found a few parallels that enabled her to switch tracks and thrive in a new career. One similarity, she says, is the need to be a caregiver. “I’m technical, but I very much want that personal relationship with my clients because without that, they’re just going to feel like another number,” she says. “That’s not why I’m in this business. I’m here to help them. I’m here to be their voice. And I’m [going to] advocate that I can do the best I can for them.” For the past 21 years, Carlson has been with Jencor Mortgage in Calgary, part of the DLC network. She’s been a CMP Woman of Influence, won the Top Mortgage Advisor Award at Jencor from 2013 to 2017 and has been a Diamond Award winner for the past five years. She’s also received a Lifetime Achievement Award for surpassing $500 million in closed loan volume. After nearly three decades in the business, Carlson has developed a network of more than 4,000 clients, all of whom get a personal touch. By working with an assistant who is also a


broker, Carlson ensures that every client gets the benefit of that knowledge, and by sitting side by side with her assistant day in and day out, Carlson is able to maintain consistency in how her clients are handled. Even as her database has grown, Carlson has managed to do business the same way for

“Sometimes I’ve lost clients to somebody [else], but they’ll come back to me, and I still service them as if they’re my own client,” she says. “Because ultimately, that’s business for me, but it’s also to help them, which is my main goal, and it’s referrals down the road. I’ve got first-time homebuyers, I’ve got renewals,

“I do financing for my clients the way I would do it for myself – and I’m going to do nothing but the best for myself. I don’t waver from that, so my business has always just flourished” decades. She’s always sent handwritten notes after every personal communication, and while it’s gotten more difficult to keep up with that level of personalization, she thinks it’s the reason why people return to her time and again. It might seem archaic, but she’s seen the fruits of her labour pay off over the years.

I’ve got repeats, I’ve got refinances, I’ve got new construction – I have it all.”

Changing lanes Carlson began her working life as a dental professional, but after a decade of doing that, she needed a change. Her sister turned her on

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PROFILE Name: Debra Carlson Title: Mortgage advisor Company: Jencor Mortgage Based in: Calgary Years in the industry: Almost 30 Fast fact: When she’s not looking after her clients, Carlson enjoys travelling, scuba diving, golfing and spending time with family

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to the mortgage industry, and the two worked as a team until Carlson was brave enough to try things on her own. “I’m very much a caregiver,” she says. “I do financing for my clients the way I would do it for myself – and I’m going to do nothing but the best for myself. I live a life of integrity – I do my mortgages with integrity and trust. That takes me through. I don’t waver from that, so my business has always just flourished.” In her local market in Alberta, buyers are hurting more than they are in other provinces, Carlson says, and she’s doing everything she can to help them. Her strategy hasn’t changed much from 2018 to 2019, but she says things

save time, but Carlson has seen the time she invests in her client relationships pay off in spades. Technology is necessary, she says, but there has to be a balance between a hands-off and a hands-on approach to the business. If an online application comes in, for example, Carlson will pick up the phone and introduce herself to the applicant. Working in tandem with technology helps to avoid any miscommunication and ultimately saves time along the way. Carlson sent a handwritten note to the first client she helped, and that practice has remained a crucial part of her business. While emailing newsletters, sending postcards,

“Create a personal relationship because those personal relationships last. If you don’t have a personal relationship, [your client] could be on to the next person” have gotten a lot harder due to regulatory changes, and she anticipates the landscape will remain difficult in 2020. Half of her prospective borrowers, especially seniors, can’t get into homes because of credit challenges or the qualifying rules – and, she adds, people don’t understand what’s happening. “They’re not understanding why you get a rate here, and if you look sideways, you get another rate, and if you look straight, you get another one,” Carlson says. “They just don’t understand the changes, and I truly want people to understand what’s going on, so it’s taking me more time to help them understand what’s going on.”

Putting in the time These days, everyone is looking for ways to


knocking on doors and making cold calls are all valid ways to reach potential clients, without a true connection, people aren’t going to want to return to their broker, Carlson says. The loyalty and commitment she gives her clients, they give to her in return. For as much as her years in the mortgage industry have been about business, they’ve also been about staying true to herself. “Just be who you are,” she advises. “People can tell the difference. Create a personal relationship because those personal relationships last. If you don’t have a personal relationship, they could be on to the next person.” Carlson has had to dig deep to stay true to her strategy. It’s not flashy and it’s not gimmicky, but it’s served her well, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

ALWAYS FOLLOW UP Handwritten notes have been the key to Debra Carlson’s success. The following are some of her key touchpoints:


After calls


Anniversary dates

When clients take possession of a property

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f o L L A H

E M A F 2019

CMP presents a new class of 20 Hall of Fame inductees who have helped mold the mortgage industry into its current form and continue to shape its future IN AN INDUSTRY where dramatic, frequent changes are all but expected, the careers of many mortgage professionals tend to be equally sporadic. And yet despite the challenges – or sometimes because of them – there are several individuals who, after 20-plus years in the Canadian mortgage industry, continue to dedicate their expertise and time to others with the goal of moving the industry forward. The 20 men and women who make up CMP’s second Hall of Fame class have set new courses for the mortgage world, have educated and mentored generations of current and future industry professionals, and have tirelessly sought new ways to better serve their employees, peers and clients.

METHODOLOGY This year’s CMP Hall of Fame class was selected with the assistance of the Hall of Fame Advisory Panel, an independent judging panel composed of industry leaders, including: • Caroline Rapson, secretary, CMBA-BC • David Reid, immediate past president of the board of directors, OREA • Cliff Stevenson, vice-president of the board of directors, CREA • Hali Noble, past president, CMBA-BC, and past chair, CAAMP When compiling the list, CMP considered the advisory panel’s recommendations, as well as external nominations. The panelists confirmed the final inductee list based on all qualifying candidates’ industry achievements, leadership and established history of 20-plus years of distinguished service to the mortgage profession. To avoid conflict of interest, any self-voting and voting for relatives was voided.

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Art Appelberg

Northwood Mortgage



TODD POBERZNICK Vice-president, national sales BRIDGEWATER BANK

Michael Beckette

M3 Ventures


Frances Blau

Abacus Mortgages


Jared Dreyer

Verico Financial Group/M3 Mortgage Group


Michel Durand

Mortgage Alliance Commercial/ Multi-Prêts Commercial


Vince Gaetano


Ed Karthaus

Home Trust


Geoff Lee

GLM Mortgage Group


Gavin Marshall

Magenta Capital Corporation


Brian Matthey

The Mortgage Professionals


Debbie McPherson

Genworth Canada


Hali Noble

Fisgard Capital Corporation


Todd Poberznick

Bridgewater Bank


Richard Samuels

Obsidian Mortgage Corporation


Don Stoddart

Key Mortgage Partners


Wayne Strandlund

Fisgard Asset Management Corporation


Debbie Thomas

TMG The Mortgage Group


Doreen Walsh

Dominion Lending Centres


Joseph J. White

Real Estate and Mortgage Institute of Canada/ Conversational Artificial Intelligence Technologies


Kyra Wong



With an extensive background in financial management, mortgage product development, broker relations, marketing, industry training and sales, Todd Poberznick has done and seen it all in his 40 years in the mortgage industry. Poberznick started in the industry after working for a time in the Alberta oil patch. Upon moving back to Calgary, he followed the lead of a friend who was in the brokerage business and found that he enjoyed it. Since then, he has grown his career from licensed mortgage broker to managing the Western Canada branch network for CIBC’s Firstline Mortgages, working on both the broker and lender sides of the business over the years. He is an Accredited Mortgage Professional; a member of MPC, AMBA and many other associations; and has taught mortgage finance at Mount Royal University and the Calgary Real Estate Board as a licensed instructor for the Alberta Real Estate Association. In 2004, Poberznick joined Bridgewater Bank and has been a critical member of the executive team that founded the bank. He currently serves as vice-president of national sales and has led the business development team for 15 years, coaching and mentoring individuals to become leaders in their own right. Over his years in the business, Poberznick’s focus has never changed: to educate, improve and serve the Canadian mortgage industry. “It’s an exciting career,” he says. “My main advice for people just starting out is to be ready for change. Markets change often; mortgages are often affected – you have to be ready for that. If that doesn’t scare you, find the spot you’re passionate about and focus there. People are always drawn to someone who is really excited about what they do.”





Mortgage broker and founder

President and CEO



“My participation in the growth and evolution of this industry pales in comparison to many, but my dedication to our company, the industry, its people and the principles we stand for has never wavered,” says Brian Matthey, founder of The Mortgage Professionals. Matthey started The Mortgage Professionals in 1989 following a 17-year career with CIBC. “I was part of the industry’s formation and believed in its future, and I am proud to have had a part in creating an industry that has spawned so many superstars, a company that has been a training ground for many of the successful agents we have with us today and a company that has successfully completed 30 years in business,” he says. Matthey has been in the banking and finance sphere for nearly 50 years. Three years ago, he sold his interest in The Mortgage Professionals to his daughter and three partners, but he continues to work as a broker. “It is a joy to see how four young people thought enough of this company to step up financially and invest of themselves and their skills, then go beyond that and invest their time and energy in revitalizing and modernizing our brand in a digital future and growing our company,” he says. Recently inducted into the Canadian Mortgage Hall of Fame, Matthey says his greatest joy comes from working with his son and daughter. “I love what I do, and that is brokering,” he says. “I still wake up excited every day.”


Art Appelberg has more than 35 years of experience in banking, accounting, credit risk, mortgage origination and lending, including serving as a senior financial analyst and manager of commercial card products at Scotiabank. An entrepreneur at heart, Appelberg became an independent mortgage agent in 1989. Seeing the potential in this arena, he established his own brokerage, Northwood Mortgage, just a year later. Since then, Appelberg has grown Northwood into one of

Over the last 20 years, Michel Durand has built and led one of Canada’s most active commercial-only mortgage brokerages. Durand’s industry peers have recognized his achievements by nominating him as the best commercial mortgage broker in Canada in each of the last six years – an honour unmatched in the industry. Durand started his career and received the foundation of his financing knowledge during the eight years he spent working for Schedule I banks, including NBC, LBC and BMO. From there, he went on to lead the Multi-Prêts Commercial/Mortgage Alliance Commercial group, which has kept him focused on commercial mortgages for the last 27 years. He has also served on the board of directors of a venture capital fund, as well as on various boards of trade. As an industry expert, Durand is frequently interviewed about the current state of the industry and its future outlook by various media outlets, including CMP. Durand’s vast experience in the commercial mortgage sector, along with his dedication to improving the reputation of the mortgage industry, provides him with a clear perspective on the challenges and opportunities borrowers face in today’s fast-paced environment. He works tirelessly to keep all participants in the commercial mortgage field informed of the issues currently affecting borrowers and lenders to ensure that each party can take advantage of current market trends.

the premier full-service mortgage brokerages in Canada. Over the years, he and Northwood have received several accolades, including being inducted into the Canadian Mortgage Hall of Fame, the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Canadian Mortgage Awards and CAAMP-IMBA’s Outstanding Contribution to the Industry Award. In addition to his 15,000-square-foot mortgage office, Appelberg also operates a mortgage investment company and recently opened a financial centre that offers professional services to address his clients’ financial, legal, real estate, investment and insurance needs. At the core of Appelberg’s strategy is his belief in developing and nurturing the concept of “professional community,” including full-time mortgage placement officers and trainers for all Northwood agents. With passion, vision, fresh ideas and a never-ending appetite for continued growth and excellence, Appelberg believes his road to success still has great things to come. “Relationships and trust are everything,” he says. “Nobody ever got anywhere thinking small. Dream big, dream bold, dream better. Set yourself apart.”


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Following a successful career in real estate, Michael Beckette founded The Mortgage Alliance Company in 1998. Since then, the MAC/MPH Group has become one of Canada’s premier brokerage networks and the country’s first national mortgage brokerage with more than 2,000 mortgage professionals. In 2015, the MAC/MPH Group became part of the M3 family and has played an integral role in helping M3 become one of Canada’s top networks in origination. With more than 8,000 brokers, 133 lenders, 11 brands and over $44 billion in annual volumes, M3 “continues to transform the lending ecosystem for lenders, partners, brokers and the customers they seek to serve through strategic technology,” Beckette says. A proven innovator, Beckette has been instrumental in enhancing Mortgage Alliance’s ability to evolve its operating model across all platforms to better support the lifeblood of its business: brokers. Believing that a clear vision, committed people, resources, measurable goals and an unwavering focus on benefiting the customer are the cornerstones of any successful organization, Beckette has worked to ensure M3 has all of those elements. In December 2018, he was appointed president of M3 Ventures with a clear mandate to expand the organization’s depth and breadth in the lending ecosystem via traditional and non-traditional partnerships. Beckette is a past chairman of CAAMP (now MPC) and was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Accredited Mortgage Professional designation. In 2011, he was inducted into the Canadian Mortgage Hall of Fame.

Vince Gaetano spent his first decade in the mortgage business with TD Bank’s national mortgage broker unit and with BMO as a national sales manager. In 1999, he joined Art Trojan to help grow Norlite Financial Services into one of the largest independent mortgage brokerages in Canada and the original founding brokerage of Mortgage Intelligence. In 2001, Gaetano embarked on his next challenge. He was instrumental in creating, a boutique mortgage brokerage focused on education. Since early 2002, he has continued his education efforts by providing mortgage advice on CP24’s weekly Hot Property program, and he regularly contributes to several other media outlets. Improving mortgage processing efficiency has always been part of Gaetano’s practice, as has his focus on bettering the client experience. Family and community are also priorities in Gaetano’s life – over the past 12 years, he has led’s sponsorship of the Toronto 5K Challenge, which raises more than $500,000 annually for organizations dedicated to helping the city’s senior citizens. “Vince Gaetano is a pioneer and an innovator unlike any that we have seen in our industry,” says Art Trojan, founding chair of CIMBL (now MPC). “Vince has used the power of television to build a true brand for since the early 2000s. Who knew at that time that consumer direct would or could work so well for the mortgage industry? did, and kudos to their organization.” Gaetano strives to lead by example and considers success a team sport. “I attribute much of the success of MonsterMortgage. ca to the great team of individuals I work with every day,” he says. “Every member of the team shares in the vision and core values that govern this innovative brokerage, which has and always will put the customer first.”


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Jared Dreyer began his career in the mortgage industry in 1992, founding Dreyer Group Mortgages and working as a top-producing broker for several years. In 2005, Dreyer Group Mortgages joined the Verico network. Today, Dreyer continues to work with the management team of his original company as president while additionally supporting the success of Verico mortgage brokers as vice-president of corporate relations – a role he’s held since 2013 – and serving as a proud member of the M3 Mortgage Group. Throughout his career, Dreyer has been recognized with several awards for business growth and total production, both from industry partners and within the Verico network. In 2017, he received the Canadian Mortgage Awards’ Lifetime Achievement Award for his service and dedication to the mortgage industry. A strong believer in giving back, Dreyer has been a director of provincial and national mortgage associations for the past decade. He also served as president of CMBA-BC and was the 2015–16 chair of Mortgage Professionals Canada.

HALI NOBLE Founding director and senior vice-president, broker relations FISGARD CAPITAL CORPORATION

As a founding director and senior vice-president of broker relations at Fisgard, one of Canada’s largest MIC managers, Hali Noble oversees mortgage broker and lender relationships, communication, and business advancement across the nation and serves as the face of the company. A mortgage lending specialist who has spent her entire career as a mortgage broker and private lender, Noble has been extensively involved in trade associations and served as president of the Mortgage Brokers Association of British Columbia (now CMBA-BC) for two terms, as well as chair of CAAMP (now MPC). She is currently the BC regional director for MPC. Noble has received several industry awards for her innovation, dedication, education, business practices and ethics over the years, including induction into the Canadian Mortgage Hall of Fame, the MBABC Pioneer Award for Lifetime Achievement and being named one of WXN Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in the ‘trailblazers and trendsetters’ category. Noble is also the co-founder of Women in the Mortgage Industry, which currently has more than 3,800 members across Canada and focuses on mentorship, education, the sharing of knowledge and experience, building confidence, and inspiring leadership in the Canadian mortgage industry.


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ED KARTHAUS Executive vice-president of sales and marketing HOME TRUST

Ed Karthaus has more than 35 years of experience as a global strategic thinker in financial services, technology and telecommunications, beginning with a career in sales and marketing in the tech industry. After establishing his credentials with such companies as Xerox, Oracle and British Telecom, Karthaus honed his expertise in data management, software sales and business solutions for a variety of clients, both as an executive and as an independent consultant. For much of his career, Karthaus has deployed his command of technology and sales processes in the financial services industry. He has held executive positions with such companies as Filogix, D+H, NCR, Prophix, Tenada and Home Trust, overseeing everything from business turnarounds and long-term strategic planning to enterprise startups. As the executive vice president of sales, marketing and services at Filogix, Karthaus led the migration of more than 20,000 mortgage brokers and agents from legacy platforms to Filogix Expert and onboarded dozens of lenders and partners to the company’s network. In addition to being an Accredited Mortgage Professional, Karthaus has served as a director of the Independent Mortgage Brokers Association of Ontario, was inducted into the CMBA Ontario Hall of Fame and received the Jeff Atlin Award for distinguished service in 2018. Since 2003, he has been speaking on the topics of technology and consumer insights at industry events from coast to coast. Karthaus joined Home Trust as executive vice-president of sales and marketing in 2017 and is responsible for residential mortgage sales and renewals, in addition to Home Trust’s Visa business and corporate marketing. “I am thrilled to be included among a list of such distinguished mortgage industry professionals in this year’s CMP Hall of Fame,” he says.

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HALL OF FAME 2019 DEBBIE MCPHERSON Senior vice-president, sales and marketing GENWORTH CANADA

Debbie McPherson has more than 30 years of experience and proven success in sales and quality management in the mortgage industry, including 18 years with Genworth Canada. As Genworth’s senior vice-president of sales and marketing, McPherson is responsible for developing and executing sales and marketing strategies that support business growth objectives and drive exceptional customer experience. Over the years, she has built a reputable team of sales and marketing executives, analysts, trainers and regional sales professionals across the country. Her customer focus has resulted in a long history of progressive partnerships focused on adapting to new market realities and seeking innovative solutions. Outside of her position with Genworth, McPherson plays an active role in many industry organizations, including MPC and CREA. In October 2018, she was inducted into the Canadian Mortgage Hall of Fame. She is also an active volunteer for the United Way, Habitat for Humanity and Home Suite Hope.


A 25-year industry veteran, Kyra Wong started her career at age 18 as a receptionist for a mortgage company. After completing her post-secondary education, she became a licensed mortgage broker and began specializing in alternative financing. Wong’s priorities changed after the birth of her son in 2004, prompting her to switch gears and accept a position on the insurance side of the business. In 2006, Wong attained the insurance business of a new company entering the mortgage space: Dominion Lending Centres. After years of skyrocketing sales results, she was promoted to national sales director and began running DLC’s insurance program. By 2017, DLC had grown substantially and made two acquisitions along the way, becoming Manulife’s largest account in the creditor insurance space. Wong was promoted once again to district vice president, nationally overseeing the insurance business for the entire DLC group of companies. In 2018, Wong felt compelled to do more to help others succeed and created the Magical Unicorn Project, which focuses on challenging the status quo within the financial industry by championing gender equality, diversity and inclusion. Her goal is to help support the advancement of women and minorities in leadership roles by shining a light on darkness to smash through the glass ceilings of inequality. An intrapreneur, best-selling author, blogger and keynote speaker, Wong was named a Woman of Influence by CMP in 2015, 2016 and 2018. She was also nominated as a Woman of Distinction at the Canadian Mortgage Awards in 2019 and received the 2019 WIMI Ambassador Award.


Frances Blau’s list of achievements in her 50-plus-year career is impressive, to say the least. The first female inductee into the Canadian Mortgage Hall of Fame, Blau was the 2014 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Canadian Mortgage Awards. She is also the former president and chair of the education and ethics committee for the Ontario Mortgage Brokers Association. Before opening Abacus Mortgages, an independent private lending brokerage specializing in mortgages for unconventional borrowers, as well as construction and commercial financing, Blau owned and operated Siticapital Financial Corp., along with two other brokers. As owner and president of Abacus, Blau has helped nurture and educate dozens of mortgage agents throughout the years, many of whom have gone on to establish their own active brokerages. As a result of her knowledge and history in the industry, Blau is well known and respected by her peers, private investors and institutional lenders. Still a member in good standing of CMBA, Blau continues to share her experience and knowledge of the industry. “I hope I have contributed knowledge, information and education throughout my career,” she said when accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award. “I’ve done so many things in my life in the mortgage business.”


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Gavin Marshall is the founder and CEO of Magenta, one of Canada’s oldest and largest mortgage investment corporations. Earlier this year, Magenta won nine gold medals and one silver in CMP’s Brokers on Lenders survey, making it the top alternative lender of 2019. These accomplishments are largely due to Marshall’s skill at adapting to and excelling in the always-evolving mortgage industry, as well as his dedication to building a robust team and cultivating talent by mentoring up-and-coming mortgage industry leaders. Marshall considers himself and Magenta to be one and the same, and he has fully dedicated himself to the original goal that drove him to found the company in 1994. “The aspiration to build a better tomorrow for one’s self, one’s children and one’s community has always been the engine of human progress,” he says. “My Magenta journey was and is motivated by the same innate desire – to build better tomorrows for our clients, our investors, our employee owners and our broker partners. This prestigious award is a testament to the quarter century of yesterdays that have brought us to this today and left us poised to seize tomorrow, and I am extremely grateful and humbled by the recognition afforded to me by my industry colleagues.” Prior to establishing Magenta, Marshall successfully invested in mortgages on his own account for many years. His personal investment in the Magenta MIC is currently $6.4 million. He holds an economics degree from Trent University and an MBA from Queen’s University, where he specialized in finance. After graduation, he held progressively senior positions with several Canadian financial institutions, primarily in the areas of credit and mortgage underwriting. Among his many philanthropic activities, Marshall is currently the chairman of Trent University’s philanthropic advisory council.

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3/12/2019 3:00:09 AM




Founder and president/ Co-founder and president

Managing director


Joseph White has been a staunch supporter of the mortgage industry since 1988. He began his career as a mortgage agent and has worked as a national sales manager and vice-president of sales with two national mortgage lenders. Today, he is the founder and president of REMIC and co-founder and president of Conversational Artificial Intelligence Technologies [CaiT]. A licensed broker, White has been a partner at a successful brokerage, manager of two national brokerages, a principal broker at a commercial brokerage, founder of a mortgage investment corporation and is the owner and principal broker of his own boutique brokerage. As an educator, he has instructed more than 15,000 students since 1996, many of whom are now leaders in the industry. During his 14 years at Seneca College, he was a professor, program coordinator, subject-matter expert and winner of the Excellence Award for exceptional leadership. In addition to developing several courses for Seneca College, including the first mortgage broker education program in Ontario, White designed the mortgage agent course currently used by REMIC and Ontario’s colleges. He has written two textbooks, several business-focused books and e-books, and, thanks to his passion for and dedication to helping anyone who wants a career in mortgage brokering, has developed REMIC into the largest mortgage educator in Canada, teaching more than 6,000 students per year. In addition, White is leading the development of AI through to assist mortgage brokers in capturing market share and expanding their influence in the market.


With 28 years of expertise in the real estate industry, Geoff Lee uses every part of his expertise to partner with his clients to address their mortgage needs. One of his secrets to success, Lee says, is continuing to expand his knowledge of current mortgage trends. To this end, he stays active in various industry-related groups, including CMBA-BC and MPC. A partner with DLC, Lee has received the network’s Master Award for the last four years


Richard Samuels has been in the finance industry for almost three decades and began specializing in mortgages in the late 1990s. Determined to create a “mortgagefriendly mortgage brokerage that delivered unparallelled service for its clients and hard-working agents alike,” he founded Obsidian Mortgage Corporation in 2007. Considered by many to be the original pioneer of 90% LTV equity-driven mortgages, Samuels has mentored several mortgage agents and brokers during his career. Over the years, he and his team have won numerous awards, including being named Best Newcomer Mortgage Brokerage at the Canadian Mortgage Awards in Obsidian’s founding year. Most recently, the Toronto Star Readers’ Choice Awards named Obsidian a Best Lender Services business. Through it all, Obsidian has remained one of the nation’s top independent mortgage brokerages. The mortgage industry landscape has changed since Samuels first started his career, but his drive to evolve in response to these changes and continue to be a “mortgagefriendly mortgage brokerage” remains. “Assisting all those we serve by creating rock-solid starts and helping clients get the financing solutions best suited to their personal needs, and giving our team of mortgage professionals the best solutions available to assist their clients and grow, is still the mission,” Samuels says. “This is quite an honour, and one I humbly share with my team, clients, business affiliates and family. The fact that I am being recognized is most likely due to the fact that I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by all-stars every day.”

and is a member of DLC’s Hall of Fame. He is also a four-time DLC Silver Award recipient and a three-time Gold Award recipient. Lee is tireless in his quest for excellence in the industry. He has ranked among in the top 1% of mortgage brokers in Canada and was 47th among the country’s 18,000 brokers. In addition, GLM has been recognized as one of Canada’s best brokerages for customer service for several years and won the award for Best Customer Service from an Individual Office at the 2016 Canadian Mortgage Awards. Although his passion is financing, Lee also puts a high priority on giving back. He and his wife are co-founders of the Imani Orphan Care Foundation, which supports and rescues abandoned and orphaned children in Kenya though sponsorships and self-sustaining projects. “My success is built on my desire to help others,” Lee says.


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The real estate and mortgage industry runs in Wayne Strandlund’s family – 10 of his family members have been involved in one or more aspects of the business, including his daughter, fellow Hall of Fame inductee Hali Noble. Strandlund has been in the industry since 1968. In 1974, he opened Fisgard

Asset Management, a real estate and mortgage business that is also an exempt market dealer. Fisgard currently manages more than 500 Canadian mortgages, approximately 95% of which have been originated by mortgage brokers. Strandlund was also the founder, president and CEO of United Homes, a VSE-traded public real estate developer. Strandlund has long been a mentor and lecturer to professional foreign students on real estate, mortgage brokerage and lending, private mortgage banking, and Canadian securities at the Canadian College for Chinese Studies, which he co-founded with Dr. Wee Chong Tan in 1983. He is also an author and speaker, and has chaired and been a member of numerous local and national associations throughout his career. He is a former director of the Real Estate Compensation Fund Corporation, a former chancellor and chair of the board of governors of Royal Roads University, former chair of the Royal Roads University Foundation, and an honorary life member of the Victoria Symphony and Naden Band of the Royal Canadian Navy. In 2014, he received the Unforgettable Award for outstanding service to the arts in Victoria.

Email lender notes, application, and credit bureaus to: D IMITRI K OSTUROS

Chief Operating Officer


BDM - Prairies

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3/12/2019 3:00:17 AM


HALL OF FAME 2019 DEBBIE THOMAS Founder, partner and director of training TMG THE MORTGAGE GROUP

Debbie Thomas is the co-founder of TMG The Mortgage Group, which she opened in July 1990 with her husband and business partner, Grant. Unique in its longevity in the industry, over the last 30 years, TMG has grown its presence in the marketplace from a team of four brokers in a small office to more than 800 mortgage professionals across the country. In addition to company awards, Thomas has won the Partners in Excellence Award from CAAMP (now MPC) and the CMBA-BC Pioneer Award for Lifetime Achievement. Additionally, she and her husband have been inducted into MPC’s Canadian Mortgage Hall of Fame, and in 2018, Thomas was the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Mortgage Awards of Excellence. As the only woman to co-found a successful national brokerage, Thomas credits her skills as an educator as contributing to her influence. She has been the mortgage expert on Global BC TV for many years and has worked to get the industry message out to consumers that “your best mortgage is through a broker.” Not only is Thomas committed to the success of TMG, she has shown passion and dedication for the success of others and the industry at large. As part of a group of Western broker advocates in the early 1990s, she was instrumental in ensuring that Western brokers were properly recognized. Through her efforts, mortgage lenders such as Scotiabank and HSBC added the West to their business market. Thomas is also particularly proud of TMG’s contribution to the Breakfast Club of Canada; TMG has volunteered more than 1,000 hours at local schools and continues to financially support the serving of more than 50,000 breakfasts every school day. Within TMG, Thomas is seen as a mentor, expert and leader. Within the industry, she is seen as an entrepreneur, industry advocate and pioneer.


Don Stoddart founded his first brokerage, First Provincial, in the early 1990s. At the time, it was the second largest brokerage in Ontario, and it was a pioneer in the industry. First Provincial featured the first private-label mortgage, was the first to pay trailer fees, the first to expand to a second province and had one of the first MICs in the industry. First Provincial was also one of the five founding companies that came together in 2000 to form Mortgage Intelligence, the first national superbroker in Canada, which Stoddart was instrumental in bringing to fruition. Stoddart set aside his own business to deliver Mortgage Intelligence’s vision by joining the management team, but he returned to brokering in 2005. In 2006, Stoddart launched Key Mortgage Partners, which became the founding company behind Mortgage Architects. Mortgage Architects was also a revolutionary concept, giving brokers ownership in both the brokerage and the lender and focusing on the concept of mortgage planning. In 2012, Stoddart joined DLC, where he received many top individual and franchise awards, and trained and mentored several successful brokers. Earlier this year, Stoddart and Key Mortgage Partners joined Mortgage Intelligence as a network partner. Throughout his career, Stoddart has been part of countless lender advisory boards and councils. Additionally, he was among the first brokers in Canada to reach the $100 million and $1 billion funded marks. While he has achieved considerable success over the years, Stoddart says his proudest accomplishments are mentoring so many successful brokers and his work with the Brampton Canadettes Girls Hockey Association.


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3/12/2019 3:00:53 AM

DOREEN WALSH Vice-president, network development DOMINION LENDING CENTRES

At the height of the recession in the early 1990s, Doreen Walsh worked for several trust companies, including Confederation Trust, Financial Trust, Central Guarantee Trust and Sunlife Trust. “On a Friday you worked for one trust company, and Monday morning the banner changed, and you worked for another,” she says. “It was a time of change, but also a great time for adapting and learning.” Walsh’s career experiences include managing powers of sale and foreclosures on residential and commercial portfolios; underwriting residential mortgages for branches, mortgage specialists and the CIBC broker Bid Centre; and working for a monoline lender for 17 years. Additionally, Walsh created and delivered a national underwriting training program for CIBC branches and spent nine years managing a residential sales team across Ontario and Atlantic Canada, administering a portfolio of $5.4 billion. In July 2019, she joined DLC as vice-president of network development. Walsh was recognized by CMP in 2018 as a Woman of Influence and an Industry Icon. She has served as a director on the CMBA board and is considered “a champion of change in the mortgage broker training space,” a colleague says. “What separates her from other industry leaders is her commitment to building a streamlined, practical training program that will expedite the learning phase for new entrants to the mortgage broker industry. Doreen’s no-nonsense, positive approach, coupled with her innate ability to translate high-level processes to a novice level of understanding, makes her an exceptional educator.”

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3/12/2019 3:00:57 AM



What it means to be a disruptor in the broker network space Centum president and COO Chris Turcotte tells CMP how his network is going above and beyond the status quo

“WHAT IF our focus was just to do it better than everyone else?” It’s a simple question that Chris Turcotte, Centum’s president and COO, continuously asks himself. While this is the kind of value statement one expects to hear from a brand leader, Turcotte takes it a bit further: “What if every product and service we provide originated from this one idea? What’s our competition doing, how do we do it better, and how can we offer it for less?” This has been the mantra over the last three years at what Turcotte refers to as Centum 2.0. “The biggest opportunity for us at Centum is to ensure that people understand that virtually everything they know about us has changed – pricing, services, products and technology have all changed for the better,” he says. Centum Financial Group was founded in 2003 by the Charlwood Pacific Group, a private, family-owned company that also has Century 21 Canada, Century 21 Asia Pacific, Uniglobe Travel and Real Property Management under its umbrella. Combined, the companies have a global reach, boasting more than 22,000 system members across 64 countries. Turcotte says the first thing he realized when he took the helm of Centum was that no one knew the network’s story. “We did a poor job of showing brokers our size, leverage and


the 40-plus years of experience we have in the real estate industry – a claim no other brand can make,” he says. “Two of our industry’s biggest brands publicly argue through their marketing about being the biggest. While we could easily enter that arena, we choose not to.” When asked why he doesn’t see size as a value proposition, Turcotte says, “I want Centum to be known for undebatable value and authenticity, not size. Nothing matters more than having a mortgage broker look at our offering and say, ‘Wow, this is where I need to be.’” In 2017, Centum launched Piper, the front-end and back-end technology for the network. Most recently, the company part-

disrupt [ dis-ruhpt ] verb (used with object) to cause disorder or turmoil in: The news disrupted their conference. In business: to radically change (an industry, business strategy, etc.), as by introducing a new product or service that creates a new market nered with Filogix and Axiom Technologies to introduce Deal Origination System [DOS], a new lender submission platform. When launching new technology, Turcotte says there’s always a concern about whether

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anyone will use it, but those fears turned out to be unfounded. With a huge adoption rate for Piper, the only complaint from brokers was the need for both the Filogix and Piper systems to be open. This is now a problem of the past. The newest version of Piper allows brokers to pull credit bureaus, get clients’ bank statements, e-sign and submit directly to the lender, all through the same system. DOS combines consumer websites, a powerful and easyto-use CRM, cutting-edge tools, and deal submissions for an all-in-one experience. “The best part is brokers no longer need those three or four other third-party services they’re currently paying for,” Turcotte says. “They also don’t need to be paying tech fees to their brand. Our technology is completely

free for Centum agents.” Considering that much larger networks are charging brokers for technology, it might seem like a gamble for Centum to be providing it at no cost. “Being the youngest brand leader in the industry, I’ve been accused of being a dreamer or wearing rose-coloured glasses, but my approach is simple,” Turcotte says. “Instead of having corporate teams of executives and an army of recruiters to harass brokers, what if we just put all our resources into over-delivering on value? That’s the mission, and that’s the hill I’m willing to die on. We’re going all in on brokers.” Centum offers more than just technology. There’s also a large focus on marketing – but with a twist. There is no national marketing fund or traditional advertising. Instead,

Centum has reallocated resources into an infrastructure designed to educate, create and support the marketing efforts of its brokers, specifically on social media. Turcotte explains the rationale behind this approach: “How do we teach the brokers to hunt, not beat our brand’s drum through marketing?” With such a different approach, is going so far against the grain working for Centum? “In 2019, YTD, we have nearly doubled our network’s funded mortgage volume, and that’s without acquiring another brand to get that volume increase,” Turcotte reports. “It turns out brokers like being put first.” For more information about Centum or to have a confidential chat, please visit or email jeff_sampson

THIS IS NOT FOR YOU UNLESS YOU have 2 years mortgage agent/underwriting experience. UNLESS YOU are passionate about customer service. UNLESS YOU want to work in a fun, supportive, dynamic environment. UNLESS YOU prefer interacting with customers over generating leads. UNLESS YOU are self-motivated and want to earn more money.


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3/12/2019 3:03:04 AM



Taking care of business LendCity might be a new brokerage, but it has an experienced leader in Scott Dillingham and a lead generation platform that sets it apart

IN OCTOBER, Scott Dillingham joined the broker channel. For years, he had been a top-producing mobile wealth advisor with CIBC. Dillingham opened his own brokerage, LendCity Mortgage, partly because of the product options available and partly because of the flexibility. He also wanted a chance to grow his business in a different way. “I wanted access to more lenders, but also, I create these lead generation platforms for Realtors, and at CIBC I was not allowed to pursue that,” he explains. “In this platform, I had the option to pursue that as well, so it was perfect.” LendCity is all about creating value for its Realtor partners, and Dillingham’s lead generation platform does exactly that. LendCity creates content for a Realtor’s specific audience, then continually markets to prospective buyers to warm them up to the Realtor without the Realtor having to do any work at all. “They actually call the Realtor for the business instead of the Realtor putting out ads and hoping that somebody calls them,” Dillingham says. LendCity funds the online advertising to generate the leads, so the more deals its partners send to the brokerage, the more funding there is for the platform. The system


has been tried and tested for four years now, and now that Dillingham has no restrictions around his platform, he’s determining how to effectively scale it. LendCity is also moving into 2020 with an eye on expansion. The brokerage now owns its 6,000-square-foot location in Windsor, Ontario. Beginning early next year, LendCity plans to use half of the building as an event space for everything from first-time homebuyer seminars to refinancing information sessions and classes on property investing – anything that touches an area of lending and/or real estate. By spending less money on renting space for these events, Dillingham can invest that much more into the business. Dillingham has been a leader in the mortgage space for all of his eight years in the industry and has consistently ranked

in the top 10% of volume among his peers throughout his career. His best year included nearly 500 deals for a total of $110 million in volume. In moving to the broker channel, Dillingham and his team have had to learn the ins and outs of the different lenders in the marketplace, as opposed to simply being familiar with a single lender. While that’s been a challenge, they’ve managed to learn a lot in a few months. “We have to learn everything from everybody,” Dillingham says. “That’s probably the only challenge, but we’re quickly overcoming it. It’s quite easy to determine who will do what and where is the best place to land the client.” Dillingham got his start in the mortgage industry through his real estate invest-

LENDCITY’S LEAD GENERATION PLATFORM The lead generation platform at LendCity creates content targeted to a Realtor’s audience. If a Realtor partner wants to reach first-time homebuyers, for example, Dillingham’s team creates content specific to that group, such as “Five Things to Do Before Buying a Home.” That information is presented on behalf of the Realtor partner, and when the client enters their contact information to download the content, LendCity uses it to market to those clients via everything from email to direct mail. The system is only offered to a handful of Realtors in each market in order to maintain its effectiveness.

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BROKERAGE LendCity Mortgage

NETWORK DLC Expert Financial

LOCATION Windsor, Ontario

“We have to learn everything from everybody. That’s probably the only challenge, but we’re quickly overcoming it” ments. After he realized that he had a better understanding of the process than his own mortgage broker, he got a job at CIBC with a vision of climbing the corporate ladder. Instead, he found that he loved doing mortgages but hated corporate politics. Although he was happy at CIBC, Dillingham ultimately felt he could best serve his clients by opening his own brokerage. “My niche is investment properties, and when I started with CIBC, the rules were very open; you could do unlimited properties, and they would make exceptions on

applications,” he says. “As time went on, they no longer make exceptions, and they have a five-property cap now on rentals, so what I could do drastically reduced. I wanted something different anyway so I could offer more options to customers.” Windsor’s home values haven’t risen for the past few years, but, citing an increase in infrastructure, Dillingham says the winds are shifting, and local buyers are getting the sense that now is a good time to buy – which means now is also the perfect time for LendCity to make a name for itself.


NICHE Investment properties

DIFFERENTIATOR Lead generation platform for Realtor partners

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3/12/2019 3:03:40 AM

Nominate in over 20 categories to recognize the outstanding achievements of your organization and peers! Individual Awards

Organization Awards

• Broker of the Year (Fewer than 25 Employees) • Broker of the Year (25 Employees or More) • The Avison Young Award for Broker of the Year Commercial •

• • • • • • • • • •

• • • • • • •

Woman of Distinction Young Gun of the Year Excellence in Philanthropy & Community Service Lender Underwriter of the Year The CIMBC Award for Lender BDM of the Year The TransUnion Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Mortgage Industry

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Brokerage of the Year (Fewer than 25 Employees) Brokerage of the Year (25 Employees or More) New Brokerage of the Year Outstanding Customer Service by an Individual Office Brokerage of the Year – Diversification Digital Innovator of the Year National Broker Network of the Year Employer of Choice The Centum Award for Service Provider of the Year The CMP Readers' Choice Award for Advertising Campaign of the Year

2/12/2019 9:17:39 PM


Hurry! Nominations close on January 15, 2020

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Supporting Publications

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2/12/2019 10:37:24 9:17:41 PM 31/10/2019



Bringing back the human touch With more than a decade of experience as a top producer, KeyRate CEO and principal broker Danny Ibrahim is now heading up his own independent brokerage and is primed to take over the Ontario market THE TEAM at KeyRate Mortgage wants their clients to feel more comfortable when making one of the biggest financial decisions of their lives. Danny Ibrahim, CEO and principal broker of the newly independent brokerage, believes there’s a disconnect between brokers and their clients, and KeyRate is looking to bring back that missing link. KeyRate currently has a small, handpicked team of 25, but as the new kid on the block, the brokerage is hitting the ground running. With a goal to become a driving force in the Ontario marketplace, Ibrahim expects the team to expand rapidly and grow to 115 agents by the end of next year and almost double that by 2022. While Ibrahim says education and a solid finance background are essential for anyone looking to join the KeyRate team, the ability to communicate effectively with people faceto-face is the make-or-break quality in the hiring process. “I need to know you can sit down in front of a client, listen to their concerns and show


them empathy,” he says. “It’s not just about rates and data.” Even though online and mobile mortgage experiences are more common among today’s borrowers, mortgage professionals still need to build relationships. About half of borrowers who are offered online applications choose not to use them, saying they prefer to work with a mortgage professional in-person. While most borrowers report being contacted between one and five times during the loan process, many would like to have even more contact with their broker. Making those connections with clients to help them through the mortgage process is what motivated Ibrahim to get into the industry. He started his career more than 13 years ago in California. He learned the ropes while navigating the foreclosure crisis, the financial crisis and a recession before gaining international mortgage experience in Dubai. He moved to Canada in 2011, where he quickly rose to become a top producer at National Bank. He then switched gears to

“I need to know you can sit down in front of a client, listen to their concerns and show them empathy. It’s not just about rates and data” Danny Ibrahim, KeyRate Mortgage

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work as a broker under a well-known mortgage brand, where his volume continued to soar, and the KeyRate team was recognized by CMP as a Top Brokerage in 2019. While Ibrahim is proud of the work he did during this time, he decided to branch off and become independent this year. A major driver behind this decision was his desire to focus on quality over quantity. “We want to create a specialized team of top-producing agents that are fully utilizing the marketplace in Ontario and building real relationships with consumers and partners,” he says. To accomplish this goal, KeyRate has placed a major emphasis on remaining current and educated on the market. All agents complete a rigorous training process and, throughout their tenure, are required to be up to date on all aspects of the industry on the provincial, national and global level. Every agent at KeyRate has a specialty, whether it’s first-time homebuyers, commercial property, second mortgages or vacation homes, so they can offer multiple tailored solutions for every client’s need. Starting in the industry at a young age himself, Ibrahim encourages new finance professionals to consider the mortgage space, which he says has been very rewarding. He believes that soon, having the skills to connect with a younger demographic will be unavoidable. On average, 40% of Canadians under 35 own their own homes, according to RBC. But several factors, including the federal government’s First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, are contributing to the increasing number of millennials who are showing interest in buying their first home. “There’s not a lot of engagement happening there right now, but the market is opening up for millennials,” Ibrahim says. “Soon they are going to be able to purchase properties without needing a co-signer or guarantor.” This trend is only expected to continue, and Ibrahim says KeyRate is equipped to serve clients with a variety of needs at any stage in their lives.

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The turning tides of 2019 CMP sat down with three industry experts to get their thoughts on the past year and their predictions for what’s ahead in 2020

THE THEME across the mortgage industry in 2019 was a change in mindset. As the year ends, industry experts are reflecting on the achievements and challenges of 2019 and speculating on trends and goals for the future. For Centum president Chris Turcotte, the change in mindset is coming from brokers. The industry has become somewhat broken, he says, and brokers have become skeptical of receiving the help and support they deserve from their network. “We noticed it had been a long time since anyone had approached a mortgage broker and asked them what they needed,” he says. This year, Centum delivered new technology to its brokers at no cost – and that was just one of the company’s major milestones this year. Centum also added 19 new firms to its brand, doubled its mortgage volume across Canada and invested in its people by adding three new staff members to support its new tech offerings. “Some companies spend millions of dollars launching new technology,” Turcotte says, “but then they never make sure it’s being used efficiently to benefit their brokers.” Mortgage brokers are becoming more


educated on the choices they have and the company they want to keep, recognizing that clients are loyal to their broker, not a brand. This change in mindset is giving more power to the broker, and that’s a trend Turcotte expects to continue in 2020. There was also a noticeable shift in brokers’ attitude toward new technology this year, as they moved from resistance to willingness and acceptance. With more tech companies making their way out to trade shows to discuss risks and security, data protection, and the movement of information, more brokers are becoming curious about the tools that exist and the changes that need to be made to adapt to new consumer expectations. In 2019, it has become clear that pushing back against the march of tech progress is futile. There is a better understanding across the industry on the importance of being connected, the push and pull of information, and how automation can help enhance processes and improve efficiency, according to Filogix head Tim Rye. “From broker to connectivity provider to lender, each of these key players are looking to drive a better experience,” he says. Brokers,

for example, want access to a more digital customer experience, and their customers want a better way to handle documentation. Lenders, meanwhile, are looking for ways to automate through data integration and AI to provide a better experience for all of their partners. In the lending space, alternative lending continued to attract a wider range of borrowers in 2019. Alternative lenders are becoming more creative with the products they’re offering, and Lindsay Jurek, senior director of alternative sales at NPX/Merix, says there’s more recognition among industry peers of the value of alt lending. While it was previously considered a plan B, Jurek says the lingo and mentality are changing. “We’re not being thought of as a last resort anymore or just for people who have bad credit,” she says. “That’s such a small part of our business, and the industry is starting to recognize that alternative lending is not the

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worst-case scenario; it’s just another solution.” Merix saw 46% year-over-year growth, thanks in part to its products that aren’t subject to the stress test. “We can help the Canadian who has been squeezed out of the market because of the stress test and get them into homes,” Jurek says. Looking to 2020, Jurek expects the lines to blur between the private and alternative lending spaces. “With all the new regulations that are being considered for private lenders, you’re going to see a lot of alternative lenders who can offer something similar to a private mortgage, but under an umbrella that people recognize and trust,” she says. Turcotte agrees that there will be a lot of opportunity for mortgage brokers in the alternative and private channels in the new year, adding that education will be a big part of Centum’s strategy going forward. The company has plans to launch new workshops to teach brokers how to use social media

and targeted ads to significantly reduce marketing budgets. “We’re going to take what’s gotten us to this point and be completely open and transparent with our strategy,” Turcotte says. Filogix, owned by global fintech organization Finastra, says the big push for the new year will be to bring Canada up to speed on innovation and new technology. Compared to the US and other international markets, Canada falls behind in what’s being offered to brokers. Part of that has to do with geographical barriers and a historically structured banking system that makes a handful of major lenders the dominant players, Rye says. “We have the opportunity to look at our US groups and see how they’ve driven innovation through connections to other suppliers and partners,” he says, “and how they’ve enhanced the digital journey for both the broker and the customers they serve.”

TIPS FOR SURVIVING THE HOLIDAY SLOWDOWN Ryan Spence Broker services channel manager Filogix “Use the time to comb through business processes and procedures and figure out how they can be improved. You don’t have to make large, fundamental changes. Small, consistent adjustments can lead to big results.”

Chris Turcotte President Centum Financial Group “Embrace the lull, exercise gratitude and reflect on the year passed. Think of the big moments and understand that success won’t happen automatically in the new year.”

Lindsay Jurek Senior director of alternative sales NPX/Merix “If you don’t have your plan done now for next year, you’re already behind. Put things in place now to set yourself up for success in the new quarter. Break the year down into smaller periods to stay on track and accomplish more.”

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A BORN ENTREPRENEUR Jason Geall has never hesitated to dive right in to a new venture – and mortgages are the latest industry he plans to conquer At age 16, Geall sunk his savings into equipment and a vehicle, hired some peers, and started his own mobile car detailing service. To drum up business, he knocked on doors all over upscale neighbourhoods. “I would target big SUVs that probably had moms driving them and sell them on getting it detailed in their own driveway. My friends were off at camp, but I was making money and learning to manage people, how to negotiate and how to close.”



PUTS IN THE HOURS Geall’s early days with Harmony were filled with the day-in, day-out drudgery of running a small business, but he soon reaped the rewards. “I would get up at 4 a.m. to walk the dog, open the gym at 5:30 and not leave until 9:30 p.m. I would do everything from being at the front desk, hiring spin instructors, washing towels and mopping floors, and teaching classes myself. It was crazy – but in the first month, we did $45,000 in business.”


LEARNS A VALUABLE LESSON With free time on his hands, Geall was introduced by a friend to the proprietor of multiple General Motors dealerships, car washes and automotive technology businesses, who asked him to step in and run the businesses. The experience was enough to send Geall back to his entrepreneurial roots.

“I put in a year; it really solidified the fact that I hate working for someone. It was a good lesson that reinforced what I already knew” 2019

GETS INDUSTRY RECOGNITION Geall knew he’d made his mark in the mortgage industry when he was named to CMP ’s Young Guns list. “When I looked at some of the other people who I was recognized alongside, it was a real confidence booster. To be recognized amongst such top-rated people was very satisfying, and the reputation behind it is huge. I love the industry.”


MAKES HIS MARK Geall was introduced by a friend to a fellow entrepreneur, who eventually became his business partner in Harmony Fitness Clubs. “The friend who introduced us knew I was an entrepreneur who loved business and knew that she needed help. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse. We built out a 10,000-square-foot facility; I went to the site every day to see the smallest changes – one of the most exciting days of my life was when the builders said, ‘We’re finished.’”


SEEKS A NEW CHALLENGE When he felt he’d achieved what he set out to do, Geall knew it was time to move on from Harmony. “It was boredom that prompted me to leave. I had hired enough that all the tasks I had been taking care of were delegated. I had grown it as well as I could – it was the largest privately owned boutique fitness facility in Toronto. It felt like time to part ways, so I sold up at age 30.”


FINDS PRIVATE LENDING A dinner with a friend who worked in private lending opened a new door for Geall. “All the things he loved about the business appealed to me. I like the sales elements, I love dealing with brokers, and I love the idea of helping people in bad situations. I’ve been hugged by borrowers on the day of closing because no one else was going to say yes. I see it as a customer service business, and my client is the broker. I nurture those relationships.”


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THE MUSIC MAN He might have moved on from his touring days, but broker James McCollum has never left music behind JAMES MCCOLLUM grew up around music – playing the piano by ear at age 4 and plucking the strings on his first guitar at 9. While studying music at the University of Toronto, McCollum’s band, composed of fellow music students, was signed to a major record company after their third gig. The success of that band, the Philosopher Kings, allowed McCollum to pursue his lifelong dream of playing music professionally; his subsequent project, Prozzak, went on to even greater success. “I’ve always taken one step forward at a time,” he says, “and that way I’ve been able to achieve my childhood dreams.” These days, McCollum works as a mortgage professional in Hamilton, but his passion for music finds expression in his gig as musical director for the Songs of the City event for United Way. “Music has been oxygen to me since I was a kid,” he says. “I had trouble expressing myself until I had a guitar round my neck.”


Size of the largest audience McCollum has played for


Guitars McCollum has in his house, including a bass and a ukulele


Typical number of chords in the songs McCollum writes

McCollu m has written a nd produced songs for Nelly Furtado, whom he joined for a tour that included such legendary venues as We mbley Arena a nd Madison Square Garden


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