CMP 14.06

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ALTERNATIVE LENDING REPORT What brokers need to know to find success in this thriving lending segment

MONEY LAUNDERING CRACKDOWN What can be done to combat dirty money in BC’s real estate market?

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How the stress test has affected housing starts, the rental market and more


Atlantic Canada’s star broker reveals the strategy behind his rise to the top

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ISSUE 14.06



Four experts in alternative lending tell CMP what brokers need to do to thrive in this increasingly popular sector

How plans become square feet.

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.

Blake Cassidy or Pierre Leonard 800 494 0389 |

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18/06/2019 4:24:44 AM

ISSUE 14.06

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UPFRONT 04 Editorial

The BC market’s dirty secret is exposed

06 Statistics

The far-reaching impact of B-20

08 Head to head

What did the federal budget get right and wrong about housing?

10 News analysis


44 34

A CHANGE FOR THE BETTER Brokers have played a key role in the latest changes at Street Capital Bank of Canada

16 Opinion

How Dominion Lending Centres is working to build brand awareness for mortgage brokers PEOPLE



Pam Pikkert reveals how new brokers can make their mark in the industry

Clinton Wilkins has used his media savvy to make a name for himself in the Halifax mortgage market – and beyond


Succeeding as a broker is as simple as putting the work in

FEATURES 40 Why your open-door policy is a joke How to create true transparency through actions, not words

44 How to work smarter, not harder

Six ways to boost productivity by using your time more efficiently




THE SECRET TO BUILDING CLIENT RAPPORT Exchanging stories is the key to forming lasting client relationships


Despite a slight uptick in installment loan delinquencies, Canadians appear to be managing their debt well DLC’s mortgage app can now pre-qualify consumers in 60 seconds



12 Alternative lending update

14 Broker network update



How can the government stop money being laundered through real estate?

47 Career path

Where others see obstacles, John Bargis only sees opportunity

48 Other life

Breaking the ice with broker and former figure skating coach Leagh Wright


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The cat’s finally out of the bag


t would have been naïve to believe dirty money wasn’t being funnelled into Canada’s real estate market, but now that two earth-shattering reports have come out of British Columbia, detailing the scope of the problem, will policymakers be impelled to act? In BC, where $7.4 billion is reported to have been laundered in 2018 – $5 billion of which went through real estate and caused an estimated 5% increase in prices – the government is being proactive, recently launching a public inquiry. However, the federal government declined to participate, citing measures it has already taken to combat money laundering. Organized Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair pointed to the extra money granted to the RCMP in the federal budget to fight money laundering, along with federal funds for the Canada Revenue Agency to develop residential and commercial real estate teams whose mandate is to track down money laundering. The federal govern-

However the provinces – and the federal government – choose to react to the evidence of money laundering, the days of denial are no more ment is also tweaking existing anti-money-laundering laws so it can keep better tabs on property ownership and sales. That’s not good enough, according to the C.D. Howe Institute, which recently postulated that Canada has the weakest anti-money-laundering laws of any Western democracy and noted that without a beneficial ownership registry, the problem will persist. One of the reports out of BC, prepared by an expert panel led by former BC Deputy Attorney General Maureen Maloney, revealed that even greater sums of ill-gotten cash find their way through Alberta, Ontario and the Prairie provinces, though officials in Alberta have expressed doubts about that claim without going so far as to deny it outright. Saskatchewan and Manitoba, on the other hand, are poised to curtail the problem. In Ontario, the provincial government appears more aloof than concerned, and that’s prompted the Ontario Real Estate Association to join the chorus of those calling for a beneficial ownership registry. In the end, however the provinces – and the federal government – choose to react to the evidence of money laundering, the days of denial are no more. The team at Canadian Mortgage Professional ISSUE 14.06 EDITORIAL Writers Neil Sharma Joe Rosengarten Libby MacDonald Ephraim Vecina Heather Turner Copy Editor Clare Alexander

CONTRIBUTORS Terry Kilakos Brian de Haaff Mike Adams Carson Tate

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

SALES & MARKETING Associate Publisher Trevor Biggs Vice President, Sales John Mackenzie 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



tel: 416 644 8740 • fax: 416 203 8940


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Canadian Mortgage Professional is part of an international family of B2B publications, websites and events for the real estate and mortgage industries MORTGAGE PROFESSIONAL AUSTRALIA T +61 2 8437 4787


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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18/06/2019 3:27:00 AM | ®/™ Trademarks owned by Centum Financial Group Inc. © 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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18/06/2019 3:27:05 AM



Before and after B-20


The new guidelines have had far-reaching effects, from slumping sales to a jump in alternative lending IT’S BEEN almost a year and a half since new B-20 guidelines were implemented, and the effects of the measures continue to reverberate. The tighter qualification rules have raised the barrier to entry for would-be homebuyers, especially those purchasing their first home. That’s had a knock-on effect in several areas of the market, from an ongoing preference for lower-priced condos to a proclivity


Proportion of Canadian mortgages subject to the B-20 guidelines


Estimated drop in the number of houses sold between Q4 2017 and Q4 2018 due to B-20

among renters to stay put longer. B-20’s effects have also been felt on the supply side of housing; both housing starts and new listings have seen a decline since the new rules went into effect at the beginning of 2018. One beneficiary of B-20 has been the alternative lending segment, which has seen a noticeable boost in its market share over the past 18 months.


Estimated increase in home sales if B-20 changes were eliminated


Estimated rise in home prices if B-20 rules were rolled back

In the three months after the implementation of B-20, sales dropped off dramatically around the country, but the effect was most pronounced in the nation’s priciest markets. In its analysis of the data, TD Economics acknowledged that the decline in sales at the beginning of 2018 can also be attributed to rising interest rates and provincial policies, but that B-20 shoulders most of the blame for the fall. TD also noted that while the market has since rebounded, sales haven’t bounced back to their pre-B-20 levels, as they did after previous instances of rule-tightening.

48,000 46,000 44,000 42,000 42,000 40,000 38,000 36,000 34,000 32,000 30,000


B-20 changes introduced




Source: Assess the Stress: Examining the Impact of the B-20 Rules on Housing 16 Months Later, TD Economics



In order to get around the regulations, buyers have increasingly turned to alternative and private lending; in the GTA, private lenders have seen a discernible increase in market share.

Because the B-20 stress test requires borrowers to qualify at a rate higher than the one they’ll actually be paying, many have had to shift their sights to more affordable housing. As a result, single detached units have experienced a more marked drop in sales than condos since the new guidelines were introduced.


120,000 100,000








20,000 0

0% Q2 2017

Q2 2018

Source: Assess the Stress: Examining the Impact of the B-20 Rules on Housing 16 Months Later, TD Economics




Single detached Condos 2016

B-20 changes introduced 2017

2018 Source: Assess the Stress: Examining the Impact of the B-20 Rules on Housing 16 Months Later, TD Economics

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20% Source: Assess the Stress: Examining the Impact of the B-20 Rules on Housing 16 Months Later, TD Economics



Consumers who might have otherwise purchased a home are continuing to rent, putting increased pressure on rental markets. TD Economics estimates that B-20 has caused vacancy rates to fall by 0.2% to 0.3% in Toronto and Vancouver, putting additional strain on these two markets, where the vacancy rate was already hovering around 1%.

B-20 also led to a slide in pre-construction sales of units in Vancouver and Toronto in 2018, which is expected to impact the level of housing starts in the years to come.



16% 14%


12% 200,000

10% 8%


6% 4%


2% 0%





Source: Assess the Stress: Examining the Impact of the B-20 Rules on Housing 16 Months Later, TD Economics










Source: Assess the Stress: Examining the Impact of the B-20 Rules on Housing 16 Months Later, TD Economics

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How well did the federal budget address housing?

On the whole, brokers aren’t especially encouraged by the budget’s new initiatives to help would-be homebuyers

Bill Nugent Mortgage broker/owner Neighbourhood Dominion Lending Centres

Dwight Trafford Mortgage broker The Mortgage Centre – Rock Capital Investments

Shawn Allen CEO and broker of record Matrix Mortgage Global

“The loan structure created in the budget opens up new opportunities for young families to gain entry to the housing market in smaller communities across Canada. The government did not, however, address the problems facing many purchasers in the GTA or GVA. They could have alleviated these problems by giving the purchaser the option of having the stress test applied to mortgage terms of fewer than 10 years; the purchaser who chooses to take the 10-year term could have been allowed to purchase using the contract rate of that term. Doing so could give Canadians financial security and stability.”

“The government felt pressure to stall an explosive real estate market. Now they feel the need to restart real estate’s engines. Affordability is the main issue, not because of high interest rates or lower incomes, but because of the shortage of single-family detached or semi-detached starter homes in the hot suburban markets. The government’s idea of jointventure ownership through down payment participation will help very few, and only in ideal circumstances. Providing reasonably priced homes via better planning would provide long-term and sustainable solutions, rather than a Band-Aid solution.”

“Giving first-time homebuyers down payment assistance is only part of the solution – the complete solution would be to restructure the stress test. The current regulations are negatively affecting homeowners more so than buyers. Canadians, on average, refinance every two to three years; upon attempting to refinance, they are now faced with an affordability threshold that was not present when they originally purchased. As a result, Canadians are being denied financing by their current bank, driving them to alternative financing at increased premiums. Removing the stress test would help those forced to seek alternative financing solutions.”

HELP FOR FIRST-TIME BUYERS Among the initiatives spelled out in March’s federal budget was the promise of relief for first-time homebuyers with an annual income below $120,000 via a shared equity program that will finance up to 10% of their down payment on a new build or 5% on an existing property. While that was perhaps the most eye-catching measure, it was by no means the only one. Other changes in policy geared toward first-time buyers included increasing the amount that can be withdrawn from RRSPs to fund a down payment from $25,000 to $35,000 (or $70,000 for a couple). Legislation enshrining the measures in law is forecast to pass in the fall.


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MORE OPTIONS FOR SELF-EMPLOYED CLIENTS IS MOVING FORWARD For business owners, we’re considering more types of income than ever before. Send us a mortgage application and see how this flexibility can help your clients.

BANKING THAT WORKS FOR BROKERS® All mortgages are funded by, registered in the name of, administered and serviced by B2B Bank. B2B Bank acts solely in the capacity of lender and/or account administrator. B2B Bank is not responsible for determining the suitability of products and services for their clients and for informing them of any related risks. B2B Bank products and services are only available through financial intermediaries. All mortgages are subject to credit approval and B2B Bank’s lending criteria. ®B2B BANK and BANKING THAT WORKS FOR BROKERS are registered trademarks of B2B Bank.

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2019-05-09 5:16 PM 18/06/2019 3:43:02 AM



The impact of dirty money Recent reports out of British Columbia have confirmed fears that laundered money has played a significant role in driving up prices in Vancouver. So what can be done to combat it?

IN MAY, two bombshell reports on money laundering in British Columbia confirmed years-long suspicions that irregular activity is partly to blame for driving Vancouver real estate prices skyward. One of the reports, from an expert panel led by former BC deputy attorney Maureen Maloney, revealed that $7.4 billion was laundered through the province in 2018, $5 billion of which went through real estate and contributed to a 5% increase in prices. However, Vancouver-based broker Robert Mogensen believes the true boost to prices might be even higher, given the fact that 2018 was a down year for the local real estate market. “If that’s just in one year and you roll back

Mogensen notes that pre-sale condos in particular are ideal money laundromats. “[The Maloney report] says it’s more likely to affect single-family homes than condos in the Lower Mainland, and I say that’s unbelievably naïve,” he says. “I, as a mortgage broker, and many Realtors I’ve talked to over the last several years have seen people line up at pre-sale events and buy five or 10 condominiums, and at the time, they had zero intention to ever live in them. Most of them were left empty because there was a lack of legislation requiring them to rent the units out.” One of the Maloney panel’s recommendations was replacing the Mortgage Brokers Act, a move supported by the CMBA-BC.

“If you roll back the clock ... one could conclude that [the money laundering] was even more influential in pricing” Robert Mogensen, The Mortgage Advantage the clock a year or two prior, one could conclude that it was even more influential in pricing,” he says. “In 2018, that was the tail end of this ramp-up in prices occurring, and things started to soften later in the year and through 2019. If you extrapolate the report’s findings, I’d say things were worse than that in 2016 and 2017.”


“It’s something we’ve been advocating for: a complete rewrite of the Mortgage Broker Act, which contains a lot of gaps and problems,” says CMBA-BC CEO Samantha Gale. “It’s a key recommendation that impacts our sector because the managing broker – what we call the ‘designated individual’ – is not a licensing category.

Once you have a licensing category, you can create expectations, standards and due diligence requirements for managing a brokerage. If you had anti-money-laundering requirements of a mortgage brokerage, you’d need to fix that problem.” CMBA-BC is also collaborating with other real estate sector associations to prepare recommendations they believe will help curtail the proliferation of ill-gotten gains through British Columbia’s real estate market. “We’re working on developing an anti-money-laundering course,” Gale says. “Our members can currently do voluntary reporting, but the recommendation is to make it mandatory. That is going to be inevitable. We’re getting a course ready for our members to take so they know what to look for.” In its own report on money laundering, the C.D. Howe Institute pointed out that Canada has among the worst protective measures against money laundering out of all Western liberal democracies. The report’s author, Kevin Comeau, estimates that between $100 million and

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Regulate real estate developers through licensing

Replace the Mortgage Broker Act

Improve data-sharing between agencies

$130 million is being laundered through Canada’s housing market every year. The solution, according to his report, is a publicly accessible beneficial ownership registry, which he believes would be the single greatest deterrent for money launderers hoping to use real estate as a means

ficial ownership information to the world and communication of foreign-based information to Canadian authorities – which would bring more bad guys into the light of day.” Such a registry would have to be accompanied by hefty legal penalties, he added, for it to have

“We’ve been advocating for a complete rewrite of the Mortgage Broker Act, which contains a lot of gaps and problems” Samantha Gale, CMBA-BC for concealing ill-gotten gains. “Anonymity and invisibility could be reduced by implementing a publicly accessible registry of beneficial ownership of companies, trusts and real estate,” Comeau says. “Structured properly, a public registry would offer a two-way flow of information – communication of bene-

any meaningful effect. “Obstacles to following the dirty money could be reduced by creating a new criminal offence: a false declaration of beneficial ownership, whether made on a public registry or submitted by a customer to a reporting entity,” Comeau says. “Not only would such an offence

Create a financial investigations unit at the BC Ministry of Finance

Enforce accountability through FINTRAC bring more integrity to the beneficial ownership information being disclosed, it would also provide a solid base from which law enforcement agencies could conduct investigations of suspicious transactions.” In the meantime, Mogensen believes the price correction in Vancouver needs to continue. “People only have so much income, and that won’t change significantly enough over the long haul for the market to become affordable to them,” he says. “The solution is to let the market fall.”

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ALTERNATIVE LENDING UPDATE NEWS BRIEFS Ontario activity boosts First National’s Q1 numbers

First National Financial Corporation credited alternative mortgage borrowing in Ontario for helping to boost its first-quarter numbers. First National’s originations stood at $3 billion for Q1, down from $3.4 billion a year ago. New single-family originations fell from $2.2 billion to $1.8 billion, but total mortgage renewals rose from $1.2 billion to $1.3 billion. “Looking at our business regionally, single-family volumes in Eastern Canada were almost on par with last year, but this was due to the contribution made by our Excalibur program, which addresses the Ontario alternative mortgage market,” said First National EVP Moray Tawse.

CMHC head not in favour of amending B-20 rules

Amid the mortgage industry’s calls for the government to amend last year’s B-20 rule changes, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation president and CEO Evan Siddall implored the government to stand its ground. “My job is to advise you against this reckless myopia and protect our economy from potentially tragic consequences,” Siddall wrote in a recent letter to Standing Committee on Finance. He went on to say that the parties lobbying for easing the changed rules are exhibiting “plain self-interest” and argued that “the stress test is doing what it is supposed to do.”

Home Capital gets thumbs up from market analyst

Andrew Hood, a research analyst at investment bank M Partners, recently included Home Capital Group’s stock among his firm’s ‘buy’ recommendations. “As shares trade at a 35% discount to book, we believe there is limited room

for price depreciation, while if operations continue to improve, we could see a re-rating closer to book value,” Hood told BNN Bloomberg in late May. “We view Home Capital shares as an investment that provides an exceptional margin of safety, even in downside scenarios for the Canadian housing market.”

Outlook good for Toronto MIC amid strong alternative demand

With assets under management in excess $250 million, Toronto-based mortgage investment corporation Mortgage Company of Canada is projecting further growth in light of strong demand for alternative financing. “The growth of Mortgage Company of Canada has been exceptional,” said founder and CEO Raj Babber. “Looking forward, we are confident that we can continue expanding our portfolio at a swift pace. Housing market fundamentals in the Greater Toronto Area are strong, demand for alternative mortgage financing from credit-worthy homebuyers is robust, and our credit line with Toronto-Dominion Bank and Royal Bank of Canada is a competitive advantage that facilitates our growth.”

Online presence is key for alternative lenders

Online accessibility remains vital for alternative lenders looking to grow their business, according to an analysis by loan directory Smarter Loans. In 2018, approximately 62% of would-be borrowers used search engines rather than referrals to find an alternative lender, and 60% ended up checking the lender’s website prior to applying. Approximately 44% relied upon online reviews to make their final decision. “The appetite for alternative lending products has led Canadians on a search for information about the options that are available to them,” the report said.

Delinquency rates remain stable Delinquencies were down overall in the first quarter, but up slightly for installment loans and other non-revolving products

The rise of the alternative lending space, impelled by last year’s B-20 changes, appears to have led to a slight uptick in installment loan delinquencies, according to a recent analysis by TransUnion Canada’s Matt Fabian. Fabian found that delinquencies in installment loans across the country grew by 14 basis points annually during the first quarter of 2019, which he attributed to a noticeably higher number of originations by alternative lenders and an increase in lending to more risky segments. A Teranet report earlier this year found that the Big Five banks’ market share in the mortgage sector has fallen steadily in recent years, largely due to the B-20-mandated stress tests. The major institutions represented 72.6% of the Ontario market’s new mortgages last year, compared to 75.3% in 2017 and 73.7% in 2016. Meanwhile, non-major-bank providers – alternative institutions, private lenders and credit unions, in particular – enjoyed annual market-share increases of approximately 0.8% in 2018. Overall delinquencies shrank by 5 basis points during the first quarter of 2019 to end up at 5.36%. This is despite the fact that the proportion of Canadians with access to credit grew by 1.3% to 28.9 million, and Canadians’ total debt balance rose by 4.2%. Installment loans (including mortgages) and non-revolving offerings such as auto loans, which expanded by 7.2%, accounted for some of the largest contributions to the growth in debt balances.


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“I’m optimistic the average consumer balance is still growing, but the rate of growth has slowed a lot, since even a year ago,” Fabian told Bloomberg. “At the same time, we’re continuing to see delinquency rates either stable or drop a little bit. All that points to the fact that credit consumers in Canada are pretty responsible and they’re managing their debt well.”

“The average consumer balance is still growing, but the rate of growth has slowed a lot, since even a year ago” The TransUnion Canada analysis also found that Canadian HELOC originations declined by 10.6% in Q4 2018. During the same period, line-of-credit originations went up by 22.4%, along with a 14.3% increase in average limits. As with installment loans, these movements were heavily influenced by the stress tests as consumers continue to search for new options in a challenging lending landscape. Fabian explained that unsecured lines of credit are a “substitute product” with typically low delinquency rates and low risk, giving lenders “an opportunity to target consumers, probably their best consumers, for these kinds of offers.”


MARCIA LINDBERG Director of sales and marketing OPTIMUM MORTGAGE

Years in the industry 19+ Fast fact An avid sports fan, Lindberg is particularly enthusiastic about Tennessee football

Emphasizing the broker-client experience How have the policy changes of the past few years affected Optimum Mortgage? The alt space was originally designed to assist with credit issues, helping clients with life events causing financial strain and offering solutions for servicing issues that don’t fit traditional lending policies. We’ve seen a shift in the quality of our clients, especially in terms of credit. I would say that most lenders now are seeing average Beacon scores in the mid- to high 600s, which is not at all similar to the levels you might have seen a few years ago. Optimum has also seen its retention rates increase. The alt space is meant to help clients potentially shift back to the A space, but what we’re seeing is that many of those loans are staying on the books. We’ve also had to adapt to guideline and policy changes within Optimum to be compliant with regulatory changes. That always presents its own challenges.

How do you assist brokers with these challenges? There has been this shift in the market, and we’re finding that some folks haven’t even dabbled in the alt space before, and it can be tough to navigate through all the different lending offerings. We’ve spent a lot of time, especially the past couple of years, talking with industry leaders and long-time partners to source out the issues and challenges and develop tools that will help navigate and educate. We want to provide consistent communication and transparency for our brokers so they can help their consumers understand this new lending world.

What puts your alternative products ahead of the competition? We’ve always had a common-sense approach in our business. We look at each deal as a unique situation; we don’t paint any of them with the same brush. We want to ensure that our consumers aren’t over-stretching, that they can truly afford their mortgage. We emphasize the customer service aspect of our offerings, and we provide quick turnaround, along with rational and effective answers. At the end of the day, we want to make the deal work.

As the second half of 2019 arrives, what can your brokers and clients look forward to? For the consumers, I think they can rest easy, knowing that there’s a solution for their financing needs. It may not look or sound the same, but as lenders, we always have an offer that will be right for any client. For our broker partners, we will continue to offer tools they can use to assist their clients. There’s a lot of opportunity out there, and we will continue giving our partners what they need so they can offer their clients a full suite of products.

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DLC rolls out new app feature The network’s latest tech offering is designed to pre-qualify consumers in one minute

by DLC, and not a rushed product that merely capitalizes on the current trends. He adds that the program analyzes and classifies consumers with the greatest accuracy of any available app in the mortgage market so far. “The algorithm is in the background and includes things like strata condo fees and just about anything you can imagine – and we take it all into consideration while the consumer is filling in the information, which is why you

“The gateway to the consumer is, more than ever before, on their phone”

Dominion Lending Centres has launched an enhancement to its My Mortgage Toolbox app, giving consumers the ability to pre-qualify for mortgages in 60 seconds. Since its launch in 2018, the My Mortgage Toolbox app has amassed more than 10,000 users and garnered consistent praise, including a 4.8-star rating on Google Play. The network expressed confidence that the app’s newest feature will be positively


received by consumers. “If you look at what the consumer is demanding in terms of technology, it’s simplicity and ease of use,” says DLC president Eddy Cocciollo. “The gateway to the consumer is, more than ever before, on their phone. If we aren’t keeping up with our competitors, it will be more difficult than ever to reach consumers.” Cocciollo stresses that the pre-qualification feature was the product of careful cultivation

CIMBC puts a priority on partnerships

The Coalition of Independent Mortgage Brokers of Canada [CIMBC] has been making waves recently, and one of the keys to its success has been forging robust partnerships. “Technology, quality, process, operations, management systems, efficiencies and much more are all critical pieces that will determine the success, or failure, of one’s business going forward,” said CIMBC founding member John Bargis. “CIMBC is affiliating itself with all the right partners to ensure the longevity of our broker members’ businesses.”

get a more accurate pre-qualification than our competitors,” Cocciollo says. “We worked hard on figuring out that whole thing. It took some time, but we’re very proud of it.” While similar apps typically require consumers to spend a few minutes filling out forms detailing pre-qualification information, DLC was focused on shaving this time off the process. “We’re always looking at ways to make the entire mortgage process easy for all homebuyers,” Cocciollo says. “The first question everyone asks when they’re thinking about buying a home is how much can they afford. This new pre-qualification feature in My Mortgage Toolbox is a great way for Canadians to quickly find out and get started on finding a home.”

A lifeline for small-town brokerages

Operating a brokerage is challenging at the best of times, but it’s especially daunting in smaller markets. Kevin King, broker-owner of Centum King Mortgages, has found that being part of a network is invaluable. “Our average mortgage amount [in Midland, Ontario] is $248,000, so we don’t have the volume to satisfy every lender,” King said. “It’s not a big problem with Centum because we can use their funding desk, but there are a couple of lenders I’d like to sign up with but can’t because we don’t meet their minimum requirements.”


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James Laird President and broker of record CANWISE FINANCIAL

Years in the industry 11+ Fast fact Laird’s other business,, came in at number 37 on Deloitte’s 2018 list of the 50 fastest-growing tech companies in Canada

Addressing what the consumer wants What does CanWise do that puts it ahead of other brokerages? An important ingredient is the quality of our people. We have managed to assemble a highly knowledgeable and skilled group of people who are also enjoyable to be around. These are people consumers want to work with during important, and likely stressful, moments of their lives. We are also proud of our technology. In 2019, brokerages need to offer the best technologies to consumers and agents alike. Efficiency is supremely important, and its effects are felt by consumers, by lenders, by agents and by the brokerage itself. Consumers are pretty clear about what they want: competitive interest rates backed by knowledgeable, responsive service. If you keep it simple and focus on what consumers want, your mortgage business will thrive. How has CanWise been doing so far this year? The start of this year was much slower than usual. However, since the start of March, we have been in a good spring cycle. Year-to-date, we are now up about 25% over last year, and the rest of 2019 seems promising. What do you attribute this to? In 2017 and 2018, significant new regulations were introduced at the beginning of each year’s January, which led to a surge in Q1 volumes. However, nothing new was introduced on January 1, 2019; therefore, the

Verico bolsters its C suite lineup with new COO

The M3 Group has appointed industry veteran Mark Squire as chief operating officer of Verico. The previous head of mortgage broker services at Manulife, Squire will be responsible for Verico’s continued growth strategy and will work in tandem with M3’s president of mortgage operations, Albert Collu, in developing a top team of independent brokers as M3 eyes greater expansion across Canada. “M3 Group continues to add value to all the brokers they support, and I am excited to be part of the leadership team,” Squire said.

surge in transactions wasn’t present. This is exactly why January and February of this year were much quieter compared to the two years before that. As we moved into the spring, rates have been dropping, while real estate has been steady across the country. So we’re now in a healthy and stable spring market. How has CanWise coped with this shifting environment? I think we’ve done very well, all told. With every change comes opportunity, and those in the industry who can react and adapt quickly do much better. The new regulations have made getting a mortgage more complex than it ever has been – which is good news for the industry, since it means that the value provided by a knowledgeable mortgage professional has significantly increased. What are you most looking forward to in the second half of 2019? For the rest of the year, I think the most interesting and important thing for the industry is the federal election coming up in the fall. I believe that housing is going to play a big part in the platforms of both Liberals and Conservatives. From current trends, millennials and first-time buyers will most likely be the largest voting group, and their top concern is housing. Essentially, it would be a referendum on how the government is dealing with these issues – and based on whoever wins the election, we may see some significant changes, likely starting next year.

Are new mortgage agents being left in the dust?

The mortgage industry offers minimal support for new hires, claims an agent who spoke with MortgageBrokerNews. ca on condition of anonymity. “No one fosters new agents; everyone just fights for deals,” the agent said. “On the back end of things, [brokerages] should be supporting new agents with ongoing training, meaning week to week, there should be sessions held to give newer agents homework so they understand all aspects [of the mortgage process] like, for example, determining the authenticity of documentation.”

DLC named Network of the Year again

At the Canadian Mortgage Awards in May, Dominion Lending Centres took home the prize for National Broker Network of the Year for the third year in a row. DLC’s VP of operations, Dave Teixeira, attributed the network’s consistent wins to a culture of service and quality. “Relentless devotion to having excellence being served at all levels, whether it’s broker engagement, our ownership engagement, delivering tools and technology, our advertising and marketing – it’s about being excellent,” he said.

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An industry of lost souls According to the old adage, 80% of success is showing up – but for many brokers, that’s still too high a hurdle, writes Terry Kilakos IT WAS 8:30 a.m. on a Monday, and I swiped my access card to gain entry to the brokerage where I worked and strode into the office. I was greeted with a sea of empty cubicles and workstations. “Where are all the brokers?” I asked myself. “Why is no one working? Are brokers so busy that they can’t even show up to the office?” I had become licensed only a few weeks prior. My knowledge of the brokerage industry was limited to what I had learned in the course to qualify and the few things I’d heard from friends. One thing I hadn’t anticipated about the industry was the poor work ethic. I quickly realized that the average broker put in something like five or six hours per week; some worked other jobs, and others seemingly didn’t even do that, making me wonder why they even spent the money required to get licensed. I realized quickly that the brokerage industry, both in real estate and in mortgages, was filled with lost souls who thought that the certifications we held amounted to a licence to print money. I had been one of them once, in a previous incarnation – at a time when, lacking direction, I filled my days with working out, video games and watching HGTV. Apparently, the world shown on screen in such shows is enough to persuade some future brokers that mortgages are a field in which money can be made without a commensurate expenditure of effort. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth.


To be a successful broker, you need to work. Every day when I entered that office, amongst the empty chairs, I saw the same few faces, and these were the brokers who were successful. In a brokerage of more than 400, only a handful of us seemed to show up to the office with any regularity, and we were the ones who consistently put numbers on the board.

come into the office, I am daily greeted by the same faces – the brokers putting in the hours – and unsurprisingly, these are the top performers. The other brokers combined cannot come close to the numbers that these hard workers post. I find myself asking the same questions I did more than a decade ago. But this time I also ask myself, “Have I failed them as a leader, or is it our industry that has encouraged this?” The barrier to entry to become a mortgage broker in much of Canada is so low that it’s no wonder we have so many people joining the industry just to make a quick buck. Quebec requires a much longer process and completion of a much more stringent course in order to become a broker, but even that is relatively simple. Given the fact that buying a house is likely to be the largest purchase most people make in their lives, I have a hard time understanding how our government allows parttime and poorly trained individuals to advise clients on these transactions.

“Apparently, the world shown [on TV] is enough to persuade some future brokers that mortgages are a field in which money can be made without a commensurate expenditure of effort” I often put in 12-hour workdays – meaning that my average day in the office clocked in at the equivalent of two weeks’ work for most brokers. Similarly, in a one-month period, I would do more training and work than many other brokers would do in a year – and in a year, I would do more than these same brokers managed in an entire career. This work ethic is what allowed me to become a team lead by the end of 2008, only a year and a half after getting licensed. Today, a little more than a decade from starting out in this amazing career, I am at the helm of an agency that is also riddled with lost souls – people who interviewed well but couldn’t walk the walk. When I

It takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. It took me a little over two and a half years to master my craft. Ask yourself how long it will it take you and what can you do to accelerate that time. If you want to succeed, show up to your office, educate yourself and never give up. You are working in the greatest career ever created; show both it and the clients you represent the respect they deserve. Terry Kilakos is a chartered mortgage broker and founder of the North East Group of Companies, where he serves as president of North East Mortgages and vice-president of North East Realties and North East Financial.

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BEAST IN THE EAST Whether it’s for his many awards, his TV appearances or the sheer number of mortgages he’s funded in Halifax, Clinton Wilkins is becoming increasingly well known as Atlantic Canada’s top broker

IF THERE’S one name that’s synonymous with mortgages in Halifax, it’s Clinton Wilkins. The Centum Home Lenders broker is a fixture on television and within Atlantic Canada’s real estate community – and he’s been steadily building his reputation on the national mortgage scene as well. Wilkins took home back-to-back trophies for Broker of the Year (Fewer than 25 Employees) at the Canadian Mortgage Awards in 2018 and 2019, due in large part to an impressive number of transaction units and volume in a relatively small market. “In Halifax, the average unit volume is much lower than it is in the rest of the country,” Wilkins says, “and the big challenge in Halifax is that I have to do an extraordinary amount of units to compete on the national level, but often over the last 10 years, I’ve been named in the CMP Top 75 Brokers.” Those accolades have led to other opportunities, which have in turn helped grow his business even further. “We definitely leveraged the CMA wins to secure thought leadership opportunities,” Wilkins says. “I’ve become the go-to person for information relating to mortgage lending in the local media. They call me before anyone else, and having the wins really put Atlantic Canada on


the map. Everyone knows it’s hard to compete on the national level in Halifax, but it shows the amount of effort we put in here, and we’re getting positive results from those efforts. We’re reaping the benefits of our hard work.”

Call it a comeback Before Wilkins exploded onto the national scene with his first CMA win last year, there were a few years during which business wasn’t as

says. “I wasn’t really pushing myself like I had been, but by 2017, I’d decided that I didn’t want to merely scrape by. I wanted to focus on the thought leadership aspect of my business and became a regular contributor to CTV News, Rogers News Radio and Global News. I wanted to be the go-to person around mortgage lending in Halifax and Atlantic Canada.” While it didn’t happen overnight, Wilkins now receives frequent calls from CTV to appear

“Everyone knows it’s hard to compete on the national level in Halifax, but [winning two Canadian Mortgage Awards] shows the amount of effort we put in here ... We’re reaping the benefits of our hard work” auspicious as he’s been used to for much of his 13-year career in the mortgage industry. After he funded $62 million across 305 units in 2011, things began tapering. At one point, Wilkins even considered folding his business and moving to either Toronto or Vancouver. “After 2011, the market was very soft in Halifax, and there wasn’t much going on,” he

on air anytime there’s big news regarding mortgages – like the Bank of Canada’s first prime rate increase in five years – so that he can distill it for viewers. Last year, Wilkins furthered his commitment to becoming one of the industry’s pre-eminent thought leaders by penning a book on mortgage lending for consumers, entitled Confessions of a Halifax Mortgage Broker.

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PROFILE Name: Clinton Wilkins Title: Senior mortgage advisor Company: Centum Home Lenders Based in: Halifax Years in the industry: 13 Career highlight: Winning Broker of the Year (Fewer Than 25 Employees) back-to-back at the 2018 and 2019 Canadian Mortgage Awards

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“That’s how much I love this industry,” he says, “but I certainly needed to recommit myself, and I’ve come back stronger and with more motivation than ever. Halifax is home, and it’s motivating to see the year-over-year growth in business, as well as being recognized by a group of my peers by winning back-to-back CMAs.”

Cultivating a brand Nearly as impressive as his status as a topproducing broker in a smaller market is the fact that the mortgages Wilkins arranges are exclusively funded by A lenders; he leaves B and C originations to agents on his team.

however, has been how he approaches referrals. “I used to ask for business more when I communicated with my business partners, like lawyers, Realtors and financial planners,” he says. “I used to take and take and take, but around 2017, I shifted my focus to giving information and allowing my business partners and their clients to decide if they wanted to do business with me or not. Sixty per cent of my business is repeat clients.” While one would expect Realtors to fill the referral pipeline, Wilkins says his best partners have been financial advisors and family lawyers, which he finds rewarding because clients are

“We consider ourselves a luxury brand ... It doesn’t mean we’re not giving clients the best rate – we are – and we use volume to get the best pricing, but we’re not in the business of buying down rates” “In the past I’d turn those deals away, but now, while I pretty much exclusively do A lending, a couple of agents in my office work with alternative and private lenders, and that makes us a full-service brokerage,” he says. “We don’t do rate buy-downs and no-frills lending. We consider ourselves a luxury brand, and the customers get the experience that brings. It doesn’t mean we’re not giving clients the best rate – we are – and we use volume to get the best pricing, but we’re not in the business of buying down rates.” Wilkins focuses primarily on purchases, but transfers comprise 10% of his annual transactions. “I think now more than ever, the refinance business has gone by the wayside,” he says. “We do them, but fewer and fewer. At one time, my focus was on refinances, but I definitely have shifted focus to purchases because that’s good business.” The biggest change in Wilkins’ business,


provided with a multi-pronged service network. However, his greatest appreciation is reserved for the support he’s received from Centum, especially since Chris Turcotte stepped in as the network’s president. “In the early days with Centum, it really enabled me to shape my own destiny, and it was a brand that let me do my own thing, whereas the brief time I was running a DLC franchise, it was a prescribed way of doing things,” Wilkins says. “Over the years, Centum has evolved as a small player among powerhouses, but we have some of the best talent in the industry working under the Centum brand, and it all started at the top when Chris came over and breathed new life into Centum. It also breathed new life into me. I was ready to leave and go to another brand before Chris came on board, but now Centum allows us to compete on a national level. And I’m somebody who wants to win.”


2006 Starts his career as a mortgage agent

2008 Owns a DLC franchise

2009 Opens Centum Home Lenders, where he remains today

2011 Is named the number-one Centum broker in Canada after funding $62 million across 305 units

2017 Funds $50.2 million across 230 units

2018 Has his best year to date, funding $87.8 million across 402 units, which helped him earn the number 32 spot on the CMP Top 75 Brokers list earlier this year

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ALTERNATIVE LENDING REPORT How can brokers better navigate alternative lending? CMP reached out to a few lenders in the space to find out IT’S BEEN more than a year since the B-20 rule changes swept the mortgage industry, and the market is finally showing signs of stabilization. While alternative lenders have provided a platform for brokers and borrowers to thrive during this time of tumult, there are still lingering misconceptions about how alternative mortgages can best serve Canadian homebuyers.


Whether you’re just finding your footing in the alternative space or you’re an alt lending veteran who’s simply seeking a lender’s perspective on today’s environment, read on to hear what four lenders have to say about the current state of the alternative marketplace and how brokers can create a better alternative lending experience for their clients.




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HOME TRUST COMPANY Ed Karthaus, executive vice-president of sales and marketing

CMP surveyed brokers to get a clearer picture of the current state of alternative lending. Here’s what they had to say: Brokers are putting an average of 52% of their business in through the alternative channel Brokers funded an average of 46 alternative mortgages in 2018 Business for self is the most popular segment Are you funding more alternative mortgages this year than in 2018?


YES NO 63%

Mike Forshee, executive vice-president of underwriting

CMP: How is the alternative market in 2019 different from last year? Mike Forshee: I think 2019 is still very much a transition year; lenders, brokers and the end clients are getting used to the regulation changes that happened in the beginning of 2018. Although a year has passed, I think with any kind of regulation change, the first quarter is when everyone is trying to get their ongoing deals funded, and then there’s a period of trying to understand what the new regulations are. I still think being so early in 2019, it’s still a transition period for the entire industry as we get used to what the new normal looks like. Ed Karthaus: The market is still figuring out [the B-20 guidelines] to a certain extent. The other big thing is the impact of the real estate market in Canada, in particular home prices and the overall real estate market in the GVA and GTA. We have seen price erosion on homes, and we have seen the market shift from a purchase-led market to a

refinance-led market. Also, we are starting to see signs of positive change in both of those markets within the past 18 months. CMP: What trends are affecting alternative lending? MF: We are seeing a shift in the major players in the alternative space. You still have your large, regulated institutional lenders, but there’s a number of new mortgage investment corporations popping up and some private lenders in major cities, which is putting more money into the space, but also creating a little confusion around the term ‘alternative lending’ and what it means to the broker and end consumer. The stress tests have affected the way we look at business coming in and how we look at our selfemployed clientele, but at the end of the day, the core alternative lenders are still here to provide a solution to the clients who just don’t meet the banks’ mark. The [B-20] impact within the past 18 months has resulted in rising interest rates

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Ed Karthaus

and a depressed real estate market. We have seen a couple things take place. One is that some of the large, traditional Schedule A banks have been less willing to refi on a blended basis, which has a lot of consumers and borrowers turning to alternative methods. We have noticed that our Equityline® Visa card has become very popular because as opposed to refinancing your home at a new rate, you can just finance what you need on an Equityline® Visa. CMP: What can brokers do to better serve this client base? MF: I think it comes down to knowing your client. I know a lot of people throw that term around, but what does it truly mean in the alternative space? Well, there are three main categories that the alt space caters to: bruised credit, selfemployed and new to Canada. For bruised credit, you really need to know the cause and the cure: what happened and what’s the cure moving forward, and really get it across to the lender. [With] self-employed, it is the


sustainable affordability of the client which means having a thorough understanding of how the client operates their business. A lot of people just look at the end income number, but does the client have the means to afford the mortgage through their income stream for a sustainable

Mike Forshee

CMP: How can brokers help improve the overall alternative lending process? MF: The broker and the lender need to work together to truly understand the story of the client, and I think sometimes that may mean the initial approval takes a little longer to get to. The chance of a deal being

“The stress tests have affected the way we look at business coming in and how we look at our self-employed clientele, but at the end of the day, the core alternative lenders are still here” future, i.e. the life of the mortgage? Lastly, this may seem simple, but it’s something that gets missed – really explain the ‘why’ of the transaction. Why does the client want to enter into this transaction? And what is the positive outcome, especially in the case of a refi? Really getting deep into the why of the transaction and the positive benefits to the end client helps.

funded is greater once the whole story is understood upfront. It’s not a ‘turn and burn’ situation where deals come in and the expectation is to get a commitment within two to four hours; it’s more about getting the full understanding of the story and the client so when an approval is issued, and as long as conditions can be satisfied, it’s going to be a funded deal.

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ALTERNATIVE LENDING COMMUNITY TRUST Lisa Abbatangelo, vice-president of mortgage operations

CMP: Has the market normalized since the B-20 rules went into effect? Lisa Abbatangelo: I think it’s still normalizing, but for the most part, things have settled down – 2018 was so turbulent, and it took quite a while for the normalizing to occur, but we are finally starting to see it in 2019. Reality hit, and now everyone is sort of embracing it and getting used to the new normal. CMP: What trends should brokers be aware of? LA: One of the trends we saw last year was that a lot of borrowers or brokers were choosing open terms, whether it was because of the mortgage rule changes or the housing market. Now there are quite a few people who are starting to lock into fixed terms, which is a good thing because they’ve figured out that this is the new normal. There are a lot of borrowers who need to get into fixed terms. Also, generally speaking, in the alternative space, people are still picking those one-to two-year terms, even with some of the increased rates – they


haven’t been high enough to drive people into longer terms. Variable rates still maintain very strong popularity even in the alternative space, but not all borrowers qualify for variable rates, and it’s not always easy to manage. CMP: Do misconceptions about alternative mortgages still exist? LA: I think alternative lending is part of most brokers’ suite of options, but there still are misconceptions. Not everyone realizes the broad group of borrowers that alternative lenders can help. We can get very close to a prime type of product, and we are seeing a lot more high-quality borrowers coming into the alternative space because the banks are more conservative with income confirmation. Some people don’t realize we are here to help those high-quality borrowers, and

we are happy to work with people who have had challenges or life events that have made it difficult to qualify somewhere else. CMP: How can brokers best position their clients in the alternative space? LA: Brokers need to get to know us and our products and services. Our BDMs can help brokers learn, but it’s also up to the brokers to educate themselves. We can give them

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ALTERNATIVE LENDING some high-level information about what we do and don’t do, but it’s so important for brokers to work with lenders openly, honestly and with full disclosure – we want to know the good, the bad and the ugly. No matter what the challenge, as long as we know the true story, then we can provide a real solution. Tell us everything we need to know because we will find out anyway through the process. There’s nothing worse than finding out at the last minute that something is completely different than what we originally thought it was. Brokers who have been around a long time and through the good and bad times know that they need to tell

“We are seeing a lot more high-quality borrowers coming into the alternative space because the banks are more conservative with income confirmation” the truth. Some brokers who may not have experienced challenging times are sometimes more hesitant to tell the true story – not because they have devious intentions; they are just shy about telling us the real story behind the application. Even if a broker can just tell us the bare bones of the story, then we can figure it out

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ALTERNATIVE LENDING HAVENTREE BANK John Bourassa, vice-president of sales and marketing

CMP: How is the alternative mortgage landscape different this year than when the stress test was first implemented? John Bourassa: Mortgage brokers have done an excellent job of providing information to Canadians about the stress test. Moreover, industry associations have gone to great lengths to illustrate the impact that this debt service requirement has had on a borrower’s ability to qualify. Early in 2019, many anticipated that rate increases would exacerbate the impact of the stress test. However, mortgage rates have remained relatively stable through the first five months of the year. Our sales team is at the disposal of mortgage brokers to provide information on the regulatory changes that impact our industry. CMP: What trends you are seeing in the alternative space in terms of popular products or markets with increased activity? JB: Mortgage products aimed at self-employed borrowers remain very popular with our key account brokers. These are hard-working people who deserve a solutions-based approach to underwriting. Haventree Bank is working hard to introduce new programs to reduce underwriting and funding times. CMP: What can brokers do to better serve clients who might qualify with Haventree? JB: Mortgage brokers earn the trust of their clients by providing guidance and advice; they accomplish this from client interviews to learn about their customer’s history, current circumstances and future financial goals. We work hard to understand the borrower profile. Our lending criteria


“Brokers must be diligent in providing accurate information at the application stage … Timely and accurate information leads to satisfied customers” extends beyond the calculations of debt service ratios, real estate value and credit scores. There is an empathetic quality that exists at Haventree. It’s that quality that we bring to the underwriting process, but we can’t do it without knowing the whole story. CMP: How can brokers improve the overall alternative lending process? JB: Brokers must be diligent in providing

accurate information at the application stage. The underwriting process is far too often interrupted by an appraisal report that doesn’t support the property value stated, or the income is confirmed lower than was entered in the application. Timely and accurate information leads to satisfied customers. There is no doubt that technology will continue to play a significant role in improving the customer experience.

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CMP: What are some of the most common misconceptions about alternative lending? Taylor Little: The biggest miscon­ception is the lack of understanding about who uses the product and what the product is for. People automatically think alternative lending is for people who are on the financial fringe – those with super low credit scores or unsavoury pasts. The reality is that about 40% of our borrowers are self-employed or in a transitional period of their life. Many of our borrowers are entrepreneurial and have a hard time qualifying for a conventional mortgage, even though some of them have wellestablished businesses within their communities. Borrowers in transition are in a variety of different situations. For instance, some may be downsizing,

“It’s a big misconception out there that alternative lenders are ripping people off or are doing something fishy. The truth is that it’s just a different type of product” in need of bridge financing or settling a family matter. Then there’s a misunderstanding about what the product is. A lot of people look at alternative lending and think an 8% rate for a mortgage is crazy, but our mortgages are open after three months, require minimal documents, and we can fund in less than a week. Our perspective is that we are providers of liquidity in a marketplace that does not easily provide it. The majority of our borrowers are with us for less than a year and move on to getting financed with A or B lenders. For this liquidity, we need to charge


more than a typical bank mortgage. Interestingly, one-year, open-term mortgages at banks are about 7.5%, so we are competitive but are more convenient. It’s a big misconception out there that alternative lenders are ripping people off or doing something fishy. The truth is that it’s just a different type of product. Like us, many alternative lenders are transparent about their lending practices and policies, and we are always happy to explain them to mortgage professionals. CMP: Are there borrowers who can benefit from an alternative mortgage

but aren’t on most brokers’ radar? TL: One area that some brokers might not think about is people who are in transition and going to a B lender. B lenders often have higher rates than A lenders. Brokers may want to think about putting their clients into a flexible short-term mortgage like Neighbourhood. During this period, they can work with their clients to get them back onto the A side. Often times we find that it is more expensive for borrowers to start with a B lender and end up with an A Lender instead of starting with Neighbourhood then graduating to an A Lender. Consider a divorce situation, where it is not uncommon for credit scores to be negatively affected by missed bills. A lot of couples were good payers before the divorce, but now they are experiencing a turbulent period in their life. They need to split assets, go their separate ways and find new places to live. Unfortunately, some lenders will be unwilling to lend to them due

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to their temporary situation. These borrowers will likely get back on track, so it’s important to look at the longterm outlook. Are they better off locking themselves in for five years with a B lender where they may face large penalties to pay out the mortgage? Or are they better off coming to us for a year and then getting into an A product? That’s an interesting angle to think about. As I’ve mentioned, we are interestonly and open after three months. The interest-only component is important since it frees up cash flow. In many situations, cash flow is more important than paying down the principal of the mortgage. These situations present brokers with a good opportunity to show their expertise.

This sets the broker apart from bank representatives who can only offer loans from a single bank. CMP: What should brokers know about Neighbourhood Holdings? TL: We’re very, very upfront and very transparent on what we do. We work hard with our borrowers to make sure they’re happy with their experience, same as the brokers. People who use our products walk away happy, and I think the broker community understands that relatively well. We do a lot of deals with brokers who have more conventional volume, and I think they are often surprised at the level of professionalism and quick turnaround we can offer to their clients.

CMP ASKED BROKERS: WHAT CAN ALTERNATIVE LENDERS DO TO BETTER SUPPORT YOU? “Fewer conditions – some alternative lenders have more conditions than A lending” “Alternative lenders need to be able to move at the speed of an A lender” “Extend authorized lending areas to outside the GTA” “More emphasis on investment backing – customers want to know their money is safe”

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Marketing that works for you At Dominion Lending Centres, brand awareness remains the cornerstone of a successful broker and consumer experience 34

WHEN YOU’RE covering a cut on your finger or blowing your nose, are you reaching for a Band-Aid or Kleenex? You’re actually looking for a bandage or tissue, but you’ve likely asked for them by brand without even knowing it. Those are just a couple of examples of proprietary eponyms: brands that have become synonymous with a product or service. And they’re everywhere once you think about it: Thermos, Tylenol, Velcro, Speedo, Q-Tip – the list goes on and on. So how do these brands replace the generic names of their product in society? One word: marketing. At some point, the branding of these products became so popular that they became the de facto names for consumers. While there is some inherent risk in becoming

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a generic trademark – consumers may not even realize they’re not buying that specific brand’s product – it’s every successful company’s goal to earn that kind of brand recognition. In today’s business world, standing out among the crowd is getting harder and harder. If there’s a product or a service, you can bet there are dozens – if not hundreds – of companies offering something similar. Companies that rise above the fray understand the importance of marketing and can leverage their branding for the best results. They’ve managed to get beyond the noise to touch on something personal with the consumer. A generation ago, the landscape of the mortgage industry looked fairly sparse. Mortgage brokers were basically independent and on their own – there was hardly a firm that had national brand recognition. In 2006, Dominion Lending Centres revolutionized the industry and put the mortgage broker on the minds of everyday Canadians. The company did this by creating an industry-first advertising fund and providing a team of dedicated designers to help build brokers’ brands under the DLC umbrella.

The perfect Cherry on top For most Canadians, Don Cherry was a noholds-barred hockey commentator. Millions of Canadians got to know his outsized personality every Saturday night during Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts. In 2011, Cherry and his trademark suits and thumbs-up were the perfect mix for the up-and-coming mortgage company. The genesis of the campaign was pretty simple: Cherry knows hockey, but he doesn’t know mortgages. He suggested the folks at Dominion Lending Centres do, and they’ll get the consumer the best rate. The campaign tapped into a common perception that mortgages are complex and the average Canadian needs a guiding hand through the process. Cherry was there to tell Canadians they could trust a DLC broker.

It was a smash hit that put DLC on the map for good. Not only did Chery help DLC win advertising awards, but the company grew by leaps and bounds during the campaign’s run. Marketing has remained a staple of DLC’s growth. In 2015, DLC conceived a new marketing campaign and brought it to the public. The focus of this campaign was on what really mattered: the home. Born from that simple notion, DLC’s “Our House” marketing campaign become a recognizable success. TV commercials and digital marketing ads were created to highlight the various people who consider getting a mortgage. These commercials used the 1980s song “Our House” to further grab the attention of viewers. The consumer campaign was booked against a 23- to 64-year-old demographic, targeting an estimated 64 million Canadian viewers with

flows of the consumer, and DLC has done just that. As the decade comes to a close, DLC has launched a new marketing campaign: “A Part of the Journey.” The concept behind the new campaign is to better educate Canadians on the importance of a DLC mortgage professional and how they can help homebuyers in every stage of their life. The strategy is to put the broker front and centre as the trusted advisor. The campaign includes a suite of new television commercials airing during some of the biggest events and the most popular shows on TV, including an integration with HGTV’s Love It or List It Vancouver. But the marketing campaign reaches beyond the small screen. It’s also highly involved in the digital space, engaging thousands of Canadian consumers. Building a strong brand is more important

A good brand tells a story and engages its target audience on an authentic level nearly 2,000 commercials and 33 million online ads. The campaign also later spawned a popular national magazine, which brokers can use to engage current and future clients. DLC also diversified its marketing by adding Dr. Sherry Cooper as chief economist. As a trusted voice in the financial industry, Dr. Cooper provides insights on the industry and the financial markets in general. Again, DLC is the only mortgage company in the country to have a chief economist. Besides providing her insights to brokers, Cooper has garnered millions of dollars in earned media for DLC as a go-to source on financial topics for various media outlets. Her voice lends a credibility to the entire mortgage industry.

The journey doesn’t end here One marketing campaign doesn’t fit all sizes, and eventually tastes change. The best companies learn to adapt to the ebbs and

than ever before. Kate Brady, DLC’s director of marketing, points out that the industry is a competitive landscape, and DLC’s marketing team sees its role as ensuring the brand stands out and remains top of mind for consumers. “Educating the Canadian homebuyer on the value of a DLC broker and the role they play within the mortgage space is at the forefront of everything we do,” Brady says. “From our advertising to our incredibly talented team of designers, DLC’s marketing is committed to providing tangible tools, brand recognition and unique designs so that our agents and franchise owners can flourish.” A good brand tells a story and engages its target audience on an authentic level. DLC has effectively reminded consumers to think of the Dominion Lending Centres brand each time they purchase a home, renew their mortgage or consider up- or downsizing. For every stage of life, DLC has a mortgage for that.

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18/06/2019 3:30:22 AM



A change for the better Recent updates at Street Capital Bank of Canada were designed with brokers in mind

THE MANY challenges facing professional mortgage brokers are well documented. It has been a difficult couple of years, and brokers need all the help and support that lenders have to offer. Navigating the next couple of years as effectively as possibly will dictate long-term success for many brokers. This is why Street Capital Bank of Canada launched Prestige, a new broker status program, in January 2019. Replacing the firm’s legacy program, Prestige was specifically designed to enhance the broker experience and reward dedicated brokers for their business. Brokers are encouraged to meet a funded volume target or achieve a combination of volume and funding ratio to qualify for Bronze, Silver or Gold status in the program, positioning them to receive a comprehensive set of benefits to support their ongoing success. “The proposition is simple: fund, achieve and receive,” says Alfonso Casciato, senior vice-president of sales at Street Capital. “Benefits include VIP event invitations, competitive rates and compensation, dedicated sales and underwriting personnel, and white-glove treatment for customers and brokers throughout the mortgage experience. Concierge Service, which is exclusive to Gold


brokers, includes express funding – funds before noon local time on the closing date – rush approvals, priority document review and a dedicated underwriter for vacation coverage when your underwriter is away.” Launching Prestige has given Street Capital the opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to supporting its trusted brokers. Strong partnerships create mutual success,

and Casciato is confident that the revamped Prestige program will add additional value for the bank’s most loyal partners. “Without our broker partners, we would not be where we are today, and we recognize how significant these partnerships remain to our future success,” he says. “Ensuring that we have a comprehensive broker loyalty program is just one of the ways we plan to continue earning the business of our broker partners.” Change has been a common theme at Street Capital over the past 12 months. In September 2018, the bank launched its Change You Can Believe In campaign, which was designed to address broker concerns and recommendations. “Since September 2018, we have implemented several changes, including an improved collateral transfer program and additional appraiser options,” says Steve Kissuk, senior vice-president of mortgage credit at Street Capital. “We also introduced broker account managers, a new hybrid sales and underwriting role currently in pilot. We continue to

CHANGE IN ACTION Year over year, Street Capital’s market share has increase by 2.1% since implementing its Change You Can Believe In campaign, which was designed to create immediate improvement in delivering competitive rates and service, updates to underwriting guidelines, and a streamlined broker experience. MARKET SHARE

6.8% (+2.1%)

Q1 2019



Q1 2018







(+2 positions)




Source: Lender Insights: Market Share Report Q1 2019, Finastra

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“We will continue to engage our broker partners and welcome all feedback as we evolve our product offering and implement change” Steve Kissuk, Street Capital Bank of Canada implement changes for our broker partners in response to their feedback, with our most recent updates announced in mid-April.” Street Capital holds annual feedback sessions, attended by a wide cross-section of the bank’s broker partners. These interactive sessions help create an inventory of what Street Capital is doing well and where the bank needs to improve its mortgage offering to better serve the broker community. The insights from these sessions lead to the

development of product and service innovations to drive internal improvement. “We’ve received positive feedback from the broker community overall, but change was necessary,” Kissuk says. “Some changes have been more impactful than others, such as the addition of the Canada child benefit to support qualifying income. Even the smallest changes help to create a more positive experience. We will continue to engage our broker partners and welcome all feedback

as we evolve our product offering and implement change.” More recently, Street Capital formalized a Broker Advisory Board composed of its top brokers from across the country, with the objective of keeping management’s strategy focused on responsible growth in the broker channel. The board’s feedback enables Street Capital to remain in touch with the market and the needs of its broker partners. “Unlike our traditional national broker feedback sessions, the Broker Advisory Board allows for a more focused approach with board members meeting twice annually for a term of two years,” explains Duncan Hannay, president and CEO of Street Capital. “We believe that our partnership with top brokers from across the country furthers our ability to make Street Capital a critical part of the mortgage ecosystem in Canada, while enabling the success of our partners. Our focus on the broker channel is supported by the new Prestige program, which will evolve based on the advice and counsel we receive from the board.” Street Capital selected a diverse group of top brokers from across the country to serve on the board. The participants are all Gold status Prestige brokers and represent a broad range of demographics, specialties and national broker houses. “The brokers brought differing opinions and ideas to our inaugural meeting, but the main commonality among them all was their passion and dedication to strengthening our partnership and improving the way we conduct business,” Hannay says. “The goal is to help drive strategic priorities that focus on what matters most to our broker partners, while managing risk effectively. We expect that the advisory board will keep us accountable in streamlining broker experience, providing innovative products and programs, and continually reassessing our exclusive benefits and rewards.”

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18/06/2019 3:30:59 AM



Giving brokers a voice Pam Pikkert tells CMP how a bad bank experience led to her becoming a broker and the key traits a broker must have to find success in the industry

CMP: How and why did you get into the broker channel? Pam Pikkert: I’ve been a broker for 11 years now. It all started when I went into Scotia­ bank way back in the day, and it took them three weeks to get back to me with a decline after I applied for a mortgage. My Realtor said I should try a mortgage broker. About an hour after I spoke with the broker, she phoned back and had an approval for me. I realized that I wanted to be that person for other people, to help them get their homes. I decided to make the jump and become a broker. I was actually a stay-at-home mom at the time, and so once my youngest entered kindergarten, I was able to focus primarily on the course and then transition into the business.

CMP: The period you’ve been in the industry has been rather tumultuous. What’s it been like for you? PP: I haven’t seen a year since I started without some sort of major change or upheaval. When I was starting, it was at the tail end of the last big heyday, where brokers were doing 40-year amortizations with zero down on rental properties, so I missed that part of mortgage brokering altogether. Over the years, there has been change


after change as we saw amortizations decrease and B-20 come into play. It has been a wild ride, to say the least.

CMP: You play a role in recruiting new brokers and agents. What do you look for when seeking out talent? PP: It can be tricky because not all people

CMP: How you have managed the constant changes? PP: In a few different ways. One of the

who come in are fully aware of how diffi­ cult it is to source your mortgages and then to place them. People have the impression that once you become a mortgage broker, it’s quite easy. They don’t realize that you have to quite literally fight your way through every mortgage application. I look for people who aren’t looking to be fed mortgage applications – people who have an idea of how they’re going to get out and find referrals. In our office, we require all of our new agents to read Dustan Wood­ house’s book, and if I get any pushback on that, that is telling because the training curve is high, and I’m looking for someone who is self-motivated.

things I’ve done is to be a member and sit as a director on the Alberta Mortgage Broker Association [AMBA] board. I am also member of MPC. A very important thing that brokers can do is choose to be members of those associations so that our industry continues to have a larger voice. [At AMBA], I reach out to individual mortgage brokers within my province and speak with them one on one and try to have heart-to-heart conversations on the direction AMBA is going, especially now that they have the joint membership initiative with MPC.

PIKKERT ON JUGGLING PARENTHOOD AND A CAREER “It’s something that is very hard for mortgage brokers. Over time, I realized that when I had my holidays or family time, it had to be just that: family time. I would put my phone away so that my children could have my undivided attention. I think it’s often very easy for mortgage brokers to get distracted by work and for the family to get left behind, so it’s very important to schedule time with your family and to make them the priority in your existence.”

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POSITION Mortgage broker

BROKERAGE Regional Mortgage Group

LOCATION Red Deer, Alberta

“People have the impression that once you become a mortgage broker, it’s quite easy. They don’t realize that you have to quite literally fight your way through every mortgage application” Some of our more successful people are coming over from the banks. They’ve looked across the pond and decided they wanted to make more money and also have a wider pool of products to offer. We also have a couple of people who have come over from sales in other industries – people who are already familiar with helping people through a process and comfortable with explaining things fully to clients.

CMP: What advice do you have for new brokers trying to make their mark? PP: Join the associations – that is a really important thing for our industry. Also, find a good mentor – someone who is willing to coach you through the ups and downs and tell you that sometimes it is going to be challenging. Sometimes you have to shake off the losses and step forward to your next success.


INDUSTRY INVOLVEMENT Sits on the board of AMBA, is a member of MPC and also serves on the board for Golf and Build a Kid to Cure

ACCOLADES Was named to CMP ’s Women of Influence list in 2016 and 2018

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18/06/2019 3:31:36 AM



Why your open-door policy is a joke Brian de Haaff explains why true transparency requires more than merely telling employees your door is always open

THE BIG BOSS strolls into the big corner office. “Remember, my door is always open,” she calls out to the team. If this sounds like the start of a bad joke, that’s because in a way it is. Open-door policies are usually empty gestures. If you have to tell people that you’re open and accessible, then it’s probably not true. And you have a transparency problem. The so-called open-door policy is a corporate cliché – a relic that should be left in the past. Of course, there are times when the intention behind the cliché is sincere. But the issue is that few team members will actually take advantage of that open door. If you’re a leader in title or action, you must be the one who steps up and engages. There’s no substitute for proactive engagement. A Gallup survey revealed that when managers don’t regularly meet with employees, only 15% of their employees feel engaged. Managers who regularly meet


with their employees almost tripled that level of engagement. Saying your door is open is a triviality. You must make a real and sustained effort

overall success of the company. To make this connection, everybody on the team needs to understand the plan for achieving the organization’s higher vision. Strong leaders openly share the plan. Doing so builds a sense of belonging and transparency.

Give feedback Scheduled one-on-one meetings are great, but when something demands immediate attention, don’t wait to start a conversation. Be direct and specific with your language and your recommendations. Doing so builds trust, making it more likely for people to come to you the next time they want an honest and productive perspective.

Ask questions Be curious about the actual work your team is doing, but also about attitudes toward it, difficulties and any surprising learnings along the way. Take advantage of all your means of communication – collaborative workspaces, instant messages, video chats. Be inquisitive. You won’t need an open-door policy if you go to your team with questions instead of waiting for them to come to you.

If you have to tell people that you’re open and accessible, then it’s probably not true. And you have a transparency problem to demonstrate transparency, accessibility and collaboration. When you show (not tell) people they can come to you at any time, they believe it and act on it. Here’s how the best leaders foster openness and communication:

Share the plan Most people want to know that their day-to-day tasks and to-dos are meaningful – directly contributing to the

Stay responsive If somebody comes to you with a question or request, do you get back to them quickly? Pushing concerns to the side sends a signal that your team members need to go somewhere else for answers – that essentially, your door is shut. Yes, everyone is busy. But being accessible and responsive lets your teammates know that you care to help.

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Recognize effort Research shows that people are reluctant to ask for help when they have a problem. I would guess that even more stay silent when they’ve done something great. Call out strong efforts and perfect moments – those instances when somebody achieved an ideal state. The point is not to inflate egos, but to provide positive feedback and let people know that their outstanding work is not going unnoticed. Leaders gain the team’s trust by being open and approachable through actions, not empty words. Give everybody equal access, offer real feedback and show no favourites. Do that consistently and thoughtfully, and you won’t have to tell people you’re accessible. No joke.

Brian de Haaff is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! and the author of Lovability. His two previous companies were acquired by well-known public corporations. De Haaff writes and speaks about product and company growth and the adventure of living a meaningful life. For more information, visit

Solidifi and Our Appraisor Network Make A Difference One Buck At A Time Solidifi launched Buck at a Time in 2011 to help improve the lives of children with healthcare needs in the communities where Solidifi appraiser partners live and work. Through the program appraisers can donate one dollar or more from each appraisal they complete and then Solidifi matches it. The funds collected enable world-class hospitals such as The Childrens Hospital of Eastern Ontario to do what they do best: make life better for children.

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18/06/2019 3:32:38 AM



The secret to building client rapport Engaging with clients effectively is an essential part of a broker’s daily life, but it isn’t always easy. Business storytelling specialist Mike Adams explains how brokers can build better rapport

HAVE YOU ever wondered how some people seem to effortlessly reach their sales targets? How they have a steady flow of easy, friendly business? These salespeople make the most money, are the most valuable employees and love their jobs to boot.


The truth is that rapport-building is the hidden skill of the best salespeople. Their clients keep coming back for more business and go out of their way to refer them to friends and colleagues – and those recurring clients are many times more valuable to them than

single-transaction clients. Ben Feldman was a high-school dropout who became possibly the greatest salesman in post-World War II America. In a career spanning 50 years, Feldman wrote more than $1.5 billion in life insurance policies.

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A HIERARCHY OF SALES SKILLS Sales skills are often presented as a hierarchy because skills at the base are required for mastery of skills above, as illustrated below.


Making authentic connections



Conversation skills Conversation skills enable the entire sales process The basic objective of a customer conversation is to uncover and quantify the plans, challenges and aspirations of the customer. It is this customer understanding that forms the basis of any proposal or sales presentation, negotiation or pricing strategy. Source:

Still working in his 80s, Feldman suffered a cerebral edema in 1992. While he was critically ill in the hospital, his employer, New York Life, decided to create a sales competition in his honour called Feldman February. The inaugural winner of Feldman February was … Ben Feldman! He closed $15 million worth of insurance from his hospital bed. Was Feldman making cold calls from his hospital bed? Of course not. He was calling friends – the legion of clients he’d established a lasting rapport with over a lifetime.

The power of the personal The importance of building a rapport by exchanging personal stories is often not well understood. Mike Bosworth, author of the classic sales textbook Solution Selling, told me that for most of his 30 years as a sales trainer, the conventional wisdom was that rapportbuilding could not be taught. He changed his

won out. Furthermore, I would have returned to a technical role if I hadn’t closed the luckiest deal in history in my first year. It’s these surprising turning points that make your career backstory interesting and encourage your future client to respond with an open story of their own.

mind on this topic only late in his career. The secret is to tell a story about how and why you do what you do, within the space of a couple of minutes. If you include personal events and you’re honest about the setbacks and vulnerabilities of your career, all the better. Because ultimately the purpose is to get into a position to say, “Well, enough about me! What about you? How did you get to do what you do?” And that question passes the baton. If you’ve been open, honest and vulnerable in telling your story, you’re more likely to receive an open story in response. This story exchange initiates rapport. To give an example: I trained as an electrical engineer, and in the mid-’90s I was working as a rock physicist in England when I was offered a corporate role selling software in Norway. My wife was eight months pregnant, and I didn’t want to be a salesperson, but the lure of Norway and our spirit of adventure

By now you might have some questions, such as: Is it really worth putting this much effort into a personal story? And isn’t the whole process manipulative? Yes, it is worth the effort, because it will become the foundation of every effective business connection you make. And in a sense it is manipulative. We’re presenting a view of ourselves that we’ve spent time crafting. We’re not telling the full story. That’s not possible, and we’re not dwelling on things that would undermine our authority. But the interesting thing is that these stories are like lie detectors. When we tell a story about something that happened to us, we relive those moments, and the emotion of those events comes out in our voice. If we’re telling a true story, the tone of voice is authentic. If it’s not true, that is also detectable. If you think about your close friends, they know your story, and you know their story. We select moments that actually happened in our lives and deliver them authentically as a way to connect. The listener re-creates and co-experiences the events of our story with us and becomes connected to us. It’s the first step to friendship. If you want to develop deep, long-term business relationships, learn how to exchange personal stories. Mike Adams is a business storytelling specialist and author of Seven Stories Every Salesperson Must Tell. Since 2014, his storytelling consulting practice has been helping sales teams find and tell their best stories. Find out more at

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18/06/2019 3:33:06 AM



How to work smarter, not harder Feeling constantly overwhelmed by your to-do list? Carson Tate offers six ways to work smarter and take back control

I BLINK and the day is over. I’m constantly behind, trying to catch up and keep up. I purchased a new pair of pants, and by the time I get around to having them hemmed, they will probably be out of style. Does this sound familiar?

back in the driver’s seat of your life? Work smarter, not harder. Here’s how.

Batch or group similar tasks Batching or grouping similar tasks increases your efficiency without any extra effort on your

Take a hard, critical look at your projects and ask yourself if each project is still relevant, directly tied to the organization’s strategic goals and has a significant return on time investment In today’s over-stretched, over-scheduled world, we feel like we’re constantly reacting and not really in control of our days. So how can you take back control and put yourself


part. For example, make all of your phone calls at one time, process your email at one time or review project proposals from vendors all at the same time. Switching between disparate

tasks is highly inefficient. Work on the same type of project or task and complete more work in less time.

Work in vacation mode Have you ever noticed what happens before a vacation? Your inbox is magically cleaned out, projects are wrapped up, and your desk is cleared off. I call this ‘the vacation phenomenon.’ The vacation is a hard deadline. On Saturday afternoon, you’re going to be on a sandy beach, holding a drink with an umbrella in it. As a result, your work must be completed before you leave the office.

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Stop fighting nature Our brains are hardwired to function in very specific ways. No matter how much you try or wish for your brain to function differently, it will not. There is a finite limit to how much information can be held in the mind and manipulated at one time. Don’t ask your brain to remember the 15 items you need at the grocery store, your schedule for next week and your ideas for your new project at work. It’s not wired to function this way. Use a task list. It’s ultimately more efficient, and it enables your brain to do what it does best – think about things, not of things.

Make technology work for you, not against you

Consider working in vacation mode, even if you’re not going on a vacation, by creating hard stops to your workday. For example, schedule a fun activity after work that has a hard start time – a movie, a play or a sporting event. The looming deadline will force you to be more efficient and focused throughout your workday.

Create a ‘stop doing list’ As your responsibilities continue to expand at work, you keep adding projects to your to-do list. However, you never take anything off of the list. Take a hard, critical look at your projects

and ask yourself if each project is still relevant, directly tied to the organization’s strategic goals and has a significant return on time investment. There are probably a few projects lurking on your list that need to be moved to the ‘stop doing list.’ No one is going to miss them.

Decide what is good enough Do you know what ‘good enough’ is for each of the projects on your list? This is good enough for the organization and good enough for you. Over-thinking, over-editing and over-tweaking wastes valuable time and is not necessary. Do good work and then stop.

Today’s technology is powerful – very powerful. However, we often abdicate our power to technology. We let it guide and direct us. It pings, dings or rings, and we jump. Turn off the sounds on all of your technology tools so you can focus and complete work. In addition, leverage all of the technology tools available to you in your email program by writing rules, colour-coding incoming emails and auto-filing messages. Take back control and make your technology do all of the heavy lifting. What will you do today to put yourself back in the driver’s seat of your life? Carson Tate serves as a consultant and coach to executives at Fortune 500 companies, including AbbVie, Deloitte, EY, FedEx and Wells Fargo. The author of Work Simply: Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style, her views have been included several publications, including Fast Company, Forbes, the Harvard Business Review blog, The New York Times and more. For more information, visit

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18/06/2019 3:33:45 AM



MAGAZINE The only independent magazine dedicated to mortgage industry news, opinion and analysis

WEBSITE Breaking news, in-depth profiles, features, online forum and Mortgage Broker TV

ENEWSLETTER Daily news service delivered straight to your inbox every morning

Find out more and subscribe at


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18/06/2019 10:55:41 3:34:11 AM 14/03/2018 PM

41 PM



ADVERSITY INTO ADVANTAGE John Bargis prides himself on his ability to view roadblocks as opportunities to take a new approach From the age of 9, Bargis worked at his family’s restaurant, and he ascribes his current discipline to a schedule that demanded he go straight to his shift after school, with only time for homework and dinner before bed. Later, conversations with a friend’s father, who was president of Nestle, sparked his interest in business.




BREAKS THE STEREOTYPE When his final banking post fell apart and his now-wife suggested he consider becoming a mortgage broker, Bargis’ initial response was, “Aren’t those guys crooks?” “We were taught that mortgage brokers were taboo. I joined a shop with 40 brokers, and in nine months, I was the top producer – I had a plan, I set goals, and I executed it. My niche was to hone in on people who had to restructure their cash flow and bring up their credit score.”


STARTS INVIS In a typically out-of-the-box move, Bargis helped get the network up and running by recruiting bankers and leveraging their existing client relationships. “I loved the excitement of the change that Invis was bringing to the table – it was a revolutionary step; it changed our world. We were bringing something completely different to the industry. For me, it wasn’t about ego, but about accomplishment. In the first year, we went from zero to $500 million.”


BRINGS STRENGTH TO THE FEET ON THE STREET Setting up the Coalition of Independent Mortgage Brokers of Canada [CIMBC] was Bargis’ move to return power to the brokers. “CIMBC was designed to bring back independence to the broker, to give broker-owners and agents access to lenders. We bought strength back to the broker, to the feet on the street. Unity empowers.”


STARTS IN BANKING Bargis set himself up for a career in banking his first year of university, when he quizzed employers on campus to recruit seniors on what they wanted to see in fresh graduates. Using the advice he was given, Bargis snagged a part-time position at a bank. After graduation, he went full-time in banking; the purchase of his first sports car in 1987 marked a personal highlight.


DISCOVERS DEFINITIVE SUCCESS After setting up Definitive Mortgage Group, Bargis was soon producing annual volumes of more than $150 million. “I wasn’t driven by money by then; I was driven by accomplishment.”


REDISCOVERS INDEPENDENCE After stepping away from Invis, Bargis founded Mortgage Edge. His hard work in cultivating the brokerage was recognized earlier this year with a nomination for Employer of Choice at the Canadian Mortgage Awards.

“I wanted to go back to my grassroots – to independence. I’ve been blessed with a very good team at Mortgage Edge; dollars follow when you do good things. Mortgage Edge is an extension of everything I’ve ever done in my career”

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A natural coach, Wright says that “even now, when I skate, if I see someone struggling, I’ ll ask if I ca n give the m pointers.”


Cost of an hour of private coaching with Wright


Years Wright spent as a skating instructor


Amount Wright spent on her current pair of skates

SKATE OF MIND There’s nothing broker Leagh Wright would rather do than lace up and get out on the ice LEAGH WRIGHT first donned skates at the age of 3; all these years later, the Vancouver-based broker still feels that skating is “the closest you can get to flying with your feet on the ground.” The years of figure skating helped Wright during her time as a student,

when she was able to work as a coach for the city of Vancouver while studying. The money she made as an instructor was enough to facilitate the purchase of a house. “There was a time when I was in skates more than shoes,” she recalls. “Sometimes

I did up to nine classes in a day.” While she’s left coaching behind, Wright’s passion for the sport remains undimmed. “Going fast focuses me; it’s like meditation,” she says. “Speed is exhilarating and exciting. Give me a pair of skates and a rink, and I’m out of here.”

Photo: Edward Balase


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