RUMOUR HAS IT
What’s behind the whispers about a home equity tax on primary residences?
A NEW ALTERNATIVE
How brokers can benefit from a new tech partnership in the alternative lending sector
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LENDERS HAVE THEIR SAY How they’re working to meet the expectations revealed in CMP’s Brokers on Lenders survey
Discover what Canada’s best brokerages are doing to rise above the challenges of 2020
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UPFRONT 04 Editorial
Why the much-feared ‘deferral cliff’ might not materialize
All signs point to a much more stable autumn
08 News analysis
CONNECTING THE MORTGAGE INDUSTRY
10 Alternative lending update
How a new partnership between two mortgage tech companies is opening up opportunities for brokers
Lenders weigh in on some of the feedback they received in last month’s Brokers on Lenders survey
Digging into the persistent rumour about a home equity tax on primary residences A new tech tool is giving lenders the data they need to retain clients
12 Commercial update
Most segments of the commercial market were hit hard in Q2 – but there was one bright spot
Three market trends that a second wave of COVID-19 could bring about
INDUSTRY ICON Specializing in commercial mortgages brought broker Stephen Thomas back to his entrepreneurial roots
A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE
A look at what’s changed at Centum since Chris Turcotte took the helm
42 Helping clients identify the best mortgage solution
How to get borrowers to look beyond rate when evaluating their options
70 Build a more diverse team
Four ways to shift your thinking to achieve true workplace diversity
PEOPLE 72 Other life
Getting into character with the cosplay-loving sisters of the Codsi Mortgage Team
MAKING A SPLASH
Just three years into her mortgage career, Stephanie Gagnon-Hume has already established a presence in the industry
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Nearing the cliff?
henever talk about a Canadian housing bubble starts intensifying, it’s important to keep a few things in mind before the fear-mongering gets out of hand. First, there is no ‘Canadian housing market’ upon which to build a bubble. Canada might be a small country in terms of population, but it’s not so small that a rise in defaults in a region like Alberta is going to cause sellers to panic in British Columbia, Ontario or Quebec, where the majority of the country’s real estate activity takes place. Second, the individuals purchasing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic have not been blindly approved by brokers and lenders desperate for business. Evan Siddall might think otherwise, but Canada’s lenders and private mortgage insurers have proven themselves responsible arbiters of creditworthiness during the last five years of housing madness.
It’s unlikely that all of the Canadians who deferred their mortgage payments will default at the same time – if they even default at all That being said, more than 775,000 Canadians opted for a mortgage deferral at some point during the pandemic. That’s nothing to sneeze at, but it doesn’t mean all of those borrowers were at risk of defaulting. Many ended their deferrals before taking advantage of the full six-month payment holiday. And because many of those who deferred payments did so without needing to, the long-feared ‘deferral cliff ’ might not materialize, as many individuals using the program simply banked their missed payments in preparation for the future. Whether they use those payments to lump-sum their way back to a normal payment schedule or to give themselves some leeway when their deferral periods end, it’s unlikely that all of the Canadians who deferred their mortgage payments will default at the same time – if they even default at all. Let’s also not forget that approximately 64% of the job losses experienced during COVID-19 impacted the country’s lowest-paid workers – so while unemployment is a problem for the economy in general, it doesn’t automatically equal defaults. According to the 2016 census, 43% of homeowners had paid off the mortgage on their principal residence, meaning almost half of the country’s buyers have been able to weather the COVID-19 storm without breaking a sweat. For homeowners to bail on their properties, they need to owe more than those homes are worth. Considering the appreciation seen in Canada’s most active markets over the past three years, it’s safe to say that many owners have built enough equity in their homes to ride out whatever price softening might occur. And really, how much will prices be allowed to fall with so many prospective buyers waiting on the sidelines to bid them right back up again?
www.mortgagebrokernews.ca ISSUE 15.10 EDITORIAL Managing Editor Clayton Jarvis
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2 YEARS IN A ROW! We are honoured to be awarded the 2020 Digital Innovator of the Year at the Canadian Mortgage Awards for the second year in a row! Our technology has been at the forefront of the mortgage industry, allowing brokers to manage their whole business from one piece of software… Piper
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Summer of stability
NOT TOO VULNERABLE
The past few months suggest that Canadian borrowers are in good shape heading into the fall AMID THE wave of disastrous news from the US, it can be easy to lose sight of how things are going at home. But over the past seven months, Canada has created a recovery strategy that has, so far, kept most people not only in their homes but paying them off. And although mortgage deferral programs – which helped drive Canada’s debt-to-disposableincome ratio down by 17.2% in the second quarter – are beginning to expire, most
Decline in real GDP in Canada in the second quarter of 2020
Unemployment rate in Canada in August 2020
Canadians say they expect to be able to keep paying their mortgage with little difficulty. Market fundamentals also appear to be stable across most of the country, based on CMHC’s latest study of vulnerability in Canada’s largest markets. Despite some dark predictions about future house price declines, Canadian real estate – and, more importantly, the people who purchase it – both seem to be on solid ground at the moment.
Most major Canadian markets were only slightly more vulnerable in September than they were in February, according to CMHC’s most recent Housing Market Assessment. The organization examined trends of overheating, overvaluation, price assessment and overbuilding in 15 markets nationwide and found an elevated level of vulnerability in only three: Ottawa, where price acceleration was a concern, and Halifax and Moncton, where overvaluation was an issue.
KEY Low degree of vulnerability Moderate degree of vulnerability High degree of vulnerability
Number of housing markets CMHC considered moderately overheated in February
Number of housing markets CMHC considers moderately overheated now Sources: Statistics Canada, CMHC
DEBT SERVICE RATIOS DECLINE
DEFERRALS DRIVE DEBT PAYMENTS DOWN
Government aid, mortgage deferrals and lower interest rates all combined to bring about significant year-over-year declines in Canadians’ debt service ratios in the second quarter of 2020.
It appears that Canadians took full advantage of the deferral programs offered by their lenders, banks and credit card companies between the first and second quarters. Only mortgage interest payments rose between Q1 and Q2.
10% 8% 6% 4%
0% Non-mortgage debt service ratio
Mortgage debt service ratio (interest only)
Non-mortgage debt service ratio (interest only) Source: Statistics Canada
Mortgage interest payments
2% Mortgage debt service ratio
Obligated non-mortgage principal payments
Obligated mortgage principal payments Non-mortgage interest payments
Mortgage debt repayments Non-mortgage debt repayments
$60bn $40bn $20bn $0
Q2 2020 Source: Statistics Canada
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CANADA February 2020
SASKATOON February 2020
OTTAWA EDMONTON February 2020
CALGARY February 2020
QUEBEC CITY February 2020
MONCTON February 2020
VICTORIA February 2020
Source: CMHC Housing Market Assessment, September 2020
HOMEOWNERS ARE HAPPY
CONSUMER CONFIDENCE REBOUNDS
Most homeowners aren’t worried about making their mortgage payments or having to delay their next home purchase. However, nearly half of renters say COVID-19 will likely delay their entry into the housing market.
In late September, Canadians’ confidence in the housing market was higher than it has been in months – and well above the average over the past dozen years. CANADIAN CONSUMER CONFIDENCE INDEX – REAL ESTATE
EXPECTED DIFFICULTY IN MAKING MORTGAGE PAYMENTS No difficulty
A lot of difficulty
First-time homebuyers 72%
Repeat buyers 75%
IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON HOME-BUYING EXPECTATIONS No impact
Current owners 7%
Current renters 41%
40 30 20
Delay purchase 75%
Source: Rapidly Evolving Expectations in the Housing Market, MPC, August 2020
Sep 25 Source: Bloomberg/Nanos
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The rumour that won’t die Despite a complete lack of evidence, some in the industry are still fretting that a home equity tax on primary residences is on the way
SOME RUMOURS just won’t go away. In the Canadian mortgage space, one such rumour has been buzzing about like a mosquito since the early days of summer. Despite a lack of evidence to support it, no one’s been able to squash it. On July 17, Blacklock’s Reporter published an article claiming that the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation “is spending $250,000 researching a first-ever federal home equity tax.” But the story didn’t share any evidence of a link between the $250,000 and a specific goal of establishing a home equity tax. Instead, Blacklock’s said organizers of the
misleading,” the tweet said. “Funds [the $250,000 in question] to [non-profit research organization] @GenSqueeze through our Solutions Lab was to research solutions to housing, wealth and inequality. A home equity tax is an incorrect characterization of the upcoming research. Plus, research [does not equal] tax policy decisions.” The same thread included input from Mortgage Professionals Canada, which tweeted a quote from Adam Vaughan, parliamentary secretary to Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen. “We as a government have not asked for such a
“Every so often an idea comes along that is so out of touch and unfair that it unites pretty much everyone in their disapproval” Tim Hudak, Ontario Real Estate Association research project “earlier likened homeowners to lottery winners whose residences were tax shelters” and that the study’s objective is to “identify solutions that could level the playing field between renters and owners.” That’s not exactly proof. In response, CMHC directed a tweet at Wall Street Journal reporter Paul Vieira, who posted about the story. “This convo & headline are
study and are not aware of any such study, nor has CMHC commissioned one to our knowledge,” Vaughan said. A statement describing the work of the Solutions Lab, an initiative under the National Housing Strategy, describes it as a forum “to tackle key issues and help foster a culture of innovation in the affordable housing sector.” The available evidence, or lack thereof,
wasn’t enough for Ontario Real Estate Association CEO Tim Hudak, who, a full month after CMHC’s denial, penned an op-ed in the Toronto Star, saying the implementation of such a tax would be “reckless.” “Every so often,” Hudak wrote, “an idea comes along that is so out of touch and unfair that it unites pretty much everyone in their disapproval.” There is little denying that establishing a home equity tax at a time when cash-strapped Canadians may be forced to sell their homes is indeed a wretched idea. But it’s not an active idea. When asked why OREA refuses to accept CMHC’s explanation of the study, OREA media relations specialist Jean-Adrien Delicano directed CMP to another paragraph in Hudak’s editorial. “While the CMHC backpedalled from a home equity tax after the media uproar, they were clear that their goal is to level the playing field between homeowners and renters by
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THE RUMOUR SPREADS … OREA’s recent polling of Ontario homeowners on their feelings about a potential home equity tax, sparked by the organization’s suspicion of CMHC CEO Evan Siddall’s motives, contained few surprises – except, perhaps, that more than a third of Ontarians have no idea what a capital gains tax is.
said they oppose or somewhat oppose a new capital gains tax on the sale of a property
said they would vote against a candidate whose platform includes a new capital gains tax
said they don’t know what a capital gains tax is Source: Ontario Real Estate Association
making homeownership less attractive,” Hudak wrote. “Their research partner at UBC has been leading the charge for higher taxes on homeownership to make owning more equiva-
smoke, not fire.” And yet, on August 26, OREA felt the need to release the results of a survey about the potential implementation of a home equity
“A tax on home equity isn’t in the works because vested interests say so. Where there’s smoke, there’s smoke, not fire” Evan Siddall, CMHC lent to renting.” He went on to reference CMHC’s denial, saying that “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” CMHC CEO Evan Siddall characterized Hudak’s op-ed as “making stuff up to fight a non-battle. Like Bertrand Russell’s teapot, a tax on home equity isn’t in the works because vested interests say so,” Siddall tweeted on August 17. “Where there’s smoke, there’s
tax on the sale of primary residences. The survey found that “over six in 10 Ontarians would oppose or somewhat oppose a new capital gains tax when someone sells their primary residence.” That people would be opposed to paying higher taxes is hardly shocking. What is surprising is that OREA would undertake the survey at all, considering CMHC’s and the
federal government’s repeated denials that such a tax is in the works. And that still wasn’t the end of it. On September 21, Blacklock’s went back to the well to inform readers that “a Twitter storm by homeowners prompted CMHC to quietly pull funding for federal research on a home equity tax.” The evidence this time? A twosentence email from Siddall saying he wished to send a letter to Generation Squeeze founder Dr. Paul Kershaw to insist that no CMHC dollars be used to support the study of an equity tax. But the assertion that funding had been “pulled” infers that it had been provided for the initiative in the first place, which Blacklock’s still hasn’t proven. Publishing controversial stories about Evan Siddall and CMHC might be great for web traffic – but those stories, just like a person’s views on government policy, must be based on objective facts if they’re to be taken seriously.
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ALTERNATIVE LENDING UPDATE NEWS BRIEFS Big Six slowly losing market share to nonbank lenders
The largest share of new mortgages in Canada is still with the big banks, according to CMHC’s annual Residential Mortgage Industry Report, which revealed that Canada’s largest banks originated approximately 67% of new mortgages across the country last year. However, market share among the Big Six fell from 75% of outstanding mortgages in 2018 to 72% in 2019. Mortgage finance companies held 9% of the national outstanding mortgage balance, while credit unions had 14%, and mortgage investment corporations and private lenders represented 1%.
Current environment an opportunity for alt lenders COVID-19
has presented an opportunity for alternative lenders to increase their market share as the mortgage landscape shifts, according to Lee Noble, vice-president of business development at Lendesk. “There are still great borrowers who can put together a sufficient down payment and make their payments on time,” Noble told CMP in September. “If a borrower’s eligibility is compromised or affected negatively, they can look at how everything else plays into the picture because frankly, they are risking their own capital. That’s a luxury that prime lenders don’t have and risks that banks can’t take on.”
Neighbourhood Holdings unveils new three-year mortgage
Vancouver-based alternative lender Neighbourhood Holdings has launched a new three-year mortgage with rates starting at 5.95%. The product, which is available as either an interest-only or
amortized mortgage, allows borrowers to pay out at any time with only a threemonth interest pre-payment penalty. “By extending the industry standard oneyear term to a true three-year term and lowering our rates, we are now able to give borrowers peace of mind with their mortgage and additional flexibility when it comes to managing their cash flows,” said Neighbourhood CEO Taylor Little.
Reverse mortgage debt load reaches a new high
Canada’s reverse mortgage debt balance reached $4.3 billion in July, according to the OSFI; that represents a 0.62% uptick from June and a 13.63% increase yearover-year. However, there are signs of an overall slowdown in reverse mortgage borrowing: The year-over-year growth in July, while substantial, was far below the peak 57.46% increase seen in October 2018; growth in the segment has been shrinking since then. Between March and July 2020, borrowers racked up $113.04 million in reverse mortgage debt, around 30% lower than the same period in 2019.
HELOC growth stalls during the summer months
Growth in the volume of home equity lines of credit has halted, according to the latest data from the OSFI, which reported decreases of 0.9% annually and 0.27% monthly for June. The country’s outstanding HELOC balance for the month was $304.95 billion. Personal loans still accounted for the largest slice of the HELOC pie, although the balance fell by 0.14% monthly and 0.21% year-over-year to end up at $268.5 billion. Business loans secured by residential real estate, meanwhile, fell 1.18% monthly but grew by 9.91% yearover-year to $36.46 billion.
A solution for client retention A new tech offering from TransUnion aims to give lenders the insights they need to keep borrowers from jumping ship One of the most effective methods lenders have for improving the performance of their portfolios is retaining the clients they already have. It sounds simple enough, but if it were, lenders wouldn’t be experiencing the level of churn and mid-term attrition they’re currently struggling to avoid. There might not be a crystal ball that anticipates the needs of consumers before they reach a certain stage in their homeownership journey, but today’s tech-driven mortgage industry generates the next best thing: reams and reams of data. That’s the thinking behind a new partnership between TransUnion and Senso.ai. Combining TransUnion’s ocean of consumer data with Senso’s artificial intelligence-powered solutions, the two companies recently launched the Senso Mortgage Retention Score, a new tool available to TransUnion customers in Canada. Simply put, the score identifies which of a lender’s customers are most in need of immediate attention (i.e. most likely to shop for a new lender), allowing lenders to proactively put offers in front of those borrowers and retain them as clients. “Typically, Canadian lenders have done a fantastic job around creating contact strategies for the early renewal window,” about four to six months before a mortgage term ends, says Senso.ai CEO Saroop Bharwani. “But anything before that four to six months leading up to term is sort of like finding a needle in a haystack.” “The cost to originate mortgages, particu-
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larly in a competitive environment, is really high,” adds Paul Sy, TransUnion’s VP of solutions. “So, from a lender’s perspective, it’s in their best interest to identify the right customers, rep the right products, and rate the services and terms around them to make sure they’re able to retain that mortgage.”
“From a lender’s perspective, it’s in their best interest to ... make sure they’re able to retain that mortgage” Rather than waiting and playing catch-up with a borrower who might have already caught a glimpse of greener pastures, Senso’s tool allows lenders to meet consumer needs before they materialize – a talent even the best contact centre can’t lay claim to. “There’s only so many people that an internal banking team that contacts customers can essentially reach at any given time,” Bharwani says. He describes the Mortgage Retention Score as a prioritization of who needs service at any given time based on a client’s individual needs. Rather than leaving borrowers to do their own legwork for a refi or purchase, the score tells lenders which clients may be open to signing up for new products and services, creating a situation where lenders can better allocate their budgets and time to reach consumers who are likely to need assistance. “Every lender will have different strategies,” Sy says. “Some lenders may take a more insights-driven approach to it, while some may balance more the art and science of it. All we can do is give them better data to make those types of decisions.”
Even stronger than before
CEO NEIGHBOURHOOD HOLDINGS
Years in the industry 5 Fast fact Little was a lawyer at global law firm Stikeman Elliott before becoming CEO of Neighbourhood Holdings in 2018
How has the alternative lending segment been doing? Over the last few months, alternative lenders have seen increases in origination volumes as the real estate market has regained some momentum. Of course, we just can’t talk about the last two months or so without talking about what happened prior to that, when the industry was a bit slower due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The lenders who have come out of COVID-19 with stronger balance sheets are seeing good originations and market opportunities right now.
How has Neighbourhood Holdings held up? We managed to take a really strong approach when it came to COVID-19. We had a clear plan executed top to bottom, and we maintained our relationships with brokers and investors. We’ve come out of COVID-19 even stronger than before.
How have you assisted your clients during this time? For brokers, we make sure that we are clearly communicating any lending guideline changes and also what would happen with our existing deals in the pipeline – we honoured our commitments. For borrowers, we did everything we could to help them make their payments, whether that involved moving payment dates or just coming to a solution that would work for their unique situation.
Can you elaborate on how you’re closing the gap between Neighbourhood Holdings and B lenders? The gap we’ve identified is in terms of the following. First, pricing – we’re getting closer in terms of price. Second, timing – we can turn a deal around really quickly compared to B lenders. Third, cash flows – we see an opportunity in offering interest-only loans to borrowers, which is different from the typical loans that B lenders offer. At the end of the day, borrowers get to keep more dollars in their pockets because they do not have to pay down the principal on a shorter-term loan. Finally, term – the industry standard is a one-year term, and we’re stretching that out to a true three-year term for borrowers. What we think this is really going to do is to provide peace of mind to borrowers. Rather than get into a one-year product and worry about whether you’re going to get renewed or have to find a new lender in a year, you’ll have three years to work out your situation. That will give borrowers more flexibility.
What should brokers expect from the market for the rest of the year? Our latest forecast is that 2020 will likely end strong from a housing market perspective. However, we think there’s going to be a ‘lower for longer’ recovery in 2021 as the full impacts of COVID-19 work their way through the economy. We shouldn’t expect to be setting real estate records next year, and we’ll definitely see more of a muted environment.
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Commercial market’s strength waned in Q2 Several segments of the market were weighed down by the COVID-19 pandemic in the second quarter
However, “I think you’ll see investors, toward the end of the year, really jump back into the market,” Reading predicts. While a rebound in demand for multi-family properties can be expected, given that Canada’s largest markets are all suffering from some form of housing shortage, the demand for office space at a time of social distancing is more of an unknown. Rather than foreseeing a dramatic drop in demand or rents, Reading instead sees office usage changing through the creation of larger cubicles and altered work schedules.
“I think you’ll see investors, toward the end of the year, really jump back into the market”
Commercial real estate transaction volume decelerated across nearly all asset classes in the second quarter of 2020, according to Morguard’s latest Canadian Economic Outlook and Market Fundamentals report. The firm reported decreases in transaction volume for retail (59.4%), office (80.5%) and even multisuite residential properties (58.3%) in Q2. “Many of the transactions completed during the second quarter were negotiated either in late 2019 or prior to the COVID-19 crisis in early 2020,” Morguard said, adding that only
the retail segment had slower closing activity prior to the pandemic. According to Keith Reading, Morguard’s director of research, the fall in transaction volume for office and multi-family properties was the result of COVID-19 and not due to any significant weakening of either sector’s underlying fundamentals. In addition to sellers’ justified fears of listing their properties at a time when values were likely to fall, a lack of buyers willing to view properties at the height of the pandemic also contributed to the decline.
E-commerce poised to reshape the retail sector
E-commerce has flourished amid COVID-19 restrictions, according to Statistics Canada, which reported a record $3.9 billion volume for e-commerce in May. That represents a 99.3% surge from February and a 110.8% annual increase. StatCan said the commercial market should brace itself for massive changes, as a significant portion of tenants might vacate their spaces soon. That echoes recent findings from Colliers International, which reported that around 10% of retail tenants plan to shut down in the next few months.
“They’ll still go into the office,” he says of commercial tenants, “you just may not see that 9-to-5 model that we’re used to.” The industrial sector, on the other hand, continued to outperform its commercial counterparts. Driven by a prolonged increase in online shopping demand, industrial saw its second-quarter sales volume rise by 25.1%. Reading believes that trend is here to stay, as it reflects an ongoing shift in consumer behaviour and not just a reaction to COVID-19. “Companies need more storage space,” he says. “They need more last-mile delivery space. That’s really driving this demand for industrial space, and I don’t see that slowing down any time soon.”
Pent-up demand to stimulate GTA industrial market
Demand temporarily halted by COVID-19 is likely to drive activity in Toronto’s industrial property segment over the next few months, according to Avison Young. “The COVID-19 lockdown paused the [GTA] economy for most of the second quarter,” the firm said. “The full impact will be revealed in the coming quarters, but pent-up demand is expected to sustain positive momentum for the industrial market.” During Q2, industrial availability in the GTA grew to 1.9%, and the average asking net rental rate rose by 16% annually.
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Jane Domenico SVP and national lead, retail services (Canada) COLLIERS INTERNATIONAL
Years in the industry 20+ Fast fact Prior to joining Colliers, Domenico was the president and CEO of a TSX-listed REIT with a wide-ranging retail and mixed-use portfolio
The retail sector is on the mend How has the retail segment of Canadian commercial real estate been doing recently? Retail has almost recovered from the lockdowns that took place earlier this year. Retailers and landlords have responded to the pandemic by implementing social and health and safety guidelines that are based on municipal and provincial requirements. For most Canadians, adhering to these new guidelines is the new normal.
How have retail businesses responded to the crisis? Retail asset success is unique to each asset and is based on its retailers. As a result, the majority of large landlords are working with their tenants to find ways to help them continue in this new environment. Many restaurants and quick-service restaurants offered special meals to essential workers and food banks. Retailers are still offering special services, like Skip the Line programs, to essential workers. The pandemic has also shown us the importance of Canadian-made solutions to supply chain issues. These issues were made apparent during the early days of the pandemic, when consumers were confronted with empty shelves and delivery delays for certain products.
What have been the most significant impacts of COVID-19 on the retail sector so far? The loss of tenancy revenue for 2020 – which impacts the rents collected – is the most significant side
CMLS reports lower commercial mortgage spreads
Commercial mortgage spreads fell during the second quarter, according to CMLS Institutional Services. “While still remaining considerably higher than levels observed at the start of the year, spreads for higher-quality assets saw a considerable decline to end the quarter slightly above 200bps,” CMLS said, adding that intensified competition is “putting sustained downward pressure on spreads. Lower-quality assets have struggled to keep pace for the most part, but the quality gap shows signs of shrinking as markets continue to stabilize.”
effect of the pandemic. The CECRA program helps mitigate this issue. The pandemic has also reinforced how important effective communication is between landlords and tenants. For retailers specifically, shopper communication is the key to success. Where appropriate, landlords and tenants have also worked closely together on joint financial relief.
Which industries are thriving, and which sub-sectors are struggling? Necessity or essential retailers continue to perform better than years prior due to the nature of their retail offerings. High street locations in residential neighbourhoods are benefiting from increased traffic and ‘shop local’ movements. Recreational sales have also been stronger than in previous years. On the other hand, fashion and non-essential retail have struggled, as they were closed the longest and ended up missing a season. The good news is the shutdown occurred during a less important retail season. The key selling periods for retailers are back to school, fall fashion, Halloween and the December holiday season.
What should industry players look out for in the next few months? Management of COVID-19 protocols alongside seasonal changes – for example, managing outdoor queues during inclement winter weather. Consumer confidence continues to be positive. Hopefully we will continue to see improvement.
Office vacancies spike in downtown Toronto in Q2
Downtown Toronto recorded 169 office vacancies during the second quarter of 2020 and only one new large lease signed, according to Jones Lang LaSalle. Nearly 40% of Canadian businesses have been forced to cut their working hours over the past few months, according to StatCan, and around 28% had to trim their workforces. A significant proportion of businesses are “still waiting for stability to return in the office market and in everyday life,” Jones Lang LaSalle said. “Downtown Toronto remains a landlord’s market.”
BC investment at its lowest level since 2015
British Columbia saw 84 commercial deals, valued at $1.5 billion, completed during the first six months of the year, according to Avison Young. That’s far below the level witnessed from 2016 to 2019, when investment in the first half of the year topped $2.7 billion across the office, retail and industrial segments. On a brighter note, the number of deals completed “remained comparable to previous years and actually marked the fourth highest number of completed deals on record,” Avison Young said.
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What’s around the corner? As COVID-19 rears its ugly head again, there are a few trends brokers should keep an eye on, writes Gerard Buckley AS CANADIAN provinces now reconsider their decisions to reopen businesses after the first wave of COVID-19 seemed to subside, prospective borrowers are facing tough decisions of their own. We saw in June, July and August how eager buyers, sellers and real estate agents were to make up for the opportunities lost between March and May. But after that frenzy of activity, and with COVID-19 poised for a comeback, where might the market be headed? No reputable broker would pretend to know the future, but there are leaves floating in the tea that are worth paying attention to. Here are three trends I’m keeping my eye on to help my clients make sound decisions going forward.
The great migration
For families that have weathered the storm of the pandemic from inside a tiny condo in the GTA, exchanging the claustrophobia-inducing lack of space and the shoulder-to-shoulder hustle and bustle of the city for some space and actual land of their own will be very appealing. The desire for freedom from gridlock extends from large families right down to singleoccupant homeowners and renters. Ontario real estate agents have already noted the trend of prospective buyers setting their sights on communities outside of the GTA. I’m sure my non-Ontario peers get a little tired of hearing that what happens in Toronto applies to their markets, but when a single metropolitan area accounts for such a sizeable proportion of national home sales,
it’s often the first place housing trends show themselves. I’d be quite surprised if the same desire for space didn’t also show itself in Montreal soon enough. This suburban/exurban/rural migration is expected to continue for the foreseeable future as the worldwide battle against COVID-19 blazes on. In Ontario, the popular lakeside towns and villages of Georgian Bay and Muskoka might feel this exodus more than rural farming communities, but in
and enter the housing market have been granted a bit of leeway by COVID-19. With more employers continuing to offer remote working options even after lockdown measures were rescinded, many workers no longer need to be in urban centres at all.
Frozen interest rates
Any ideas about the Bank of Canada increasing its prime interest rate have dissolved. With a fragile economy still discovering how to operate and countless businesses relying on emergency government loans, increasing lending fees is completely off the table. Border closures are already leading to a lower immigration rate for 2020, leaving Canada’s population and economic expansion lagging behind years past. In a country that relies on such growth to boost the economy, fewer newcomers could have a dampening effect on the strength of the dollar as well. On a positive note, anyone looking to sell property in the outlying parts of southern Ontario could fetch top dollar. Combined
“With quarantining fresh in mind, fewer homebuyers will opt for a stylish box in the sky, especially when the average price of a condo in the downtown core of major Canadian markets equates to acres of land elsewhere” general, house prices outside of urban zones will likely rise due to increased demand.
Falling condo sales
The domino effect of today’s city dwellers heading to the hills tomorrow will be a decline in condo sales. With quarantining fresh in mind, fewer homebuyers will opt for a stylish box in the sky, especially when the average price of a condo in the downtown core of major Canadian markets equates to acres of land elsewhere. The overall toll this will take on current condominium investors could be significant. Buyers looking to both avoid condo life
with low borrowing costs for future real estate investments, these sellers could find themselves in a very enviable position. Real estate agents in these communities are already reporting lightning-fast sales and increasing demand, much of which is stemming from the GTA. Brokers in these communities should be preparing themselves for a wave of new clients now.
Gerard Buckley is a licensed mortgage broker, management consultant and corporate director who specializes in financing for residential, investment and commercial properties.
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RAISING THE STANDARD After almost a decade in the banking industry, Stephen Thomas hit the ground running when he moved into the commercial mortgage space. His competitors have been playing catch-up ever since
FEW PEOPLE dream of being a banker, which is a little odd considering how many bankers see their dreams come true. Stephen Thomas certainly didn’t see himself becoming one, but after the Great Recession claimed as a victim the clothing store he and his classmates at Humber College had launched as a class project in 2007, there were few opportunities out there for a young, hungry, jobless entrepreneur. Thomas’ then-girlfriend (and current wife) urged him to take a job with her employer, RBC. But so soon after launching, growing and then laying to rest his first business, Thomas had no appetite for a banking gig. “No way. I would never work at a bank. Nine to five? I would never do it,” he remembers thinking. But after a spell of soul searching and less-than-successful job hunting in a recession-levelled job market, Thomas put a pin in his plans to start his own business and took a position with RBC’s contact centre in 2008. But rather than douse his dreams of once again being an entrepreneur, working at RBC put Thomas on a path of continual development and growing success that led directly to where
he is today. After cutting his teeth in direct sales, Thomas’ first significant opportunity came in 2009, when he was promoted to the role of private banking associate for RBC Wealth Management. Equally comfortable handling complex org charts, navigating estate planning
bankers, signed up multiple new ultra-highnet-worth clients every day. He explained to Thomas that there was no trick involved: His earlier career had been spent in commercial banking; he was simply talking shop with people in his network. His advice for Thomas
“[Private banking] was never a bore. It was never a job. I was always fascinated by the very simple or complex things that people did to earn a living as entrepreneurs” and staying on top of countless business accounts, Thomas found the new position to be the perfect fit for his active, curious mind. “It was never a bore. It was never a job,” he says. “I was always fascinated by the very simple or complex things that people did to earn a living as entrepreneurs.” Thomas watched in awe as his mentor at the time, one of the country’s top private
– young, intelligent and highly ambitious – was to get into the commercial space as soon as possible.
Ready for liftoff By late 2012, Thomas was a senior account manager at RBC, working with a portfolio of more than 350 business clients. But with RBC’s business banking arm largely the realm of
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PROFILE Name: Stephen Thomas Title: Founder and CEO Company: Halo Advisory Based in: Toronto Years in the industry: 10
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specialists, Thomas felt it was in his best interest to develop his knowledge and expertise in a more general manner. In 2015, he began a two-year stint at BMO as a commercial account manager. It was a formative experience. “When a customer walks in your door, they’re really depending on you as a trusted advisor, or even a partner, to their business,” he says. “When someone says, ‘I need a million dollars,’ it’s not just them who gets impacted. There’s a whole supply chain behind that client. As the person who takes the call, it’s really your fiduciary duty to do everything in your power – professionally, ethically – to make sure you’re providing unbiased results, advice and work ethic on that transaction.” The work was eclectic – a manufacturing
Back in the driver’s seat The following year was a busy one for Thomas. He got his mortgage licence, began his relationship with Mortgage Alliance and finally got back to his roots as an entrepreneur by launching Halo Advisory, which he describes as “where high finance meets commercial real estate.” The management consulting firm specializes in complex, high-value transactions where financing can reach as high as 115%. “When it becomes owner-occupied, the rules kind of change, and we’re able to do some pretty aggressive or creative things,” Thomas says. While raising awareness of Halo’s services, Thomas has realized just how short the commercial lending environment is on specialists, making it a far cry from the training-
“When a customer walks in your door, they’re really depending on you as a trusted advisor, or even a partner, to their business” client today, a research facility tomorrow – and intellectually stimulating, but it wasn’t long before Thomas realized the transactions he was being asked to put together were better suited for other lenders, ones he knew had more appropriate risk appetites or more favourable underwriting parameters. He was faced with the constant challenge of hammering square deals into BMO’s round requirements, all while making the process appear seamless for his clients. Thomas succeeded despite the friction, working his way into the company’s top 1% in 2016. But with a new baby at home he wanted to be available for and a wealth of experience and contacts at his disposal, he decided that, rather than work for one bank and pretend it has all the solutions a client could want, why not work with all of them?
intensive environment he encountered in the banking world. He says the phenomenon of residential brokers dabbling in the commercial space is “rampant” and that commercial clients are “definitely underserved.” Thomas says he’s frequently approached by residential brokers hoping for a crash course on getting commercial deals across the finish line, but it’s not something one can learn in a transaction or two. That’s why Thomas has been urging the industry to enact new designations for commercial brokers that will better protect their clients. “You’re impacting companies, families and large, large transaction dollar amounts,” he says. “There’s a lot of risk for everyone involved.” Until the rest of the commercial sector catches up, Thomas is happy to keep leading by example.
STEPHEN THOMAS’ INDUSTRY ACCOLADES Thomas has been racking up awards and the respect of his peers since his banking days. Here are just a few of his more recent accomplishments.
Finalist for Avison Young’s Commercial Broker of the Year (2020)
Finalist for Commercial Broker of the Year at the Mortgage Awards of Excellence (2019 and 2020)
Named to CMP ’s Rising Stars list and Hot List (2020)
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TH ANK YOU FOR M A KIN G U S O NE OF THE TOP 3 ALTERN ATIV E LEND ERS I N CAN ADA
As a BC-based mor tgage lender with over $1Billion funded, our team is truly honoured to be recognized as one of the Top 3 Alter native Lenders in Canada. Th a n k y o u f o r r e c o g n i z i n g u s i n t h e s e 8 c a t e g o r i e s :
Ser vice Levels
Broker Suppor t
BDM Suppor t
BlueShore Pacifica Alternative Mortgage Centre is jointly owned by BlueShore Financial Credit Union and Capital West Mortgage Inc.
ONE APPLICATION, TWO LENDING OPTIONS
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Despite the economic and systemic challenges hanging over the mortgage industry in 2020, these 52 brokerages have managed to find a path to success BETWEEN THE COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing hurdles caused by B-20, plus CMHC’s recent tightening of rules for insured mortgages, Canadian mortgage professionals have had to navigate plenty of obstacles in 2020. Yet brokers continue to find ways to channel their expertise into every corner of the mortgage industry, helping a wide range of buyers plant roots in Canada’s housing market.
Boasting an average funded volume of more than $600 million, this year’s Top Brokerages have all made an impact in their own unique ways. From a 200-broker-strong industry stalwart to an AI-powered digital outfit, all 52 of the brokerages on this year’s list have adapted quickly to the myriad challenges 2020 has presented and have emerged even stronger.
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TOP BROKERAGES INDEX BROKERAGE
8Twelve Mortgage Corporation
Key Mortgage Partners
Loewen Group Mortgages
Axiom Mortgage Solutions
Matrix Mortgage Global
Bespoke Mortgage Group
Maximum Mortgage Solutions
Blue Pearl Mortgage Group
Brokers for Life
Mortgage Associates Ontario
Mortgage Brokers Ottawa
The Mortgage Centre
Canadian Mortgage Experts
Real Mortgage Associates (RMA)
Centum Metrocapp Wealth Solutions
Neighbourhood Dominion Lending Centres
Clear Trust Mortgages
Premiere Mortgage Centre
DLC Entrust Mortgage
Quantus Mortgage Solutions
DLC Forest City Funding
Regional Mortgage Group
DLC Hilltop Financial
Rock Capital Investments
The Mortgage Centre
DLC Mortgage Mentors
SafeBridge Financial Group
TMG The Mortgage Group
The Mortgage Centre
Smart Debt Mortgages
East Coast Mortgage Brokers
Elite Lending Corp.
Syndicate Lending Corporation
The Mortgage Centre
The Mortgage Advisors
The Mortgage Centre TMK
The Mortgage Centre
The Mortgage Coach
Capital Lending Centre
Integrity Tree Financial
Capital Lending Centre
TMG The Mortgage Group
TMG The Mortgage Group
Real Mortgage Associates (RMA)
True North Mortgage
The Mortgage Centre
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TOP BROKERAGES CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS
2,092 Average number of transactions per brokerage
25% BRITISH COLUMBIA
WHERE ARE THE TOP BROKERAGES LOCATED?
Average number of agents per brokerage
Average number of years in business
$642.6 million Average volume funded per brokerage
SYNDICATE LENDING CORPORATION Network: Independent Location: Vancouver, BC
Syndicate Lending Corporation was established in 2015 after founder Inam Qureshi sensed a need for commercial lending specialists who could offer a variety of lending options rather than be restricted to a single lender. The boutique brokerage has been named to CMP’s Top Independent
Brokerages and Top Brokerages lists for two consecutive years and was also a finalist for Brokerage of the Year (Fewer Than 25 Employees) at this year’s Canadian Mortgage Awards. “Our focus is to build an ecosystem that symbiotically facilitates loan adjudication and funding using the proprietary systems that have been a trademark to our success,” Qureshi says. “Our approach is to be an independent firm that strives toward achieving customer satisfaction. Our commitment is to pursue excellence as we expand our brand’s reach to London and Dubai.” Syndicate Lending Corporation’s analysts have a combined 100-plus years of banking experience; their mission is to use this knowledge to service their clients. “Client experience is our focus,” Qureshi says, “and our client care department ensures that we provide world-class experience by going out of the way to make lasting memories.”
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From left: Chris Karram, managing partner and chief strategy officer; Elisseos Iriotakis, managing partner and CFO
SAFEBRIDGE FINANCIAL GROUP Network: TMG The Mortgage Group Location: Toronto, ON
Steve Brouwer, broker/owner
DLC ENTRUST MORTGAGE Network: DLC Location: Chilliwack, BC
DLC Entrust Mortgage is a group of like-minded brokers with experience in
SafeBridge Financial Group’s vision is to drive transformational change in the Canadian mortgage industry by “redefining the traditional customer experience through our proprietary Mortgage Centered Financial Planning approach,” says Chris Karram, managing partner and chief strategy officer. “We take pride in providing our clients with a truly coordinated approach that encompasses the three largest financial decisions most Canadians will ever make. We believe that any financial decision specific to one’s mortgage, insurance or investment portfolio should be made in coordination with the other.” This approach actively and intentionally lived out by the SafeBridge team and many of their clients. Given the volatility of the past year, the firm chose to focus on the variables they could control to the best of their ability, which has resulted in an incredible amount of success. In addition, the continued growth of the SafeBridge Private Wealth platform provided the mortgage team with opportunities to differentiate themselves in the eyes of their clients, further solidifying their working relationship.
many areas, including residential and rental purchases, stated income deals, refinances, equity take-outs, private mortgages, alternative mortgages and more. The company’s brokers are spread across British Columbia and led by broker/owner Steve Brouwer, whose leadership experience, lender relationships and knowledge of the mortgage industry have helped establish Entrust as a leader among Canadian brokerages. “Constant communication and Zoom meetings with lenders and brokers have helped us navigate the new reality of this past year,” Brouwer says. “There are new lender rules and guidelines due to the changing world we are in, and knowing those nuances helps close and fund more deals. Additionally, technology and software have been upgraded to smooth out the deal process. That includes how documents are tracked down from clients to electronic signing to a better CRM. This allows for faster turnaround and better communication.”
Amir Kay, president and mortgage broker
MORTGAGE ASSOCIATES ONTARIO Network: CIMBC Location: Woodbridge, ON
Mortgage Associates Ontario was founded in 2013 and boasts a diverse and growing team of mortgage agents and brokers with aspirations to achieve success, not only in their business, but for their clients. “In an evolving industry like ours, we take advantage of educational resources, as well as the highest level of technology, to ensure we are equipped with the knowledge and tools to provide our clients with a wide array of mortgage solutions and to ensure they have a pleasant and memorable experience,” says president and broker Amir Kay. “Like any other industry, we are constantly facing obstacles and challenges, such as regulatory changes or the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we’re collectively quick to act and break through any unforeseen circumstance with the tools and resources we have access to.” The Mortgage Associates Ontario team strives to provide clients with the most suitable long-term financial and real estate strategies. They take tremendous pride in serving their community and living up to their mission statement of “making mortgages make sense.”
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From left: Jesse Abrams, co-founder and CEO; Carlos Medeiros, co-founder and COO
HOMEWISE SOLUTIONS Network: CIMBC Location: Toronto, ON Milka Lukacevic, owner and team leader
THE MORTGAGE CENTRE TMK
Specializing in residential mortgages and first-time homebuyers and putting a heavy emphasis on technology and
Network: The Mortgage Centre Location: Port Coquitlam, BC
The team at The Mortgage Centre TMK consists of three brokers – Milka Lukacevic, Meghan Graham and Daniela Serena – and a marketing director, Milena Lukacevic. “The loyalty of our clients is evident based on existing client referrals and repeat business,” says Milka, the brokerage’s owner and team leader. “Our team focuses on treating our clients like an extension of our family. We guide clients through the mortgage process, stay in touch throughout the year and assist clients who have faced challenges in obtaining mortgage financing by helping them set goals to achieve success.” The team members motivate and push one another to improve, setting goals and following up quarterly, while also supporting and engaging in community events and charities. Amid the challenges of COVID-19, The Mortgage Centre TMK team worked to communicate key information to clients through various platforms. Ultimately, they’ve been able to grow their volume by 20% over 2019.
KEY MORTGAGE PARTNERS Network: Mortgage Intelligence Location: Brampton, ON
Focused on profitability versus volume, along with training and broker coaching that includes life planning, Key Mortgage Partners offers many unique advantages to its brokers. With a system that favours brokers
artificial intelligence, Homewise Solutions aims to provide clients with a simple, fast and transparent digital mortgage experience. Working with many A and B lenders, Homewise provides clients across Canada (excluding Quebec) with the best options while focusing on the importance of a full-feature mortgage. While first-time buyers are its main focus, Homewise also works with borrowers buying their next home, refinancing or switching. “Listening to customers is very important, so we work hard to always take client feedback to improve our experience,” says Homewise co-founder and CEO Jesse Abrams. “Further, we have a heavy focus on data, which provides us quantitative insights that we use to improve our digital experience. Since COVID-19’s effects hit the market, fortunately Homewise has had our best months ever. With our focus on technology, our efficiencies didn’t skip a beat, and our digital application enabled clients to apply from the comfort of their home.”
taking on less volume if it means they take home more profit, the brokerage focuses on finding a balance between improving each broker’s net earnings, personal satisfaction and client service. Training is very important at Key Mortgage Partners. The brokerage holds sessions every Wednesday focused on the “four pillars of life planning: career, family, health and personal finances.” It also offers coaching on building personal wealth through investments in MICs or real estate. During COVID-19, to keep up morale and learning, principal broker Don Stoddart held ‘sunshine calls,’ which featured industry leaders from his team, as well as brokers from other firms. Overall, the Key Mortgage Partners team has a funding ratio of more than 85% (commitment to fund), and average volume per broker is around $18 million.
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CLEAR TRUST MORTGAGES Network: DLC Location: Vancouver, BC
Clear Trust Mortgages operates under the values of authenticity, transparency, integrity and dependability. With more than 180 brokers across British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario, the brokerage is committed to fast turnaround times, a client-centric mindset and solid relationships with lenders and partners. Clear Trust offers everything from residential and commercial mortgages to refinances and alternative lending. The
PREMIERE MORTGAGE CENTRE Network: Verico Locations: Halifax, NS and Toronto, ON
Premiere Mortgage Centre provides an extensive support infrastructure for agents and brokers, backed by strong sales leadership and a family-like culture that embraces fun and entrepreneurship. The brokerage began in Halifax and Mississauga and has since expanded across Atlantic Canada and the GTA. Premiere now has more than 150 agents and brokers,
brokerage has consistently been a top performer in the industry, funding more than $1 billion year after year. “Clear Trust’s success in the last year can be greatly accredited to the high involvement of our brokers and stakeholders,” says founder and CEO Robert Afan. “This tight-knit, family-like environment has helped us through the recent challenges that COVID-19 presented. We have continued to stress the importance of our family with biweekly roundtables and online activities that keep us connected. Although we cannot physically be together anymore, we continue to highlight the importance of family and support as a path for success.”
along with nine staff members. In 2019, the brokerage funded a record-breaking $2 billion in mortgage volume. “Our strong emphasis on relationships and reputation led the charge, and our continued growth proves that success does not come through complacency,” say managing partners Kerri Reed and Don MacVicar. “We are so proud to see the continued accomplishments of Premiere Mortgage Centre after 14 years. We have built a culture of excellence in a community of family. Our success is truly team success; everyone is interconnected and laser-focused on providing an incredible mortgage experience.”
Bill Handsaeme, president and founder
DLC FOREST CITY FUNDING Network: DLC Location: London, ON
DLC Forest City Funding was founded by Bill Handsaeme 30 years ago in London, Ontario. Since starting with just one employee, the brokerage has grown to encompass more than 200 brokers across eastern Ontario. Over the last three decades, DLC Forest City Funding has expanded its sales force by sticking to the basic philosophies it started with: training, support, integrity and transparency. The brokerage has been nominated for a number of industry awards and continues to push the envelope, always looking to add more value for its agents. “This past year, our brokerage has implemented many new training programs for our agents and brokers,” Handsaeme says. “The more knowledgeable our team is and the more tools they have available to them, the more successful they will be. This year, we were reminded how important it is to be adaptable, and we focused on ensuring all members of our team were able to do that seamlessly.”
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TOP BROKERAGES TRUE NORTH MORTGAGE Network: The Mortgage Centre Location: Calgary, AB
Dan Eisner, founder and CEO
True North Mortgage was founded in mid-2006 with the goal of delivering both exceptionally low mortgage rates and excellent service. Since opening its first location in Calgary, True North has expanded to 11 retail locations with more than 115 full-time employees across Canada. Taking that growth one step further, in 2016, True North created a CMHC-approved lender, THINK Financial, becoming the first Canadian brokerage to accomplish this. True North has gone from brokering $77 million worth of mortgages in 2007 to a projected $2 billionplus for 2020. “At True North, we focus on earning five-star reviews from our clients,” says founder and CEO Dan Eisner. “That’s how our clients tell us and the world that they are happy with the rates and service we provide.”
From left: Ajay Sharma, underwriter; Brad Unrau, owner and principal mortgage broker; Shiveta Sund, operations manager; Kari Schmuland, underwriter
MAXIMUM MORTGAGE SOLUTIONS Network: DLC Location: Abbotsford, BC
Maximum Mortgage Solutions has been a leader in the Western Canadian mortgage space for more than a decade, providing clients with a high level of customer service that compels them to refer the brokerage to their family members, friends and colleagues.
“We have long been one of Canada’s top mortgage brokerages based on funded units and volume,” says owner and principal broker Brad Unrau, “and are proud to say that our client relationships last for years and even generations as families grow and move through the journey of real estate and mortgage success with our support. We empower our clients by listening, informing and providing them with the best mortgage solutions. Our team is in constant communication with lenders to ensure our knowledge is up to date and accurate. Four words that sum us up: We make it happen.”
Janna Dawdy, owner and mortgage agent
JCMORTGAGES.CA Network: Real Mortgage Associates (RMA) Location: Kitchener, ON
In just 15 years, JCMortgages.ca has gone from being an independently run home office to a one-of-a-kind storefront. Owner and mortgage agent Janna Dawdy began her career in the financial industry more than two decades ago; after nearly a decade of experience and client success stories, she decided to start building her own mortgage business. With a goal to one day run a successful mortgage brokerage, she never stopped reaching for the top, and her hard work has paid off. Dawdy has made a name for herself and JCMortgages.ca within the industry, forming hundreds of positive relationships with industry professionals and lenders. Her work ethic, business practices and achievements have earned her dozens of awards and nominations. In 2020, Dawdy achieved success by staying true to her core values of educating and nurturing her clients. JCMortgages.ca has kept in constant contact with clients during the COVID-19 pandemic and has continued to express appreciation, and Dawdy has made sure her clients are up to date on all options.
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From left: Bryan Freeman, COO; James Laird, president
CANWISE FINANCIAL Network: Independent Location: Toronto, ON Bill Nugent, owner and broker
NEIGHBOURHOOD DOMINION LENDING CENTRES Network: DLC Location: Newmarket, ON
For the last 10 years, Neighbourhood Dominion Lending Centres (NDLC) has been first or second among DLC brokerages for volume and number of mortgages funded. Of course, success is not measured in volume and profit alone, and NDLC’s 75 agents and brokers remain loyal because of the company’s culture, which is built around continual learning and coming together as a team. In early March, NDLC’s leadership team began holding biweekly calls with agents, brokers, lenders and industry experts to discuss COVID-19’s potential impact on the housing market and how best to react. It was a natural extension of the company’s dedication to education and exploring all options. “We always educate our clients and provide them with multiple solutions,” says NDLC owner and broker Bill Nugent. “We also created marketing pieces for our agents to send to their clients to highlight options to help improve cash flow and/ or lower debt so they can better manage finances moving forward.”
In 2017, CanWise Financial won the award for Best Newcomer, Mortgage Broker Firm at the Canadian Mortgage Awards. Since then, the brokerage has won the CMA for Mortgage Brokerage of the Year (25
Employees or More) three years in a row. In 2019, CanWise funded a total of $2 billion in residential mortgages, all while maintaining a five-star rating across 4,000 Google and Facebook reviews. By leveraging an online lead generation strategy and proprietary technology, CanWise has been able to continually increase the efficiency of its services. Combining this with the exemplary customer service provided by agents and documentation officers at each stage of the process has been the key to the brokerage’s success. “No two clients are the same, so we make sure each of them enjoys a tailored mortgage experience,” says president James Laird. “Our innovative digital platform offers our clients an effortless application experience that is personalized, time-saving and convenient. Our award-winning team knows how to handle any and all client situations and is always ready to help our customers through every stage of the mortgage process.”
success,” Boyd says. “This team is dedicated to making a difference in the mortgage brokering landscape to benefit consumers by encouraging choice and affordability when it comes to their largest financial investment – their home.” In the last year, Durhammortgage.com introduced a customized technology to help agents handle the day-to-day operations of the brokerage. It also implemented tools to automate workflows, a customized CRM, a live channel-based messaging platform, web conferencing and e-signatures. “We maintain as close to a face-to-face experience as possible in client interactions through web conferencing,” Boyd says. “We keep clients informed of market developments and have kept company morale high via online meetings. Looking after our people helped them look after our clients.”
DURHAMMORTGAGE.COM Network: The Mortgage Centre Location: Ajax, ON
Durhammortgage.com was established by Robert Boyd in 1989 when he was four years into his career. Today, Boyd is the principal broker and leads a team of brokers, agents and staff at three locations throughout the Durham Region. “We have a team that is always willing to assist one another on the road to
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Clockwise from left: Asif Kasim, principal broker, president and CEO; Faten Badr, director of sales; Wayne Marks, managing director
From left: Ryan Turner and Brad Kiendl, partners
INTEGRITY TREE FINANCIAL
Network: Verico Location: Abbotsford, BC
Network: Capital Lending Centre Location: Thornhill, ON
Ashdown Capital’s core value is simple: get clients the right deal from an established network of financing partners. After working
The Integrity Tree Financial brand has been around for more than six years, evolving from a team of mortgage agents to a brokerage that focuses holistically on clients’ overall needs, including mortgages, insurance, investments, accounting and more. By prioritizing the development of agents through training, support, technology and culture, Integrity has created an environment that’s conducive to growth and success. “It comes down to taking care of your team and ensuring that they are well positioned to build a strong business,” says principal broker, president and CEO Asif Kasim. “What we’re most proud of is that our Integrity family leans on each other all the time and shares their knowledge so that everyone can grow together. All of these factors help to ensure our clients are left in a better position than when we first met them on their life journey.” By diversifying the management team and taking advantage of different experiences and perspectives, Integrity gives its agents the ability to learn in different ways and feel comfortable during their training and growth.
Wayne Sudsbury, president and broker of record
HOMEGUARD FUNDING Network: The Mortgage Centre Location: Newmarket, ON
Homeguard Funding (HGF) was co-founded by Wayne Sudsbury and Bill Eves in 1983 as a full-service mortgage brokerage
for banks, the team at Ashdown realized they wanted to work with businesses that needed financing, rather than for the lender. Based on their experience, the Ashdown team knows what financial institutions are looking for and how best to communicate clients’ stories and goals to get them the best possible financing solutions. “We assist businesses in identifying and addressing their specific financing needs, whether it is increasing or accessing working capital, purchasing equipment for growth, undertaking new development, or investing in real estate,” says partner Ryan Turner. “One of our strengths lies in our established relationships with account managers and lenders. With this year’s uncertainty, we have focused on fostering these connections and maintaining open lines of communication. By continuing to build trust and rapport with lenders, we have ensured that our clients can access the financing they need, even during these challenging times.”
specializing in small rural towns within the York, Simcoe and Durham regions. Building upon its core values of experience and knowledge, the brokerage has grown to encompass 32 brokers and agents and four full-time staff members. Over the years, HGF has consistently embraced new ideas and technology to stay relevant. In the early days, Sudsbury implemented the Keep in Touch (KIT) program, long before CRM systems existed. With email still a distant reality, he also employed a mail house to send out materials to clients four times a year so the brokerage would remain top of mind. “Homeguard Funding is a proactive firm, keeping ahead of the curve whenever possible and navigating new challenges as they arise,” Sudsbury says. “We have intensified our one-on-one training program sessions; conduct monthly sales meetings with a focus on mortgage product suitability; and are bringing in legal credit collection companies, personal loan companies and technology trainers to assist our sales staff to achieve better results.”
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CANADIAN MORTGAGE EXPERTS Network: DLC Location: Surrey, BC
With the power of Dominion Lending Centres behind it, Canadian Mortgage Experts (CME) has grown into one of the largest franchises in the nation. The CME team consists of more than 90 brokers throughout British Columbia and Alberta who specialize in residential, commercial and private mortgages. The
brokerage takes pride in operating as an extended family of sorts, working together and supporting one another. Additionally, CME believes in paying it forward and donates a percentage from every completed mortgage to support local charities. To best serve its customers, CME has invested heavily in technology and has put together exclusive products and systems to assist clients throughout the mortgage process and beyond. “Achieving an experience better than our clients could have imagined is the goal of every broker on our team,” says owner Mike Lloyd. “We maintain a very high standard of continuous education, as well as using unique coaching, marketing, technology and planning support to help our team stay ahead of market trends.”
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STREETWISE MORTGAGES Network: Verico Location: Woodbridge, ON
From left: Len and Margie Lane, owners
BROKERS FOR LIFE
Streetwise Mortgages focuses on providing tailored mortgage strategies and top-notch financing advice to clients who are looking to build wealth and cash flow through income property investing. Streetwise services clients across Ontario, supporting them during both the acquisition and
Network: DLC Location: Edmonton, AB
When Len and Margie Lane started out in the mortgage industry, their dream was to own their own brokerage. Ten years ago, they achieved that goal when they opened Brokers for Life. Over the past decade, the Lanes have grown their business organically and today have 25 agents licensed in five provinces. The brokerage’s steady growth is the result of staying focused on the business and continually upgrading training programs. “We continue to grow and train on a daily basis,” Len says. “Our motto is ‘real life mortgage solutions,’ which isn’t just about the consumer, but also has to be about the team.” While the past year has been another challenging one for Alberta, the Brokers for Life team remained engaged and focused and was once again able to increase its volume. “We made sure that we brought new tools to the forefront, which brought levels of efficiency to new heights,” Len says.
ELITE LENDING CORP. Network: DLC Location: Vancouver, BC
A fast-growing brokerage, Elite Lending Corp. provides mentorship and a leading-edge training program geared toward fast-tracking brokers to earning six figures within their first 12 months with the brokerage. It also offers brokers multiple streams of income
debt retirement phases of real estate investing and helping them develop a financing roadmap for their investment portfolio. The Streetwise team provides mortgage solutions and advice to clients from the beginning to the end of their investment journey. “During COVID-19, we focused on providing clients with proactive advice and solutions to help them navigate through the pandemic,” says principal broker and president Dalia Barsoum. “This included hedging against job loss risk, enhancing liquidity, creating capacity in their monthly budgets and dealing with any rental defaults or delays. We also kept our clients informed about the local real estate market activity and lending rule changes throughout the pandemic.”
to complement their mortgage business and prides itself on a “one for all, all for one” culture. “Giving our brokers the very best experience is our continual goal and priority,” say owners Anish Pabari and Jeffrey Ho. “Being adaptable to change and the ‘new normal’ has been our biggest asset during these trying times. We have been able to quickly convert our entire business to an online offering, as well as provide one-on-one support for each of our brokers, all of which have been vital to our success. We take the time to understand the needs and challenges of each individual broker professionally and personally, helping them adapt to the uncertainty and providing them support, guidance and care to navigate through the challenging times.”
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EAST COAST MORTGAGE BROKERS Network: Verico Location: St. John’s, NL
Dave Butler, CEO and principal broker
BUTLER MORTGAGE Network: Verico Location: Toronto, ON
East Coast Mortgage Brokers was established 10 years ago after founder Claude Sullivan retired from a long career with a major bank. During his time in banking, Sullivan recognized an opportunity to better serve clients by offering more options, and East Coast Mortgage Brokers was born. In its first year, the brokerage grew from one to three brokers. In year two, sales continued to grow, and the brokerage continued to attract more mortgage professionals. Today, East Coast Mortgage Brokers is home to 25 agents and support staff. From the beginning, the company’s focus was to treat clients as friends and to provide the best service and advice possible, and that mission statement has resonated within the surrounding community. “We believe that it’s all about service and the relationship we form with each client,” Sullivan says. “Financing a home is daunting for most people, and we try to be available, friendly and offer the best advice possible. We are always sharing information within our team [to make sure] they are knowledgeable and informed.”
Butler Mortgage consists of two teams: the rate discount division, run by Ron and William Butler, and the referral-only premium service division for real estate investors and Realtor partners, run by Dave Butler and Daniel Patton. For the past three years, Butler Mortgage’s principal broker and CEO, Dave Butler, has been ranked number one on CMP’s Top 75 Brokers list. Another unique aspect of Butler Mortgage is its approach to growth: opting out of the traditional agent recruitment model and instead focusing on an organic growth model wherein a salaried staff supports a small number of agents. “With two distinct teams that have two distinct approaches to originating leads, we all follow the same motto of ‘customer first,’” Dave Butler says. “Whether it’s staying at the forefront of lender policy changes, always fighting for that rate exception or policy exception, or staying up to date with the latest technology, we have a ‘whatever it takes’ approach to the business.”
Gary Fooks, CEO
8TWELVE MORTGAGE CORPORATION Network: Independent Location: Toronto, ON
8Twelve Mortgage was founded in 2018 by a team of mortgage specialists with decades of experience. From day one, the brokerage’s mission has been to ensure that each customer receives a tailored solution and an exceptional experience. To successfully accomplish this, the team has implemented progressive tech solutions to back its unique eight-step process. Even with the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, 8Twelve was able to keep things running smoothly thanks to its tech capabilities. “Tech implementation is at the forefront of how we do business, which allows us to consistently provide high levels of customer service and customer satisfaction and achieve success during these unique times,” says CEO Gary Fooks. “Prompt communication with prospective and established clients ensures that our clients are being well taken care of. We love our tech-forward style of operations, which allows for timely communication, progress tracking and problem-solving in an efficient and organized stream to get the job done well.”
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Kyle Green, owner Tristan Kirk, principal broker and managing partner
CITADEL MORTGAGES Network: Verico Location: Toronto, ON
Citadel Mortgages is a progressive mortgage brokerage that strives to improve the client experience by forming lifelong partnerships to support clients throughout their mortgage journey. To compete with legacy brokerages, Citadel has implemented existing and proprietary systems to improve the overall client experience and assist in preventing fraud. Citadel’s training programs equip agents to be as knowledgeable and effective as possible when delivering advice-based consultations to clients. “Our top goal is to help educate our clients as we strive to provide the best solution to meet their financial needs,” says principal broker and managing partner Tristan Kirk. “By enabling and investing in our people, Citadel Mortgages is changing the way mortgages are done, achieving our objective of helping more Canadians become mortgage-free sooner.” Citadel also implemented technology from day one to streamline overall workflow organization and simplify the mortgage process for clients. “This has enabled us to successfully navigate the unprecedented challenges brought about by our ever-changing landscape,” Kirk says.
HOMELINE MORTGAGES Network: DLC Location: Vancouver, BC
After opening in 1995, Homeline Mortgages’ original company, Meridian Financial, grew to 23 franchises and just under $1 billion
From left: Nicole Farrugia, director of operations and mortgage agent; Rakhee Dhingra, broker of record
MORTGAGE SAVVY Network: Real Mortgage Associates (RMA) Location: Toronto, ON
Mortgage Savvy supports homeowners and investors alike as they navigate the ever-evolving world of mortgages, providing sound advice to help them build their real estate portfolios. Since the company’s infancy, broker of record Rakhee Dhingra
in mortgages funded annually, thanks to consistent referrals and excellent service standards. Given this rapid growth, the team felt it would serve clients best by establishing a national presence, so in 2008, the brokerage merged with a large national franchise. Today, the team operates the original franchise as Homeline Mortgages, with two branches: one in the Lower Mainland and one in Kelowna. “In times of uncertainty, we have tried to be our clients’ trusted source for financial information to help them navigate these tough times,” says owner Kyle Green. “We have found that our clients have been very open and receptive to speaking with our team, especially since many of them are working from home and in a position where they feel comfortable to talk about their finances. We have also put in a lot of new systems that enhance our customer service and our operations behind the scenes, as well as doing way more to be a more customercentric business.”
has invested in developing strategic partnerships with the industry’s leading Realtors, which has propelled the Mortgage Savvy vision into a full-blown movement. By investing in what she does best – meeting with clients and underwriting mortgages – Dhingra was able to fund 194 mortgages worth $91.4 million in 2019, with the support of director of operations and mortgage agent Nicole Farrugia. To date, the brokerage has exceeded its 2020 volume goals. The Mortgage Savvy mindset is that collaboration and sharing are key. Over the last six months, Dhingra and Farrugia have focused their attention on building relationships with new Realtors across the country. They strive to help others succeed during tough times and have established new bridges for building rapport in the era of social distancing.
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CENTUM METROCAPP WEALTH SOLUTIONS Network: Centum Location: Toronto, ON
Centum Metrocapp Wealth Solutions services all of Ontario and has been operating for more than nine years. The full-service brokerage is home to more than 25 agents and brokers and offers all types of mortgage financing. In 2018, principal broker Anne Brill was named Mortgage Broker of the Year (More Than 25
Employees) at the Canadian Mortgage Awards, and as a whole, the brokerage continues to be honoured with various awards year after year. “We pride ourselves on staying on top of the industry by constantly learning and having strong engagements with our industry partners,” Brill says. “Besides product knowledge training, marketing and motivational training, we are a family that helps each other and strives for success. We listen to our clients and do our best to offer solutions that will help them meet their financial goals. We continue to educate our clients, as knowledge is power. This helps with their decision-making [as we] plan out the long-term goals to help clients get to their final destination.”
Email lender notes, application, and credit bureaus to:
email@example.com D IMITRI K OSTUROS
Chief Operating Officer firstname.lastname@example.org
P AULA H UTTON
BDM - Prairies email@example.com
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From left: Paul Bojakli, broker and co-owner; Todd Fralic, broker and co-owner
QUANTUS MORTGAGE SOLUTIONS Network: Independent Location: Calgary, AB
Since 2009, Quantus Mortgage Solutions co-owners Paul Bojakli and Todd Fralic and their 60-plus team members have established a reputation for working hard and playing hard. “We work to do everything we can to help our clients and each other,” Bojakli and Fralic say. “We want to help everyone find success in their lives, whether it be through homeownership, their business or personal life.” During a turbulent year, Quantus has done its best to ensure that no one on the team feels alone. “We’ve relied on Zoom not just for lender and training sessions, but just general check-in sessions with no agenda at all so everyone can see the team, support each other personally and enjoy a virtual drink together,” Bojakli says. To ensure they’re serving customers to the best of their ability, the Quantus team focuses on being flexible. “It’s about adapting to meeting and communicating in the form our clients feel comfortable with, but also the ability to quickly adapt to industry changes,” Fralic says.
an impact in the local community. This past year, the brokerage surpassed the $1 billion mark in funded mortgages, cementing it as one of the premier brokerages in the Langley market. “With the advent of COVID-19 in 2020, our dual approach From left: Co-owners Gaby Olson, Jason Humeniuk and Shelley Rosner of maintaining a physical and full virtual office gave us the flexibility of being able to address our clients’ needs during this eventful season,” says Network: DLC co-owner Jason Humeniuk. “Our significant Location: Langley, BC industry experience allowed us to help our clients navigate the pitfalls so many have faced DLC Hilltop Financial is a boutique brokerage with their mortgages. Our advice on mortgage with 12 agents who have a combined deferments – and options to avoid deferments 200-plus years of mortgage experience. – have positioned many of our clients to The Hilltop team is dedicated to fostering a weather the current storm and ensure they personal connection with clients and making come out of it in a strong position.”
DLC HILLTOP FINANCIAL
Tracy Valko, broker/owner
VALKO FINANCIAL Network: DLC Location: Kitchener, ON
A 25-year industry veteran, Tracy Valko launched Valko Financial in 2018. Establishing the company gave her the opportunity to not only assist her clients at the highest level, but also cultivate a team of service-minded individuals, whom she guides and supports as they work to make a difference in the lives of others. Together, the Valko Financial team has navigated mortgage rule changes and economic downturns in an extremely competitive landscape, always staying true to their values of serving and supporting their community and each other. To ensure success for all team members, Valko Financial offers ongoing training opportunities, including mentorship and personal coaching. Currently, the brokerage is focused on helping clients navigate challenges through two new programs: BetterCredit Coaching, one-on-one client coaching on financial literacy with the aim of boosting credit; and the 680 Challenge, a cash incentive for clients who raise their credit scores above 680.
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James Loewen, founder and president
LOEWEN GROUP MORTGAGES
ROCK CAPITAL INVESTMENTS
Network: Axiom/Centum Location: Burlington, ON
Network: The Mortgage Centre Location: Orangeville, ON
Education is at the core of Loewen Group Mortgages. Everyone on the team has the professional qualifications required to give clients top-notch service and advice in all areas of the mortgage process, and team members spend time with every customer to provide a deep understanding of options through the use of public and proprietary technologies. To ensure this is done to the best of everyone’s ability, the brokerage is constantly investing in education. Loewen Group Mortgages’ established use of technology has helped it navigate the pandemic smoothly. “We have an online booking calendar for clients to arrange video calls,” says founder and president James Loewen. “We use Finmo to have them start their application immediately and use the auto docs function so they can begin securely uploading docs. We have an onboarding expert whose only role is helping clients with completing apps, getting docs uploaded and ensuring they book with an agent. From end to end for almost three years now, there is not one part requiring any in-person meetings.”
THE MORTGAGE ADVISORS Network: Verico Location: Ottawa, ON
The Mortgage Advisors was established in 2010 by brokers Matt Daniels and Christa Tessier, both of whom are committed to providing clients with a trusted partner who can walk them through the mortgage process and obtain suitable financing.
Rock Capital Investments strives to support its agents in every way possible through a culture of inclusivity and trust. With more than 11 offices across Ontario, Rock Capital has a team of 60-plus agents, all of whom can take advantage of training, support calls, individual coaching calls, mentoring and events year-round that promote connectivity and education. “I have always believed that having at least one in-person meeting was necessary to build a lasting relationship; COVID-19 has changed my mind,” says Dwight Trafford, Rock Capital’s broker of record. “Virtual meetings with clients, staff and agents have made us more productive and more efficient. Increasing communication with clients and referral sources has never been more important, and a system for timely phone calls, emails and personal notes has made the difference for us.”
Dedicated to growing a thriving team, The Mortgage Advisors focuses on hiring the right people, building efficient processes, providing an excellent client experience and creating an environment where everyone has the opportunity to succeed. “Having a clear process with the right tools in place helps navigate and manage the customer experience,” Daniels says. “Communication with all parties involved and identifying potential issues before they happen are key to creating satisfied clients.” To navigate the challenges of COVID-19, “we quickly transitioned to working remotely from home,” says Carla Gervais, director of sales and operations. “Our client experience didn’t skip a beat, as we were already set up for success with our secure online applications, easy upload for documents and e-signing.”
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TOP BROKERAGES JENCOR MORTGAGE Network: DLC Location: Calgary, AB
Jencor Mortgage was named a Top Mortgage Workplace by CMP earlier this year and was also a finalist for Employer of Choice at the 2020 Canadian Mortgage Awards, as well as a finalist for Alberta Brokerage of the Year and Regional Brokerage of the Year at the Mortgage Awards of Excellence. Jencor sets itself apart by having its own underwriting centre, complete with experts who are continually educating themselves on the constant changes in the industry “COVID-19 did not slow us down at all,” says owner Croft Axsen. “We spent time answering questions, calming clients, and working on transfers and purchases all the way through. We are very lucky to have all the tools to ensure us success with Velocity, DLC and our lenders.”
From left: Kuljit Singh, broker and co-owner; Mohinder Pal Singh, principal broker and owner
AKAL MORTGAGES Network: Mortgage Alliance Location: Mississauga, ON
AKAL Mortgages is known for helping consumers finance real estate purchases and for helping mortgage agents build a successful career. “When we say yes, we stand behind our promise,” says principal broker and owner Mohinder Pal Singh. “We
REGIONAL MORTGAGE GROUP Network: Mortgage Alliance Location: Red Deer, AB
Regional Mortgage Group has been operating for 23 years and is home to 14 highly trained agents. The team meets weekly to stay on top of everything in the mortgage space and works together to assist both residential and commercial clients. The firm is led by Jean Guy Turcotte, Mel Neis, Adela Clement and Pam Pikkert – all successful brokers who pass their knowledge along to the rest of the team to help more clients. Regional Mortgage Group strongly believes in giving back and, over the years, has raised more than $2 million for children’s charities. “Our leadership team meets regularly to assess where we can offer better support to the team,” Pikkert says. “Intensive sales training, help with deals, meetings with lenders and help on files are just a few of the ways we step up so they are better able to achieve their goals.”
AXIOM MORTGAGE SOLUTIONS Network: Centum Location: Calgary, AB
Axiom Mortgage Solutions has been helping Canadians achieve the dream of homeownership for 22 years. Its approach is to put people first and always do what’s best for the client by providing the highest level of service, ethics, knowledge and experience. The same values extend to Axiom’s
empower clients to make the right decision for what is good for them, not the bank. This is achieved by educating them about products and options based on their needs.” At AKAL Mortgages, residential, commercial and business loans are reviewed and processed by mortgage agents who specialize in their respective fields, resulting in a high degree of success. New agents undergo a three-day boot camp designed to give them the tools and confidence they need to start, grow and manage their business. Agents also receive regular weekly training sessions. “To achieve success this year, we’ve focused on generating quality leads, especially the budget,” Singh says. “We launched marketing campaigns across multiple platforms to check the viability of leads and started providing marketing rebates to qualified agents. This initiative is a huge success, helping new agents to start confidently and seasoned agents to grow their businesses.”
support of its 200-plus employees. Axiom believes in supporting brokers as individuals first, with a focus on well-being, and is committed to helping brokers develop personally and professionally. Axiom is also committed to diversity, inclusion and equality. “We know that we must all work together in the workplace and in our daily lives to remove racial, gender and social inequality,” says managing partner Gordon Ross. To navigate the challenges of 2020, Axiom has focused on communication and connection within its team to ensure everyone is staying healthy and is supported, both personally and professionally, in an ever-changing business climate. This includes offering biweekly Zoom calls to discuss life and business, implementing technology, and building relationships. As a result, Axiom has grown by more than 250% during the last six months.
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TMG THE MORTGAGE GROUP Network: TMG The Mortgage Group Locations: Vancouver, BC and Toronto, ON
From its start in Vancouver 30 years ago with four people, TMG The Mortgage Group has grown into a full-service national brokerage that is home to more than 900 brokers and agents with offices in every province. Grant and Debbie Thomas’ vision when founding TMG
was to create a high-performing brokerage that focused internally on family values and externally on developing positive relationships with brokers, agents, clients, lenders and other industry partners. “In this year of uncertainty, our staff immediately adapted to working from home and provided enhanced support for our brokers,” says president and CEO Mark Kerzner. “We held Zoom training sessions on a regular basis and had over 200 training sessions that qualified for more than 12 continuing education credits. We also introduced a new technology, TMG Hurricane, to provide brokers with integrated tools to help them manage their deal flow electronically and provide secure client portals to ensure they were able to virtually assist their clients in a secure environment.”
BLUE PEARL MORTGAGE GROUP
SMART DEBT MORTGAGES
Network: Independent Location: Surrey, BC
Network: Mortgage Intelligence Location: Ottawa, ON
Blue Pearl Mortgage Group considers itself a twist on a modern-day brokerage. The company attracts, employs, trains and finds success with new brokers and has created a structure and unique techniques to develop brokers and set itself apart. While Blue Pearl Mortgage Group brokers all kinds of mortgages, its core business is private and B lending. The brokerage is home to 35 licensed brokers, all of whom are experts in outbound sales, and its mission is to create an environment that embraces change, encourages innovation and fosters communication. “We diversify with people first and technology second,” says president and CEO Nitesh Prakash. “To ensure we’re serving customers to the best of our abilities, we make sure every deal is reviewed thoroughly by brokers and support staff, and we always listen to the client and what their goals are, both now and in the future. We don’t focus on rates; we focus on helping clients achieve their goals and dreams.”
Currently home to 13 brokers, eight support staff and a network of self-employed enterprisers, Smart Debt Mortgages’ primary goal is to provide an environment where entrepreneurs thrive. The brokerage promotes independence and competition and provides the support needed for individuals to be successful in their client/ lender relationships. The brokerage holds regular team meetings and currently boasts one of the highest volume averages per broker in the industry at $32 million. This year, the Smart Debt team has emphasized the importance of team meetings – online and socially distanced – to discuss key issues related to the changing environment. By leaning on one another as business went virtual, the team was able to foster a supportive environment. Several bank mortgage specialists even joined the company and became high-producing brokers, thanks to Smart Debt’s focus on shortening the learning curve and encouraging healthy competition.
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TOP BROKERAGES 2020
MORTGAGE BROKERS OTTAWA Network: The Mortgage Centre Location: Ottawa, ON
Mortgage Brokers Ottawa (MBO) was opened in 2005 by founders Michael Hapke and Frank Napolitano with an initial plan to operate as a boutique mortgage brokerage with a handful of former bank mortgage specialists. Within
MATRIX MORTGAGE GLOBAL Network: Independent Location: Toronto, ON
Matrix Mortgage Global celebrated its 12th anniversary this year. The firm focuses on private and alternative lending and investing, specifically solution-based lending for individuals excluded by bank guidelines. Licensed across Canada (excluding Quebec), with three offices in the GTA and more than 100 agents, Matrix capitalizes on efficient internal communication and collaborative team efforts. Matrix has simplified the sales process by empowering its agents to focus primarily on sales, while its back-office team manages customer support, document collection, lender submissions and loan fulfillment. This strategy has helped Matrix earn the Canadian Mortgage Award for Private Lending Broker of the Year for the past three years, along with nominations for Brokerage of the Year (25 Employees or More) in all three years.
OUTLINE FINANCIAL Network: Verico Location: Toronto, ON
The recipient of the 2020 Canadian Mortgage Award for Brokerage of the Year (Fewer Than 25 Employees), Outline Financial has sought from the beginning to become an industry leader by prioritizing customer service over sales and creating a
three years, MBO had grown to more than 50 licensed agents and had to open a secondary office. Today, MBO is home to 110 licensed agents, all of whom have access to a unique platform that includes a full sales support staff to handle underwriting, condition fulfillment and appraisal support. “MBO has done an incredible job educating and coaching consumers on what to expect when negotiating and shopping around for a mortgage,” Napolitano says. “Starting in March, we promoted through many media outlets to stay safe, but also opened the door for customers to safely negotiate their mortgage requirements through videoconferencing, which was much appreciated, as many banks closed their doors for that timeframe. Advice is and has always been about what is best for the client, even if it means advising them to stay with their current financial institution.”
supportive workplace. Outline delivers on these priorities by going beyond just a great mortgage rate, helping clients achieve their financial goals through customized strategies and unparalleled customer service. Outline surrounds its underwriters and mortgage agents with experience, training, mentorship, marketing and technology. “This year, we have stayed true to our core, which is a focus on customer service and a supportive workplace,” says managing partner Jason Lang. “While brick-and-mortar offices provided a unique advantage prior to COVID-19, we’ve tried to maintain the same team dynamic through an increased investment in technology to ensure the team, clients, partners and lenders all receive the same high level of service they have come to know and expect.”
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From left: Simon Lyn and Ryan Dennahower, co-founders
BESPOKE MORTGAGE GROUP Network: CIMBC Location: Etobicoke, ON
From left: Janel and Collin Bruce, co-owners
DLC MORTGAGE MENTORS Network: DLC Location: Edmonton, AB
In business for five years now, Bespoke Mortgage Group has developed a reputation for finding its clients solutions based on what they need, not just what they want, as well as making them feel comfortable, confident and cared for. The brokerage offers substantial mentoring and coaching to support constant improvement and allow agents to focus their energies on the skills that are critical for their success. Attention to detail, a commitment to mentoring and personalized service for clients are the attributes that set Bespoke Mortgage Group apart, according to founders Simon Lyn and Ryan Dennahower. “Put simply, we provide a bespoke experience for all involved in the search for the right financing solution,” they say.
“We feel what really sets us apart from competing offices is that we hire based on culture and values, not volume and experience,” says Janel Bruce, co-owner at DLC Mortgage Mentors. “Our brokerage is run by myself and my husband, Collin, so it was important to us to create a collaborative family environment for us and our associates.” To do this, the Bruces have built their business on their relationships with lenders, associates, employees, referral partners and peers. All associates have the support and knowledge of the Bruces and the entire team, including marketing, tools, payroll or anything else they might need. The brokerage also offers an extensive training and mentorship program for new agents. “Being a part of a team that collaboratively funds around $740 million in mortgages allows our associates access to many lenders with top-tier status, which means dedicated underwriting where available and top-tier compensation, allowing us to get the best rates and products for our clients,” Janel says.
Meaghan Hastings, principal broker
THE MORTGAGE COACH Network: Capital Lending Centre Location: Toronto, ON
The Mortgage Coach was founded in 2019 to give agents the practices, environment, support and culture they crave. The brokerage was created by Meaghan Hastings and her partner, Kevin Boucher, to provide agents with an environment to be productive and reach their potential. The Mortgage Coach’s strategy around building and maintaining positive relationships with lenders, service providers, referral partners and clients is nurtured by leading with gratitude, warmth and professionalism. “Our tremendous success over the past year has been heavily grounded in the fact that we are a brokerage composed of positive, like-minded individuals,” Hastings says. “We are solutions-based and consistently forward-thinking. With our network partners, we identify potential business within our agents’ databases and push out communications to referral partners and centres of influence. Our leadership team prioritizes individual coaching calls with our agents, ensuring we are doing everything possible to assist our agents continue to thrive throughout any industry challenges.”
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MISSION35 MORTGAGES Network: Verico Location: Hamilton, ON
Mission35 Mortgages might only be four years old, but the brokerage was decades in the making for principal broker Brian Hogben. Mortgage-free by 35 and inspired by the efforts of his father to secure financial freedom for his young family, Hogben and the team at Mission35 Mortgages live and honour this legacy every day, helping hundreds of families achieve their own ‘mission.’ “Our clients are not files, and that is, I
MORTGAGEPAL Network: Verico Location: Victoria, BC
Serving clients across Canada, MortgagePal operates almost exclusively online, which made the turbulence of COVID-19 less of a hurdle this year. Everything happens on the client’s terms, a strategy that has led the brokerage to garner some of the highest online ratings in the industry. MortgagePal generates roughly a third of its business through referrals and repeat clients and prides
think, the part that resounds with everyone on my team,” Hogben says. “We don’t just get to pre-approve a person and move on to the next thing – we experience everything that comes with the mortgage process. It’s a thrill every time we get to reminisce with a past client and to tell them, ‘Remember when all this was just a dream?’” Hogben says the brokerage’s biggest success story in 2020 is how its agents were able to mobilize and adapt immediately to COVID-19 restrictions to continue serving clients with professionalism, guiding them through purchases and refinances mired in uncertainties. “To have purpose in the middle of chaos – it kept us going every day,” he says.
itself on perfecting its online lead generation strategies, which connect its brokers with thousands of potential new clients each year. Access to this pipeline of leads, along with support from an underwriting service, allows MortgagePal agents to outperform industry averages. “We operate as a team, with each client being supported by a senior mortgage planner, underwriter and document specialist to ensure every step of the process is carefully managed,” says president D’Arcy Henneberry. “This helps us achieve high success rates in supporting clients and referral sources.”
Danny Ibrahim, CEO and principal broker
KEYRATE CORP. Network: Independent Locations: Ottawa and Toronto, ON
An independent brokerage serving Ottawa, Carleton and all of Ontario, KeyRate Corp. is committed to putting clients first. The brokerage is equipped to place all types of mortgages, including purchases, renewals, refinances, equity take-outs, debt consolidations and mortgages for self-employed individuals. KeyRate has built its business primarily through referrals and prides itself on offering tailored service to all clients. “We strive to make sure that our clients’ needs are met throughout the life of their mortgage,” says principal broker and CEO Danny Ibrahim. “We believe that every Ottawa-area customer deserves the best care and service when purchasing or refinancing the home of their dreams. We are here to serve them in all their mortgage needs.”
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SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL FEATURE
Helping clients identify the best mortgage solution
tise of an experienced mortgage broker can provide exceptional value for clients.
Everybody has a story – and a mortgage application doesn’t tell it all A mortgage is more than a financial arrangement; it is part of fulfilling the dream of homeownership. For entrepreneurs, those who have experienced a temporary financial setback or those who are new to Canada, there can be significant impediments to obtaining a mortgage. That’s why a mortgage broker who listens to the whole story to identify the
Home Trust explains how brokers can help clients find the mortgage that truly meets their needs
IN 2019, 61% of homebuyers surveyed by CMHC said the primary reason they chose to work with a mortgage broker was to secure a better interest rate. As a mortgage professional, you understand that identifying the best mortgage solution for a client is often more complicated than looking for the best interest rate posted online by lenders and filling out an application form. When it comes to more challenging cases, such as clients who are self-employed, new to Canada or have bruised credit after a temporary setback, it is even more important to focus on the best possible solution. Consider these tips to help clients understand their options and make the right choice based on their personal circumstances.
Helping clients understand the best solution versus the lowest rate In times of economic uncertainty, when low
mortgage rates dominate the headlines, it can be a challenge to explain to your clients that the total cost of borrowing for a mortgage is affected by more than just the initial interest rate. Explaining the factors that can affect the overall cost of a mortgage, including pre-payment privileges, applicable penalties, options to refinance and sale clauses, can paint a picture of what is the best solution based on the client’s plans for the future. This is especially true for clients who are overcoming past credit challenges or do not have a significant credit history in Canada. Taking the time to help these clients gain a thorough understanding of their mortgage financing options can mean the difference between them owning a home and not. It is in these more challenging cases that the exper-
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best possible mortgage solution is crucial for clients who do not have a traditional credit history. Identifying the right solution begins with asking the right questions. For example, for clients who are new to Canada, a thin Canadian credit history is undoubtedly an obstacle. However, by gathering more information, the critical details you obtain to support the mortgage application can positively affect the outcome. Learning more about the client’s credit history in their country of origin, or that they have a sizeable down payment from the sale of a previous
home, can mean the difference between an approval and a decline on their mortgage application. Your client’s employment situation is important; however, their education and employment prospects in Canada are also valid considerations, and information on these mitigating factors will only be available if you ask for it. Similarly, clients who have a low FICO score can experience significant challenges when trying to obtain a mortgage. But a credit score is only one component of a mortgage application. A credit score does not shed any light on whether a client had an excellent
payment history before a setback diminished their ability to keep up with their expenses. It also doesn’t provide any insight into the steps a client has taken to catch up on missed payments and improve their credit score. Identifying the cause of a low FICO score can also be part of the solution. For self-employed clients seeking a mortgage, the challenge is often not how much income they are taking in, but what documentation they can provide to show it. The ability of the business to adapt to meet changing conditions, like those presented by COVID-19, will also factor into any lending decision. Home Trust can offer mortgage solutions for self-employed clients, regardless of whether their business is registered as a sole proprietorship, a partnership or a corporation, and can accept contracts, invoices and bank statements as income documentation. By gathering income documentation to support a mortgage application and taking care to work with lending partners who are willing to evaluate that documentation to offer a solution, you can help self-employed clients make a sensible, informed choice. The right mortgage solution can be crafted for even those with complex lending needs, though it may not necessarily be the mortgage with the lowest rate. An experienced mortgage broker can take the time to help clients understand the difference and, with the help of a trusted partner in lending, work to make homeownership dreams come true. See real client scenarios on our website at hometrust.ca/ realstories, and contact your Home Trust business development manager to identify the best mortgage solution for your clients.
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LENDERS RESPOND In last month’s Brokers on Lenders survey, brokers spoke out about how their lenders are performing. Now it’s the lenders’ turn to address the results
THE ANNUAL Brokers on Lenders survey has been one of CMP’s most popular features for the past 14 years. Last year, CMP revived the tradition of giving lenders an opportunity to address the feedback brokers provided, and we’ve done the same this year. The brokers who participated in this year’s survey rated up to six of their lender partners a scale of 1 (very poor) to 5 (very good) in 10 key categories, including turnaround time, underwriter support, IT/technology
and more. While lenders improved their scores this year in every single category and came in above the ‘good’ threshold in eight out of the 10 categories, brokers still had plenty to say about certain areas they felt were lagging, including turnaround times and technology. On the following pages, four lenders – RMG Mortgages, MERIX Financial, Haventree Bank and BlueShore Pacifica Alternative Mortgage Centre – reply to the feedback from brokers in seven of the categories.
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TRANSPARENCY OF COMMISSION STRUCTURE
BDM SUPPORT Brokers praised certain lenders’ BDMs for their responsiveness, excellent communication and efficiency, but also pointed out instances of poor service or a lack of knowledge among BDMs.
This category was back on top as lenders’ best-performing area for the second year in a row after being briefly dethroned by BDM support in 2018. Despite the high scores they gave many lenders for their commission structures, some brokers expressed a desire for improved transparency. SHANNON HILLMAN President BlueShore Pacifica Alternative Mortgage Centre Silver medal
JAMIE LEAMONT Vice-president, Western Canada sales MERIX Financial Silver medal
“With MERIX, you get to choose on a deal-by-deal basis how you are paid, which is uncommon in this industry. Our unique MERIX option offers a source of residual/passive income, where you are paid at closing and every single year after for the entire life of the mortgage, whereas our Lendwise option offers competitive upfront compensation, inclusive of additional bonuses. We provide brokers with calculators and tools to always know exactly how much money they are currently making and could make in the future. We have done campaigns to our supporters, highlighting their individual lifetime trailer fees earned, and publicly celebrate success stories, such as $49,725 paid on one single file! Our compensation models are one of our core values, and we are so exceptionally proud to offer such lucrative and flexible compensation that we love to broadcast it and see no reason to hide it in the fine print.”
“In 2019, we hired a BDM for the Alternative Mortgage Centre. Our goal was to grow the business and ensure that our broker partners understood our value offerings over others in the marketplace. The entire team understands the need to maintain our top levels of service, and we continue to streamline our processes and procedures to be as efficient as possible when underwriting and fulfilling our broker partners’ files. Having a BDM as part of our team gives us the additional support needed to make sure we are always available, even on evenings and weekends. Our team is committed to staying your top lender partner.”
BRUNO VALKO Vice-president, national sales RMG Mortgages Gold medal
WHAT BROKERS HAD TO SAY ABOUT COMMISSION STRUCTURE “Increase commissions, as the B-20 rules hurt brokers” “It’s very difficult to figure out how much you are getting paid on a file, as commissions are not published” “Sometimes have trouble with the commission. Rates change too often and cause confusion”
“RMG BDMs are accessible and extremely knowledgeable. They’re equipped with advanced technology that gives them easy access to the productivity of all the brokers in their region. This allows them to identify and reward top supporters, while giving their other accounts the opportunity to grow their business with RMG by achieving RMG’s standards as they relate to minimum funded volume, efficiency ratios and overall business quality. During these extremely busy times, BDMs are a huge value to RMG in managing their territory, working with brokers who support our business and working closely in a positive, interactive way with our operations departments. I’d like to take this time to thank the BDMs for their 2020 efforts and being able to adapt quickly and effectively to the new world as it now is.”
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JOHN BOURASSA Vice-president, sales and marketing Haventree Bank Gold medal
“It’s in our DNA at Haventree Bank to help. Our business development managers play a pivotal role by working with our broker partners to help them provide the highest level of service to Canadian borrowers. Our BDMs work tirelessly to provide support and answer questions about our different products, programs and on the interpretation of our credit policy. We recognize that now more than ever, keeping the lines of communication open is vital in support of homeowners across Canada.”
WHAT BROKERS HAD TO SAY ABOUT BDM SUPPORT “By far the best in the industry” “Underwriting policies not correctly interpreted by the BDM assigned to our office” “BDMs [aren’t] picking up the phone”
Broker support came in third among lenders’ best-performing categories and enjoyed a significant boost in average score from 2019. The category was mentioned several times in both brokers’ most positive and negative experiences with lenders over the past year.
Lenders saw their average score for underwriter support rise back above the ‘good’ threshold in 2020, and underwriters were mentioned by several brokers as the best thing a lender has done for them over the past year. In terms of areas of improvement, brokers are looking for better communication, faster turnaround times and underwriters who are more familiar with their cases.
JAMIE LEAMONT Vice-president, Western Canada sales MERIX Financial Silver medal
“As our only source of business, we’re heavily invested in the success of brokers. It starts with our informative and helpful salespeople, who work diligently to educate and support our brokers, but it doesn’t stop with them. We provide infinite selling tips, marketing materials and tools to our brokers to help them generate new business, and we host frequent educational events where we bring in guest speakers to support brokers’ overall learning. We have robust technology to provide active deal tracking, ease of uploading documents and the ability to monitor deals from an app on your phone. We also provide dedicated renewal specialists to work with the broker, and we continue to pay commission for the entire life of the mortgages funded with MERIX – not just at renewal, but annually. The ways in which we support our brokers are ever-evolving, and we are always listening to the feedback we get.”
WHAT BROKERS HAD TO SAY ABOUT BROKER SUPPORT “The capacity to communicate to the brokers as a ‘partner’ is lost to most lenders today”
JENNIFER TSALTAS Senior vice-president, underwriting and credit risk RMG Mortgages Gold medal
“Empowering our underwriters to view a deal holistically is a huge part of our approach. We are continuously working to educate our underwriters to ensure they are able to support brokers through all their needs. When the shift to remote work happened earlier this year, it was vital for us to ensure our underwriters were equipped with the tools and resources to continue to provide the level of service our brokers have come to expect from us.”
WHAT BROKERS HAD TO SAY ABOUT UNDERWRITER SUPPORT “The biggest challenge I had with my lender in the last 12 months was getting answers quickly” “There’s a disconnect between the BDM and underwriters as to what can and can’t be done”
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JOHN BOURASSA Vice-president, sales and marketing Haventree Bank Bronze medal
“This year more than ever, our underwriters have had to adapt and pivot quickly to respond to economic, industry and technology changes due to COVID-19. It’s important for us to continue to maintain an empathetic approach to customer care. A mortgage application is not just a deal for our underwriters – our team has a sincere desire to help brokers better serve Canadians in reaching the peace of mind associated with a successful mortgage transaction. To do this, they work hard to understand the client’s story and find the best solution for each unique situation.”
“It’s important for us to continue to maintain an empathetic approach to customer care”
OVERALL SERVICE LEVELS Overall service levels experienced the biggest year-over-year increase in average score, but it still ranked fifth out of the 10 areas lenders were graded on, suggesting there’s plenty of room for growth. Brokers made it clear that consistency across platforms and good communication – in the name of facilitating quick turnarounds – were among their top priorities.
SHANNON HILLMAN President BlueShore Pacifica Alternative Mortgage Centre Gold medal
“Achieving and sustaining the highest service levels continues to be our top priority. We are extremely proud of the way we have handled the COVID-19 crisis. In March, we made the decision to close our office, and the staff transitioned to life working remotely. Collectively, we came together and, during extremely difficult times, continued to provide quality service to our broker partners. We keep the submission process simple, and our model is unique in that one application gives access to two alternative lenders, Blueshore Financial Non-traditional and Pacifica Mortgage Investment Corporation. We eliminate the need to duplicate the submission process so that our broker partners can be more efficient. We have returned to the office; nonetheless, our team continues to take precautions to keep our office and homes safe during this difficult time.”
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LENDERS RESPOND TURNAROUND TIME
Lenders’ turnaround times were a big sticking point for brokers in 2020. As in 2019, the category was one of lenders’ worst-performing areas, and the overall average score, while considerably improved year-over-year, failed to break the ‘good’ threshold. Some brokers acknowledged the role COVID-19 is playing in slowing down turnaround times, but others felt it’s been an ongoing issue.
Vice-president, Western Canada sales MERIX Financial Bronze medal
“MERIX operates by the notion that the homeowner isn’t our only customer – the broker is our customer as well. We also strive to always have the best and quickest response to the needs of the market. This year, we introduced our Interest-Free for Three promo when Canadians needed an incentive to make purchases in times of uncertainty. During a significant industry platform outage, we offered a solution where our staff manually entered deals into our systems so brokers could carry on with their business and take advantage of the amazing rates at the time. We have dedicated underwriters and offer our Personal Account Manager Program, where brokers receive the highest level of prompt and attentive service through one point of contact for both sales and underwriting. We are always working on new ways to improve our overall service.”
SHANNON HILLMAN President BlueShore Pacifica Alternative Mortgage Centre Silver medal
“Our team strives to prioritize turnaround times. We have committed to a 24-hour turnaround time, but most files are reviewed and approved within hours. We understand how important speed and efficiency are to our broker partners, so we are constantly looking for ways to improve our processes. In 2020, we added a fulfillment specialist to our team, which has improved the document review process and allows our underwriting team to focus on new deal originations. Local approval authority gives BlueShore Pacifica AMC a competitive advantage over our competition.”
“The homeowner isn’t our only customer – the broker is our customer as well. We also strive to always have the best and quickest “We understand how important response to the needs of the market” speed and efficiency are, so we are constantly looking for ways to improve our processes” WHAT BROKERS HAD TO SAY ABOUT OVERALL SERVICE LEVELS
“I want consistency in service by working with the same people regularly” “Everyone has been all over the map in a post-COVID universe. Understandable for a few weeks, but using it as an excuse for terrible service three months into this is getting old” “Exceptional service from start to finish and through the entire term of the mortgage”
WHAT BROKERS HAD TO SAY ABOUT TURNAROUND TIME “Turnaround time remains the biggest flaw” “They provided quick turnaround times and picked up rush deals for me to get the answers I needed to win the deal” “Most could improve turnaround and communication”
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IT/TECHNOLOGY Technology has become ever more critical in today’s mortgage industry, and the brokers who responded to this year’s survey made it clear that lenders, on the whole, aren’t keeping up with expectations. The category came in last in terms of average score, and brokers frequently brought up tech issues when recounting the negative experiences they’ve had with lenders over the past year.
Senior vice-president, information technology RMG Mortgages
Vice-president, sales and marketing Haventree Bank
“RMG is committed to providing the best technology solutions that meet or exceed the needs of our brokers and homeowners. We continuously improve our broker and homeowner portals to create the best online experience. We have recently implemented enhancements to our portals to allow for more self-service options, improved reporting and accessibility. We recognize the need to allow our brokers and homeowners the ability to interact with us anytime, from anywhere, using any device. During these times of reduced human interaction, the need for superior technology solutions is clear. RMG continues to anticipate the changing needs of all our stakeholders and will remain focused on improving process automation, self-service functionality, enhanced security of data and accessibility.”
“We recognize the need to allow our brokers and homeowners the ability to interact with us anytime, from anywhere, using any device”
“We believe leveraging technology and digital tools can create a better experience for our brokers and our borrowers. During the height of the pandemic, we pivoted quickly on how we assessed income and accepted appraisals thanks to the digital tools we already had in place, like instant bank statement verification and our simplified income verification process. This year, to help ensure our brokers had a safe way to help their clients, we added a low-cost auto valuation program for home appraisals and began accepting e-signatures. We will continue to reach out the broker community to learn what’s important to them as we implement different technologies into our business.”
“We will continue to reach out to the broker community to learn what’s important to them as we implement different technologies into our business”
WHAT BROKERS HAD TO SAY ABOUT IT/TECHNOLOGY “Need to implement better technology; emailing in documents isn’t as secure as a portal” “I would like to see improved speed of response and more automated technology” “Update the technology! Portals and accepting online signings are going to be the only way to do business” The underwriting staff relies too much on technology and has lost the personal touch”
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SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL FEATURE
Connecting the mortgage industry A new partnership between Mortgage Automator and Lendesk is helping brokers connect with alternative lenders
FINDING THE right lender isn’t always easy, but a new partnership is cracking open a new world of options for brokers. Mortgage Automator, a best-in-class platform for private and alternative lenders, is joining forces with Lendesk, the mortgage tech company that’s on a mission to digitize the mortgage experience for lenders and brokers. This matchup will provide a seamless and secure flow of data between broker and lender. “From a lender’s perspective, security is very important,” says Mortgage Automator co-founder Lawrence Schwartz. “It’s also comforting to know a deal is coming specifically to them through a secure platform, as opposed to being sent in an email that’s also shared with other lenders.” This integration is timely, considering the new Equifax requirements that went into effect in September. The new rules require lenders to have an identifying member number to receive files from brokers through the industry’s connector platforms. They also prohibit brokers from sharing Equifax information with uncredentialed lenders. As the cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic
even more seamless. Schwartz says Lendesk offers a great platform for brokers to connect with lenders via Mortgage Automator. “The ability to pass data back and forth, whether it’s for conditions that need to be satisfied, term sheets or status updates to improve transparency – these are all things that brokers need to consider when making decisions about software,” he says.
An emphasis on data security Security and protection of information have always been a priority for both Mortgage Automator and Lendesk. The COVID-19
continues to hang over potential homebuyers, more Canadians are struggling to obtain traditional mortgages as lending guidelines restrict further. Alternative lenders have an opportunity to help more borrowers into the homes of their dreams, and this partnership is arming brokers with the tools they need to ride the wave of alternative lending. “The private lending space was in the shadows before, but more people are discovering it’s a legitimate resource of capital when banks won’t finance based on new regulations,” says Joseph Fooks, co-founder of Mortgage Automator. “We need systems in place to handle that growing volume and manage these portfolios.” Historically, it’s been challenging for brokers to find the right private lenders, whether it’s because of the narrow geographic area that some lenders work in or the parameters around the deals they prefer. Lendesk’s Spotlight is already used by thousands of brokers across the country to help find prime lenders and deals, and the company’s submission and Gateway products make that connection between brokers and lenders
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pandemic has led to a dramatic surge in cyberattacks – not only has the pandemic increased companies’ reliance on technology to fulfill day-to-day operations, but cybercriminals are increasingly trying to take advantage of the swift transition to remote work and the use of personal devices and networks. “It’s more important than ever before to be extremely diligent when it comes to the protection of data, especially considering the sensitive personal information that brokers handle,” says Lee Noble, VP of business development at Lendesk. “Our entire system is focused on compliance and safety, and
“This partnership is giving brokers more access to lenders, which consequently gives lenders more access to deal flow. It’s a win-win for the industry” Lee Noble, Lendesk brokers can feel good that when their information and their client’s information enter the system, it’s stored securely.” Because Lendesk is independent to broker-
ages and lenders, brokers stay in control of their own data. If a broker decides to change networks or brokerages, they can take their information with them, Noble says.
Rewriting the future This partnership is just one of Mortgage Automator’s accomplishments this year. The company also onboarded more than 100 new customers, despite the challenges COVID-19 brought to the industry. Mortgage Automator also continued to hire and innovate through the pandemic at a time where many competitors were pulling back, concerned about conserving capital. “I feel confident we’ve made our imprint on the private mortgage space as a competitive software,” Fooks says. “We pride ourselves on constant improvements and taking feedback seriously, which has been vital to the success of this product. The software was built by lenders, for lenders, and that’s something that made us stand out from the very beginning.” “Our software has significantly improved just over the duration of the pandemic,” Schwartz adds. “We continue to sign on clients who have great ideas, and we know if we listen, it will only improve our product.” Going forward, Mortgage Automator and Lendesk plan to keep working together to innovate in the private lending space and support the growth of the industry. Both are committed to improving the submission process to make it as seamless as possible. “This partnership is giving brokers more access to lenders, which consequently gives lenders more access to deal flow,” Noble says. “It’s a win-win for the industry.”
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SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL FEATURE
A world of difference Over the past four years, nothing at Centum Financial Group has stayed the same
‘THE WAY we’ve always done it’ just didn’t cut it for Chris Turcotte, president at Centum Financial Group. When he took the reins at the national broker network less than four years ago, it was running on autopilot, floating along with no direction or plan. Pricing was a rigid royalty model at the top end of the pricing scale, the network offered no marketing support, and the technology offerings, while free, were very limited. “As a Centum franchisee at the time, it was extremely disheartening,” Turcotte says. “Without a plan, nothing gets done.” As soon as he was planted into leadership, Turcotte began building a team of dreamers to turn the organization around. He evaluated the company and searched for people with good change management capabilities who could pivot quickly and who could come to the table with a fresh set of eyes and be willing to go against the tide of how things had always been done. “We needed to fail fast and fail often until we could find the identity and long-term vision for the company,” Turcotte says. At the time, this was uncharted territory for him. But as a top broker, he knew from personal experience what mortgage brokers needed. With support and trust from the board of directors at Charlwood Pacific
Group, the concept became clear: creating a brand that put the broker first. The focus changed from royalties and overpriced marketing to truly offering the support that brokers had consistently been asking for. That simple idea started a revolution.
Marketing Many mortgage brokers hire third-party companies for social media and marketing. Turcotte says this is an added expense,
proprietary technology, Piper, allows brokers to submit marketing requests for free. They can get anything from door hangers to fliers to billboards, along with assets for their social media campaigns. “We created an easy way not only to submit requests, but also to communicate, give timeline expectations and organize the workflow,” says Phelim McGovern, marketing associate at Centum. “It works for all sides of the request.”
“We needed to fail fast and fail often until we could find the identity and long-term vision for the company” Chris Turcotte, Centum Financial Group and brokers are mistakenly handing over this key responsibility to people without industry understanding. “Centum offers marketing tools designed by mortgage brokers, with customization abilities,” says Brendan Ryder, marketing associate at Centum. “Our brokers essentially have their own personal marketing agency at their fingertips; the possibilities are endless.” A ticketing system through Centum’s
Technology “Trying to win over brokers with technology won’t work,” Turcotte says. “It’s a neverending, cash-heavy pursuit, which is why brands charge so much for it, and that’s a shame.” Centum partnered with Axiom Innovations to build Piper and offer a system that would empower brokers, as opposed to adding another expense. Turcotte says
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Centum left the technology and innovation in the hands of the experts to keep the user experience as smooth and seamless as possible. Piper offers brokers everything they need, including direct-to-lender deal submission, e-signatures, down payment verification, deal flow management and automated communications. “It was important to us that access to technology was free,” Turcotte says. “We want brokers to spend their money where it belongs – on themselves, their families and their business.”
Pricing Royalty-based networks get paid based on a percentage of each transaction a broker completes. While this might sound good, Turcotte says the top brokerages ended up losing out as they achieved more success. “This is probably the most common misconception about Centum right now,” says Caroline Rapson, director of operations at Centum. “We’re no longer a royalty-based organization. Instead, brokers pay one flat monthly fee per office.” “The goal is to partner with quality,
top-producing brokerages that see value in collaboration and the implementation of tools and process-driven systems into their business,” adds Gord Ross, director of national sales at Centum. “When you combine that with unprecedented value in marketing, tech and support services, the decision is an easy one.”
To learn more about how Centum can improve your current broker business, reach out to Gord Ross at gordon_ross@ centum.ca.
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Making a splash KeyRate’s Stephanie Gagnon-Hume is no stranger to hard work, which has helped her find success early in her mortgage career
EVERYTHING IN Stephanie GagnonHume’s life has been a stepping stone to her mortgage success. Growing up as a competitive dancer and athlete instilled discipline, a tireless work ethic and the importance of being a team player. As a graduate of Carleton University’s law program, she learned how to think critically and work within deadlines, and her previous sales jobs taught her client-facing skills, the importance of product knowledge and how to match people’s needs with the right solutions. Mortgages first piqued Gagnon-Hume’s interest when she started out in real estate, but it wasn’t until she bought her own first property three years ago and met Danny Ibrahim, the principal broker at KeyRate, that she realized the financial side of home-buying was where she belonged. Ibrahim became a mentor to GagnonHume. He answered all of her questions, allowed her to make her own mistakes and taught her the importance of being extremely detail-oriented and getting all information from borrowers upfront. As KeyRate’s head processor, charged with processing deals for most agents in the office and coordinating with clients, lawyers and other partners, Gagnon-Hume gained a considerable amount of knowledge about the industry, which gave her a competitive edge when she started putting together her own deals. “I’ve worked on over $200 million worth
of files and have come across almost every single type of loan you can think of,” she says. “During that time, I was a sponge soaking in every aspect of the industry. I took my time to become an expert in products and observed how everyone approached the business.” Gagnon-Hume started her career as a broker slowly to ensure that when she was given a referral, she knew exactly how to take care of her clients from start to finish. At 25 years old and just three years into her mortgage journey, Gagnon-Hume was named one of CMP’s Rising Stars for 2020. Despite recognizing many other top female brokers on the list, she acknowledges that the space remains very male-dominated. “I want to see more women enter the mortgage industry,” she says. “It’s a challenge because I’ve noticed that some people prefer to work with men when it comes to their finances, but those who take a chance on me quickly realize that I’m a young female professional who knows what I’m doing, and I’m just as knowledgeable as the next broker.”
Gagnon-Hume takes a client-centric approach to her business, going above and beyond for every borrower. As a young broker, she also understands the importance of technology and the growing role it plays in the mortgage process. She was able to quickly adapt to serving her clients virtually after the coronavirus pandemic hit in mid-March, just months after she obtained her broker licence. KeyRate allows clients to provide documentation upfront for pre-approvals, which has been essential to an efficient online process, and Gagnon-Hume began focusing on online marketing strategies and reaching out to clients to let them know she was available to help at a time when many Canadians were looking for additional cash flow. “Technology makes this business possible,” she says. “It facilitates working remotely and going paperless. Right now, the market is crazy in Ottawa, where people aren’t putting conditions on their offer, so we have to ensure the process is flawless from top to bottom.” The connectivity technology enables has
GAGNON-HUME’S ADVICE TO OTHER NEW BROKERS “As a new broker, the best piece of advice I can give to new agents and brokers is to invest in yourself by staying informed and up to date with the market. Stay in constant communication with your team and industry partners and keep each other accountable. I learned through experience that the only way to thrive in this industry is to always put my clients’ best interests first and approach every transaction with full transparency.”
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FAST FACTS: STEPHANIE GAGNON-HUME
BROKERAGE KeyRate Corp.
AREAS SERVED Ottawa, Hamilton, Toronto and surrounding areas
YEARS IN THE INDUSTRY 3
EDUCATION Bachelor’s degree in law from Carleton University
“Nothing is promised to you in this job. If you want to make it, you have to work for it” also helped Gagnon-Hume lead her new team, especially during the pandemic. She sends them step-by-step videos, and they keep each other accountable and motivated through video chats and regular meetings. In her previous role as head processor, Gagnon-Hume knew it was important to be
dependable, and she’s brought that attribute to her job as team leader. Her goal this year is to continue growing her team, which is made up of professionals from diverse backgrounds who are constantly learning from one another. “We are in touch every day and talk about everything from business, strategy, goals and
ACCOLADES Named a CMP Rising Star in 2020 vision,” Gagnon-Hume says. “We are also using the time during this pandemic to go full throttle on marketing and client outreach to keep this momentum going. At the end of the day, nothing is promised to you in this job. If you want to make it, you have to work for it.”
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A NEW WAY TO CELEBRATE The first-ever virtual edition of the Canadian Mortgage Awards was beamed out to mortgage professionals across the country at the end of August as Canadian Mortgage Professional celebrated the industry’s top brokers, underwriters and BDMs IT’S BEEN a challenging year for the mortgage industry, to say the least – so there’s never been a better time to celebrate the mortgage professionals and organizations who have continued to thrive during such turbulent times. August 27 marked the 14th annual Canadian Mortgage Awards, revamped for 2020 as a virtual event that offered the industry a chance to connect, network and celebrate. The CMAs have always been more than just an awards ceremony, but this year’s event took the show to another level. In addition to seeing trophies awarded to Canada’s top mortgage professionals, attendees had the opportunity to take part in nine educational and thought-provoking sessions hosted by some of the industry’s biggest names. Following a rigorous nomination and selection process, the nation’s finest mortgage professionals jostled for pole position in 20 prestigious award categories. The quality of talent on display this year was as exceptional as ever, and CMP would like to extend a huge congratulations to the winners and nominees, as well as a massive thank you to all of the attendees and our wonderful sponsors. Read on to find out who won big this year.
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A WORD FROM THE PLATINUM SPONSOR AS THE premier sponsor for the 2020 Canadian Mortgage Awards once again this year, the Coalition of Independent Mortgage Brokers of Canada (CIMBC) is proud to support the first virtual Canadian Mortgage Awards event in Canada, which honours and recognizes distinction in the mortgage broker industry. For 14 years now, the CMAs have celebrated excellence across the entire spectrum of mortgage broker and lender partnerships coast to coast, which very much represents the foundation that CIMBC was built on. We at CIMBC strongly believe in the value we add to the broker industry through the meaningful relationships and support that we offer our CIMBC members in order to enhance and promote their independent brands within their market, by sharing in the wealth of experience and knowledge amongst like-minded entrepreneurs. This year we have continued this great tradition of extending support for the CMAs through a virtual experience for all the participants, including the award nominees. CIMBC is very excited to be a large part of this momentous event. We thank you for your support and hope you enjoyed the CMA virtual experience.
Robert Sinclair President The Coalition of Independent Mortgage Brokers of Canada (CIMBC)
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CANADIAN MORTGAGE AWARDS 2020 BROKERAGE OF THE YEAR (FEWER THAN 25 EMPLOYEES)
BROKERAGE OF THE YEAR â&#x20AC;&#x201C; DIVERSIFICATION
ABOUT THE AWARD This award recognizes the brokerage that has implemented the most effective diversification business model. Nominations were open to independent and franchise brokerages, from small operations providing a compact diversification offering to larger businesses with a range of specialists (financial planners, accountants, mortgage brokers) all operating under one brand.
ABOUT THE AWARD This award recognizes the brokerage operation with fewer than 25 staff (or full-time equivalents) that has displayed excellence over the past 12 to 18 months.
GOLD WINNER Outline Financial
SILVER WINNER Champion Mortgage
FINALISTS Bespoke Mortgage Group Blue Pearl Mortgage Group Canada Mortgage & Financial Group East Coast Mortgage Brokers Homewise Solutions Jayman Financial Syndicate Lending Corporation Integrity Mortgage Solutions
GOLD WINNER OUTLINE FINANCIAL As the winner of the 2020 Canadian Mortgage Award for Brokerage of the Year (Fewer Than 25 Employees), Outline Financial is incredibly proud of their team and is grateful for the clients, partners and lenders they have the pleasure to work with. When the founders came together to create Outline Financial, they had their sights set on growing the brokerage into an industry leader. Rather than focusing on sales, they prioritized customer service and a supportive workplace as measures of success. Outline delivers on these priorities by going beyond just a great mortgage rate; they help clients outline and achieve their financial goals through customized strategies and an unparalleled customer service experience. In the workplace, Outline surrounds their underwriters and mortgage agents with deep experience, training, mentorship from some of the top agents and brokers in the country, and marketing and technology that helps everyone thrive. This innovative approach has turned Outline Financial into a rapidly growing mortgage success story and a leader in the Canadian marketplace. For more information about Outline Financial, visit outline.ca or watch the video at outline.ca/welcome.
GOLD WINNER MILLENNIALâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S CHOICE MORTGAGES
SILVER WINNER DLC Blue Tree Mortgages West
FINALISTS North East Mortgages Quantus Mortgage Solutions SafeBridge Financial Group Verico Premiere Mortgage Centre
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OUTSTANDING CUSTOMER SERVICE BY AN INDIVIDUAL OFFICE
THE HOMEEQUITY BANK AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN PHILANTHROPY & COMMUNITY SERVICE
ABOUT THE AWARD
ABOUT THE AWARD
Customer service is an incredibly important measure of any brokerage’s long-term sustainability and success. This award recognizes the brokerage office or branch that has displayed excellence over the past 12 months in maintaining consistent and sustainable customer service standards.
This award recognizes the individual, company, organization, brokerage, branch or office whose outstanding contribution of time, leadership and financial support over a sustained period of time has made a significant impact on the receiving causes or communities.
HomeEquity Bank is the leading provider of reverse mortgages in Canada, dedicated to helping Canadian homeowners age 55+ live retirement their way by providing a safe, secure and simple way to access the equity they’ve built up in their homes through financial solutions like the CHIP Reverse Mortgage®, CHIP MAX® and Income Advantage®.
GOLD WINNER GLM MORTGAGE GROUP
GOLD WINNER CAREY BENVENUTI, MORTGAGE ARCHITECTS
SILVER WINNER Loewen Group Mortgages
SILVER WINNER Sabeena Bubber, 100 Brokers Who Care
Bespoke Mortgage Group
Alison Lopes, DLC Premier Mortgages
Claystone Mortgage Team
Andrew Young, The Modern Mortgage Unlimited Company
MortgagePal Mortgage Outlet Mortgages.ca Streetwise Mortgages The Angela Calla Mortgage Team
Cameron Wilson, Dominion Lending Centres – Canuck Mortgage Group Chris Karram, SafeBridge Financial Group Greg Nowik, Universal Mortgage Architects Mark Cashin, Cashin Mortgages
Since 1986, HomeEquity Bank has offered solutions that allow Canadians to access up to 55% of the value of their home without the stress of monthly payments. Whether Canadians are looking to pay off debt, take a vacation or simply to have a steady stream of income to supplement their CPP and OAS throughout their retirement, HomeEquity Bank offers financial solutions to meet their unique needs. HomeEquity Bank has helped tens of thousands of Canadians by offering financial solutions designed specifically for homeowners age 55+ so they can live retirement their way in the home they love. For more information, visit homeequitybank.ca.
Paul Bojakli, Quantus Mortgage Solutions Paul Meredith, CityCan Financial
“Thank you so much for this honour – it truly means the world to me” CAREY BENVENUTI Mortgage Architects
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CANADIAN MORTGAGE AWARDS 2020 NEW BROKERAGE OF THE YEAR
THE FIRST NATIONAL FINANCIAL CORPORATION AWARD FOR BROKERAGE OF THE YEAR (25 EMPLOYEES OR MORE)
ABOUT THE AWARD
ABOUT THE AWARD
This award recognizes the best brokerage office or branch that has been in operation for less than three years.
This award recognizes the brokerage operation with at least 25 staff (or full-time equivalents) that has displayed excellence over the past 12 to 18 months.
First National Financial is Canada’s largest non-bank lender, originating and servicing single-family residential mortgages, commercial mortgages and multi-family mortgages for more than 30 years.
GOLD WINNER THE MORTGAGE COACH
GOLD WINNER CANWISE FINANCIAL
For more information, visit firstnational.ca/mortgage-brokers/ resources-for-mortgage-brokers.
SILVER WINNER Citadel Mortgages
FINALISTS Ardent Mortgages Ashdown Capital
SILVER WINNER MortgagePal
Gold Capital Corp.
Clear Trust Mortgages
Elite Lending Corp.
TCG Lending Centres
Matrix Mortgage Global
Sandhu & Sran Mortgages
Neighbourhood Dominion Lending Centres
“This is amazing. It blows my mind that there’s an award for something that I just love doing every day”
The Mortgage Advisors Verico Premiere Mortgage Centre Verico Xeva Mortgage
“It’s just a great opportunity to do something different, because we’re not able to connect with a lot of individuals right now” ELENA ROBINSON
First National Financial
MEAGHAN HASTINGS The Mortgage Coach
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BROKER OF THE YEAR (FEWER THAN 25 EMPLOYEES)
THE CANADIAN MORTGAGES INC. AWARD FOR BROKER OF THE YEAR – PRIVATE LENDING
ABOUT THE AWARD
ABOUT THE AWARD
This award is one of the highest accolades offered to an individual in the mortgage industry. It recognizes the most outstanding mortgage broker from a brokerage operation with fewer than 25 staff (or full-time equivalents).
This award recognizes the broker who has displayed excellence in private lending over the past 12 to 18 months.
As a leader in the private lending market since 2005, Canadian Mortgages Inc. (CMI) has established an industry reputation for transparency, professionalism and always treating our customers and broker partners with the utmost care and respect. Fuelled by innovation, we strive to provide both consumers and mortgage brokers with access to non-bank private mortgage funds. Having successfully funded more than $500 million in private mortgages across Canada, we are proud to be one of the country’s fastest-growing alternative lending firms.
GOLD WINNER SHAWN ALLEN, MATRIX MORTGAGE GLOBAL
GOLD WINNER CLINTON WILKINS, CENTUM HOME LENDERS – CLINTON WILKINS TEAM
SILVER WINNER Scott Westlake, The Westlake Team – Dominion Lending Centres National
SILVER WINNER Shawn Stillman, Mortgage Outlet
FINALISTS Christine Xu, Moneybroker Canada – Mortgage Architects Elvis Hui, DLC Guaranti Mortgages Enza Venuto, Centum InTouch Mortgage Solutions Geoff Lee, GLM Mortgage Group James Harrison, Mortgages.ca Linda Walters, Mortgage Architects Paul Meredith, CityCan Financial
FINALISTS David Clarke, Clarke Mortgage Group – TMG Dmitri Ivanov, Mortgage Intelligence Gogi Luthra, AKAL Mortgages Jason Nugent, Neighbourhood Dominion Lending Centres Jon McKay, DLC Mortgage House
We pride ourselves on finding a suitable mortgage solution for every borrower. If they don’t qualify for traditional bank financing due to credit issues or non-traditional sources of income, we’ll find a solution that’s tailored to their unique circumstances. Our mission is to reshape and grow the private lending market by delivering innovative products and exceptional service. For more information, visit canadianlending.ca.
Rakhee Dhingra, Mortgage Savvy Tracy Valko, The Valko Team
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CANADIAN MORTGAGE AWARDS 2020 BROKER OF THE YEAR (25 EMPLOYEES OR MORE)
THE AVISON YOUNG AWARD FOR BROKER OF THE YEAR – COMMERCIAL
ABOUT THE AWARD
ABOUT THE AWARD
This award is one of the highest accolades offered to an individual in the mortgage industry. This award recognizes the most outstanding mortgage broker from a brokerage operation with 25 staff (or full-time equivalents) or more.
This award recognizes the broker who specializes in commercial real estate, investment finance, SME/debtor finance or asset and leasing finance who has displayed excellence over the past 12 to 18 months.
ZAHEED VALLI-HASHAM, CITY WIDE MORTGAGE SERVICES
MICHEL DURAND, MORTGAGE ALLIANCE COMMERCIAL
Avison Young is the world’s fastestgrowing commercial real estate services firm. Headquartered in Toronto, Avison Young is a collaborative global firm owned and operated by its principals. Founded in 1978, with legacies dating back more than 200 years, the company comprises approximately 5,000 real estate professionals in 120 offices in 20 countries. The firm’s experts provide value-added, client-centric investment sales, leasing, advisory, management and financing services to clients across the office, retail, industrial, multi-family and hospitality sectors.
Meaghan Hastings, The Mortgage Coach
Ryan Turner, Ashdown Capital
Anne Brill, Centum Metrocapp Wealth Solutions
Daniela Peeva, TMACC – Mortgage Alliance Commercial
Anthony Contento, Sherwood Mortgage Group
Inam Qureshi, Syndicate Lending Corporation
Collin Bruce, Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Mentors
Jason Sohl, Verico Fair Mortgage Solutions
Dave Butler, Butler Mortgage
Jeremy Leung, CT Green Financial
Lev Keselman, Peak Mortgage Company
Omid Jalili, OMJ Mortgage Capital
Luisa Hough, Verico Xeva Mortgage
Peter Quinn, Planiprêt Commercial Ramin Nazaradeh, Gold Capital Corp. Stephanie Kowalew, Multi-Prêts Commercial
Avison Young Valuation Services offers a comprehensive range of commercial real estate valuation and consulting services dealing with all property types and sizes. Together with our team, we provide a full service offering to our clients, ranging from local to multinational organizations. Our principal-led, client-centric approach to doing business means that we are always focused on finding the best solutions for each client’s particular needs. For more information, visit avisonyoung.ca.
Stephen Thomas, Vine Group
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EMPLOYER OF CHOICE
THE CENTUM AWARD FOR INDUSTRY SERVICE PROVIDER OF THE YEAR
ABOUT THE AWARD
ABOUT THE AWARD
This award recognizes the commitment of a company with more than 20 employees in Canada to building a workplace that recognizes excellence and supports career growth for all.
Industry services play an extremely important role within the mortgage industry. This award recognizes the service provider – including, but not limited to, software and technology, legal, compliance, training and education – that adds the most value to its customers’ businesses.
Federally incorporated in 2002, the CENTUM Family is home to over 200 franchised mortgage offices with more than 2,500 mortgage professionals across Canada. As a division of the Charlwood Pacific Group, our network benefits from over 40 years of global franchising expertise of recognized brands, which include financial services, real estate, travel service, property management and hotel accommodations.
GOLD WINNER MERIX FINANCIAL
GOLD WINNER NEWTON CONNECTIVITY SYSTEMS
Capital Lending Centre
Centum Financial Group
Centurion Asset Management
MCAP Service Corporation
CWB Optimum Mortgage
Elite Lending Corp.
Jencor Mortgage Corporation
Magenta Capital Corporation
MCAP Service Corporation True North Mortgage
“We’re thrilled to be accepting this award, and it’s an honour to be nominated by our peers, colleagues and friends”
CENTUM provides its franchises with the systems, technology, training, support and financial products necessary to have a competitive advantage and succeed in the mortgage broker industry today. CENTUM is also a proud member of the Canadian Franchise Association. We provide the security of knowing that we are always Looking Out For Your Best Interest®. For more information, visit centum.ca.
Newton Connectivity Systems
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CANADIAN MORTGAGE AWARDS 2020 LENDER UNDERWRITER OF THE YEAR
THE CIMBC AWARD FOR LENDER BDM OF THE YEAR
ABOUT THE AWARD
ABOUT THE AWARD
This award recognizes the lender underwriter whose expertise and outstanding service to brokers has helped ensure their deals are funded quickly and efficiently and who has guided them in the right direction to improve their funding ratios over the last 12 to 18 months.
BDMs are an essential ingredient in the lender/broker relationship. This award recognizes the lender BDM who has displayed excellence over the past 12 to 18 months.
The Coalition of Independent Mortgage Brokers of Canada (CIMBC) was created to help entrepreneurial brokerages transition to building a genuine independent brand, with a solid structure and a stronger bottom line for the independent, not the network.
GOLD WINNER CHRIS WOODHOUSE, RFA MORTGAGE CORPORATION
ZUZI VALENTE, EQUITABLE BANK
SILVER WINNER Livia Pellegrino, First National Financial
SILVER WINNER Inessa Rzisceva, Home Trust Company
Ally Higgins, B2B Bank
Brian Ingram, CMLS Financial
Ada Cheung, Scotiabank
Brian Mason, RFA Mortgage Corporation
Allison Murdoch, MCAP Service Corporation Anthony DePasquale, ICICI Cheryl West, HomeEquity Bank Elliot Gardiner, RFA Mortgage Corporation Ida Guilbault, Bridgewater Bank Josie Milanetti, CMI Group of Companies Kiruban Kana, RiverRock Mortgage Investment Corporation Rick Springer, First National Financial Stanley Grant, Scotiabank Zach Osborne, Paradigm Quest/NPX
Cam Dellipizzi, XMC Mortgage Corporation Daniel Joseph, CMI Group of Companies
CIMBC’s main ambition is to create more consistency in the mortgage market, from the initial touchpoint to the application and funding of a mortgage transaction. The coalition works to create more meaningful, mutually beneficial long-term partnerships and to improve profitability for member brokers, their agents and CIMBC’s lender partners. Being a member of CIMBC gives brokers access to the best comp structure in the industry. The CIMBC model is truly a very unique and disruptive model that those seeking to build value for their business and personal brand should seriously explore. For more information, visit cimbc.ca.
Jerry Wieliczko, Hosper Mortgage Jessica Fitzpatrick, MERIX Lendwise Leanne Conroy, CWB Optimum Mortgage Lee-Ann McEllister, MCAP Service Corporation Randy Binstock, Home Trust Company Reaza Ali, Fisgard Asset Management Corporation Robert Malcolm, Equitable Bank Suzy Fernandes-Arruda, Haventree Bank
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NATIONAL BROKER NETWORK OF THE YEAR
THE COMMUNITY TRUST AWARD FOR ALTERNATIVE BROKER SPECIALIST OF THE YEAR
ABOUT THE AWARD
ABOUT THE AWARD
This award recognizes the most outstanding national broker network that has displayed excellence and a commitment to brokers, agents and support staff, and the mortgage industry over the past 12 to 18 months.
This award recognizes the broker who has displayed excellence in alternative lending over the past 12 to 18 months.
Since opening their doors in 1975, Community Trust has been proud to operate as a flexible alternative to larger, more traditional financial institutions. Offering a wide range of financial products and trust services, their resident experts work hard to provide their diverse partners and clients with opportunities for growth and success. Above all else, Community Trust believes in building products and practices that are flexible so their partners and clients don’t have to be.
GOLD WINNER CHRISTINE XU, MONEYBROKER CANADA – MORTGAGE ARCHITECTS
SILVER WINNER TMG The Mortgage Group
SILVER WINNER Jason Sohl, Verico Fair Mortgage Solutions
Centum Financial Group
Dominion Lending Centres Invis Mortgage Intelligence
Ameera Ameerullah, Canada Mortgage & Financial Group
Asim Ali, DLC Royalty Financial
Mortgage Centre Canada
Kuljit Singh, AKAL Mortgages
Verico Financial Group
Lisa Tomlinson, Verico InTrend Mortgage
Community Trust is a privately held deposit-taking institution and is federally regulated by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI). Community Trust is also a member of the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC). For more information, visit communitytrust.ca.
Nikki Carew, East Coast Mortgage Brokers Reza Ghazi, Greenflow Financial
“Every day I feel very blessed to be in this great industry” CHRISTINE XU
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CANADIAN MORTGAGE AWARDS 2020 “What this event has been able to provide is not only the panel information that has gone on throughout the day, but it has given you a chat function that has been extremely well participated in” JOHN BOURASSA Haventree Bank
THE HAVENTREE BANK AWARD FOR DIGITAL INNOVATOR OF THE YEAR
ABOUT THE AWARD
This award is given to the brokerage or network that has best harnessed technology and digital solutions to improve their business, aid their brokers and leverage overall client experience over the last 12 to 18 months. This category looks at the organization’s use of digital tools such as CRM, digital marketing, mobile technology, electronic document management, connectivity platforms and collaboration tools.
At Haventree Bank, we’re for the grinders – the clients who get knocked down but get back up again. Because they’re the ones with potential. We have an experienced team that’ll get to know your client thoroughly and work alongside you to accomplish what needs to be done. We specialize in offering residential mortgage financing for borrowers who do not satisfy the underwriting criteria of other mortgage lenders.
GOLD WINNER CENTUM FINANCIAL GROUP
SILVER WINNER DLC Expert Financial
FINALISTS Blue Pearl Mortgage Group CanWise Financial Capital Lending Centre Champion Mortgage Knnct Markets Loewen Group Mortgages
Business for self: If your clients are a sole proprietor, in a partnership or are incorporated, Haventree Bank has flexible mortgage solutions specifically suited to their needs. We offer one- to five-year terms with very competitive rates. Bruised credit: When life events – job loss, divorce, illness, etc. – play havoc with your clients’ mortgage needs, Haventree Bank is here to help with alternative residential mortgage solutions that will get them back on their feet in no time. Our mortgage experts will structure a program with a mortgage solution designed to help your clients repair their credit quickly. Thin or no credit: Being new to the world of credit shouldn’t stop your clients from meeting the dream of homeownership. At Haventree Bank, we know the challenges you can face when securing a loan without a strong credit history for your client. For more information, visit haventreebank.com.
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YOUNG GUN OF THE YEAR
THE HOME TRUST AWARD FOR WOMAN OF DISTINCTION
ABOUT THE AWARD
ABOUT THE AWARD
This award recognizes an outstanding broker or agent who is 40 years old or younger.
This award recognizes a female trailblazer in the mortgage industry whose outstanding personal and professional achievements have earned her a place among the industry’s best.
Home Trust began in 1977 with a goal to help all Canadians achieve their goals. We have grown to become a leading financial services institution in Canada, but that’s not what matters most to us. What matters is the mortgage broker who was able to help someone who wouldn’t otherwise qualify for a mortgage to purchase their first home. Or the business-for-self customer who was able to expand their operations. Or the newcomer to Canada with big dreams of building a new life. The stories of our customers – those who turn to us, who put their hopes in us, who rely on us every day to find a way forward – are our motivation to succeed.
GOLD WINNER CASEY ARCHIBALD, VERICO XEVA MORTGAGE
GOLD WINNER BARBARA COOK, MORTGAGE CENTRE CANADA
SILVER WINNER Rebecca Casey, DLC Origin Mortgages
FINALISTS Chris Allard, Smart Debt Mortgages – Powered by Mortgage Intelligence Chris Bargis, MortgageEdge Denise Laframboise, Element Mortgage Group – Mortgage Architects Josh Dumencu, Neighbourhood Dominion Lending Centres Leslie Penney, East Coast Mortgage Brokers Matthew Ablakan, Millennial’s Choice Mortgages
SILVER WINNER Donna Mullen, Mortgage Architects
For more information, visit hometrust.ca.
FINALISTS Ameera Ameerullah, Canada Mortgage & Financial Group Angela Calla, The Angela Calla Mortgage Team Caroline Rapson, Centum Financial Group Hali Noble, Fisgard Asset Management Corporation
Nicole Farrugia, Mortgage Savvy
Kelly Evans, Magenta Capital Corporation
Steve Dyment, Verico Xeva Mortgage
Kyra Wong, Manulife
Vincent Tong, Clear Trust Mortgages
Lindsay Jurek, Paradigm Quest Teresa Johnston, CMI Group of Companies
“Being on a panel with these women means so much. They all genuinely want me, and all the women who come after them, to succeed” KRISTA VALADAO Home Trust
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CANADIAN MORTGAGE AWARDS 2020 THE TRANSUNION AWARD FOR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT IN THE MORTGAGE INDUSTRY
ABOUT THE AWARD
This is the highest honour and most coveted award at the Canadian Mortgage Awards. This award recognizes and celebrates a leading figure who has contributed much to the advancement of the mortgage industry in Canada. Though there are no defined parameters, this award acknowledges an individual with an established history and reputation of distinguished service to the mortgage and real estate profession, who has exhibited leadership and provided inspiration to others in the sector and their own workplace, while putting the interests of the industry at the top of their priorities throughout their career.
Information is a powerful thing. At TransUnion, we realize that. We are dedicated to finding innovative ways information can be used to help individuals make better and smarter decisions. We help uncover unique stories, trends and insights behind each data point, using historical information as well as alternative data sources. This allows a variety of markets and businesses to better manage risk and consumers to better manage their credit, personal information and identity.
GOLD WINNER TODD POBERZNICK, BRIDGEWATER BANK (RETIRED)
“The recognition from within our industry is especially rewarding – this is a great honour”
Today, TransUnion reaches consumers and businesses in more than 30 countries around the world on five continents. Based in Burlington, Ontario, TransUnion provides local service and support throughout Canada. Through the power of information, TransUnion is working to build stronger economies and families and safer communities worldwide. We call this Information for Good. For more information, visit transunion.ca.
ZUZI VALENTE, EQUITABLE BANK Gold winner, Lender Underwriter of the Year
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Equitable Bank Mortgage Solutions Prime mortgage solutions
Alternative mortgage solutions
Our EQB Evolution Suite® is designed to provide prime mortgage solutions that will appeal to borrowers who are salaried, salaried with commission, as well as selfemployed individuals looking to purchase a residential property.
Equitable Bank’s alternative mortgage solutions can be customized to fit the circumstances of your clients. Whether your client is self-employed, a newcomer to Canada, currently rebuilding their credit, or an investor, we offer solutions to help them reach their homeownership goals.
▶ CONTACT YOUR RBM TODAY
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DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
How to build a more diverse team Michelle Gibbings explains how to push past unconscious bias to create a diverse team that can truly tackle complex problems
AS ORGANIZATIONS grapple with more complex decisions and an everincreasing pace of change, building a workforce equipped with the skills and experience to thrive in such an environment is critical. Finding this depth and breadth of talent means building a workforce that covers the full spectrum of diversity, including age, ethnicity, gender, thinking styles, disabilities and sexual orientation. To accomplish this, leaders need to challenge their decisionmaking patterns.
Seek out difference It’s natural to want to work with people you like and find easy to work with, and when you’re building a team or forming work groups, you often seek out such people. This is either done consciously or subconsciously. In the case of recruitment, for example, search criteria often specifically reference the desire to find a cultural fit. Cultural fit can mean different things to different people. Typically, if you ask people how they define whether someone is a cultural fit, they’ll give criteria such as:
lives the organization’s values
is able to work well with the team
will fit in with the rest of the group understands the organization’s objectives and buys into its vision
However, when you strip away the layers and get to the base-level drivers, what the person is looking for is someone they feel comfortable with – that is, someone they connect with because they can see aspects of themselves in that person.
friendly and a nice person. It’s about whether the hiring manager finds similarities with the person they’re interviewing. Research shows that we like people who are similar to us in terms of interests, backgrounds and experiences, and this has consequential impacts on hiring decisions. Researchers from Kellogg University found that getting hired for a job isn’t so much about the “soft or hard dimensions of
The more alike people are, the more likely they are to think along the same lines; therefore, there is less room for debate, discernment and disagreement Avoid likeability bias It’s often suggested that one of the key success criteria for a job interview is to come across as likeable – the premise being that the hiring manager has already positively assessed the candidate’s résumé for the required technical skills. Now all the hiring manager is seeking to test is whether they want to work with the person or not. This likeability isn’t just about being
the role,” but rather how similar the person being interviewed is to the person conducting the interview. It’s very easy for leaders to want to hire people who are like them. Similarity makes a person feel comfortable. However, when you hire people like you, you’re simply filling your team or work group with people who have similar backgrounds, experiences and thought processes.
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Improve decision-making Homogeneity can negatively impact how decisions are made. The more alike people are, the more likely they are to think along the same lines; therefore, there is less room for debate, discernment and disagreement. Separate research from Kellogg University found that diverse teams make better decisions. And that diversity isn’t just about gender or ethnicity – it also includes age, experience and background. The diverse groups outperformed the more homogeneous groups, not because of an influx of new ideas, but because the diversity triggered more careful processing of the information that was discussed. Complex problem-solving and critical thinking are the top two competencies that the World Economic Forum has identified as crucial to surviving in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This involves challenge, exploration, suspending judgment and being equipped with the cognitive capacity to look at problems in a different way – all of which is aided by having a diverse workforce. Successful, sustainable organizations recognize the need to equip their workforce with the capability and capacity to dig deeper into the mental models that drive
their thought processes and be ready to acquire knowledge from multiple sources and environments. Consequently, leaders need to be prepared to challenge their assumptions and expectations when building their teams.
Acknowledge the potential for bias, because we all have it to varying degrees.
Actively seek diversity of experience, background, ethnicity, age and gender (and all forms of diversity) when forming teams and work groups.
Recognize that the person at work who really annoys you is often the person you need to spend more time with. Why? Because the source of tension comes from their seeing the world differently than you, and this challenge to your frame of reference is good for your thought processes.
Invite other people into the decisionmaking process who can shift and provide alternate perspectives.
Build on strengths As part of this approach, leaders need to understand and then leverage the strengths
of their team. Research conducted over the last 30 years shows that taking a strengthsbased approach leads to greater work satisfaction, engagement and productivity. This is evidenced in Tom Rath and Barry Conchie’s book, Strengths Based Leadership, where they detail how working with strengths helps leaders be more effective. Leaders play a crucial role in bringing strengths to life at work – for both themselves and their team members. It starts with the leader understanding their own strengths and how they are best used at work. The next step is to help team members appreciate the strengths they bring to their role, and recognize and value the strengths their colleagues bring to their roles. This is best done through a series of team development activities, which will help team members understand and leverage their individual and collective strengths. Michelle Gibbings is the founder of Change Meridian and works with leaders and teams to help them get fit for the future of work. She is also the author of Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work and Career Leap: How to Reinvent and Liberate your Career. For more information, visit michellegibbings.com.
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TELL US ABOUT YOUR OTHER LIFE Email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Codsis in character as the Sa nderson sisters from Hocus Pocus, one of their favourite costu mes
Years the Codsi sisters have been doing cosplay
Number of Fan Expo and Comic Con events they’ve attended
Costumes the sisters have designed and crafted
FAN-TASTIC Brokers Stefanie and Marisa Codsi have become fixtures on the Fan Expo scene, turning their love for manga into an interactive celebration with fellow pop culture fanatics FOR THE past nine years, Stefanie and Marisa Codsi, the sister duo on Verico’s Codsi Mortgage Team, have been regular fixtures at Fan Expo, Toronto’s massive annual pop culture appreciation event, which is rivalled in size only by New York and San Diego’s iconic Comic Cons. Originally drawn to the event by its association with the Japanese comics they were fans of growing up, the Codsis have turned Fan Expo into a yearly pilgrimage.
The night before each event is a flurry of activity as Stefanie, Marisa and their younger sister prepare the weekend’s costumes. While they try to switch it up each year, Stefanie says one of their favourites is the Sanderson sisters from the Bette Midler-Sarah Jessica Parker film Hocus Pocus. “You get into character as the witches, and it’s just too much fun,” she says. The sisters have also been able to meet some of their Hollywood and sci-fi heroes,
who often take part in panel discussions and meet-and-greets with passionate fans. Among their biggest thrills were meeting the cast of the cult film Boondock Saints and Marvel Comics creator Stan Lee. Marisa says she’s drawn to the atmosphere of events like Fan Expo, where the enthusiasm and acceptance flowing from their fellow attendees is contagious. “I just love being around people who are so into something,” she says.
Photo: Bermingham Photography
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08/10/2020 9:48:27 pm
Empowering Mortgage Professionals with a Full Digital Experience
Lendesk and Mortgage Automator have partnered to offer mortgage professionals a combined network of alternative and private lenders in Canada. There is now more choice for mortgage originators submitting deals on Lendesk and an increased deal flow for private lenders on Mortgage Automator and Lendesk Gateway. VISIT US TO LEARN MORE lendesk.com | mortgageautomator.com
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08/10/2020 9:48:21 pm
Everybody has a story
And a mortgage application doesn’t tell it all Let’s partner and ask the right questions to truly understand your client’s story. Together, we can develop the right financial solution. To see the whole picture, visit hometrust.ca/realstories
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08/10/2020 9:38:03 pm