CMP 16.06

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CREAM OF THE CROP Discover who won big at this year’s Canadian Mortgage Awards


THE REGIONAL VIEW CMP takes the pulse of three markets around the country


Can the hectic pace of home-buying continue for the rest of 2021?

SPECIALIST BROKERS Five experts on how they carved out a profitable niche – and how you can, too


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ISSUE 16.06




Brokers specializing in commercial mortgages, construction, reverse mortgages and more open up about the benefits of honing a niche

We assume your vision doesn’t include waiting forever for money. With over $3 billion under administration and ready for immediate deployment, Romspen is a boutique non-bank mortgage lender specializing in commercial real estate in Canada and the US. For your financing of $10 million to $400 million we bring speed, agility, and a commitment to complex execution you will not find in larger institutions.

Blake Cassidy or Pierre Leonard | 800 494 0389 |


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APRIL 13, 2021_2:05PM

License # 10172


NA 7.25” x 5” TRIM: BLEED:1 NA







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ISSUE 16.06

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


UPFRONT 04 Editorial

The first steps in making the mortgage industry more welcoming to women


06 Statistics

Key data that should be on your radar

08 News analysis



43 32

How CMLS Financial is using cutting-edge technology to offer brokers and their clients a more seamless experience


14 2

12 Commercial update

What lasting impact will the pandemic have on the office segment?

FEATURES 34 Excellence through innovation


Rena Malkah reflects on her four-decade-plus career as a pioneer of female leadership and an outspoken advocate of broker education

The Big Six had an impressive Q2, despite a dip in customer satisfaction

What mortgage brokers should prioritize in a tech-forward future

Find out which brokers, brokerages and industry organizations nabbed a coveted trophy at the 2021 Canadian Mortgage Awards


10 Bank update

18 Opinion



Will the housing market stay hot in the latter half of 2021?


Citadel Mortgages has built a fast-growing operation by zeroing in on agent development

How CENTUM is pulling out all the stops to keep its brokers connected and thriving

36 In your corner

MERIX Financial offers up a solution to stress test woes

38 Walking the walk

What’s behind CWB Optimum Mortgage’s recent recognition as a Top Mortgage Employer



PEOPLE 64 Other life

For Tracy Valko, community service is the main event


What are some of the issues facing regional markets in Canada? CMP checked in with three industry players to find out


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GTA East

GTA North West

GTA South West

Alissa Kuksis

James Brinias

Joseph Pesce




The Manager, RiverRock Management Inc., is licensed as a Mortgage Administrator through FSRA (Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario). Mortgage Administrator License # 12514 | Mortgage Administrator License #13306

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Time to speak out


ver the course of the past several weeks, the chorus of women coming forward to speak about troubling experiences in the Canadian mortgage industry has become ever louder. They’ve described incidents of harassment, bullying and misconduct that have contributed to a sometimes hostile workplace environment. While it’s been heartening to also hear mortgage professionals praise the culture that exists in their own companies, with a clear stance against bullying and harassment in the workplace, the Canadian mortgage industry’s #MeToo moment should be cause for reflection among all who work in this space. It should go without saying that the behaviour described by those female mortgage professionals who have spoken out in recent weeks should have no place in this industry. The list of changes needed to make the mortgage industry a more receptive space for female professionals is much too long to document here. Still, a good start would be a full and frank appraisal of where the industry is currently going wrong across all areas and how we got to where we are today.

The Canadian mortgage industry’s #MeToo moment should be cause for reflection among all who work in this space Some of the most troubling testimonies in recent weeks have centred around industry events, with claims of unwarranted advances and inappropriate behaviour before and after the alcohol starts flowing. With an end to the COVID-19 pandemic slowly coming into view – and conferences set to make their return in the not-too-distant future – it’s clear that an honest discussion is required on the expectations of mortgage professionals attending these events. That conversation needs to take place in the workplace, too. The onus is on each of us to assess whether our behaviour has the potential to humiliate, threaten or ostracize others. The first step? Listening to the women who are speaking out on these issues. Taking their words on board and making sure their voices are heard in the effort to improve the environment many of them have described. It’s time to make sure harassment and bullying are stamped out wherever they occur in the industry. ISSUE 16.06 EDITORIAL


Managing Editor Paul Lucas

Vice-President, Sales John Mackenzie

Editor Fergal McAlinden

National Account Manager Corey Bahadur

News Editor David Kitai Writers Ephraim Vecina Mallory Hendry Copy Editor Clare Alexander

CONTRIBUTORS Greg Williamson

ART & PRODUCTION Designer Joenel Salvador Production Coordinators Loiza Razon Kat Guzman Client Success Coordinator Cole Dizon

Sales Executive Alan Stewart Global Head of Media Marketing Lisa Narroway Project Coordinator Jessica Duce

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



tel: 416 644 8740 • fax: 416 203 8940


Key Media Canada (Mortgage) Ltd. tel: +1 416 644 8740 Offices in Toronto, Sydney, Denver, Auckland, London, Manila

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


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

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COME SEE WHAT YOU’RE MISSING | ®/™ trademarks owned by Centum Financial Group Inc. (C) 2021 Centum Financial Group Inc. The intent of this communication is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a solicitation to anyone under contract with another mortgage brokerage operation.

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$167 billion Extra savings amassed by Canadians during 2020


MORTGAGE PAYMENTS TREND UPWARD The gradual rise in Canadians’ average monthly mortgage payments shows no signs of slowing down, even amid the pandemic’s impact on household purchasing power, according to recent CMHC data. A major contributor to higher monthly payments is the significant increase in home prices across Canada, CMHC said; according to CREA, the MLS Home Price Index rose by another 2.4% between March and April.






Average net savings per household in 2020




Average net savings per household in 2019

FOREIGN CONDO OWNERSHIP HOLDS STEADY DURING COVID-19 Non-resident ownership of condos in Canada’s major cities showed little movement during the pandemic, according to CMHC, which also noted that non-residents continue to show a clear preference for newer, larger buildings.


1.4% 0.9%


Sources: Better Dwelling; Statistics Canada


Toronto 2.9% 2.6%


2020 Calgary

Average net savings among 35- to 44-year-olds in 2020 (the highest level of any age group)


1.9% 1.3%

Montreal 1.7% 1.8%

Vancouver 1.1% 1.3% Source: CMHC

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WHERE ARE BORROWERS GETTING FINANCIAL INFORMATION? Although financial professionals are still the largest source of information on mortgages and other financial products, a recent study by LifeWorks found that a significant number of Canadians are relying on social media, friends or family members as their primary source of financial information.

11% Social media

22% Friends

40% Financial professionals

37% Family members




2020 Sources: CMHC; CREA

Source: LifeWorks



Scott Stirrett, CEO of entrepreneurship charity Venture for Canada, recently warned that Canadians are allocating a worrying proportion of their resources to housing. “Having your wealth concentrated in real estate exposes you to a housing market crash, thereby enhancing your financial risk,” Stirrett said.

Amid rising house prices, a growing number of Canadians – especially millennials – say they would gladly plunge into the morass of a bidding war if it meant securing their desired home, according to a recent survey by TD Bank Group.



32% Under age 35

Vancouver 64%


Victoria 58%

Age 35–54

Toronto 56%


Hamilton 34%

Age 55 and older

18% Source: TD 2021 Real Estate survey, TD Bank Group

Sources: Venture for Canada; National Bank of Canada

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Looking to the second half Canada’s home-buying frenzy continued through the first six months of 2021 – but can it stay on that trajectory for the rest of the year?

THOSE WHO expected an inevitable slowdown of the housing market’s hectic pace in the opening months of 2021 were left scratching their heads. Relentless homebuying activity continued to fuel the mortgage industry in the first half of the year, as a meteoric rise in house prices across Canada showed little sign of abating and demand far outstripped supply in key markets. Federal institutions signalled their concern at the red-hot market when the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) announced that it had decided to hike the stress test rate for uninsured mortgages. That news was swiftly followed by a statement from federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, who indicated that the stress test rate for insured mortgages would also rise. Those developments unfolded at a time

Industry attention has now shifted to the second half of the year and what implications those changing circumstances might have on Canada’s housing market. With immigration – traditionally a key driver of Canada’s homebuying activity – set to return to regular levels at last, many see little prospect of a market slowdown for the remainder of 2021. Some industry players felt the federal government’s intervention to cool down the housing market fell short of what was needed, as it failed to address the country’s longstanding supply issue. John Bargis, founder and CEO of the Coalition of Independent Mortgage Brokers of Canada (CIMBC), points to the difficult and often cumbersome property development process in Ontario as one of the main issues facing the province’s mortgage and real estate industries.

“The red tape one has to go through to bring a structure to fruition is insurmountable. That has to be minimized” John Bargis, CIMBC of increasing positivity around Canada’s eventual emergence from the pandemic. A rapidly accelerating vaccine rollout across the country suggests that a post-COVID-19 reopening could be on the horizon sooner than initially anticipated.


“The red tape one has to go through to bring a structure to fruition is insurmountable,” he says. “That has to be minimized – something that starts with the municipal governments. You’ve also got to deal with availability of land and find a way to [free up

land] for more construction. “Infrastructure is also very important; I don’t know how many promises have been made by governments to build infrastructure. However, not only does it take a lot longer than it should, they also way overshoot the budgets. That causes a whole lot of problems from a financial perspective and [in terms of ] delays.” Another factor the industry will be keeping a close eye on for the remainder of the year is the effect on the Bank of Canada’s overnight rate as the country moves out of lockdown. That rate, which plummeted as the pandemic took hold in Canada, was one of the key contributors to the market’s madcap activity – and a gradual rise seems inevitable as Canada’s COVID-19 recovery begins to take shape.

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$594, 200 May 2020

$596,100 June 2020

$598,300 July 2020

$610,800 August 2020

$619,900 September 2020

$626,800 October 2020

$631,700 November 2020

$636,300 December 2020

$643,700 January 2021

$657,900 February 2021

$685,300 Boris Bozic, founder and CEO at MERIX Financial, is quick to warn against doomsaying on the prospect of interest rate hikes, pointing out that the rate decreases at the

marketplace,” he says. “They are only at these rates today because of the underlying economic data – we are still in a rather fragile economy. We have a sector of the economy,

“We have to remember that the prime rate today is being artificially suppressed to provide more liquidity in the marketplace” Boris Bozic, MERIX Financial beginning of the pandemic were a sign of the uncertainty and instability that had gripped the market. “I think we have to remember that the prime rate today is being artificially suppressed to provide more liquidity in the

the real estate sector, which has performed magnificently during the global pandemic; you have other sectors that are suffering.” It’s expected that interest rates could start moving upward sooner rather than later, as the Bank of Canada recently indicated that

March 2021

$713,500 April 2021

$731,600 Source:

it could begin increasing the overnight rate in 2022, rather than its earlier projection of 2023. Still, Bozic believes a rate increase would be a sign that stability is returning to the economy – a development that would ultimately be positive for Canada’s overall economic outlook. “I don’t view the prime rate going up as a negative – it’s a sign that the underlying economic data is getting better on a much broader basis,” Bozic says. “A healthy economy is good for our overall business in the long run.”

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BANK UPDATE NEWS BRIEFS Banks brace for slowdown in mortgage growth

Canada’s biggest lenders are bracing for a slowdown in mortgage growth now that stricter qualifying rules have taken effect. While the latest quarterly reports showed that the country’s major banks beat earnings predictions, analysts are increasingly concerned that the new mortgage stress test rules, which raised the qualifying rate from 4.79% to 5.25%, could reduce activity and inhibit mortgage growth. In addition, Edward Jones analyst James Shanahan told Reuters that “there’s a fair amount of uncertainty in Canada about the strength and magnitude of the economic recovery due to repeated pandemic-related lockdowns.”

Bank of Canada quashes talk of launching its own digital currency

While the Bank of Canada is monitoring the rise of digital currencies, it currently has no plans to launch its own, according to a senior BoC official. Speaking on a Canadian Chamber of Commerce webinar, deputy governor Timothy Lane said the bank doesn’t currently see a strong case for issuing a digital currency. Among other hurdles, Lane said launching a digital currency would mean having to reassure Canadians that the government would be unable to monitor private transactions through it.

Laurentian Bank posts positive second-quarter results

Laurentian Bank reported net income of $53.1 million for the second quarter of 2021, up from $8.9 million during the same period last year. The Montrealbased bank’s total revenue for Q2 was $249.8 million, compared with

$240.1 million a year prior. Additionally, Laurentian’s commercial loans and acceptances increased by 4% between October 2020 and April 2021, which the bank attributed to the ongoing resilience of the commercial real estate market during the COVID-19 pandemic. Residential mortgage loans decreased by 3% over the same period.

Equitable Bank earns high marks from Fitch Ratings

Canadian alternative lender Equitable Bank has earned a stamp of approval from Fitch Ratings, which described it as “adequately positioned … to take advantage of growing branchless banking trends that have been accelerated by the pandemic.” Fitch’s long-term and short-term issuer default ratings for the bank stood at BBB- and F3, respectively, and it described the outlook for those ratings as stable. Fitch said its ratings reflect Equitable’s “small but growing franchise in Canada” and noted that it has “done an effective job at establishing itself in the niche alternative single-family mortgage market.”

Former BoC governor mulls post-pandemic economy

In a recent interview with BNN Bloomberg, former Bank of Canada governor David Dodge said that while a normalized post-pandemic economy is most likely, the market shouldn’t rule out the possibility of a new and unpredictable economic reality. Dodge said that while the consensus among experts is that “we’ll be back into an economy that looks not wildly different from that which we had in 2019 … I think there’s a good 30% chance that that will not be the case and that we will be into a rather different period than the one we experienced for the last 25 years.”

The Big Six’s bumper quarter Canada’s biggest banks recorded strong Q2 earnings – but a recent survey suggests their customers are less than satisfied The Big Six Canadian banks had a solid second quarter on the earnings front – several managed to beat analysts’ predictions and reported strong results, fuelled by significant reductions in provisions for credit losses. TD and RBC were among the banks to announce the most spectacular Q2 results. RBC’s profit totalled $4 billion (171% higher than a year earlier), while TD recorded a net income profit of $3.7 billion – 144% higher than its performance at the same time last year. While National Bank saw its shares slide slightly after reporting less impressive earnings than its competitors, its results still topped estimates and included a 50% rise in net income from its financial markets unit. The news that most of the Big Six had enjoyed a stellar quarter was welcome news for those institutions, arriving just weeks after a survey suggested that customers’ satisfaction with their banks dropped during the pandemic. Research firm J.D. Power reported in May that the country’s leading banks were largely responsible for an overall decline in Canadians’ satisfaction with their financial institutions. Only 43% of Canadian consumers said they felt supported by their banks; according to J.D. Power, customers whose finances took a hit during the pandemic were most likely to


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report dissatisfaction – particularly on the subject of fees, a consistently contentious issue. Uncertainty around mortgage deferrals also figured prominently in that dissatisfaction, along with changes to RRSP or TFSA accounts and a lack of convenience concerning products and fees.

“High digital engagement among customers is associated with an increase in satisfaction” “Nearly four in 10 customers have been financially affected by the pandemic,” said John Cabell, J.D. Power’s director of banking and payments intelligence. “The subsequent financial insecurity leads to lower trust and satisfaction, especially around understanding of fees, which trigger disputes and dissatisfaction.” That dissatisfaction appears to have had little impact on the banks’ performance during the first half of the year – although Cabell believes banks need to do a much better job in servicing their clients in a number of areas. “If banks want to turn the tide, they should focus on improving interactions with customers, communicating proactively, providing advice and showing support,” he said. The report also stressed that keeping up with technology is crucial. “High digital engagement among customers is associated with a 25-point increase in satisfaction,” the report said. “This further emphasizes the banks’ need to stay on top of technology advancements and evolve current offerings to meet customer needs.”


Jason Provencher Vice-president, national sales BRIDGEWATER BANK

Years in the industry 30+ Fast fact Provencher is an avid hockey card collector whose prized collection includes a Wayne Gretzky rookie card

The human connection What’s new at Bridgewater Bank in 2021? This year has been all about making business easier and more profitable for our brokers. The biggest news is that we recently launched our Peak Performance Program – it’s an incentive program that rewards broker loyalty and efficiency. We wanted to deepen our existing partnerships while rewarding brokers for the work they do every day, and this program is designed to do that. We also took a hard look at our policies and processes and improved those as well to work hand-in-hand with the program. On the personnel side, we expanded our expert underwriting team in Calgary, and we brought on a new team in Ontario for our Eastern brokers, who can now rely on local expertise in their own time zone. They asked and we listened. As well, we completed our leadership team with Dave Fromow, our new VP of enterprise risk, with specific emphasis on mortgage underwriting and fraud mitigation. Fromow’s impressive CV and expertise in credit risk and financial analytics, combined with our focus on improving technology and process, is a winning formula for our next stage of growth.

What do you see as Bridgewater Bank’s unique value proposition? Without question, it’s providing that human connection – the ability to call us and talk to an expert when you need one. Our passion is to get your deal done, to get your client the mortgage they need. In every case, we’ll work hard to try and make it work. That’s why we hire expert underwriters and BDMs who focus solely on alternative lending – it’s what they do all day, every day.

What are some of the advantages for mortgage brokers when working with Bridgewater? Again, we think the greatest advantage is being able to reach out and talk to experts about your deal. Alt deals can be complex and require a teamwork approach. Also, our new loyalty program – it’s an easy way for them to earn more just by doing what they already do. Couple that with our vast lending areas that extend into smaller communities where other lenders may not go – that’s a significant benefit to brokers. We are heading into our 25th year as a broker lender. Over those 25 years, we’ve built a discernible, trusted brand and strong partnerships in the industry, making us a go-to lender. Finally, we continue to build up a large archive of content, free for the taking – articles that help brokers be successful in this space, which is a great value-add.

How can brokers get started with Bridgewater? It’s simple: Just talk to us. Call up the BDM team in your region for a consultation and book a success webinar. Visit to sign up for our e-newsletter and check out what we do – including how we’ve helped clients in real-life situations.

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What’s the future of the office? As Canada’s reopening looms, a key question remains: Will workers return to the office?

interaction between colleagues. That’s a key reason why Darren Neziol of private commercial lender Reciprocal Opportunities Incorporated (ROI) foresees a gradual return to the office in the coming years. “It’s important for people to get into the office, for companies to operate at maximum efficiency and for employees to build relationships with their co-workers,” he says. “That’s tough to do working from home, so I do think that over the next three years, you’ll see a transition back into the office space.”

“As more companies adopt a hybrid model of work, they will reduce their traditional office leasing footprint”

One of the hottest topics in the commercial mortgage space for more than a year has been the future of traditional office space. With most of the Canadian workforce driven into a remote work model by the COVID-19 pandemic, much conjecture has focused on whether things will simply go back to normal when the country reopens. Despite the perks of remote work – the time and money saved by not commuting, better work-life balance – it seems there’s not


an overwhelming appetite for workers to stay home all week. In a recent report, Colliers Canada revealed that only 2% of the 156 companies it surveyed were planning to keep their employees working remotely full-time, while 58% indicated they would likely move toward a hybrid model with some time at home and some in the office. Among the reasons for companies’ unwillingness to contemplate a permanent remote work arrangement is the lack of face-to-face

Conditions stabilize in commercial market

Swelling confidence in the economy’s prospects helped conditions in the Canadian commercial property market stabilize, according to Morguard’s 2021 Canadian Economic Outlook and Market Fundamentals Q1 Update. Multi-suite residential rental properties continued to generate strong bids from investors, and industrial investment demand also remained robust across the country, Morguard said. However, investors took a more cautious approach to office and non-essential retail property asset acquisitions.

Still, the study provided further food for thought for commercial mortgage professionals, given its projection that office vacancies could rise over the next few years as a hybrid model between home and the office evolves. “As more companies adopt a hybrid model of work, they will reduce their traditional office leasing footprint,” Colliers predicted. “Alongside the 2.15% increase in vacancy we have seen over the past year, the additional 5.7% increase expected within the next four years will bring the total vacancy impact close to the 8.5% we forecasted in June 2020.”

Commercial deal flow in Canada remains strong

Market liquidity and deal flow in the Canadian commercial mortgage sector remained strong during the first quarter of 2021, in spite of some lingering concerns, according to CMLS Financial. Total outstanding commercial real estate debt stood at $349 billion at the end of 2020, representing a 7% annual upswing, despite a 2% year-over-year decline in origination. CMLS said the market “was buoyed by especially strong lending in the CMHC-insured space, which saw origination volumes increase 45% year-over-year.”


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Norm Arychuk Mortgage broker, Debt Capital Markets group AVISON YOUNG

Years in the industry 30+ Fast fact Arychuk specializes in providing innovative financing solutions and strategic counsel to clients in North American debt and equity real estate

Navigating a changing commercial landscape What’s new with the commercial mortgage market in 2021? Marked change is shaping the evolving landscape. Early in the pandemic, lenders reassessed their exposures to businesses and industries that could not make rent nor mortgage payments. With the arrival of 2021, lenders’ risk aversion has changed to show a keen interest, for the most part, in quality mortgage investments. We continue to see lower risk tolerance in hospitality and some pockets of retail. In general, we note that lenders are doing a deeper dive as a part of their underwriting processes, carefully assessing tenants’ historical performance and their ability to pay rent. To best serve clients, we must remain in tune with the market to respond to sensitive, everevolving conditions. What factors will determine the future of Canada’s commercial mortgage sector in the post-pandemic landscape? The pandemic saw a dramatic rise in e-commerce. We do not see this trend ending, nor do we expect bricks-and-mortar retail stores to disappear, particularly where consumers desire tangible, in-person shopping experiences. We expect investors to continue favouring warehouse fulfilment centres, cross-docking and distribution centres. The stability and predictability of real estate income, such as multi-unit residential, will be most sought-after, commanding the lowest cap rates. Office use will be redefined as businesses assess their return-to-work

E-commerce transforms the industrial segment

The online shopping boom has fundamentally altered the pace of industrial asset demand in Canada, according to a recent analysis by CBRE – and new industrial space isn’t being built fast enough to fulfill this appetite. During the first quarter, industrial availability across Canada was at 2.9%, down from 3.3% during Q4 2020, CBRE reported. “We’re seeing multiple offers on any space that’s available, especially anything that’s existing and you can occupy this year,” said Jason Kiselbach, SVP and managing director of CBRE Vancouver.

strategies. We anticipate that cap rates will rise on a risk/reward basis. Barring a major change in financial markets, we expect real estate will continue its run until there is a slowdown in growth or some oversupply. What is Avison Young’s value proposition in the commercial mortgage space? We bring significant experience from the lenders’ side through to the borrower. We have established lender relationships and a deep understanding of their concerns; however, we do not have exclusive obligations or commitments to any specific lenders, giving us the freedom and transparency to seek the best debt capital source when it comes to rate, structure and execution. Among Avison Young’s most important offerings is our holistic approach: Our service does not end at placement, because we are relationship-driven and not transaction-based. With the resources of a full-service real estate advisory firm, we are positioned to provide a toolkit of customized solutions backed by real-time data and technology. How would you describe Avison Young’s relationship with the mortgage broker community? Avison Young is competitive yet supportive and respectful. We have a deep-seated knowledge of the sectors in which we work, and we often liaise with other members of our industry to develop and share best business practices, allowing for a free flow of industry knowledge.

MCAN reports good commercial, construction results

In its first-quarter financial results, MCAN Mortgage Corporation reported $121 million in originations on the construction and commercial side. That represented an annual increase of $31 million, or 34%. Overall, the company’s assets totalled $1.61 billion during the quarter, an increase of $53 million, or 3%, from the fourth quarter of 2020. The company saw net income of $15.9 million during the first quarter of 2021, compared to the net loss of $9.7 million it realized during the same period in 2020.

Vancouver’s industrial market remains tight

Record-low vacancy and rapidly appreciating rental rates are contributing to a tight industrial market in Vancouver, according to Avison Young’s Spring 2021 Industrial Overview Report. These trends are driving sales and leasing activity from owner-occupiers, tenants and investors, the firm said, prompting developers to “pursue new development in increasingly complex settings to keep up with demand.” Vancouver’s industrial vacancy during Q1 was 0.9% – virtually unchanged from the end of 2020.

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BLAZING A TRAIL CYR Funding president Rena Malkah looks back on a remarkable career in which she’s helped pave the way for other women in the mortgage industry

RENA MALKAH’S journey as a selfstarting businesswoman began in a rented office space in Toronto, where she sat on a stack of Yellow Pages and made calls from a wall-mounted telephone. Malkah was just 22 when she set out on her own, equipped with little more than a $3,500 bank loan and the phone numbers of whatever real estate brokers she could find in the directory. Yet she also had a keen entrepreneurial mind and a resolute spirit – traits that helped her build an accomplished career in the Canadian mortgage space, establish CYR Funding as a leading independent firm in Ontario and emerge as a trailblazer for women in the industry. “There were no other women doing this,” she says. “It’s hard to believe, because it doesn’t seem like that long ago, but women were basically not allowed to borrow without a man’s signature. If a woman worked at a bank, they were a teller, not a manager, and there weren’t too many women doing anything other than administration and secretarial [work]. There were no women in positions of authority.” In some quarters of the male-dominated mortgage world, Malkah says she was viewed as a “novelty.” Still, those perceptions quickly changed as she carved out a reputation as an influential figure, taking up a prominent position within the Ontario Mortgage


Brokers Association (OMBA) and eventually being named its president in 1984, becoming the first woman to lead the organization. She can still remember the headline that appeared on the front cover of OMBA’s magazine in the late 1970s: “Rena goes to Queen’s Park.” It arrived as Malkah became increasingly involved on the legislative front, playing a pivotal role in the establishment

accounting section and an appraiser for the appraisal section. I taught the commercial finance section. It was a very good course.” During her time as OMBA president, Malkah also created the association’s first trade show and conference, an annual two-day event whose longevity was only interrupted by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

“There were no other women doing this [in the 1970s]. It’s hard to believe, because it doesn’t seem like that long ago, but women were basically not allowed to borrow without a man’s signature” of a two-level licensing system and laying the groundwork for the entrance of mortgage agents into the industry in Ontario. She was also instrumental in furthering the education of the province’s mortgage brokers throughout her time with OMBA. “Half the brokers in the province of Ontario have my signature on their education certificate, which entitles them to apply for a licence,” she says. “I created the course back then, bringing an accountant to teach the

“I’m very proud of those accomplishments – bringing in the two-level system and starting the trade show and conference,” she says.

The importance of education Malkah’s strong focus on the educational opportunities afforded to mortgage professionals is one of the reasons she’s an outspoken critic of current training standards in Ontario.

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PROFILE Name: Rena Malkah Title: President, CFO, CEO and broker of record Company: CYR Funding Based in: Toronto Years in the industry: 47 Fast fact: Malkah is an avowed proponent of Napoleon Hill’s Think & Grow Rich, which she recommends everyone starting out in the industry read “at least three times”

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“I don’t think agents are being properly trained, and I don’t think that the burden should be on the broker to train them,” she says. “I think there should be better education courses to prepare the agents. There are so many different problems you have to solve in this business: You have to know about real estate law, contract law, appraisal, how to value a property using an income approach, how to read financial statements to calculate if [clients] can afford to make the payments. You have to learn how to package a deal properly and how to sell it to the lender.” While Malkah has made a case for different educational courses during her deliberations with government bodies, she

mortgage brokers in the whole province of Ontario, and hardly anybody knew what a mortgage broker did or had heard of them,” she says. “It was a very new industry and a pretty close-knit industry. The biggest change is that there are so many people who have chosen to be a mortgage agent or broker as a career and so many more people coming into the industry all the time – it’s become extremely competitive in certain niches.” Central to her success, Malkah says, has been a constant willingness to establish meaningful connections with potential and existing clients, moving beyond a merely transactional approach.

“The biggest change is that there are so many people who have chosen to be a mortgage agent or broker as a career … it’s become extremely competitive in certain niches” believes they have never demonstrated much interest in updating standards, which she feels is the wrong approach. “Their focus is mainly legislation – following the rules and regulations, protecting the public,” she says. “But to me, education protects the public, because if you have people who don’t know what they’re doing dealing with big financial matters, how is that protecting them?”

Recipe for success Throughout the course of her decades-long career, Malkah has witnessed many significant changes in the mortgage industry. Perhaps the most notable, she says, has been the growth of the broker channel since she started out in the 1970s. “Back then, there were only about 500


“Have a marketing plan, and when you contact people, make sure they’re on your database and that you keep in touch with them at least once a month,” she advises. “After a while, they feel like they know you. I maintain a big database, and I keep in touch with the people on it. You also want to be able to get your clients the best deal, so you have to establish relationships with all types of lenders – institutions and private lenders – so that you have the sources available.” She’s also learned the value of believing in herself and having the faith to persist in the face of daunting odds. “Make a plan and stick to your plan,” she says. “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Believe in yourself and be confident. Don’t be afraid to call people. What’s the worst thing they can do? Hang up on you? You won’t die. Call the next one.”



Serves as education chair of the Ontario Mortgage Brokers Association


Is named the OMBA’s first female president


Makes CMP ’s Top 10 Commercial Brokers list


Is inducted into the CMP Hall of Fame


Receives the Lifetime Achievement in the Mortgage Industry Award at the Canadian Mortgage Awards

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A mortgage in minutes Technological advances are giving brokers greater freedom than ever to focus on what’s important, writes Lendesk’s Greg Williamson FOR YEARS, the Canadian mortgage industry was seen as lagging behind other industries when it came to innovation, technology and choice. Recently, though, we’ve seen an influx in new technologies, which is a fantastic opportunity for this industry. We need technology to optimize the mortgage process for both brokers and borrowers. This need was highlighted by the pandemic, which made adoption of technology and virtual options during the home-buying process a must-have, not a nice-to-have. At Lendesk, we have a vision of a mortgage in minutes – an exciting future I first imagined when I started Finmo four years ago. At one time, this would have been seen as an astronomical vision. Imagining a world where a mortgage broker could send an application link to their client, have required documentation and consent completed, find the right lender for the application, and submit it directly to a lender, all within minutes, felt unfathomable. However, with the accelerating pace of technology in the industry, the reality of completing a mortgage in minutes is not too far off. Now is absolutely one of the most exciting times to be a mortgage professional. As we move faster and faster as an industry toward that reality, brokers can and should be spending more of their high-value time doing what they do best: giving the best guidance and advice on mortgage strategy. By removing costly and time-consuming administrative barriers from the process, brokers can do more deals and solidify client relationships with exceptional support and


advice. We need to embrace this new reality and have high expectations for what technology can truly do for us. With the rush to adopt digital inclusions to the home-buying experience, the past year had a steep learning curve. Still, the transition was much needed; Canadian mortgage brokers are dealing with clients who are used to digital experiences like Uber and Skip the

products that help you analyze a customer’s application and identify what documents are required from the get-go. By using an option that allows the client to fill out the application, consent to a credit check and upload the required documents, the administrative burden is removed from the broker, which is crucial for speed and efficiency. With software handling administrative tasks, mortgage professionals can focus their efforts on client relationships and mortgage expertise – especially when it comes to providing borrowers with choice to determine the right product fit. While it’s often easy for a mortgage professional to know which lender or product their client should go for, it’s all about choice for the client. Technology should help you here as well. Spreadsheets and Facebook groups can cost you valuable time when you’re trying to get an answer for a client. Make sure you’re using technology to speed this up, using a product that gives you access to as many lender rates and products as possible.

“Technology should assist you in improving your borrower experience. You should be proud of the process you take your borrowers through” Dishes. Our clients expect these experiences, regardless of what they’re trying to purchase. In fact, purchasing a home is one of the most important experiences someone will undertake, making a seamless digital experience even more necessary. Canadian mortgage professionals who adopt technology will be able to provide their clients this necessary digital experience and do it in a matter of minutes. Technology should assist you in improving your borrower experience. You should be proud of the process you take your borrowers through. In addition to an improved borrower experience, technology should help you work faster and smarter as a mortgage professional, removing administrative burdens and other time-consuming elements. Look for

Ultimately, technology should save mortgage professionals time and allow them to focus on what they’re good at. I’d argue that a mortgage in minutes is the new reality, and software that doesn’t help you facilitate that is holding you back. At Lendesk, we’re passionate about choice and competition in the industry – there are a lot of great solutions out there to help you. Make sure you do your research and find one that is easy to onboard, has responsive customer support and allows you to work smarter and faster. A mortgage in minutes is within your grasp. Greg Williamson is the chief revenue officer at mortgage fintech company Lendesk.

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EXPERTS IN THE FIELD CMP caught up with five brokers who have developed specialties in various niches to find out how mortgage professionals can distinguish themselves by narrowing their focus IT CAN be at once lucrative, challenging, exhilarating and rewarding: the art of perfecting a niche as a mortgage broker and developing an area of expertise that diverges from the standard path. Alongside conventional brokers, a host of specialists have carved out their livelihoods by funding a specific type of mortgage, from commercial


and construction products to reverse mortgages and AAA options. CMP set out to locate some of the mortgage professionals who have found a home in a pocket of the broker channel, focusing their business and catering to the needs of a smaller clientele. We wanted to find out everything: how each broker had identified

their niche, moved into the space and made it their own – and what differentiates their day-to-day role from the traditional notion of mortgage brokering. As we discovered, each sector features its own unique set of advantages and complications – and it appears that none of these specialists would change that for the world.

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space by accident. When I started brokering, my hand was in every pot, trying to find my own specialty. I was exposed to many opportunities early in my brokering career, but I had no idea how to do them. For me, it was trial and error without a support system to rely on. One of my clients insisted that I look after his commercial financing needs. Since then, it has taken off into a steady state and continues to grow rapidly. What’s different about how you approach your role? JS: My approach has always been the same as my brand, JasontheMortgageDr. com. I provide a hands-on approach like a specialist doctor. I take the extra time to understand the client, their current and future objectives, and also put together a realistic action plan to follow through. I believe open communication and transparency are a must for all parties involved to be satisfied. Although polite, I am blunt and to the point. I do not sugarcoat anything. Being understanding, showing empathy and being versatile while passionate in challenging times like today all factor into my personalized approach.

JASON SOHL Mortgage broker VERICO Fair Mortgage Solutions Specialty: Small to mid-sized commercial

A broker in the VERICO network, Jason Sohl has developed his niche in the small to mid-size commercial realm. Based in Hamilton, Ontario, he describes himself as having “a soft spot” for self-employed borrowers, forging that connection through his own status as an independent entrepreneur. How did you first get into your specialty? Jason Sohl: I got into [the commercial]

What are the main challenges of your specialization? JS: Pre-COVID, there were already challenges in this area. Being in the middle of a pandemic intensified those challenges. With lenders constantly changing their risk appetite and tolerances that were not there previously, staying current with product and service offerings, along with transaction timing, has been the main challenge. It’s important to educate borrowers on the current challenges upfront to help manage and mitigate timing of transactions, as there are multiple moving parts that have external influences that impact the overall experience.

“I provide a handson approach like a specialist doctor, [taking] extra time to understand the client and put together a realistic action plan to follow through” How do you differentiate yourself from competitors in this sphere? JS: Over the years, I have built up a solid referral network, ranging from past and current clients to professional partner networks. I pride myself on being personal, honest and available. Taking on too much at a time can lead to deteriorating quality, which is the opposite of what I am trying to achieve. My personal motto has always been “quality over quantity.” If you provide the quality first, quantity will automatically follow suit wherever you go. These words are my personal mantra that I practice every day. What’s your advice for brokers who are looking to enter the commercial space? JS: My initial advice to brokers entering this space is to create an action plan. Educate yourself on what the scope is in commercial financing, as the scope is broad. Pick a segment that interests you and constantly be ready to learn as your own subject-matter expert. Find a reliable, patient, and experienced mentor and peer group to help you along. Do not take on more than you can handle. If it is outside of your scope and expertise, either refer on or get some help so you can do the job properly. Remember to always thank those who have helped you along.

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by good service, using those marketing channels – just seems to attract a high quality of consumer. It’s more a reality of the types of people choosing to go with our company as opposed to us actively trying to do it that way. What’s different about how you approach your role? JL: You can expect the consumer to be very well educated, very informed about how mortgages work, what the best rates are, what they can get. The AAA client knows they’re an AAA client, so they’re very demanding. The main competition is usually the home banks – that’s who you’re competing against, and usually that consumer will get a quote from the home bank and from us, and they’re pretty good at playing the two off each other.

JAMES LAIRD President/co-founder CanWise Financial/ Specialty: AAA mortgages

As president of CanWise Financial and co-founder of, James Laird is a well-known face in Canada’s mortgage industry. He specializes in AAA mortgages, serving clients with pristine credit scores and highly favourable income. How did you first get into your specialty? James Laird: Our average credit score is over 800, so in a way, it’s the types of customers who are choosing us as opposed to the other way around. It seems as though the way we do things – in an online-first manner backed up


with the home bank. Your service has to be really sharp, or you’re not going to win that client. How do you differentiate yourself from competitors in this sphere? JL: I would say customer service and superior technology would be the two things – and of course, the pricing needs to be sharp as well. The AAA customers demand everything. You can’t just have good customer service and have poor technology and bad rates – that’s not going to do it. You need to tick every box, or else they’re not going to go with you. What’s your advice for brokers who are looking to enter this space? JL: There are two types of client. There’s a type of client where you’ve done a good job if you’re able to qualify them for what

“Be prepared to go toe-to-toe with the [client’s] home bank. Your service has to be really sharp, or you’re not going to win that client” So it’s a challenging sales environment, and they demand really good service, including timely responses. They want to be speaking with someone who’s informed and educated – they’re quite demanding from a service perspective as well. What are the main challenges of your specialization? JL: You have to be prepared to fight hard against whoever your customer does their day-to-day banking with. This customer usually has investable assets, and they’re a very attractive customer in the bank’s eyes. That means that the banks are able to make great exceptions for this type of customer that they wouldn’t for another customer. Be prepared to go toe-to-toe

they’re looking for. They’re not as ratesensitive, and it doesn’t have to be as timely because the main objective is to get them qualified. What’s different in this case, with AAA clients, is that they qualify everywhere and they know it. Of course you have to get them qualified, but that’s the baseline. You have to add a lot of things on top of that – technology, customer service and excellent rates – to win these customers. Of course these customers will get approved – so now we need to see how we stack up against the aggressive competition. You need to win this client; they’re not just going to go with you by default because they can get this from anywhere. So if you haven’t won it, you’ve lost it.

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is something that comes from years in the industry. With more than 30 years of experience, my teams have become adept at evaluating the hurdles facing clients, and one of those is the fact that a lot of the time, new homebuyers turn to their parents to help them qualify. We identified that type of situation as one that the wealth mortgage can help deal with. I think it’s a great product to allow people to help their children and give back while they’re alive. What’s different about how you approach your role? KL: Understanding the wealth or reverse mortgage properly is very important. It’s

any negative perceptions they may have. It’s a fantastic product, and the proper terminology is very important when marketing it. Communication skills are crucial when selling this type of mortgage: getting the message across that it’s an excellent option for a certain type of client, and it’s also exceptionally fair in its interest rates and qualification requirements. How do you differentiate yourself from competitors in this sphere? KL: The main way of differentiating yourself from competitors in the reverse mortgage space is by making sure you have as comprehensive an understanding of the product as possible. At present, it’s a small

“[Reverse mortgages are] a small but growing space, so you have to ensure that you have a strong grasp of what you’re selling and its benefits for your clients” KEN LINDSAY Broker of reccord Mortgage Financial Corporation Specialty: Reverse mortgages

Based in Hamilton, Ontario, Ken Lindsay has developed a specialization in reverse mortgages, which he describes as “wealth mortgages.” Typically offered to Canadians aged 55 and over, these mortgage products allow homeowners to access the equity in their homes through a secured loan. How did you first get into your specialty? Ken Lindsay: Assessing people’s needs and understanding their future concerns

our job to realize how the needs of our clients can be met through this product. There are so many different reasons for having this type of mortgage – maybe the client wants to start dispersing some of their nest egg when they’re alive as opposed to all at once when they’ve passed on. Maybe they would like to pay or help pay for a wedding, or maybe they would like to help one of their children or grandchildren obtain a house. Being able to identify this product as a suitable one for clients in that situation is very important. What are the main challenges of your specialization? KL: The main issue is the misconception that people sometimes have of the product. That’s clearly the biggest challenge – to understand what you’re selling so you can help clients overcome

but growing space, so you have to ensure that you have a strong grasp of what you’re selling and its benefits for your clients. What’s your advice for brokers who are looking to enter the reverse mortgage space? KL: My main advice would be that brokers should have a system in place. I’ve been in this business for a long time, and I started out by priding myself on not having an assistant or a program in place. That’s probably the worst thing I could have done. Once I had that system, I regretted the fact that I didn’t put it in place when I started. It’s a lot easier to learn the right way when you have time and are able to delegate other duties to the rest of your team. That will allow you to pay full attention to the product and develop a full understanding of it.

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How did you first get into your specialty? Michel Durand: I started my career in commercial mortgages 27 years ago. My first real job, straight out of university, was as a commercial account manager at a national bank. I stayed on the commercial side and quickly moved to commercial real estate financing. While at the bank, I never knew mortgage brokers existed, as very few brokers ventured into the commercial space. Nineteen years ago, I decided to leave the bank – after convincing my wife it was a good idea – and started my own boutique brokerage as a broker dedicated the commercial mortgage arena. I have never processed a residential mortgage in my career, and if someone asked me to help them out, I wouldn’t know where to start, other than referring them to an expert broker on the residential side.

MICHEL DURAND Founder and CEO Multi-Prêts Commercial Specialty: Commercial

Michel Durand oversees an organization whose agents specialize in negotiating and securing commercial mortgages specific to different asset classes, with loans that are generally $5 million or more. He says that puts an extra onus on each agent to master the asset class they’re working on and steer the deal over the finish line.


What are the main challenges of your specialization? MD: Lenders change their appetite for financing different asset classes every quarter. [For example], if a lender booked a large amount of industrial properties during the first quarter, they will not necessarily be motivated to add to that asset class in their portfolio mix in order to balance out their risk across asset classes in their portfolio, and as such, the terms and conditions they offer will not be as competitive. The same happens in reverse. If a lender has been repaid on a lot of multi-unit residential loans during Q1, they will tend to be much more aggressive and provide better terms and conditions on those types of loans in Q2 in order to replace that portion of their portfolio mix. The only way to ensure that you are offering the best terms and conditions to borrowers with commercial mortgage requirements is to understand and know which lenders are motivated to provide

better terms and conditions on different asset classes at different times during the year. In our case at MCommercial, the lenders contact us regularly to let us know which asset class they will be more aggressive on.

“Unless the [commercial] broker is doing the entire underwriting of the file before submitting the loan to the lender, then the broker is nothing but a glorified delivery person” What’s different about how you approach your role? MD: Most lenders prefer not dealing with brokers on commercial mortgage transactions. This is because most brokers believe that submitting a commercial mortgage to a lender means providing the lender with a series of documents and information and having the lender figure out what the borrower should get. In my opinion, unless the broker is doing the entire underwriting of the file before submitting the loan to the lender, then the broker is nothing but a glorified delivery person. When the lender gets a properly underwritten commercial mortgage request that mitigates and identifies all the challenges in the file, then the lender will collaborate gladly with the broker referring the deal, and the process will be expedited. How do you differentiate yourself from competitors in this sphere?

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MD: I believe that MCommercial has earned the respect of its peers and partners and is at the top of its class because of the transparency, integrity and dedication that transpires in each transaction we have the opportunity to work on. I believe a good part of our success is due to the extraordinary collaboration we have with all of our lending partners. Our lending partners have become used to how easy it is for them to get to the finish line when we are involved. When they see our underwriting in the pile on their desk, they will start with ours, as they know it will be complete and the

headache that generally goes along with files will be minimized. What’s your advice for brokers who are looking to enter the commercial space? MD: Without a shadow of a doubt, the first piece of advice would be to find a mentor. It is impossible to transition into this market space and hope to be successful without having an experienced broker showing you the ropes. The market is changing constantly. The lenders are always changing or updating their requirements and expectations when underwriting commercial mortgage

transactions. Find a successful mortgage broker dedicated to the commercial space and collaborate with them on transactions. There is no manual and no course that will teach you how to be successful at commercial mortgage brokering. The best way is on-the-job training by living through the challenges of each file in order to understand how to keep the lenders focused to get past the issues there are in every file. There is a saying I use regularly: “If your deal has not died three times, then it’s not ready to close.” Do not give up. Provide the lender and borrower the solution, keep calm, and close the deal. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd mortgages No income documents required No credit qualification required Quick closings Flexible solutions for each deal 3 month or 6 month terms available, fully open Will lend behind private lenders* *Subject to underwriting Hosper Mortgage provides fast approvals and quick closings in the alternative lending space. We lend on residential 1st, 2nd, and 3rd mortgages all across Ontario. We’re an equity based lender, with no income or credit qualifications & no hidden fees.

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construction financing as a cyclical relationship with repeat clientele, which differentiates it from traditional mortgages. How did you get into your specialty? Ty Naemsch: Home-building itself, as well as the financing process, has always been a passion of mine. In my humble opinion, the custom residential building space has always been perceived as complex and challenging in the mortgage industry. It is not a cookie-cutter mortgage. Each builder, transaction and budget are unique. Focusing on the simplification of this process from beginning to end led me to making this my niche. An additional benefit for me is the satisfaction of watching a project I have assisted in from start to finish – it never gets old. What’s different about how you approach your role? TN: In my role, it is necessary to understand the full picture. You almost have to reverse engineer the process with construction financing. I have found this approach to be key for my success.

TY NAEMSCH Founding partner Denova Group Specialty: Construction financing


What are the main challenges of your specialization? TN: It is crucial to fully understand your builders’ needs and to maintain relationships. Each custom home builder has different needs regarding capital, as well as individual draw structures. Understanding this is pivotal to their exit on completion. In addition, using a lender that is an expert in the construction financing space and that understands this unique landscape is essential. Perfecting this will help your builders grow their business – and in turn yours. Based in Mississauga, Ontario, Ty Naemsch has established a niche in residential construction financing, specializing in assisting small to medium-sized boutique custom home builders. He describes

How do you differentiate yourself from competitors in this sphere? TN: Above and beyond everything, it comes down to service and experience.

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The major differentiator is being engaged throughout the entire cycle. Funding the file is only the beginning of the process. From advance through draw to completion and exit, being there for my builders is key to the success of the project. This is by no means a single trans­ actional mortgage – it is cyclical. Truly understanding this will get you the next opportunity and a trusted relationship with your builder clients. Another important part is being able to say no quickly. Not every deal works or is suitable for your lenders. Say no to what you cannot do, or you may well lose the entire relationship.

“This is by no means a single transactional mortgage – it is cyclical. Truly understanding this will get you the next opportunity and a trusted relationship with your builder clients” What’s your advice for brokers who are looking to enter the construction space? TN: My sincere advice would be to work alongside a trusted mortgage agent or broker who has construction financing

experience, at least for the first few transactions. By working with someone trusted and knowledgeable, you will allow yourself time to learn the process. As well, it will secure your relationship and future with the builder clients.

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Service through technology Executives from CMLS Financial tell CMP how the company is using cutting-edge technology to deliver optimum service to brokers and clients alike WHEN CMP caught up with CMLS Financial SVP and head of residential mortgages Dan Putnam, along with the company’s heads of mortgage broker sales for Eastern and Western Canada, to discuss the company’s progress, it was on the crest of a wave. CMLS has enjoyed a bumper year – Putnam describes 2021 as a “whirlwind” so far. CMLS has already recorded 35% year-over-year growth to date, and it expects that figure to rise even further as funding continues. That success has been powered by a key focus: using technology to deliver as smooth and effective a process as possible for brokers and customers alike. The centerpiece of that technology is AMI (Advancing Mortgage Innovation), an automated online tool that streamlines the mortgage approval process through state-of-the-art digital processing. With a flood of investment rolling in on its AVEO program, a near-prime mortgage solution that offers opportunity where mainstream lenders don’t, Putnam says CMLS is well positioned for further rapid growth in


the near future. “Our volumes have grown tremendously, and on the technology side, we’re the first lender in Canada to offer AMI’s automated conditional approval to the marketplace,” he says. “We’re going to continue to expand that technology platform and increase the number and percentage of deals that we can auto-approve.” The latest developments to the company’s digital offerings include a communications program for brokers that CMLS describes as its way of replacing the need for a broker portal, featuring an intuitive and immersive experience from beginning to end for the broker community. “When you send in a deal, you’ll receive confirmation that it’s been submitted, and from there, you’ll receive regular updates about conditions, what documents are outstanding and what the status of the application is,” says Paul Gajdos, head of broker sales, Western Canada – business development, residential mortgages. “You’ll also receive reminders five and 10 days before

THE EXPERT VIEW CMLS regularly releases a Commercial Mortgage Commentary – an analysis of the commercial mortgage sector, focusing on current trends and the present outlook. Its most recent commentary highlighted data from the company’s survey of annual lenders on the size of the commercial mortgage market in 2020, assessed the impact of a recent spike in bond yields on commercial lending volumes and analyzed increased deal flow in the high-yield space.

closing, with information about conditions – even lawyer conditions – and opportunities to do rate drops, buy-downs and more.” That ability to access lawyer conditions is a crucial tool for brokers, who can now immediately verify whether there are outstanding conditions or actions that need to be completed to get a deal quickly and smoothly over the finish line. Not only that, the service also advises the broker when the deal is funded, auto-communicating information where the broker might otherwise have had to speak with underwriters or log into complex portals. The end result, Gajdos says, is a process that speeds things up for mortgage brokers and frees up time for them to focus on what’s important in their day-to-day work by removing much of the hassle associated with having to follow up on every stage of the submission process. The strong emphasis on technology to power its work is something that’s always been a priority for the company, Putnam says – a “driving force from day one.” He describes CMLS as “obsessed” with process management and evolving its business by leveraging technology – and the company owns those products from top to bottom, whether under-

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“Our volumes have grown tremendously, and on the technology side, we’re the first lender in Canada to offer AMI’s conditional approval to the marketplace” Dan Putnam, CMLS writing software or servicing technology. It’s an approach that has served CMLS well in fulfilling its goal of providing the best possible service to both brokers and customers. Sam Rizzo, head of broker sales, Eastern Canada – business development, residential mortgages, says CMLS has earned

the trust of the broker community through its consistency and trustworthiness throughout the entire mortgage process. “We’re a very reliable company on all fronts, with products that are effective and viable,” he says. “Brokers have great confidence that they’re in very good hands when

As CMLS Financial’s senior vice-president of residential business development, Dan Putnam is responsible for executing on a sales strategy designed to drive broker-originated business. He also oversees residential marketing. Putnam has more than 25 years of experience in the Canadian residential mortgage industry. Prior to joining CMLS in 2012, he owned and operated a large regional mortgage brokerage, was president of two national mortgage brokerage operations, and was president of originations for a national residential mortgage lender. In 2015, Putnam served as chairman of the board for CAAMP, now Mortgage Professionals Canada.

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ABOUT SAM RIZZO Sam Rizzo leads the regional management team for Eastern Canada at CMLS Financial. With more than two decades in the financial services and mortgage industry, Rizzo says his dedication to enhancing the broker and client experience has never been stronger. Prior to joining CMLS Financial in 2013, Rizzo held positions at Canada’s major banks, as well as large prime and non-prime mortgage industry lenders. He was named BDM of the Year at the 2014 Canadian Mortgage Awards, an honour he attributes to the mentorship of the senior leadership team at CMLS Financial and the support received from his longstanding relationships with mortgage brokers.

ABOUT PAUL GAJDOS Paul Gajdos is head of sales for Western Canada and was part of the original business development team that launched CMLS Financial. Gajdos has built up a wealth of experience in almost 20 years in the mortgage industry, with positions ranging from personal banker, underwriter and credit risk manager to business development manager and, most recently, managing a team of business development professionals.


“We’re a very reliable company on all fronts, with products that are extremely effective and viable” Sam Rizzo, CMLS they deal with us and that their client is being handled with care and respect from start to finish.” That sentiment is echoed by Gajdos, who says the broker community remains, as always, at the forefront of CMLS’ priorities. “One of the things that we’re very passionate about is creating lasting partnerships with our brokers,” he says. “We’ve launched some enhancements to our renewal program to make sure that we’re better partners for our brokers, and we have a customer loyalty program that means customers can renew without penalty and refinance with a reduced penalty. That’s part of our effort to be a better partner to our brokers and to all of our customers.” The company’s broker outreach also includes the launch of a brand-new volume bonus efficiency program in 2021, one that Putnam says has been met with positive feedback from the broker community. With

a wide variety of mortgage solutions, the company also prides itself on its competitive rates, flexibility and adaptability, all focused around its residential mortgage motto of “customer-forward thinking.” That approach should stand CMLS in good stead as it looks ahead to the future, with the end of the COVID-19 pandemic in sight and a possible return to some degree of normality on the horizon. Putnam says he and the company see much to be positive about in the country’s emergence from the difficulties of the pandemic. “We see green shoots in the market,” he says. “All indicators suggest that the market is going to continue to be strong; we think that some sales activity has been curtailed by the pandemic, but when things get opened back up, we believe the market will pick up again. We see a lot of optimism in the business for both the near term and the long term at this point.”

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Options for real life

Equitable Bank Alternative Mortgage Solutions At Canada’s Challenger Bank™, your client’s story matters. Whether new to Canada, an investor, self-employed, have faced bankruptcy, or have bruised credit, our goal is to help you find flexible solutions for those that don’t fit a typical lenders’ profile. See how an alternative lending deal with us can help*: Your clients • Married couple impacted by COVID-19 • Wife:   • Full-time teacher   • Has credit issues   • 538 FICO • Husband:   • BFS contractor   • Reduced income due to COVID-19   • 543 FICO • Own townhome in Mississauga, ON: $800,000 • Refinance declined by current lender • Seeking to refinance debt consolidation

Our solution • Standard Mortgage Rate (Closed): Low Amber 1 Year Fixed @ 4.19%**/APR1 5.574% • LTV: 75% • Fees: $6,000 • Monthly payment: $2,765 (P&I) • Resulting cash: Help with savings, plus $18,000 HELOC • Required documents:   • Wife’s paystub & employment letter   • Husband’s bank statements (12 months)

Let’s design a solution that makes a difference. Reach out to your sales representative today.

Scenario for illustrative purposes only. All interest rates are subject to borrowers meeting the Equitable Bank mortgage lending criteria and are subject to change without notice. APR means the cost of borrowing expressed as an annualized interest rate including any applicable fees such as service charges, loan origination fees or administration fees. The APR figures above are based on the following:  • A mortgage amount of $150,000; plus  • a commitment fee (if applicable) and a closing fee (varies by province) *

** 1

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Putting agents first Citadel Mortgages has built its success on transparency and attention to its agents’ needs – principles that will always remain top of mind, according to managing partner and principal broker Tristan Kirk WHEN CITADEL MORTGAGES opened its doors three years ago, founder Tristan Kirk established two priorities above all others: a commitment to transparency and a goal to help customers become mortgage-free as quickly and smoothly as possible. Spurred by a belief that clearer communication was required in the brokerage model, Kirk started Citadel with a staff of just five. Since then, the number of agents has rocketed to 180 – although Kirk, who serves as managing partner and principal broker, says Citadel’s commitment to those fundamental principles will never be compromised. “We’re very transparent; we try to help our agents and build a foundation of knowledge through training,” he says. “We just want to help people become better business owners. Our approach is: ‘You have the skill set. How can we help you achieve what you want to?’” Over the past three years, the company has also expanded its reach across Canada, with agents in Ontario, Alberta, Nova Scotia and PEI; when CMP spoke to Kirk, Citadel was days away from launching in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Central to the brokerage’s success, he says, is its use of technology to deliver top-of-the-line services to agents and help make their work more straightforward. “We’re really a technology-first company,” Kirk says. “We’ve invested a lot of capital into giving our agents the tools to make their job easier. Our CRM system is completely


custom-designed, and we spend a lot of our time and energy making sure the simple stuff for the agents, like sending out emails and texts, is automatic, streamlining that process.” Citadel has also devoted significant attention to its training platform, which takes agents through every step of how to convert leads into business. That program was driven by the senior leadership team’s expertise, consisting of training modules and biweekly sales training, coaching, and underwriting calls; Kirk says the comprehensive nature of the platform reflects the company’s commitment to its agents. “We’re there, and we’re supporting them. As long as they’re willing to invest the time and energy, they’ll become successful,” he says. “That’s what we do.” Another example of Citadel’s focus on agents’ needs, Kirk says, is the flexibility it affords those who might not be able to commit to a full-time 9-to-5 routine. Agents

who might have a full-time family obligation can act as part-time account managers, allowing them to refer business and get paid for those referrals. The company’s strong investment in helping mortgage professionals focus on what’s important to them is clearly reaping rewards. Citadel’s outreach and attentiveness have been so successful that Kirk says it’s common for agents to refer prospective new employees. “The way we structure our business is that none of our agents underwrite their files,” he says. “They collect documents, they put the application together, send it in and we do the underwriting. We believe that agents should just be focused on building their pipeline – especially when they’re new. “A lot of brokerages don’t understand that the clients we have to invest in are our own people – they’re the front line. I have 180 people who get out of bed every single day, and I have to make sure that they’re 100%

TAKING THE LEAD A significant part of Citadel Mortgages’ training for its agents is centred around converting leads into business. Its custom-built training portal features 10 online modules, which provide certificates and leads after each one is completed. Senior staff then steer agents through the process of calling and converting leads. Tristan Kirk also runs a five-day certified ‘boot camp’ with new agents and has recently launched a program for individuals who are willing to invest eight hours a day, four days a week to get intensive training from the company’s senior staff.

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LOCATIONS Ontario, Alberta, Nova Scotia, PEI, Saskatchewan, Manitoba

“A lot of brokerages don’t understand that the clients we have to invest in are our own people – they’re the front line” prepared for everything that they’re going to face. That’s our goal here.” As for Citadel’s impressive growth, Kirk says the company’s ambitions don’t stop at the border – it has its sights set on a move into the US market. “Our main goal wasn’t just Canada from the get-go,” he says. “Our aim was to help as many Canadians as possible and then

to bridge into other markets and tap into other opportunities.” Regardless of the pace and reach of the company’s future expansion, it’s clear that Citadel Mortgages will not compromise on the attention to transparency and customer service that has propelled its growth to date. “I got into this to help people,” Kirk says. “The money comes second to that.”

SOLUTIONS OFFERED Residential, commercial, private and equity lending, second mortgages, HELOCs

AWARDS Named a CMP Top Brokerage and Top Mortgage Workplace in 2020; silver winner of New Brokerage of the Year at the 2020 Canadian Mortgage Awards; finalist for Brokerage of the Year (Fewer Than 25 Employees) at the 2021 CMAs

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Excellence through innovation CENTUM’s Chris Turcotte tells CMP how the company, recently crowned Broker Network of the Year at the Canadian Mortgage Awards, is driving its brokers’ success through new ideas and integration FOR CENTUM president and COO Chris Turcotte, one moment stood out in the aftermath of the company being named Broker Network of the Year at this year’s Canadian Mortgage Awards. Minutes after CENTUM’s victory was announced, Turcotte checked in with the company’s longtime director of operations, Caroline Rapson, to get her reaction to the win. Instead of celebrating, she was immersed in a Zoom call with new franchisees, fielding questions and providing information. For Turcotte, it was a perfect encapsulation of what CENTUM is about: going above and beyond to provide assistance and outreach to its community of brokers. “It was so poetic to me,” he laughs. “The one who had stuck with CENTUM through absolutely everything misses the big moment because she’s going the extra mile for one of our new franchisees. I’ll remember that over anything else that happened – because in that moment, it was an exact representation of what we’re about.” Turcotte says the victory also served as a validation of the company’s journey over the past several years – one that has led to profound change and a radical rethinking of its approach to the industry and the network model. Part of that process involved prioritizing the needs of agents and owners, putting them front and centre in CENTUM’s transformation – so Turcotte says the company’s


win at the CMAs was theirs as much as anyone else’s. “It’s really special for us that our agents and owners have something where they can be proud about getting out and recruiting – it gives them that brand pride,” he says. “We have franchisees who were with us on day one, 19 years ago. They can genuinely say that they’re at the best network in the industry right now.”

service and leadership in the industry. That focus on being the most authentic broker network, rather than the biggest, has led to nearly a tenfold increase in business, even as the network has reduced its total number of agents from 2,600 to around 2,100. One of the most striking elements of CENTUM’s success has been its focus on technology. Its in-house digital agency allows brokers to request custom marketing, from

“Ultimately, the only thing that matters is that those brokers are happy. If they’re proud to be here, that means we’re doing our job right” Chris Turcotte, CENTUM The value of integration That commitment to doing things differently has been at the forefront of the company’s approach in recent years; innovation and new ideas have spurred its success. Turcotte says everything the company has built is based around putting the broker first, an ethos that’s not going to change anytime soon. It also means carefully aligning with agents and brokerages whose values and ethos reflect CENTUM’s own: integrity, trust, excellent lender relationships, exceptional

bus benches to billboards. Instead of keeping marketing staff on payroll or retainer, brokers can access quality marketing directly through the network. CENTUM has also successfully deployed the marketing and administrative firepower of the other brands at the Charlwood Pacific Group – Real Property Management and Century 21 – an approach that brokers can expect to see more of in the future. In fact, while the company is naturally interested in growth, Turcotte says its priority for the

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Number of franchised mortgage offices


Number of mortgage professionals


Canadian Mortgage Awards won in the past three years (Broker Network of the Year in 2021; Digital Innovator of the Year in 2019 and 2020) A look inside CENTUM’s Vision2021 virtual conference

coming years is integration: using those brands to create even more opportunities for CENTUM’s mortgage professionals. “When we started on this journey, I noticed that we had more data entry accountant staff than some brands had employees,” he says. “We realized that we can over-deliver on value if we pool our resources, and then that value can be executed through the other brands, too. We have the ability to deliver an unrivalled, unprecedented value proposition because of the way we’re designed.” That process is likely to empower CENTUM offices to incorporate a Real Property Management arm into their existing brokerage, allowing them to offer property management services to investors in addition to a mortgage – a development that would give them the ability to generate monthly revenue and also provide the opportunity for repeat business down the line. “The likelihood of you getting that business again is almost guaranteed,” Turcotte says, “and every single property in your property management portfolio has a mortgage attached to it that will always have a renewal date or always need to refinance. When one

of those revenue properties is refinanced, the equity is usually pulled out and another property is purchased. That means that the brokerage has just automatically generated another mortgage, and for its property management business, it’s automatically generated another property.” In short, that increased level of integration would give brokerages the chance to generate a much more business – potentially three transactions instead of one.

Bringing people together The week in April when CENTUM was named Broker Network of the Year at the CMAs was an eventful one for the company; Turcotte describes it as “the coolest week of my life.” Just days before the CMAs, the company brought its landmark VISION2021 virtual conference to the screen, allowing mortgage professionals to chat, network and even dance through a virtual avatar they could steer through an enormous digital event venue. The event reflected the company’s determination to bring together mortgage professionals even during the grim realities of a global pandemic; Turcotte says the aim was to

host a large event in a fun, innovative way that gave attendees the feeling of really being there. “We didn’t want to just do a Zoom call,” he says. “We said to ourselves that we didn’t want a one-sided conference where you just sit and listen to one person talk. At our conference, two avatars could go find a table or sit under a tree and just talk. “We wanted to see if we could create something that just helps the human spirit at a really tough time. It was really cool to see our team set out to do something special and give people a reason to smile. It was awesome – and the feedback we got from the industry was amazing.” That achievement was a perfect summation of one of CENTUM’s core goals: to cultivate relationships rather than mere transactions. For Turcotte, that attention to people is why the success of the mortgage broker community is so important to the company – and what made its Broker Network of the Year award all the more meaningful. “Ultimately, the only thing that matters is that those brokers are happy,” he says. “If they’re proud to be here, that means we’re doing our job right.”

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In your corner Jill Paish of MERIX Financial outlines how the company’s alternative product, NPX, can help brokers combat stress test challenges THERE ARE two things the mortgage industry can count on: constant change, and MERIX Financial having solutions to help brokers tackle the challenges those changes bring. The ramped-up stress test, which went into effect on June 1, bumped some traditionally ‘A’ deals into limbo. For deals that were impacted, MERIX’s alternative product, NPX, offers options to qualify clients at contract rate. While it’s mostly known for shorter terms, there’s a five-year product called the EXACT mortgage, which was initially designed to combat the stress test. “We’ve offered the EXACT mortgage for a while, but it’s become even more utilized and beneficial now that the stress test has become more challenging,” says Jill Paish, EVP of national sales at MERIX.

The EXACT product, available in Ontario, has competitive rates, can go up to 80% LTV and is available for purchases and refinances. Unlike most alternative products, it has a fee and a no-fee option for clients and pays the broker 105 basis points. By qualifying at the contract rate instead of the new stress test rate, clients can access

more money – in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars more. Based on a combined income of $120,000 and $500 in monthly non-mortgage costs, clients could qualify for over $200,000 more with NPX’s five-year EXACT mortgage product due to the stress test’s impact on what they’d qualify for with a typical five-year uninsured product. “That example gives the client 37% more buying power and still has a competitive rate,” Paish says. “That’s huge for brokers to have in their back pockets, especially since purchase prices are so high right now.” As with any of its unique offerings, MERIX provides tools to help brokers understand how the EXACT mortgage works and the difference it can make. The EXACT Mortgage Calculator shows what the client qualifies for with the stress test versus what NPX offers.

“We’ve offered the EXACT mortgage for a while, but it’s become even more utilized and beneficial now that the stress test has become more challenging” Jill Paish, MERIX Financial “We encourage all brokers to check it out at least once – the illustration can be quite impactful,” Paish says. According to MERIX’s analysis, the new rules would have only impacted about 5% of the business the lender did last year. While it’s too soon to tell what impact the updated stress test will have moving forward, the changes are a good reminder for brokers to diversify their income to protect against similar changes in the future. Trailer fee compensation provides guaranteed, recurring income – even if deals slow down or become more difficult due to measures like the stress test. In an environment of constant change – sometimes with notice and sometimes without – Paish notes that trailers are “always a viable option to ensure your future is taken care of, regardless of what happens in the market.”


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Walking the walk CWB Optimum Mortgage VP Rejean Roberge tells CMP why the company’s success during a tumultuous 2020 – including recognition as a Top Mortgage Employer– is a result of “living our values”

BEFORE JOINING the mortgage industry, Rejean Roberge worked in marketing and strategic planning with clients that were perceived to be “very cool organizations.” These days, when she runs into former colleagues, they often look at her and say, “Mortgages? Really?” “They may not be sexy, but everyone needs one,” says Roberge, vice-president of CWB Optimum Mortgage. “As an industry, it’s so interesting – it’s always evolving; it’s never dull.” During a year that was most definitely anything but dull, Roberge led the charge in rolling with the changes the COVID-19 pandemic wrought. She can think of hundreds of examples, large and small, of how CWB Optimum Mortgage came together to get through the challenges. Though the term might be overused, Roberge


demonstrated integrity in our actions every day by truly living up to those words, and that’s what made us stand out this year. We walked the walk – we showed up.” Going forward, Roberge is focused on how the ever-expanding alternative lending sphere can continue to help people address all manner of mortgage-related challenges. To do this effectively, she looks for team members who want to build something, are passionate about finding solutions to problems and are committed to delivering outstanding customer service to clients and brokers alike. Roberge says it’s important that leaders get to know their teams, and while that’s more difficult with everyone working from home, investing the limited resource of time into your people is worth the effort, especially when unprecedented challenges – like a global pandemic – present themselves. “Having that connection to your team and knowing they’re committed to the same things you are goes a long way,” she says. There’s so much potential created when employees feel comfortable bringing their authentic selves to work, and part of feeling safe enough to do that stems from strong diversity and inclusion practices. Roberge says D&I is a fluid concept that requires leaders be open to learning and willing to

“We demonstrated integrity in our actions every day by truly [showing up], and that’s what made us stand out this year” Rejean Roberge, CWB Optimum Mortgage says it really did come down to the company’s culture and how the team lives those values – the things they say about themselves in interviews, on their website or “on those posters hanging on the lunchroom wall that nobody’s seeing right now,” she laughs. “Since the pandemic started, I observed and experienced as a leader, an employee and a colleague how both our team at Optimum, as well as our organization at CWB, showed up for our clients, for our communities and, most of all, showed up for each other. We

admit they don’t know everything. Feeling you’ve gotten D&I right implies it’s an end goal that can be achieved, she says, when it’s really more of an ongoing journey. “Being on the right path means diversity and inclusion is part of your belief system and truly woven into everything you do, from interviews to strategic planning to client meetings,” Roberge says. “I’m always curious, and I commit to listening – I want to set the tone that you can be yourself, share ideas and perspectives, and add value to the company.”

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t. 866.441.3775 | f. 866.477.8897 | e. Broker login Username: broker Password: #1lender


15/06/2021 3:12:38 am



Regional movers and shakers CMP spoke to three mortgage professionals from across the country to find out the most pressing issues they’re dealing with in the current environment IT’S SOMETIMES easy to overlook the intricacies of Canada’s regional markets amid talk of the red-hot housing activity that’s been taking place for more than a year. Yes, the country on the whole has witnessed a housing boom – sky-high demand and rising


prices have been a common thread since the early months of the pandemic. Still, it would be a mistake to equate, say, the skyrocketing cost of a home in Toronto or Vancouver with more modest increases in provincial capitals like Winnipeg or Quebec City.

Not only are different regions of the country subject to separate regulatory considerations and market conditions, but in some cases, they’ve also had dramatically different experiences during the pandemic. Depending on where they’re located,

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AVERAGE HOME PRICES ACROSS CANADA BC: $943,845 Alberta: $439,319 Saskatchewan: $283,900 Manitoba: $335,812 Ontario: $869,788 Quebec: $448,601 Newfoundland: $286,900 Nova Scotia: $372,534 PEI: $342,631 New Brunswick: $257,649 Yukon: $545,767 Northwest Territories: $468,952

before a certain date. Inevitably, those changes meant that interest from prospective buyers outside the province cooled slightly. Still, Wilkins wasn’t complaining, as out-of-province purchases had created an utterly madcap market. “We’ve had a little bit of a reprieve,” he says. “We were back-to-back-to-back for weeks and months, seeing hundreds of clients a month, but recently it’s been a little bit quieter as a symptom of the provincial government restricting border access. Before that, I was working 10 to 12 hours a day, and the whole system was kind of overworked. That’s not really a sustainable situation.”

Mandatory financing headaches Source: CREA

“We were back-to-back-to-back for weeks and months, seeing hundreds of clients a month, but recently it’s been a little bit quieter” Clinton Wilkins, CENTUM Home Lenders Canadians have experienced varying degrees of lockdown and severity of outbreak. Take Nova Scotia, for instance. Clinton Wilkins, a Halifax-based broker who operates his own team within CENTUM Home Lenders, says the province’s housing affordability and its effective response to COVID-19 – which allowed for less severe lockdowns while keeping case numbers relatively low – has contributed to its popularity among Canadians looking to relocate during the pandemic. When Wilkins spoke with CMP, Nova Scotia had just introduced some strict pandemic policies in response to a recent uptick in cases. Still, he emphasizes that Atlantic Canada has seen little of the harsh

measures adopted elsewhere in the country. “Before this kind of third wave that we’re in right now, life was pretty normal in Halifax,” he says. “Restaurants, bars, gyms and hair salons were open, whereas they’ve been shut in Toronto for months now. Our life was pretty normal up until a few weeks ago, and probably every third call we got was from people from Ontario, BC or Alberta.” The new restrictions implemented in Nova Scotia included closing the provincial border to everyone except permanent residents and those travelling for essential reasons. It also limited the influx of newcomers to the region; the only exceptions were if a purchase or sale agreement showed that an offer had been accepted and the closing date was set to occur

Over in Quebec, meanwhile, the pandemic coincided with a significant shift in the province’s mortgage industry: the announcement of a new regulator, Autorité des Marchés Financiers, to oversee the work of mortgage professionals. For Claude Girard, regional manager of business development for Quebec at CMLS Residential, that development has been a welcome one, helping bolster the reputation of the broker channel in Quebec. “That has dramatically and positively changed things for mortgage brokers,” he says. “We now have our own rules, and we’re much more independent. The number of brokers has increased, from 600–700 to around 1,200, and there are more and more mortgage bank reps who want to become brokers and are taking the course in Quebec.” An oft-mentioned issue that’s unique to the Quebec market is its infamous mandatory financing deadline, which offers homebuyers a narrow 10-day window to secure financing after an offer has been accepted. Girard believes even a slight increase in that timeframe – to 14 days – would reduce headaches for mortgage professionals overall, although he notes that both brokers

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and lenders have managed to cope with the current inconvenience. “While the mandatory financing deadlines can be a problem, we’re getting by, because lenders are working overtime to secure financing for our customers,” he says. “For us it’s a big priority. Mortgage brokers are also very efficient in sending the documents upfront, which enables us to act quickly.” The Bank of Canada recently sounded the alarm on Montreal’s housing market, citing 39% growth in the city’s median prices for single-family homes – up to around $500,000. The bank described this trend as a reflection of undue “exuberance” in the city. However, Girard says that despite those increases, Montreal remains a considerably more affordable option for housing than other urban areas in Canada. “Montreal is still cheaper compared with the likes of Toronto, Vancouver and Hamilton,” he says. “Prices have increased substantially, but it’s still affordable – particularly in the ‘second suburbs,’ those areas on the outskirts of the city.”

The appraisal conundrum The two most frenetic housing markets in Canada in recent years have been in the red-hot Vancouver and Toronto areas. The seemingly inexorable upward trajectory of house prices in the two cities can present a multitude of problems – notably in the appraisal process. Loren Hawkins, national manager of broker relations at ThreePoint Capital, says appraisals have become virtually mandatory in many respects as a result of sky-high valuations and agreed-upon prices landing far above the original listing. That can make it difficult for appraisers to gauge the true value of a property. “There’s been such an uptick in the market and in prices that I’ve seen some appraisal firms having a hard time hitting that sale



Toronto, Vancouver, Coquitlam, Burnaby, Brampton, ON BC BC BC ON

Surrey, Mississauga, Kitchener, Victoria, BC ON ON BC

Montreal, QC Source: FCT PropTalk

“We already had supply issues and rising house prices in this country in certain segments, but COVID-19 really compounded those issues” Loren Hawkins, ThreePoint Capital price,” Hawkins says, “because there’s no historical data to support a purchase of, say, $100,000 over what a reasonable market value would be for a property. What’s going to happen [in that case]? Either the client has to confirm that they have the ability to pay the difference or a deal’s going to collapse.” An issue that appears to be prevalent in almost every market is a perceived lack of housing supply. Hawkins says that while BC has had its fair share of inventory shortages in recent months, that problem seems to be

mirrored across Canada as a whole. “I don’t think it’s any one place in the country – everybody is suffering from supply [shortages] in their own way, no matter where we are,” he says. “Look at how COVID-19 has affected us: Because there’s a lack of supply of transportation of goods around the world, it doesn’t matter whether it’s real estate or a piece of bubblegum. We already had supply issues and rising house prices in this country in certain segments, but COVID-19 really compounded those issues. They’ve been magnified by the pandemic.”

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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. On April 29, Key Media hosted the 15th annual Canadian Mortgage Awards 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. Paul Lucas Managing editor – insurance and mortgage Key Media

The Avison Young Award for Broker of the Year – Commercial The Canadian Mortgages Inc. Award for Broker of the Year – Private Lending The CIMBC Award for Lender BDM of the Year The Community Trust Award for Alternative Broker Specialist of the Year

51 52

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The Home Trust Award for Woman of Distinction


Broker of the Year (Fewer Than 25 Employees)


Broker of the Year (25 Employees or More)


Lender Underwriter of the Year


Lifetime Achievement in the Mortgage Industry


Young Achiever of the Year


COMPANY AND TEAM AWARDS The CENTUM Award for Industry Service Provider of the Year The CWB Optimum Mortgage Award for Brokerage of the Year (25 Employees or More) The Haventree Bank Award for Digital Innovator of the Year The HomeEquity Bank Award for Outstanding Customer Service by an Individual Office

57 58

58 59

Brokerage of the Year – Diversification 60

Key Media is an award-winning global media company with six offices around the world. Our growing portfolio of market-leading products connects business communities and product providers in six key verticals through print, online and events.

Employer of Choice


Excellence in Philanthropy & Community Service


National Broker Network of the Year


New Brokerage of the Year


Brokerage of the Year (Fewer Than 25 Employees)


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The Canadian Mortgage Awards were more significant than ever in 2021, recognizing the industry’s top performers following a year like no other

IT’S ALWAYS been the biggest day of the year for Canada’s mortgage industry – an opportunity for mortgage professionals to network, connect and celebrate the year’s highest achievers in a range of different categories. Yet over the course of the past 12 months, the Canadian Mortgage Awards have taken on added significance as the largest virtual gathering of the mortgage industry across the country since COVID-19 pushed workers out of the office and into a remote working model. Against the backdrop of the pandemic, the CMAs have highlighted how the mortgage industry is coping with the unprecedented circumstances cast upon it. A series of virtual panels, chaired by prominent industry figures and featuring the views of award finalists, allowed attendees to listen and learn from some of the mortgage space’s leading voices on how they’ve adapted their


approach to their daily work since the pandemic began. (Those who missed the panel discussions can catch up via on-demand recordings at The pace of change in the industry since COVID-19 first hit Canada might have taken some by surprise. One of the biggest transformations has been in mortgage technology. The end of face-to-face meetings and client visits precipitated an enormous surge toward the adoption of tech tools – even among those brokers who were previously reluctant to embrace the digital side of their job. Chris Turcotte, president and COO at Centum Financial Group, said the panel he moderated – centred around the CENTUM Award for Industry Service Provider of the Year – afforded brokers the opportunity to hear just how drastically the landscape has altered since the beginning of the pandemic and how they should approach

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METHODOLOGY NOMINATIONS Nominations were solicited and received from a wide range of mortgage professionals and organizations from across Canada, including brokers, brokerages, lenders, BDMs, underwriters, agents and service providers. Nominations were open from November 18, 2020 to January 15, 2021 and were free of charge. Nominators were asked to provide the nominee’s contact details and a brief reason for the nomination.

RESEARCH The Canadian Mortgage Awards team conducted research and drew on knowledge and information gained through and CMP magazine to supplement the nominations received and to ensure no one deserving of recognition was missed.

FINALISTS Once all nominations were considered and research was complete, finalists were selected in each category (except for the Lifetime Achievement Award) and notified. All finalists were then invited to complete a detailed submission that addressed the category criteria in more detail. That submission remained confidential unless marked and was not shared with any third parties other than the judges. Finalists were announced on the event website and promoted in CMP and on


choosing a technology provider in the new reality. “One theme [of the discussion] was how the pandemic really forced innovation, because we had to learn how to do things differently,” Turcotte said. “With the rate at which technology in our space moved, there are a lot of options out there, and you’ve got to make sure that you understand what value you want to deliver to the end consumer – and then go and find what technology works best for the experiences you want to create. That was a great takeaway for the audience: Find out who you are and what you want to provide, and then go hunting for the providers that best meet that.” The importance of technology in the modern mortgage industry was a common theme across several panels. Doug Kenny, Haventree Bank’s AVP of sales for Eastern Canada, who hosted the discussion around the Haventree Bank Award for Digital Innovator of the Year,

All finalist submissions were forwarded to an independent judging panel composed of mortgage and real estate industry leaders and senior representatives. The panel assessed and voted for the winners in each category according to the relevant category criteria. Any judge with a conflict of interest in a category recused themselves from judging that category.

WINNERS Using a simple points system to aggregate the judges’ votes, the CMA team identified the finalists with the top scores in each category, who were named as winners at the virtual Canadian Mortgage Awards show on April 29.

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said a crucial takeaway was how brokers and lenders alike are attuned to the value of technology in 2021. “Both lenders and brokers are working on automation ideas, and digitization exists for both,” he said. “Overnight, lenders had to have their staff working from home [and] accept e-signatures and e-docs and virtual signings with lawyers. It’s not a one-sided effort. Everybody realizes that both are trying to find the most efficient way to make change together.”

The relationship game The value of establishing and cementing relationships – always a key consideration for mortgage professionals – has come into even greater focus over the past year. COVID-19 posed unique challenges for the mortgage industry, which saw itself forced to quickly adapt to the new reality of working from home while, almost simultaneously, the housing market picked up a hectic pace. The importance of strong relationships and clear communication emerged as a powerful theme in several CMA panels. “Lenders and brokers need to really hone in on the true definition of a partnership, particularly with the industry being challenged last year from a couple of different perspectives,” said John Bargis, founder and CEO of the Coalition of Independent Mortgage Brokers of Canada (CIMBC), who chaired a panel on the CIMBC Award for Lender BDM of the Year. “You had a shortage of staff, and on top of that, everybody had to make an adjustment to the way they did business. There were just a lot


of different moving parts. [The panelists revealed] information and strategies on what their experiences were, what they got out of the entire experience in 2020 and what they could use moving forward.” CWB Optimum Mortgage vice-president Rejean Roberge, who chaired the panel for the CWB Optimum Mortgage Award for Brokerage of the Year (25 Employees or More), said the importance of teamwork was a big theme during that discussion. “I think if there’s a takeaway for people, it’s that nobody can do it all themselves, and it takes a team,” she said. “We’re stronger as a team if we plan for that and really develop our team members to work together. I think if people take that away, it will help them not just professionally, but in their personal lives, too.”

To the winners, the spoils Claiming a prestigious award at the CMAs brought even greater cause for celebration this year for the winners, given the unique challenges that have presented themselves during the pandemic. The mortgage industry’s character, spirit and resilience all came to the fore in facing those hurdles. Christine Buemann of The Collective Mortgage Group paid tribute to the strength of her team after being named New Brokerage of the Year. That group of mortgage professionals, she said, was built “not only [on] the quality of their business, but the quality of their character.” The ability of mortgage brokers to provide outstanding service and help clients navigate a complex, often rocky landscape during the

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pandemic was abundantly evident throughout the year, a quality that WE Advantage Mortgages’ Mike Brain acknowledged as he collected the Excellence in Philanthropy & Community Service Award. “We work in an industry that helps families achieve high home ownership and alleviate stress through refinancing high debt,” he said. “We are part of the community, and I can tell you that there’s nothing more rewarding than giving back to that community.” As the importance of technology in the mortgage space has become even more pronounced, Newton Connectivity Systems’ victory as Industry Service Provider of the Year demonstrated how it has risen to the challenge presented to the industry. Kevin Dear, vice-president of broker experience, dedicated the award to all those who worked and partnered with the company. “We couldn’t do it without the hard work of all our team here at Newton – our developers, our trainers, our customer care team, and all of the brokers and lenders that support us,” he said. Ultimately, it was a day that proved as uplifting as it was informative, celebrating the mortgage industry’s cream of the crop and providing invaluable insight into how top mortgage professionals have faced the obstacles posed by the pandemic. Perhaps most significant of all was the event’s demonstration of the value of mortgage professionals and the key role they play in making things a little less stressful for their clients. Read on to find out more about the gold winners and excellence awardees at the 2021 Canadian Mortgage Awards. Key Media, CMP and would like to congratulate all of this year’s winners and nominees, who truly exemplify excellence in the Canadian mortgage industry.

“ Lenders and brokers need to really hone in on the true definition of a partnership, particularly with the industry being challenged last year from a couple of different perspectives” John Bargis CIMBC

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2021 JUDGING PANEL The Canadian Mortgage Awards team thanks our esteemed judges for lending their time and expertise to help recognize and celebrate excellence in the mortgage profession

DR. CYNTHIA HOLMES KATHLEEN BLACK Founder/CEO/best-selling author Kathleen Black Coaching & Consulting

Associate dean, faculty & academic Associate professor, real estate management Ted Rogers School of Business Management, Ryerson University



Senior advisor BC Notaries Association

Former director Ontario Real Estate Association

Program director BC Notaries Captive Insurance Company

Real estate broker Royal LePage

STEFANIE COLEMAN Marketing and business development manager Building Knowledge Canada

GREG DEWLING CEO Capital Region Housing Corporation

PÉNÉLA GUY Vice-president, real estate; general counsel The Canadian Real Estate Association

DR. ANN MCAFEE President City Choices Consulting Retired co-director, planning City of Vancouver

ED STEEL Executive director Mortgage and Title Insurance Industry Association of Canada

SUE WASTELL Co-president Wastell Homes

JOSEPH WHITE DENISE HENDRIX Senior partner Hendrix Law


President Real Estate and Mortgage Institute of Canada (REMIC) President Association of Mortgage Investment Professionals (AMIPROS)

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This award recognizes a broker specializing in commercial real estate, investment finance, SME/debtor finance or asset and leasing finance who has demonstrated excellence in conversion rates, lead generation, client retention, overall customer service and loan volumes over the past 12 to 18 months.


DANIELA PEEVA Mortgage Alliance Commercial

EXCELLENCE AWARDS Dawn McDermott Capital Lending Centre Henri Zacharie Multi-Prêts Commercial Jason Sohl VERICO Fair Mortgage Solutions Lino Bouthillier Mortgage Alliance Commercial


AVISON YOUNG creates economic, social and environmental value as a global real estate advisor powered by people. At Avison Young, we believe in creating positive impact wherever we go. There is a vital role for commercial real estate to create healthy, productive workplaces for employees; cities that are centres of prosperity for citizens; and built spaces and places that create a net benefit to the economy, the environment and the community. Our nimble, agile team has global insight, local market expertise and access to some of the smartest technology in the commercial real estate industry – all at the ready to work on creating your competitive advantage. As a private company, Avison Young is an empowered partner who is invested in your success as much as you are. Avison Young Valuation Services offers a comprehensive range of commercial real estate valuation and consulting services dealing with all property types and sizes. For more information, visit

Michael Bi Peak Mortgage Company Michel Durand Mortgage Alliance Commercial Raj Singh Tango Financial Stephanie Kowalew Multi-Prêts Commercial

“ A key theme throughout our session was being persistent, working with our clients and showing strong communication to make sure those deals get done” Andrew MacLeod Avison Young

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This award recognizes a broker specializing in private lending who has demonstrated excellence in conversion rates, lead generation, client retention, overall customer service and loan volumes over the past 12 to 18 months.


his award recognizes a lender BDM who T has displayed excellence in accessibility, communication, product knowledge and added value to the brand and the broker channel over the past 12 to 18 months.


CANADIAN MORTGAGES INC. (CMI) has been a leader in the private lending market since 2005 and 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. 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 straightforward, practical and to the point lending guidelines don’t make you or your borrowers jump through hoops.


SHAWN ALLEN Matrix Mortgage Global EXCELLENCE AWARDS Christine Xu Moneybroker Canada – Mortgage Architects David Clarke Clarke Mortgage Group TMG Graeme Moss VERICO Fair Mortgage Solutions Jim Furlong DLC Forest City Funding Scott Westlake The Westlake Team – DLC National Tim Hurlbut TNT Mortgages

For more information, visit

“ Brokers have to do their research [on private lending]. They have to educate their clients and educate themselves on how to get leads and how to get business” Travis Allinott Canadian Mortgages Inc.



CHRIS WOODHOUSE RFA Mortgage Corporation EXCELLENCE AWARDS Amanda Carnevale Community Trust Angela Lattuca HomeEquity Bank Emerson Dias Vault Credit Mortgages Jerry Wieliczko Hosper Mortgage Investment Corporation Jessica Fitzpatrick Paradigm Quest Krista Valadao Home Trust Company Leanne Conroy XMC Mortgage Corporation Matt Steele RMG Mortgages Patrick Soy MCAP Service Corp. Randy Binstock Home Trust Company Reaza Ali Fisgard Asset Management Richard Richards First National Financial Suzanne Fleur de Lys-Aujla Equitable Bank Trupti Patel CWB Optimum Mortgage

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This award recognizes a broker specializing in alternative lending who has displayed excellence in conversion rates, lead generation, client retention, overall customer service and loan volumes over the past 12 to 18 months.

THE COALITION OF INDEPENDENT MORTGAGE BROKERS OF CANADA (CIMBC) was created to help entre­ preneurial brokerages transition to building a genuine independent brand with a solid structure and a stronger bottom line for the independent, not the network. 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 longterm 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

Anna Alex Mortgage Alliance – Master Financial

COMMUNITY TRUST is proud to have operated since 1975 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. 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).

Christine Xu Moneybroker Canada – Mortgage Architects

For more information, visit

KULJIT SINGH AKAL Mortgages EXCELLENCE AWARDS Alan Nicholas DLC Forest City Funding Ameera Ameerullah Canada Mortgage & Financial Group

David Clarke Clarke Mortgage Group TMG Jason Anbara Mortgage Alliance

“ The whole purpose of the questions was to bring out in the panelists information and strategies on what their experiences were, what they got out of the entire experience in 2020 and what they could use moving forward”


Jason Sohl VERICO Fair Mortgage Solutions Rachael Beemer My Better Mortgage Reza Ghazi GreenFlow Financial

“ Participating in events like the CMAs at a time of anxiety and unpredictability sends a powerful message to consumers. It’s a way of saying, ‘Our business isn’t hurting because of what’s going on. We’re adapting, we’re changing, and we’re evolving to be part of the new normal’”

John Bargis

Grant Armstrong


Community Trust

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This award recognizes a female trailblazer whose outstanding personal and professional achievements and role in championing women within the mortgage industry have earned her a place among the industry’s best.


FEATURED WINNER ELIZABETH WOOD Canadian Mortgages Inc. EXCELLENCE AWARDS Ameera Ameerullah Canada Mortgage & Financial Group Andrea Munroe HomeEquity Bank Barbara Cook Mortgage Centre Canada Christine Buemann The Collective Mortgage Group Hali Strandlund-Noble Fisgard Asset Management Kyra Wong Manulife Laura Martin Matrix Mortgage Global Meaghan Hastings The Mortgage Coach Sabeena Bubber VERICO Xeva Mortgage Sharon Fitzpatrick Paradigm Quest Veronica Love TMG The Mortgage Group


ELIZABETH WOOD Canadian Mortgages Inc. ELIZABETH WOOD is executive vicepresident of CMI Financial Group and a key contributor to the firm’s status as Canada’s premier private mortgage lender and one of the fastest-growing companies in Canada. In Wood’s three years at the helm of operations, CMI has seen its market share grow by 70%, its roster of talent expand by 320% and its overall revenue climb by 166%. Wood’s fingerprints are on many initiatives that have contributed to the company’s growth. She led the development of processes that have allowed the lender to scale its mortgage administration portfolio by nearly 230% since 2018; she is the chief architect of CMI’s talent management strategy; she conceived and spearheaded initiatives to enhance the employee experience, including the introduction of medical and health benefits and paid volunteer days; and she formalized a mentorship program to elevate more fantastic female talent within the mortgage industry. Wood is also heavily involved in her community. She has embarked on an initiative to increase access to medical

and dental care for homebound and marginalized populations, and under her urging and direction, CMI is formalizing a corporate philanthropy program. She is an instructor in McMaster University’s CCE Business program and sits as treasurer on the national board of directors of CIM Chartered Managers Canada. An inspirational leader, Wood is also an outspoken advocate for mental health awareness and the elimination of the stigma that surrounds it.

“ I accept this award not only on behalf of my fellow nominees, but on behalf of all of the incredible women who are blazing new trails and breaking glass ceilings across the industry. Ladies – let’s continue our climb” Elizabeth Wood Canadian Mortgages Inc.

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HOME TRUST has been saying “welcome home” since the very first day we opened for business. For decades, our team of dedicated professionals has helped people put down roots, even when they thought it wasn’t possible. We have changed the way lending is done in this country and changed countless lives along the way. 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. For more information, visit

“ A couple of the biggest takeaways [were] taking a proactive stance on what we know is right and having a voice and using our voice. Continue focusing on forward-thinking leadership and continue to push change” Cristie Smith





This award recognizes an outstanding mortgage broker from a brokerage operation with fewer than 25 staff (or full-time equivalents) who has demonstrated excellence in loan volumes, year-over-year growth, lead generation, client retention, conversion rates and overall customer service over the past 12 to 18 months.

This award recognizes an outstanding mortgage broker from a brokerage operation with 25 staff or more (or full-time equivalents) who has demonstrated excellence in loan volumes, year-over-year growth, lead generation, client retention, conversion rates and overall customer service over the past 12 to 18 months.





Karista Mortgage

VERICO Xeva Mortgage



Asim Ali DLC Royalty Financial

Anne Brill CENTUM Metrocapp Wealth Solutions

Chad Oyhenart The Collective Mortgage Group

Collin Bruce DLC Mortgage Mentors

Elvis Hui Guaranti Mortgages

Dave Butler Butler Mortgage

Joanna Lang Outline Financial

Nick L’Ecuyer The Mortgage Wellness Group

Linda Walters Mogul Mortgages – Mortgage Architects

Philippe Breault Raymond CanWise Financial

Paul Gazzola Guelph Mortgage Architects

Win Lui Clear Trust Mortgages

Paul Meredith CityCan Financial

Zaheed Valli-Hasham City Wide Mortgage Services

Rakhee Dhingra Mortgage Savvy Scott Travelbea DLC Travelbea & Associates Shawn Stillman Mortgage Outlet

Home Trust Company

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This award recognizes a lender underwriter whose expertise and outstanding service to brokers have helped ensure their deals are funded quickly and efficiently and who has guided brokers in the right direction to improve their funding ratios over the past 12 to 18 months.

This award recognizes an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the mortgage industry throughout their career. It acknowledges an individual with an established history of distinguished service to the mortgage profession, who has exhibited leadership and provided inspiration to others while keeping the interests of the profession at the top of their priorities, as evidenced by their accomplishments.

This award recognizes an outstanding broker or agent under the age of 40 who has demonstrated excellence in loan volumes, year-over-year growth, lead generation, client retention, conversion rates and overall customer service.






Paradigm Quest

Mortgage Outlet

EXCELLENCE AWARDS Anne Albani Blueprint/Paradigm Quest Brenda Bell First National Financial Jason Comstock Home Trust Company Jason Kelly First National Financial Josie Milanetti Canadian Mortgages Inc. Leanne Karatsikis MERIX Financial Mike Cuadra Ready Capital Mortgage Investment Trust Nicole Cabral MCAP Service Corp. Ronelle Landicho Home Trust Company



“ There have been many challenges and ups and downs in the business, including booms and crashes, but what I’ve appreciated the most is all the people I’ve met and all the experiences that I’ve had” Rena Malkah CYR Funding

EXCELLENCE AWARDS Blaire Borle Mortgage Architects Brendan Woodfull Edison Financial Catherine Ellis VERICO Xeva Mortgage Crystal Mamchur Flare Mortgage Group Johnson Andrews Vine Group Kevin Huynh Empire Mortgage Group Leslie Penney East Coast Mortgage Brokers Matthew Ablakan Millennial’s Choice Mortgages Matthew O’Neil Axiom Mortgage Solutions

Samantha Mykes Bridgewater Bank

Okhtay Yousefzadeh EQ Equitis Mortgage Group – DLC Mortgage Evolution

Tanya Lucente Community Trust

Tracy Regier The Mortgage Minds

Traci Merkel MCAP Service Corp.

Xenos Chan DLC First Pacific Mortgage

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This award recognizes an outstanding service provider whose unique value proposition, product/service improvements, and client service and commitment to customers have added significant value within the mortgage industry over the past 12 to 18 months.



CENTUM is home to nearly 200 franchised mortgage offices and more than 2,000 mortgage professionals across Canada. As a division of the Charlwood Pacific Group, our network benefits from more than 40 years of global franchising expertise of recognized brands, which include financial services, real estate, travel service, property management and hotel accommodations. 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®.

Mortgage Automator

For more information, visit



Nationwide Appraisal Services Reslii SNAP NOA Enterprises Teranet

“ We couldn’t do it without the hard work of all our team here at Newton – our developers, our trainers, our customer care team and all of the brokers and lenders that support us”

“ A great takeaway for the audience [was]: Find out who you are and what you want to provide, and then go hunting for the providers that best meet that”

Kevin Dear

Chris Turcotte

Newton Connectivity Systems


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This award recognizes a brokerage operation with 25 staff or more (or fulltime equivalents) that has demonstrated excellence in loan volumes, year-overyear growth, lead generation, client retention, conversion rates, customer service proposition, value proposition, stakeholder engagement, and broker training and development over the past 12 to 18 months.




CWB OPTIMUM MORTGAGE is a fullservice lender providing personalized borrowing solutions to meet your needs. We offer a variety of products, including flexible alternative mortgage solutions, for clients who may not fit within traditional guidelines, including those who are self-employed, commissioned or have bruised credit. As industry experts, our policy is always to confirm that clients can afford the mortgage first. Our experienced and dedicated team then works hard to find customized solutions while providing exceptional personal service with a common-sense approach. For more information, visit

This award recognizes the brokerage or network that has best harnessed technology and digital solutions to improve business, aid brokers and leverage overall client experience over the past 12 to 18 months.



AKAL Mortgages

Blue Pearl Mortgage Group

Axiom Mortgage Solutions

CanWise Financial

Clear Trust Mortgages

GreenFlow Financial

DLC Elite Lending

Haystax Mortgage

DLC Forest City Funding

Homewise Solutions

Matrix Mortgage Global MortgagePal Premiere Mortgage Centre SafeBridge Financial Group Sherwood Mortgage Group The Mortgage Advisors The Mortgage Coach True North Mortgage



“ The more transparent we can be – not just with our own agents and team members and employee base, but with our partners in the industry – will make our industry that much stronger and deliver better solutions for the client”

Tango Financial The CLC Network TMG The Mortgage Group

“ It’s one of those things that we’ve been working really hard towards – trying to take things to that next level and think outside the box”

Rejean Roberge

Lorne Andrews

CWB Optimum Mortgage

DLC Expert Financial

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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 will 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. If your clients are in business for themselves, have bruised credit or have thin credit, we can help. 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

This award recognizes the brokerage office or branch that has demonstrated excellence in client service proposition and approach, commitment to product offerings, product knowledge and education, and service innovation, and has seen its client strategy reflected in business success over the past 12 to 18 months.


CANWISE FINANCIAL EXCELLENCE AWARDS 360Lending Blue Pearl Mortgage Group DLC Expert Financial DLC HT Mortgage Group GLM Mortgage Group Lend At Ease

“Both lenders and brokers are working on automation ideas. It’s not a one-sided effort. I think everybody realizes that both lenders and brokers are trying to find the most efficient way to make change together”


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®. 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 clients are looking to pay off debt, take a vacation or simply 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

Loewen Group – Powered by Axiom MortgagePal Outline Financial The Angela Calla Mortgage Team

“ The main takeaway was that despite challenging times, mortgage brokers have a lot of opportunity to raise the bar with customer service and an opportunity to really grow their business”

Doug Kenny

Agostino Tuzi

Haventree Bank

HomeEquity Bank

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This award recognizes the brokerage that has implemented the most effective diversification business model and has demonstrated excellence in yearover-year growth, customer service proposition, value proposition and stakeholder engagement strategy over the past 12 to 18 months.

This award recognizes an industry employer with more than 20 staff for its employee value proposition; employer brand and workplace culture; commitment to building a workplace that recognizes excellence and supports career growth for all; and approach to recruitment and retention, talent management, learning and development, mitigating employer-related risks, and managing changes within the business.

This award recognizes an individual or company whose major philanthropic and community service initiatives – including outstanding contributions of time, leadership and financial support – have made a significant impact in the receiving causes or communities over the past 12 to 18 months.






MIKE BRAIN WE Advantage Mortgages




DLC Blue Tree Mortgages West

Blue Pearl Mortgage Group

CanWise Financial

Ameera Ameerullah Canada Mortgage & Financial Group

GreenFlow Financial

CWB Optimum Mortgage

Millennial’s Choice Mortgages

DLC Elite Lending

North East Mortgages

Homewise Solutions

SafeBridge Financial Group

Jencor Mortgage Corporation

“ We’ve spent 15 years building excellence: supporting, guiding and assisting the businesses of the agents and brokers. We’ve had some epic fails and some really great successes. Thank you so much for recognizing us”

Lend At Ease

Geoff Lee GLM Mortgage Group Lisa Kanski Castle Mortgage Group – Powered by TMG The Mortgage Group Mortgage Connection Paul Meredith CityCan Financial Sabeena Bubber VERICO Xeva Mortgage Tracy Valko Valko Financial Troy MacBeth Abromaitis New Wave Lending with The Mortgage Centre

Kerri Reed Premiere Mortgage Centre


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This award recognizes an outstanding national broker network that has demonstrated excellence in recruitment and retention, value proposition and commitment to members (including business resources, marketing support, and training and education), value added to the end client, and contributions to the overall mortgage industry over the past 12 to 18 months.

This award recognizes a brokerage office or branch that has been in operation for less than three years and has demonstrated excellence in loan volumes, year-over-year growth, lead generation, conversion rates, customer service proposition, value proposition and stakeholder engagement strategy over the past 12 to 18 months.

This award recognizes a brokerage operation with fewer than 25 staff (or full-time equivalents) that has demonstrated excellence in loan volumes, year-over-year growth, lead generation, client retention, conversion rates, customer service proposition, value proposition, stakeholder engagement, and broker training and development over the past 12 to 18 months.











Dominion Lending Centres

Bespoke Lending Solutions

Citadel Mortgages

Invis | Mortgage Intelligence

Donaldson Capital

DLC Mortgage Force

Mortgage Alliance

Empire Mortgage Group

East Coast Mortgage Brokers

Mortgage Architects

iBridge Capital

Homewise Solutions

The Mortgage Centre

Jayman Financial

TMG The Mortgage Group

Loewen Group – Powered by Axiom

VERICO Financial Group

Millennial’s Choice Mortgages

“ For those brokers who stuck with us over the years through the changes, thank you. To all the new brokerages that have joined us over this last little while, thank you. This is your award”

Moneybroker Canada – Mortgage Architects Streetwise Mortgages Syndicate Lending Corporation

Chris Turcotte CENTUM

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FEATURED WINNER OUTLINE FINANCIAL AS THE WINNER of the 2021 Canadian Mortgage Award for Brokerage of the Year (Fewer Than 25 Employees), Outline Financial is incredibly proud of their team and 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 mortgage 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 underwriters and mortgage agents with deep experience, training and mentorship from some of the top agents and brokers in the country, as well as 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, please visit or watch the video at


“ This year, we have stayed true to our core, which is a focus on customer service and a supportive workplace. While brick-andmortar 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” Jason Lang Outline Financial

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A LOOK BACK: THE 2020 WINNERS The Avison Young Award for Broker of the Year – Commercial Michel Durand, Mortgage Alliance Commercial

The Canadian Mortgages Inc. Award for Broker of the Year – Private Lending Shawn Allen, Matrix Mortgage Global

The CIMBC Award for Lender BDM of the Year Chris Woodhouse, RFA Mortgage Corporation

The Community Trust Award for Alternative Broker Specialist of the Year Christine Xu, Moneybroker Canada – Mortgage Architects

The Home Trust Award for Woman of Distinction Barbara Cook, Mortgage Centre Canada

Broker of the Year (Fewer Than 25 Employees) Clinton Wilkins, CENTUM Home Lenders – Clinton Wilkins Team

Broker of the Year (25 Employees or More) Zaheed Valli-Hasham, City Wide Mortgage Services

Lender Underwriter of the Year Zuzi Valente, Equitable Bank

The TransUnion Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Mortgage Industry Todd Poberznick, Bridgewater Bank (retired)

Young Gun of the Year Casey Archibald, VERICO Xeva Mortgage

The CENTUM Award for Industry Service Provider of the Year Newton Connectivity Systems

The First National Financial Corporation Award for Brokerage of the Year (25 Employees or More) CanWise Financial

The Haventree Bank Award for Digital Innovator of the Year CENTUM Financial Group

Outstanding Customer Service by an Individual Office GLM Mortgage Group

Brokerage of the Year – Diversification Millennial’s Choice Mortgages

Employer of Choice MERIX Financial

The HomeEquity Bank Award for Excellence in Philanthropy & Community Service Carey Benvenuti, Mortgage Architects

National Broker Network of the Year Mortgage Alliance

New Brokerage of the Year The Mortgage Coach

Brokerage of the Year (Fewer Than 25 Employees) Outline Financial

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Valko F inancial's events include the annual Free Fa mily Day Skate, which raises money for the local food bank



Number of charities Valko Financial supports


Years Valko has been involved in charitable work


Typical number of volunteers who help with each event

COMMUNITY SPIRIT Tracy Valko’s passion for giving back to her community has shaped her approach to her successful brokerage TRACY VALKO’S longstanding passion for community service has been a perfect complement to her sterling service as a mortgage broker. As far back as she can remember, “I really loved giving back,” Valko says. “My mom gave back all the time in her career. I grew up knowing that I wanted to have a career that would allow me to keep a big focus on giving back.” That philosophy has informed her approach to her brokerage, Valko Financial. “Attending local events was something we [as a team] always tried to stay involved with, as we love to support specific causes, businesses and events every year, as well as


connecting directly with our fabulous community,” Valko says. “In the beginning, we would partner with larger organizations and share table space to keep our expenses lower. As our network, reach and impact grew, we quickly realized that we could do more – not just bringing our local community together, but our city.” Organizing and participating in community events has allowed the brokerage to strengthen its connections, which Valko values even more in the current environment. “Connecting with and understanding the needs of my community is hugely important to me,”

she says. “Seeing people face-to-face is a very different feeling than talking on the phone or having a Zoom meeting.” The lessons she’s learned along the way have also been potent tools for building her mortgage business. “Nothing ever goes as planned,” Valko says. “Be really organized and structured. Plan well in advance. Stop, breathe, take a moment and enjoy the fruits of all that hard work. The satisfaction of hosting a great event isn’t about the end game. It’s about helping people and bringing them together, making them feel important and cared for. That’s my driver.”

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Rate is just one part of the equation We commit to solutions that make a difference: Knowledgeable BDMs and Underwriters

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Solutions for clients with no minimum FICO® score

Self-employed business owners

Focus on what matters.

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