CMP 16.11

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MPAMAG.COM/CA ISSUE 16.11 | $12.95




CMP celebrates 82 of the industry’s biggest trailblazers and change-makers

ONE STEP AHEAD The keys to winning the fight against title fraud


FAREWELL TO FIXED? Borrowers continue their migration to variable-rate products

TECHNOLOGY FIRST How 8Twelve Mortgage built a pandemicproof brokerage

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ISSUE 16.11






CMP celebrates 82 women who have made a name for themselves in the mortgage industry – and are paving the way for others to follow

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ISSUE 16.11

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UPFRONT 04 Editorial

What women bring to the mortgage industry

06 Statistics

Key data that should be on your radar this month



10 Bank update



After a fixed-rate hike at TD, could variable-rate mortgages gain even more traction among consumers?


PEOPLE 40 Other life

Going against the grain with woodworker and broker Joseph Markham


For Tracy Valko, mortgage brokering has always been about connecting with the community

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HomeEquity Bank’s CEO opens up about the lender’s acquisition by a major pension plan

How men can help boost female representation at the highest levels of the mortgage industry

Discover what five lenders had to say about the feedback they received in last month’s Brokers on Lenders report


12 Alternative lending update

18 Opinion



Transitory or not? That is the question when it comes to inflation


Akber Abbas tells CMP how 8Twelve Mortgage’s commitment to technology has helped it thrive during the pandemic






How FCT is leading the fight against title fraud


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Here’s to the women


ere at CMP, November is a significant month – it’s the time of year when we unveil our annual Women of Influence list, recognizing the female members of the mortgage industry who are blazing new trails with their outstanding leadership and achievements. The importance of strong leadership by women, and a seat at the table for female executives, has never been greater. In its recently released Women in the Workplace study, McKinsey & Company highlighted how female leaders have dealt with the extraordinary pressure of the COVID-19 pandemic. The study revealed that employees with female managers are more likely to say that their manager has supported and helped them, whether by providing emotional support, checking in on overall well-being, ensuring a manageable workload, or taking actions to prevent or manage burnout. Still, the report acknowledged that while the achievements of female leaders in the workplace over the past year have been formidable, they continue to face a range of significant challenges – most notably, strong work going unrecognized and a “broken rung” that prevents many from reaching the very top of the ladder to senior leadership.

While the achievements of female leaders over the past year have been formidable, they continue to face a range of significant challenges As this year draws to a close and mortgage professionals start to map out the path ahead for 2022, it’s a good time to reflect on the value of female representation in the industry and the benefits of having women’s voices heard among companies’ executive decisions. As Kyra Wong, one of the mortgage industry’s foremost female executives, notes in a thoughtful Opinion piece this month, there are clear steps that can be taken by all mortgage professionals to ensure that women are well represented and given a fair shot at positions of leadership in the industry. Everybody benefits when women’s voices are heard in the corporate world – which is why this month, we’re delighted to recognize a group of women whose achievements are some of the most remarkable in the industry. The team at Canadian Mortgage Professional



Managing Editor Paul Lucas

Publisher Chris Anderson

Editor Fergal McAlinden

National Account Manager Corey Bahadur

Writers Ephraim Vecina Mallory Hendry Chris Davies Karen Surca

Sales Executive Alan Stewart

Copy Editor Clare Alexander



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

Project Coordinator Jessica Duce

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



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02/11/2021 2:26:45 am | ®/™ 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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MORTGAGE DEBT GROWTH SPIKES The prevailing low interest rate environment, coupled with consistent housing demand and strong market activity, led to a sharp increase in residential mortgage debt during the first half of 2021 – the highest in more than a decade. CMHC attributed this surge to significant increases in both new mortgage volumes and amounts. Variable-rate mortgages represented a larger share of the newly added balance, as consumers are increasingly being enticed by the significant differential between fixed and variable rates.


Share of condos in new housing stock in BC from 2019 to 2020







Share of condos in new housing stock in Vancouver during the same period

0% Jan














Share of condos in new housing stock in Ontario between 2019 and 2020

Despite record-high home prices and elevated mortgage debt levels, only 0.18% of Canadian homeowners are currently in default, according to the Canadian Bankers Association. As of the end of July, just 9,157 mortgages were in arrears out of the approximately 4.97 million residential mortgages nationwide – considerably lower than the long-term average of around 0.3%.



Long-term average

0.35% 0.30% 0.25% 0.20%


0.15% 0.10%

Share of condos in new housing stock in Toronto during that period

0.05% 0% July 2011

Source: Statistics Canada


July 2012

July 2013

July 2014

July 2015

July 2016

July 2017

July 2018

July 2019

July 2020

July 2021

Source: Canadian Bankers Association

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While digital fraud attempts increased by 44.9% annually during the second quarter of 2021, only 3% of consumers reported being a victim of fraud during that period, according to TransUnion. As consumers have become more comfortable conducting financial transactions online, they’re also taking a more active role in monitoring their credit, the organization said.


of consumers reported being targeted by fraud attempts in the second quarter of 2021


of consumers said they were a victim of digital fraud during that period


of consumers regularly monitored their credit during the second quarter





















of consumers were regularly monitoring their credit during the previous quarter



Source: Residential Mortgage Industry Report, October 2021, CMHC

Source: TransUnion/Pollara Strategic Insights



Despite household debt in Canada now totalling around $2.53 trillion, only a quarter of households expect to be unable to pay their current debts in full, according to TransUnion. That’s much lower than the 70% that had similar concerns back in March 2020, suggesting that the financial impact of the pandemic has significantly decreased.

Canada saw the sharpest decline in housing affordability in roughly three decades in the second quarter of 2021, according to RBC Economics. Ownership costs as a percentage median of household income rose by 2.7 points to 45.3% in Q2, marking the fourth consecutive quarterly increase and “entirely rolling back the improvement that occurred at the start of the pandemic,” the bank said.



of households said their income is being negatively impacted by the pandemic

of households expect to be unable to pay their debts in full









of consumers report feeling “some optimism” about their financial prospects

30% 20% 10% 0%

2016 Source: TransUnion





2021 Source: RBC Economics

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Fixed rates on the rise In October, TD became the first of the Big Six banks to hike its five-year fixed mortgage rate, sparking speculation about what’s in store in the coming months

AFTER NO NEWS since March, there was finally movement on the five-year fixed rate from the Big Six banks at the beginning of October. TD Bank was the first to hike its five-year rate, announcing a 30-basis-point increase from 1.99% to 2.29% as bond yields surged. Those bond yields – a key indicator of the trajectory of fixed rates – rose above 1%, a level that hasn’t been seen since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. For many mortgage professionals, the news was a further validation of variablerate products in the current climate, as those options are influenced by the Bank of Canada’s overnight rate rather than the government bond market. The BoC has kept its target for the overnight rate steady at 0.25% throughout the pandemic, and there’s little indication that variable rates will move

time homebuyers, in particular, often value the security and consistency provided by a rate that stays the same over a five-year term, as that certainty can help them budget effectively and avoid the risk of unexpected rate hikes. Caily MacGregor, a Winnipeg-based broker with One Link Mortgage and Financial, says she’s been witnessing more uptake of variable-rate mortgages among clients who are already established in the housing market. “A lot of my past clients, if their mortgage is coming up for renewal and maybe they’re [considering] moving in the next three years, those ones I definitely talk to about variable,” she says. “First-time homebuyers tend to be in a fixed mindset. They don’t know the ins and outs of budgeting for

“First-time homebuyers tend to be in a fixed mindset. They don’t really like the idea that the payment could change” Caily MacGregor, One Link Mortgage and Financial upwards anytime soon. Still, despite the surge in popularity of variable-rate mortgages over the last 18 months, fixed-rate options remain popular among many borrowers at present. First-


a mortgage, [and] they don’t really like the idea that the payment could change.” Canadians purchasing their first house are also likely to view the property as a fiveyear home, allowing them to lay down roots

and gain a better understanding of the mortgage market, MacGregor points out. “They like the idea of knowing what their mortgage is going to be every single month for the next five years.” Still, with variable-rate mortgages currently available at some of the lowest prices in Canadian history – around half the average fixed rate – there appears to be no end in sight to their growing appeal. In July, the market share of new variable-rate mortgages registered at 51% – its highest level since the Bank of Canada started recording that data and a massive increase over pre-pandemic levels. Another significant advantage enjoyed by variable-rate products is a comparatively lighter penalty to break the mortgage, something many brokers have noticed coming

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2017 2.40% 4.64% 2018 3.15% 5.34% 2019 3.65% 5.34% 2020 2.15% 4.94% 2021 2.15% 4.79% Source:

to the fore in conversations with their clients over the past year. While breaking a variable-rate mortgage comes with a penalty of three months’ interest, fixed-rate penalties are based on whichever is greater between

chance of them breaking their mortgage in the next five years. “If there’s any hesitation or doubt whatsoever, you’re just trading risk: interest rate risk versus penalty risk,” he says. “You might

“Life changes very quickly – so to say ‘I want something for five years’ is a huge leap of faith” Shawn Stillman, Mortgage Outlet the interest rate differential or those three months of interest. Shawn Stillman, mortgage broker and co-founder at Mortgage Outlet, says the first question he asks clients is whether there’s a

pay $1,000 or $2,000 more of interest [on a variable-rate mortgage] – but you might save $20,000 on the penalty if you break it.” In increasingly uncertain times, and with no guarantee that a homeowner will

be in their current property for the full five-year term of a fixed mortgage, Stillman says it often makes sense to opt for a variable option that affords greater flexibility in unforeseen circumstances. “Life changes very quickly,” he says. “Good things happen, bad things happen, people move, people switch jobs – so to say ‘I want something for five years’ is a huge leap of faith.” The Bank of Canada recently revised its forecast for when it might begin raising its overnight rate again, pushing it forward to the middle of 2022. While that has spurred some debate about whether the halcyon days for variable-rate mortgages could be set to end, the likelihood of small, gradual increases means those products could remain attractive for some time yet.

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BANK UPDATE NEWS BRIEFS Canada poised to lead the coming digital banking wave

Canada is anticipated to be one of the main drivers of growth in digital banking over the next five years, according to a new report from Global Industry Analysts (GIA), which projected that the global digital banking market would reach roughly US$30.1 billion by 2026. Substantial growth is expected in Canada (13.1%) and Japan (11%) over the next five years, while the United States and China are expected to hold the largest shares of the global market, at 28.78% and 19.9%, respectively. GIA noted that personal cheques and hard currency are already becoming less popular in the face of fintech innovations like PayPal, Square, Apple Pay and cryptocurrencies.

High prices are causing market strain, according to BMO

While borrowing activity and home sales are likely to remain strong for the rest of the year, pressure on the housing market is mounting due to declining affordability across Canada, according to a new report by BMO Economics. The bank noted that benchmark price movements have been decelerating since their Q1 peak, but they saw a notable uptick in August, as new listings remain unable to keep pace with robust demand. “Prices have surged 21% in the past year, near the top of the global charts,” said BMO Capital Markets senior economist Sal Guatieri, the report’s author.

Bank of Canada likely to dial back quantitative easing program

Despite softer-than-expected GDP data, the Bank of Canada is still likely

to scale down its quantitative easing program and maintain its current timeline for rate hikes, according to RBC Economics. A major driver of the BoC’s decision will be the expected economic rebound in Q3; RBC predicts a 4.5% annualized gain that will more than make up for the 1.1% decline in Q2. However, RBC also noted that the recovery “has a bit less momentum than we expected a few months ago,” with supply chain issues, poor crop conditions and easing tailwinds from housing construction dragging down economic activity.

Scotiabank appoints new chief risk officer

Scotiabank has promoted Phil Thomas to the role of chief risk officer. A 24-year Scotiabank veteran, Thomas has taken on progressively higher roles in the bank’s risk management arm and other global businesses, most recently serving as executive vice-president of customer insights, data and analytics. Scotiabank said Thomas has “established the bank as a leader in ethical data and analytics and advanced the bank’s ability to deeply know its customers and provide tailored support and advice.”

Big Six market share grew during the pandemic

The Big Six banks provided a larger share of new mortgages during 2020 (68%) than they did in 2019 (67%), according CMHC. This trend extended into the first quarter of 2021, when banks held a 79% share of the national mortgage market. Credit unions represented the next largest market share at 14%, while mortgage finance companies and insurance and trust companies held a 5% market share as of the first quarter.

The big question around inflation Is current inflation truly ‘transitory’? A former Bank of Canada governor weighs in on the debate

Is the elevated rate of inflation here to stay? It’s a debate that continues to rage, even as the Bank of Canada remains calm in the face of the prominent threat of inflation. In mid-October, former BoC Governor Stephen Poloz waded into the discussion, saying that the use of the term ‘transitory’ to describe the current inflation spike is misleading – and could engender unrealistic expectations about the near-future prospects of the Canadian economy. “The word ‘transitory’ sounds really short to people,” Poloz said in an interview with BNN Bloomberg. “I think the big things that are affecting the view right now will take probably into next spring – say the next six to 12 months – for them to work their way out.” Achieving the central bank’s inflation target of 1% to 3% is by no means a straightforward task, and current Governor Tiff Macklem has said there are good reasons to believe that the trend of swelling prices will be a short-lived one. Poloz described the ongoing economic crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic as “the most complex combination of forces that I’ve ever seen,” with a range of variables moving in different directions set to cause uncertainty for some time. His comments came as a Bank of Canada


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survey revealed that inflation expectations are elevated and labour shortages are worsening, despite business sentiment in the country surging to record levels. Many businesses are reporting difficulties in meeting demand, driven by a lack of workers and

“healthy growth” in domestic and foreign demand, although for those companies offering “hard-to-distance” services, that means bouncing back from currently low levels of demand. A majority of firms also said that capital expenditures were likely to

“I think the big things that are affecting the view [on inflation] right now will take probably into next spring – say the next six to 12 months – for them to work their way out” supply-chain bottlenecks. Forty-five per cent of firms surveyed by the central bank anticipated that inflation would remain above 3% for the next two years. In a summary of its findings, the BoC said that most companies are anticipating

be higher than their pre-pandemic levels in the next two to three years. Meanwhile, the negotiation of the monetary policy framework between the Bank of Canada and the federal government must be completed by the end of this year,

and there’s been some speculation that the BoC could follow the lead of the US Federal Reserve, which allowed itself to tolerate inflation above its own target. A recent poll conducted for Bloomberg News by Nanos Research Group found that a majority of respondents don’t want the BoC to be able to raise its 2% inflation target; only a third said they were comfortable with the idea.

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HomeEquity Bank changes hands The reverse mortgage giant says the move will have a significant positive impact on the broker channel

by the purchase, Ranson says, as it will allow the company to focus even further on consolidating and expanding its reach among mortgage professionals. “We want to be more competitive in the broker market, so we’re looking at things to help our mortgage brokers do better and promote the product more easily,” he says. “All the changes we might make will be positive for that sector. I expect that we’ll be devoting more resources to that channel once the deal is approved and closes.”

“All the changes we might make will be positive for [brokers]”

The deal had been in the works for some time, according to HomeEquity Bank CEO Steven Ranson: the acquisition of the company, a legacy player and leader in Canada’s reverse mortgage space, by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP). The deal, announced by both parties at the end of September, was spurred by HomeEquity’s prevalence in


the reverse mortgage market and effective governance; OTPP’s senior managing director of equities emphasized the strength of the company’s operations and growth potential. For the mortgage broker community, the news is a significant development. HomeEquity’s belief in the broker channel as an indispensable asset has been reinforced

Home Capital closes securities offering

Home Capital Group has closed its private placement of residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS). The securities were issued by Classic RMBS Trust, a securitization vehicle sponsored by Home Capital subsidiary Home Trust, and are backed by a portfolio of near-prime uninsured residential mortgages. The securities hold an aggregate value of $500 million, consisting of a $425 million A tranche, which was sold to investors in Canada and the US, plus $75 million B and Z tranches that were retained by Home Trust.

Ranson says HomeEquity is on track to fund around $1 billion worth of mortgages in 2021, an eye-catching level of performance that was one of the main reasons OTPP moved ahead with the acquisition. The agreement will transfer HomeEquity’s parent company, HomeQ Corporation, from Birch Hill Equity Partners Management to OTPP, which is the largest single-profession pension plan in Canada, operating and investing on behalf of a community of more than 330,000 retired and working teachers. In the wake of the news, no disruption is expected, Ranson says, and HomeEquity is continuing to operate smoothly through the transition. “It’s business as usual,” he says. “There’s no real change in the short term.”

Dorr Capital reaches $2 billion milestone

In its 10th year of operations, alternative lender Dorr Capital has reached nearly $2 billion in loans under administration. According to president and CEO Brian Dorr, the company thrived over the past year, despite the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic. “When I think back on our 10 years in business, we really did start at the bottom,” he said. “Through hard work, a hand-picked team of commercial real estate mortgage experts and the strength of our partnerships, we have grown to a trusted leader.”


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Francis Massie Business development manager COMMUNITY TRUST

Years in the industry 11 Fast fact Before moving to Community Trust last year, Massie spent more than a decade at Equitable Bank

The search for first-rate solutions What should mortgage brokers keep in mind about interest rates?

what brokers can reasonably guess about their future.

At Community Trust, we care about our clients and always want to make sure the client is in the best possible product, regardless of their rate. It’s about what fits the client’s needs product-wise and addressing their long-term goals. It’s more important than ever that brokers take a holistic view to help clients understand exactly what their options are, and we provide them the support they need to do it.

What other factors do brokers need to take into consideration when choosing a mortgage for their clients?

How does Community Trust go about providing that support? We’re fully focused on providing our broker partners with a great experience and have created a mortgage advisory team to provide enhanced service. We align with brokers to ensure that clients get the best rate and fee that they qualify for, while also considering their client’s future. For example, typically the interest rate on a one-year term is lowest, but that term might not be ideal when it comes to moving the client toward a better financial position. A client’s current credit situation might be impacted by job tenure or whether or not they’re selfemployed – in those situations, recommending a twoor three-year term is likely more beneficial for them going forward. A longer term might potentially have a higher rate, but that particular product will help them re-establish credit. It’s not just their situation now that’s important, but

CMHC says MICs’ overall lending risk has fallen

Mortgage investment corporations have come into their own as a less risky source of lending, according to the latest figures from CMHC. While risk in the overall alternative lending sector remained relatively static between 2019 and 2020, “the data suggests that larger entities had a slight increase in the overall risk of their mortgage portfolio, while smaller MIC lenders showed lower overall risk,” CMHC said. “The overall portfolio of MICs … indicated an overall decrease in risk in the first quarter of 2021.”

Awareness is key. Make sure they’re aware of the lender fee, the broker fee, the lawyer fee and what else they may have to have available funds for. These are the types of conversations brokers should be having with their client. Paying attention to current credit or income situations, as well as milestones they’re hoping to achieve, ensures the proper term is selected to avoid large penalties, and brokers should be communicating about the fees that arise.

What solutions does Community Trust offer for clients who are in need of a more flexible option? Community Trust has a non-conforming product for those who no longer qualify for a conventional mortgage up to 80%, and a lot of clients who have equity in their homes at 65% are leveraging it because it makes sense for them to deprioritize the interest rate in favour of a product that suits their current situation. We continue to work diligently alongside our brokers to provide multiple solutions to meet any client’s circumstances while delivering the best service, a good broker experience and ensuring a smooth transaction. What we’re seeing and hearing from our broker partners is “solution first, rate second.” At Community Trust, we’re fortunate to have both.

Non-bank arrears rate falls for third straight quarter

The number and value of non-bank mortgages in arrears for more than 90 days has decreased for the third consecutive quarter, according to Statistics Canada. As of the end of Q1, there were 3,387 residential non-bank mortgages in arrears for more than 90 days, a decrease of around 11% from Q4 2020. The total value of these mortgages was just over $867 million. The arrears comprised 0.2% of the total number and 0.26% of the total value of outstanding non-bank mortgage loans at the end of Q1.

Neo Financial Technologies to offer mortgages

Following a $64 million funding round led by billionaire Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures, Calgarybased challenger bank Neo Financial Technologies said it is looking to add lending products like mortgages to its suite of services. In addition to expanding its product line, the bank plans to use the new funds to boost its financial market services and entice more retailers to enter its no-fee rewards MasterCard program. It also intends to substantially expand its workforce.

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A COMMUNITY MINDSET Tracy Valko’s strong emphasis on client and community well-being has been a guiding light throughout her eventful career in the mortgage industry

“HEART CENTRED, community strong” – it’s a motto that perfectly encapsulates Tracy Valko’s commitment both to her clients and the wider community. The mortgage industry veteran prioritizes an approach that’s firmly focused on what’s best for the customer. That ethos has pervaded Valko’s career in the financial industry, which started 28 years ago in banking before she switched to the mortgage side. She worked in a range of different areas, from collections to renewals. It was during a stint in MCAP Financial’s mortgage underwriting department that Valko had what she describes as her ‘aha moment’: a realization of the value a mortgage broker could provide in the homebuying process. “I was just really drawn to that career because as much as I loved working for the lender I was with, I have a very entrepreneurial mindset – I was always looking at opportunities of how I was going to grow and be independent,” she says. “It was a way for me to give people options and choices, and really cater to a client’s needs and their family’s needs. It was a path that I really focused on – I got my agent licence, and I started right away.” Since then, Valko has been unstoppable,


building the company she founded, Valko Financial, into a brokerage with 45 agents and brokers across Canada and racking up multiple personal accolades, including several appearances on CMP’s Women of Influence list and induction into CMP’s Hall of Fame in 2020.

People first Valko’s can-do attitude has been a staple of her professional life; her shrewd marketing

as many places that were visual to clients and their families,” she says. “I really looked to other businesses, not within the broker space but within the real estate space – businesses that were out there and had a strong presence in the community. What I did back then was a lot of grassroots marketing, getting your picture on billboards and benches, but doing it strategically.” Valko found a perfect fit in mortgage brokering, relishing difficult deals that

“That’s always what I coach: Lay your head down at night in peace knowing that every day you’ve done the right thing and you’ve been the best version of yourself ” mind and ability to build a business from the ground up helped her establish a platform as a prominent figure in her local community of Kitchener-Waterloo. “What I did realize very quickly early on in my career was that I had to look at opportunities where I needed to get my name out in

provided her the opportunity not just to demonstrate her value and competence to clients, but, more importantly, to help them find a solution for their home-buying needs. “It’s an opportunity to help people get in a better place, and for me, it’s always about helping people,” she says. “It’s always been

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PROFILE Name: Tracy Valko Title: Founder and chief visionary officer Company: Valko Financial Based in: Kitchener, Ontario Years in the industry: 22 Fast fact: Valko Financial also has an office in BC, helmed by Valko’s business partner, Suzanne Fleur de Lys-Aujla

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my mindset: helping people first. The mortgage comes second. You have to relate to the person first. You have to relate to the family situation first. You spend the first 15 to 20 minutes talking, listening to them and to their words.” That approach has resonated strongly with clients throughout Valko’s time in the industry, and she’s built a reputation as a mortgage professional who’s prepared to provide guidance throughout the process – whether a deal arises from it or not. “If I’m not the right fit or I can’t give you

ized and run at least 24 events. “I pride myself on how many people in the community we’ve brought together,” Valko says. “The key on this is that it’s not just client-based – it’s about the community. I advertise it to as many people as I can: on the radio, with the city, the community centres, anywhere I can.” Valko Financial’s last Family Day Skate before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic saw 585 people in attendance, and the hockey jerseys produced for the event were emblazoned with that apt motto: “Heart centred,

“Exceptional people will come to you if you believe in doing the right thing – being grateful and being in that space of heartcentred leadership and having that vision. You want to leave the world a better place” the right product that you need, just know that I’m here as a resource,” she says. “Maybe this time it didn’t work – but the next time it does. I know it’s the right thing to do, and that’s always what I coach: Lay your head down at night in peace knowing that every day you’ve done the right thing and you’ve been the best version of yourself.”

Building a community It’s an ethos Valko lives and breathes outside of the office as well; charity and community work represent a focal point of her life. The Valko Financial team has hosted several community events in recent years, including a Family Day Skate and Christmas charity events, which support local charities such as the KW Humane Society and Waterloo Region Down Syndrome Society. In total, over the past decade, the group has organ-


community strong.” While others might find it daunting to keep pace with such a hectic schedule, it’s clear that Valko finds such value in what she does that it’s worth all the effort. “Exceptional people will come to you if you believe in doing the right thing – being grateful and being in that space of heartcentred leadership and having that vision,” she says. “You want to leave the world a better place. Valko Financial has a great presence out there in terms of our compassion, integrity and professionalism – that, to me, is number one.” Valko sums up her significant contribution to both the mortgage industry and the wider community by highlighting a quote from author Simon Sinek: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”



Starts out in the mortgage industry as an underwriter for MCAP


Becomes a mortgage agent


Establishes the Valko Team at DLC Forest City Funding


Founds Valko Financial


Lands a spot on CMP ’s Mortgage Global 100 list


Is inducted into the CMP Hall of Fame

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02/11/2021 2:39:55 am




How to become a male ally Men have an important part to play in ensuring greater equality for women in the workplace – and in the world at large, writes Kyra Wong IN THE mortgage industry – as in any walk of life – the reality of glass ceilings for women in many different forms is all too evident. While this is a positive and welcoming industry to be involved in, the existence of those ceilings – whether social, corporate or emotional – needs to be acknowledged. I’ve bumped up against each of these glass ceilings throughout my career and life, but I’ve also been fortunate enough to have many good men surrounding me as mentors and bosses who have helped me continuously thrive. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today, and I’m grateful for the guidance and opportunities I have benefited from as a result of their belief in me and loyal support. That doesn’t diminish the fact that we all have a part to play in shattering the glass and making sure that those ceilings become a thing of the past, and that the industry continues to become a more equitable, professional environment for women. The good news is that an ever-increasing number of men are not only aware of that continuing inequity, they want to do something to eradicate it. That’s a significant development and music to the ears of womankind, because we truly need the support of men to further that goal of true equality. Women can’t be the sole architects to dismantle our own oppression. We make up only 50% of the population; therefore, we need men to be our constant allies to help end the injustices we’ve faced. For men, a common question about inequality is “How do I get involved and help as a male ally?”. For each of the challenges


women face in the workplace, there are clear steps men can take to make sure they’re helping chip away at structures of inequality. One of the most prominent obstacles faced by women is constantly being overlooked for professional development opportunities. Men can help address that issue by giving women opportunities to take on challenging work and helping them identify and push for stretch goals to bolster their career development. I was given such an opportunity myself back in 2010, when I was challenged to run a national account on my own, despite that

and what’s required for them to take the next step in their professional advancement. That challenge feeds into another: the fact that high-profile corporate roles are often less accessible to women. Here, men have an important part to play. Sponsoring or mentoring a woman can help bridge that gap, and supporting female candidates and providing capable women with opportunities for visibility to senior leadership are other steps to increase the number of women applying for and securing prominent roles. If all that sounds like a good idea but you’re not sure where to start, the answer is simple. By talking to women in your network and seeking to understand their viewpoint, you can develop a more informed view of the inequality faced by women in the workplace and get a better understanding of what’s required to end it. Additionally, it’s important to read and research to widen your knowledge on the subject – and, crucially, challenge any lingering assumptions about inequality and women’s rights. Personally and professionally, male allies can support women by presenting them with opportunities, considering them for roles with more responsibility, amplifying their voices and not taking credit for their ideas,

“We all have a part to play in shattering the glass and making sure that those ceilings become a thing of the past” never having been done within my company. Having the chance to pursue this challenge helped me grow personally and professionally, and I become capable of more than I ever thought possible. As I succeeded, I gained confidence, and it led to even bigger and better things over time. None of it would have ever happened, though, without a client initiating the request and a boss giving me the chance in the first place, believing in what I could accomplish. Something else that’s important is providing actionable feedback so that women have a clear idea of what they can do to ensure their efforts aren’t going unnoticed

and recognizing the unique challenges that women face. Providing, promoting, listening and advocating are also essential – giving equal opportunity and accountability to women, seeing and treating them as equals, actively listening (and not interrupting!), and, vitally, speaking up when you feel that women aren’t getting a fair shake. Kyra Wong is district vice-president of national mortgage broker sales at Manulife and founder of The Magical Unicorn Project, a non-profit movement that supports those marginalized by inequality and injustice.

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CMP salutes 82 female trailblazers who have soared to new heights in the mortgage industry over the past year

CONTENTS PAGE Feature article .......................................... 20 Methodology............................................ 21 Women of Influence 2021 ...................... 24 Profiles ..................................................... 26

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SETTING THE STANDARD THROUGHOUT A barnstorming year for the Canadian mortgage industry – one in which the task of handling record mortgage volume has collided with the ongoing challenges of the pandemic – the performance of its top female members has been nothing short of extraordinary. The new reality foisted upon mortgage professionals required them to adjust to digital interactions with clients and colleagues while also navigating an increasingly complex landscape of house price increases, tightening lending restrictions and higher qualifying rates. Yet the 82 women who made this year’s

Women of Influence list rose to those challenges, continuing to set a strong example for their counterparts in the industry by excelling in such a frenzied market. Not only that, but many of these women have distinguished themselves over the past year through superb management and stewardship of their companies in such a trying time, making sure that the well-being of employees and colleagues was top of mind during a gruelling pandemic. The mortgage industry is strongest when it’s diverse, inclusive and welcoming, and the achievements of the leading women in this space over the past year are clear proof of









Service provider




“Being an established pillar within the industry allows for continued guidance and mentorship for all women” Michelle Campbell, Mortgage District why it’s so important to have as many influential female voices at the table as possible. By rising to the top and providing a shining example for colleagues and clients alike, this year’s Women of Influence have demonstrated that the industry is home to plenty of strong, motivated and inspirational women – and that it’s all the richer for it.

Leading by example Across the 2021 Women of Influence, one of the most common qualities was strong leadership – particularly during a year that presented more than its fair share of challenges. That leadership often took the form of providing exceptional support, guidance and mentorship to colleagues and clients when it was needed most. “I haven’t been in this industry a full year,

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after switching [from] a 22-year-long career. Sometimes I feel, ‘Can I really do this?’ and then I talk to Carmell and I know I can,” said a colleague who nominated TMG Saskatoon’s Carmell Jorgensen. “With her positive attitude, friendly demeanour and helping hand, she’s the go-to for everyone, as her door is always open.” Community Trust’s Tanya Lucente was also praised for being a constant inspiration to colleagues. “[She’s] a leader at her job, and all her peers look up to her for guidance and referral,” her nominator said. “She takes initiative in completing all her tasks and takes the extra step in ensuring client needs are met and delivered.” Rakhee Dhingra, CEO and broker at Mortgage Savvy and a member of the judging panel for this year’s Women of Influence list, says the strong guidance and mentorship

inspire and encourage future generations of female leaders in the mortgage industry. “There is benefit from collaboration,” she says. “It’s paramount for women to support one another as the next generation of female mortgage professionals have a point of reference. Being an established pillar within the industry allows for continued guidance and mentorship for all women.” Campbell recommends that women seek out other women in leadership and ask to be mentored to maximize their potential for career advancement in the industry. She also advises women to make the most of networking opportunities. “Get involved in industry associations so that [your] voice can be heard – and continue to create platforms within the industry that support and provide advancement of women,” she says.

“Women are natural leaders due to their empathy and resilience and naturally have the ability to build meaningful connections” Rakhee Dhingra, Mortgage Savvy displayed by the women on the list is an indication of their innate leadership qualities. “Women are natural leaders due to their empathy and resilience and naturally have the ability to build meaningful connections,” Dhingra says. “They’re strong and can adapt quickly to any situation. It’s so great to see so many powerful and influential female leaders in our industry who can continue to inspire future female leaders.” Michelle Campbell, principal broker and owner at Mortgage District, says support and guidance from fellow women is essential to

Taking the plunge Exceptional entrepreneurship was another common thread among this year’s Women of Influence. Brite Mortgage’s Leah Zlatkin was lauded for “building a brokerage from the ground up in less than 12 months” – no small feat during the COVID-19 pandemic. Multiple survey respondents highlighted the massive amount of work Zlatkin put into that achievement. “When she told me she was creating a brokerage, I wasn’t surprised,” one of her nominators said. “She is motivated, organ-

METHODOLOGY To compile the 2021 Women of Influence list, CMP encouraged mortgage professionals to nominate outstanding female leaders from across the industry, with a particular focus on their achievements and initiatives over the past 12 months. Respondents were asked to identify their reasons for selecting their nominee as a Woman of Influence, including professional accomplishments and contributions to the industry, as well as their commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. The final Women of Influence list was selected by a judging panel made up of industry leaders and/or previous Women of Influence, including: • Christine Xu, Moneybroker Canada • Rakhee Dhingra, Mortgage Savvy • Rena Malkah, CYR Funding • Mark Hart, NCompass Financial To avoid any potential conflicts of interest, self-voting and votes for a judge’s own organization were voided.

9th Year of CMP’s Women of Influence list

340 Total nominations for this year’s list

39% Percentage of this year’s Women of Influence who are repeat winners

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2 Newfoundland

22 British Columbia


5 Alberta

1 Saskatchewan

50 Ontario


1 Nova Scotia

“It’s very important to never be intimidated and to just go for it. You set the example for others who are entering the industry” Carmen Costa, Axiom Mortgage Solutions


ized and loves helping others reach their potential.” Another described Zlatkin as an “amazing educator and coach” who provides mentorship and constant emotional support for her team. For women in the mortgage industry, taking the plunge and establishing a thriving business can be a daunting task – but it can also be a hugely rewarding one. “Take the risk,” advises Carmen Costa, team lead and mortgage broker at Axiom Mortgage Solutions. “It’s very important to never be intimidated and to just go for it. You set the example for others who are entering the industry. It’s key to do that – for all of us to take the risks that we need to take.”

Agents of change A commitment to diversity and inclusion is another hallmark of this year’s Women of Influence. Many winners have been drivers of positive change in the mortgage industry, helping to deliver a more representative, equitable landscape for all. “As a woman of colour, she has never been afraid to push boundaries,” one respondent said of First National’s Anne Regan. “Her own career is a testament to her ability to trailblaze and inspire other women to achieve their best. She’s a firm believer in fairness and equity and has openly advocated for equity within hiring practices and maternity policies.” Costa believes the diversity of the winners, and the number of outstanding female executives and entrepreneurs in the industry, is a sign that the stereotype of the mortgage industry as a typically male-dominated arena is rapidly transforming. “I think it’s time to embrace change,” she says. “There are going to be a lot of changes in the next couple of years – and whether you’re male or female, you need to embrace it in a positive manner.”

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



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WOMEN OF INFLUENCE Alison Lopes Mortgage Broker DLC Premier Mortgages

Kim Doiron Regional Vice-President, Referred Sales, Western Canada HomeEquity Bank

Phone: 519-897-1608 Email: Website:

Phone: 416-925-4757 Email: Website:

Ameera Ameerullah CEO and Founder Canada Mortgage and Financial Group

Lisa Stewart Senior Vice-President, Capital Markets Neighbourhood Holdings

Phone: 647-494-9885/647-242-9814 Email: Website:

Phone: 604-568-4063 Email: Website:

Andrea Munroe Vice-President, Referred Sales HomeEquity Bank

Monica Chrysler Mortgage Agent/Lead Planner Sherwood Mortgage Group

Tanya Lucente Residential Mortgage Underwriter Community Trust

Phone: 416-925-4757 Email: Website:

Phone: 905-518-4533 Email: Website:

Phone: 888-649-1169 Email: Website:

Amanda Magee Director of Business Development, Western Canada Stewart Title

Cait Holmes Mortgage Agent Mortgage Architects

Danielle Hill Mortgage Broker Neighbourhood Dominion Lending Centres

Carmell Jorgenson Mortgage Broker TMG Saskatoon

Debbie Macedo Director, Compliance Invis Mortgage Intelligence

Carmen Costa Mortgage Broker Axiom Mortgage Solutions

Debbie Thomas Founder TMG The Mortgage Group

Ana Inacio Regional Sales Manager, Ontario & Atlantic Provinces First National Financial Angela Calla Mortgage Professional The Angela Calla Mortgage Team Ann Marie Drohan Mortgage Broker East Coast Mortgage Brokers Anna Gomes Senior Director of Underwriting MCAP

Catherine Ellis Mortgage Professional VERICO Xeva Mortgage Christelle Mwamba Mortgage Agent Mortgage Scout Christianne Saab Vice-President, Operations MCommercial

Rejean Roberge Vice-President CWB Optimum Mortgage Phone: 866-441-3775 Email: Website: Tanya Fowler Head of Customer Experience FCT Phone: 800-307-0370 Email: Website:

Deenie Stuebing Mortgage Broker Mortgage Intelligence Denise Carroll-McLean Mortgage Broker The Collective Mortgage Group Diana Lee Owner and Senior Mortgage Consultant The Mortgage Minds

Christine Xu President and CEO Moneybroker Canada – Mortgage Architects

Eden Simari Mortgage Broker Salveo Mortgage & Financial Wellness – Quantus Mortgage Solutions

Barbara Cook VP, Franchise Development Mortgage Centre Canada

Cindy Freiman President and Word Wizard Creative Soul Communications

Elena Robinson National Director, Sales First National Financial

Bernadette Laxamana President and CEO Karista Mortgage

Crystal Mamchur Broker/Owner Flare Mortgage Group

Gita Cartwright Senior Manager, Broker Relations RPS

Anne Regan Senior Manager, Excalibur First National Financial



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Heather Cermak Director of Training, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan Dominion Lending Centres Inna Bogdanov Mortgage Agent, Co-Founder IK Financial Janna Dawdy Mortgage Broker and Owner Josie Milanetti Director of Underwriting Canadian Mortgages Inc. Kari Gares Broker/Co-Owner VERICO Mortgage House Corp Kate Brady Vice-President, Marketing Dominion Lending Centres Katerina Markevich Mortgage Advisor IK Financial Keena Brash Senior Underwriter Westboro Mortgage Investment Corporation Kerri McAlister Mortgage Agent Team Farhan – DLC Affinity Mortgage Solutions Kim Lambert Mortgage Agent Capital Home Lending Kyra Wong District Vice-President, National Mortgage Broker Sales Manulife Laura Morgan Vice-President, Team Recruitment, Training and Retention Rock Capital Investments

Lindsay Jurek Vice-President, National Sales Paradigm Quest

Rena Malkah President, CFO, CEO and Broker of Record CYR Funding

Lisa Amor Creative Director Dominion Lending Centres

Rose Butera Director, Sales Home Trust Company

Lisa Johnston Mortgage Compliance Coordinator Oppono Lending

Sabeena Bubber Mortgage Professional VERICO Xeva Mortgage

Lysa Fitzgerald Vice-President, Sales Manulife Bank of Canada

Sarah Makhomet Mortgage Broker DLC Forest City Funding

Meaghan Hastings Founder, CEO, Principal Broker The Mortgage Coach

Shannon Dolphin CEO Dolphin Enterprises

Michele Steko Vice-President of Sales, Ontario Mortgage Architects

Sharon Vander Duim Mortgage Agent Neighbourhood Dominion Lending Centres

Michelle Campbell Principal Broker/Owner Mortgage District

Sheri Creese President Mortgage Brokers Ottawa

Michelle Drover Vice-President, Atlantic Canada Premiere Mortgage Centre Michelle Farrugia Mortgage Agent Mortgage Outlet Nicole Farrugia Director of Operations, Mortgage Agent Mortgage Savvy Nikki Carew Mortgage Broker East Coast Mortgage Brokers Pamela Verma Vice-President, CFO and Mortgage Broker Lend At Ease Petra Keller Executive Director CMBA

Lea Billard Director CMLS Financial

Prera Bhatia Human Resources and Payroll Manager DLC Elite Lending Corp.

Leah Zlatkin Principal Broker Brite Mortgage

Rakhee Dhingra CEO, Mortgage Broker Mortgage Savvy

Leanne Conroy Business Development Manager XMC Mortgage Corp.

Rakhi Madan Mortgage Broker Key Mortgage Partners – Mortgage Intelligence

Sherry Cooper Chief Economist Dominion Lending Centres Stephanie Gagnon-Hume Mortgage Broker and Team Leader KeyRate Mortgage Susan Thomas Vice-President, Eastern Canada Invis Mortgage Intelligence Suzanne Fleur de Lys-Aujla Vice-President, Growth, Strategy and Operations Valko Financial Tammy Poirier Manager, Broker Relations TMG The Mortgage Group Tracy Valko Broker, Owner and Chief Visionary Officer Valko Financial Ut Yue Associate Vice-President, AVEO CMLS Financial Varsha Sharma Senior Partner Syndicate Lending Corporation Vesna Vasic Senior Director, Product and Channel Development MCAP

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ANDREA MUNROE Vice-President, Referred Sales

KIM DOIRON Regional Vice-President, Referred Sales, Western Canada HomeEquity Bank


escribing her guiding philosophy throughout her career, Kim Doiron says, “I firmly believe that if I don’t push myself, I cannot grow – I’ve consistently chosen roles that push me out of my comfort zone. As a mentor myself and as a leader, I believe in paying it forward. It is highly rewarding to help others achieve success.” A Certified Financial Planner who has been in the financial industry in Canada for 34 years, Doiron is a passionate leader who consistently encourages and challenges her sales team to go the extra mile. As a regional vice-president for HomeEquity Bank in Western Canada, she is a passionate advocate for the CHIP Reverse Mortgage product and its benefits to the over-55 demographic. Within the mortgage industry, Doiron is also effecting positive change through her work in diversity, inclusion and unconscious bias, noting that it all starts with education. “I used to think that I was not subject to unconscious bias, but once I educated myself, I put myself in a position to bring about positive change,” she says. “Most recently, I have been focused on the concept of inclusion. My goal is to ensure that all of my team members feel heard and therefore valued.”


HomeEquity Bank


eing able to adapt quickly to the needs of our clients, partners and the ever-changing environment is part of my philosophy,” says Andrea Munroe, VP of referred sales at HomeEquity Bank. “I have had the privilege of working for a supportive team – that empowered me to build my career.” Munroe joined HomeEquity Bank in 2002 and has played an instrumental role in the growth of its referred channel. With nearly 20 years of experience, she has taken on progressively senior roles, working in direct-to-consumer sales and the referred channel. Accountable for the referred specialists, sales operations and channel analytics teams, Munroe is responsible for driving origination growth in the referred channel. She also oversees strategic initiatives to enhance the partner and client experience, including spearheading the design, development and execution of HomeEquity Bank’s compensation programs. Munroe says working alongside many industry-leading experts has driven the success of the bank’s compensation programs. “I have found key areas of any anticipated success must include motivation of sales professionals and encouraging success through the right compensation models,” she says. “With the right compensation, we can find the right balance to support top sales performance and encourage quality in the business we lend on. We also provide rewards and recognition for exceptional service in meeting the needs of our clients.”

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MONICA CHRYSLER Mortgage Agent/Lead Planner Sherwood Mortgage Group


o her colleagues and clients, Monica Chrysler’s position on CMP’s 2021 Women of Influence list will come as no surprise. Having funded a remarkable $45 million in mortgages in 2020 (and mentored three team members to fund an additional $20 million), the Binbrook, Ontario-based mortgage agent and lead planner has earned an exemplary reputation for never losing focus on individual client needs, even when handling significant mortgage volume. Chrysler’s achievements during her 25-year career in the mortgage industry speak for themselves: a seven-time recipient of the Reader’s Choice Award for Favourite Mortgage Agent between 2013 and 2020, winner of the Mortgage Architects President’s Gold Club Award for two consecutive years (2019 and 2020), and the recipient of Mortgage Architects’ Top Business Growth

Individual Award in 2019. Despite that stellar record of achievement, Chrysler – known to her clients as Monica the Mortgage Lady – has never lost sight of the fact that success is a journey, not a destination. “The journey has been one of the most important parts for me,” she says. “There’s no quick fix to the top; everyone starts at the bottom but, with straight-up hard work, can reach the top. Throughout my career, there have been many challenges, but giving up was never an option. The ultimate goal has always been to gain trust, get the job done efficiently and accurately, and gain a long-term, happy client.” For those seeking to emulate Chrysler’s success, she says the secret is simple: hard work and perseverance. Through years of effort and sheer will, she’s seen her client database and funded volume expand

dramatically, and she believes the resilience to continue through tough times is one of the most important qualities a mortgage professional can have. “To anyone who’s starting out who’s thought about giving up, keep pushing along and keep pushing forward,” she says. “There are lots of rejections and ups and downs along the way, but the trick of this success is to never give up.” Chrysler, a member of 100 Brokers Who Care, emphasizes the importance of the journey, something that has proven one of the most rewarding and affirming aspects of her career. “Building this business did not happen overnight – it took years and decades of hard work,” she says. “The journey has really been the best part of each day: every conversation, interaction and connection. Don’t miss the journey, never give up, and you’ll get there.”

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WOMEN OF INFLUENCE 2021 AMEERA AMEERULLAH CEO and Founder Canada Mortgage and Financial Group


meera Ameerullah’s integrity and resiliency have helped her build several companies from the ground up, including the award-winning brokerage Canada Mortgage and Financial Group (CMFG). “When I am faced with setbacks, I remind myself why I started in the mortgage industry – and that is to provide a quality of life for others,” she says. With more than two decades of experience, Ameerullah has become an expert in residential, commercial and construction transactions. She also manages a private mortgage fund and is a leading mortgage broker who has made an iconic mark in the industry. Such level of success “takes courage, commitment and resiliency with a professional team that are like-minded,” says Ameerullah, who has received multiple awards, including Canadian Mortgage Awards for Alternative Lending Mortgage Broker of the Year and Alternative Broker Specialist of the Year (New to Canada), as well as multiple appearances on CMP’s Women of Influence list. After overcoming many battles, including kicking cancer, she launched an online store, Shop with Ameera, where 100% of profits help the underprivileged. Ameerullah has earned numerous awards for her humanitarian work, including the Humanitarian Award from the Government of Ontario and being named a COVID Hero by the City of Mississauga. “I felt if we want to see change, we must become agents of change,” she says.

TANYA FOWLER Head of Customer Experience FCT


hroughout her career, Tanya Fowler’s guiding principles have been gratitude, an open mind and an open heart – and they’ve served both her and her customers well. “This was also a lesson I learned early on in my career – evaluate every decision from all lenses of the stakeholders who will be impacted by your decision,” Fowler says. “I often ask, ‘How would this be perceived if I was on the other side?’ It takes a great deal of empathy to step into other perspectives, and I do it well.” Now head of customer experience, Fowler has been making a positive impact at FCT for 25 years, focusing on cultivating, motivating and influencing changes to support FCT’s strategic initiatives, with an emphasis on customer-centricity. In January 2021, Fowler became Canada’s 79th Certified Customer Experience Professional. Known as an eternal optimist with an infectious laugh, Fowler enjoys turning obstacles into opportunities and advocating for the customer. “The lending and financial services industry has seen exponential growth, particularly in the expectations customers have of you, your skills and your services,” she says. “If you centre your decisions on your client’s needs – above your own – and truly understand their needs from their perspective, success will follow.”


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LISA STEWART Senior Vice-President, Capital Markets Neighbourhood Holdings


n executive with a sterling track record that includes extensive experience in sales and finance, Lisa Stewart leads from the front as senior vice-president of capital markets at alternative lender Neighbourhood Holdings. She’s established a reputation as a trailblazer for women in the mortgage industry, and the Neighbourhood team hailed her as an inclusive and supportive leader who excels at creating a collaborative working environment. A qualified CPA, Stewart began her career as an accountant at Ernst & Young before moving into finance, getting an introduction to the mortgage industry in 2015 when she covered mortgage originators, mortgage insurers and CMHC in an equity research role at RBC Capital Markets. Her subsequent move to Neighbourhood, she says, was a “very natural transition,” as the small but growing team – which has almost doubled in

size since her arrival – represented an excellent opportunity to further her passion for teamwork and analysis. A core component of Stewart’s leadership style is giving everybody the space and confidence to put forward their own ideas. “I really want everyone to feel that they have the opportunity to share their ideas and run with them,” she says. “I don’t want anyone to feel that they are put in a box.” It’s an approach that’s clearly producing spectacular results. Initially arriving at Neighbourhood to raise debt and equity capital, Stewart moved into a role leading the sales team around a year later; during that period, the company’s assets under management have grown by around $200 million, and its bank syndicate has expanded by $150 million. Stewart’s status as a leading light for other women in the mortgage industry

stems in part from her lengthy corporate experience, which provided her with an understanding of the importance of diversity and representation for women at the top. “I think my experience working in male-dominated industries, and working on initiatives that inspire young women to join these industries, led to my team nominating me,” Stewart says. “Diversity is important for every industry. In my experience, a more diverse team is more creative and also more balanced in their discussions. Having women in leadership positions is extremely important.” A unified and supportive team is also essential – something Neighbourhood has in spades. “I’m humbled by this recognition and feel so touched that my team put me forward for this prestigious award,” Stewart says. “I feel very lucky to be surrounded by such a supportive team.”

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Mortgage Broker


DLC Premier Mortgages

CWB Optimum Mortgage


ith more than 30 years of experience in the industry, Alison Lopes is continually inspired by helping people make one of the biggest decisions of their lifetime. “It’s fundamental to everyone – a place to live,” says Lopes, owner and mortgage broker at DLC Premier Mortgages. “Guiding firsttime buyers who come into the process with little to no experience, the overwhelming excitement that they have, and sharing in that excitement obviously becomes a great reward.” Lopes helps homebuyers in the Waterloo Region find solutions to their mortgage needs, refinance, consolidate debt, purchase investment properties and save money. Since 2020, she has also been the president of the Ontario Southwest chapter of BNI Business Leaders. For her hard work and expertise, Lopes has received numerous industry awards, including DLC’s Elite Hall of Fame Award, three appearances on CMP’s Women of Influence list and a consistent spot among the top national brokers. Outside of the mortgage industry, Lopes makes a positive impact within her community by giving to charities and volunteering her time. “I really believe in that ‘givers gain’ philosophy,” she says. “You’re not doing it for the sake of gaining; you’re not doing it for the reward – that shouldn’t be the prize. It should be that it’s in your heart to do so.”



e resilient. That’s what avavv Roberge believes it takes to emerge as an industry leader. “This industry is always changing, and what you might expect one year is all of a sudden thrown completely sideways, whether it’s due to economic changes, regulatory changes or just things you can’t control,” she says, “so it’s about being resilient to those and being really focused on what your objectives are and what you want to achieve.” As vice-president of CWB Optimum Mortgage, Roberge is responsible for the vision and overall success of the company, ensuring it aligns and supports CWB Financial Group’s strategic direction. She has led the 116-person nationwide team to achieve their growth targets while fostering a culture of inclusivity and togetherness that continues to propel Optimum Mortgage forward as one of the top 50 Best Workplaces in Canada and a top alternative lender. For all her personal success, Roberge is quick to point out that it takes a collective effort to be successful in this industry. “This is a team sport,” she says. “It’s a complicated business; there’s a lot of moving pieces, so you do need everybody working towards the same goal, and having my team understand what those goals are, through open and honest communication with them about where we’re headed, has been really crucial.”

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TANYA LUCENTE Residential Mortgage Underwriter Community Trust


espite an outstanding record of personal and professional achievement, Tanya Lucente says she’s never put pressure on herself to “be the best.” Rather, she says, what’s most important is serving her clients to the best of her ability – with customer service and the client journey always her top priority. “I feel it’s important to see things from their perspective, to really understand their needs and asks,” she says. “In doing so, I can better prepare for an overall exceptional client experience.” It’s an ethos that has served Lucente well throughout her career, which began with a business and administration role in the travel industry before she was presented with the opportunity to move over to the financial side of the mortgage industry. Since then, she’s never looked back; a stint as loan officer at Trans Canada Credit was followed by a move to her current role as a residential mortgage underwriter at

Community Trust. Lucente has made waves throughout her time at Community Trust and is well regarded by colleagues for her leadership, guidance and strong client focus. A nominee for Lender Underwriter of the Year at the 2021 Canadian Mortgage Awards, she was described by a broker as one of the best underwriters they had worked with in 25 years – a clear affirmation of the value she brings to her team, organization and clients. An animal lover who prizes quality time with her husband and sons, Lucente is a strong believer in the importance of women empowering and encouraging one another. She says she’s honoured to have landed on the 2021 Women of Influence List alongside so many trailblazing women in the industry. “I’m so proud to be named alongside other exceptional, strong and inspirational women,” she says. “Since women are naturalborn leaders, it’s extremely important that women be strongly represented in leader-

ship positions in the mortgage industry. They have the gift of empathy and resilience – qualities that go a long way in servicing clients and working alongside others in this industry.” The growing number of female executives in high-ranking positions in the mortgage industry is a positive step, Lucente says, and the current crop of talented women in the industry is setting a shining example for future generations. “Seeing more women in a leadership position in the mortgage industry encourages other women or young professionals to pursue a mortgage career,” she says. “Women in leadership give confidence to the women of tomorrow and help stop gender inequalities and discrimination.” With that in mind, “I dedicate this accomplishment to all the Women of Influence,” Lucente says, “and to all those who have encouraged me in my professional and personal journey.”

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LENDERS RESPOND After the publication of its highly anticipated annual Brokers on Lenders report, CMP hands the microphone to the lenders FOR 15 YEARS, CMP’s Brokers on Lenders report has given mortgage brokers across Canada the opportunity to have their say on the lenders they work with on a daily basis. Brokers had the chance to rate the lenders they work with across 10 key areas, including turnaround time, interest rates, commission structures, BDM support, overall service levels and more. CMP also asked brokers to weigh in on some of the most important aspects of their relationship with lenders – for instance, how commissions and bonuses


are likely to evolve in the future and what advantages they get from dealing with banks over monoline lenders. Now that brokers have had their say, it’s time to hear what lenders thought about how they fared – and, if they performed particularly well in a certain area, what’s driving their success. Read on to discover what five lenders – Equitable Bank, Manulife Bank, MCAP, Hosper Mortgage and Alta West Capital – had to say about the feedback they received from brokers.

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MARIO CLOUTIER National head of mortgage broker sales Manulife Bank

JOE FLOR Associate vice-president, national partner relations Equitable Bank

“Equitable has always prided itself on its level of transparency. We strongly feel that brokers should have as much information upfront as possible in order to set the right expectations for their clients. We’re thrilled to hear that our broker partners appreciate our transparent approach. We will continue to explore other opportunities to ensure high efficiency levels and further enhance the broker experience.”

“Manulife Bank is honoured to have been recognized by our broker partners with silver for BDM Support in this year’s CMP Brokers on Lenders report. We are proud of the knowledge, passion and service our BDM team provides. We plan to continue improving our level of support as a strategic lender in helping our brokers tailor our full suite of mortgage solutions to their clients. Our brokers have discovered that we’re more than the Manulife One Bank, and it’s nice not to be niche. We remain committed to improving our lending platforms to meet the changing environment of our valued partners as we set our sights on gold in next year’s Brokers on Lenders report.”


RMG MORTGAGES It’s been a record year for RMG Mortgages, a division of MCAP Financial Corp. – and the proof is in the numbers. MCAP is Canada’s leading independent mortgage financing company, with over $140 billion of assets under management and more than 1,500 employees located in over 10 offices across Canada. RMG Mortgages has earned its ranking among the big players, offering solutions across the board for its varied clients. Focused on providing residential mortgages and mortgage servicing products through independent brokers across the country, RMG stays competitive by offering attractive rates while catering to the individual needs of its clients. “Loyalty is a focus of RMG – we work directly with brokers through each and every deal to ensure their needs are met and the needs of their clients,” says Bruno Valko, vice-president of sales at RMG Mortgages. Keeping its finger on the pulse of the mortgage industry is key for RMG. As technology further drives the mortgage engine, RMG Mortgages has kept pace by using its Gateway system to help streamline the process. “Mortgage brokers can now be comfortable in knowing that the industry-leading technology provided to them is then transferred to a customer portal that clients can benefit from,” Valko says. He believes this is just another sign that MCAP and RMG Mortgages are keeping one ear to the ground and one step ahead of the ever-changing mortgage landscape.

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HOSPER MORTGAGE An overall gold medal in the Brokers on Lenders report showed the strength of Hosper Mortgage’s reputation among Canada’s mortgage broker community – one that broker relationship manager Jerry Wieliczko says is based on Hosper’s speed of service, collaborative approach and understanding of the importance of exceptional client support. The company’s focus on turnaround time – a key priority – received an overwhelmingly positive response from brokers. “Speed is baked into everything we do,” Wieliczko says. “We understand that the faster we can give you an approval, commitment or update, the more at ease your client will be with the process and the better experience you can provide them.” Hosper’s collaborative approach with brokers, Wieliczko says, is one of the main reasons behind its gold medal in the underwriter support category. “Far too many lenders treat their brokers like opponents, which creates a win-lose mentality on both sides,” he says. “At Hosper, we realize that the broker channel is critical to our business. Our network of more than 1,000 brokers and agents accounts for our entire deal flow. We’re always happy to offer suggestions and solutions to achieve the best financial solution for your client.”


Brokers identified service levels as a crucial area of their relationship with lenders, and Hosper also performed superbly in that category. The company’s efficient service levels reflect its understanding of borrowers as an extension of the broker. “We know that borrowing clients may not know Hosper Mortgage by name, but they will remember the name and face of the broker who arranged our loan,” Wieliczko explains. “In everything that we do, we’re aware that the way we treat your borrower will be a reflection on you. The happier we keep your clients, the happier you’ll be with Hosper.” Brokers also scored Hosper strongly on interest rates, which Wieliczko attributes to the company knowing its niche – residential loans in Ontario – and sticking to it resolutely. That allows it to maintain competitive pricing, helping brokers set accurate expectations for clients before a deal is submitted. Ultimately, Hosper is built on an ethos that success is built on gradual, steady progress. It’s an approach that has served it well with brokers – and, Wieliczko says, will continue to do so. “If technology can allow us to send commitments quicker, we try it,” he says. “When there was demand for a loan product without an appraisal, we launched it. Most of all, feedback from our broker partners, both positive and constructive, helped us achieve the top rank.”

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ALTA WEST CAPITAL When asked what Alta West Capital stands for, president and COO Jared Morrison is quick to answer: “Alta West Capital helps Canadians get into their homes and helps Canadians invest for their futures.” This key message is at the core of Alta West’s alternative lending business model. It also provides the backbone of the company’s key pillars to success. “The number-one pillar would have to be our staff,” Morrison says. “We ensure that our staff has a strong understanding of what our company does. Number two would be that as our employee, you do what you say you will do. Whatever you have promised, make sure it is delivered on time. This is a very powerful thing in the end.” The third pillar relates directly to the impressive range of products that Alta West provides its valued client base. “We have both a flex equity-based product, as well as an express product that would involve stated income and represents an alternative product,” Morrison says. Adapting to the complexities of the pandemic has helped

shape the direction that Alta West has taken recently while providing a roadmap for what’s ahead. The company has adapted to the tech insurgence and provides solutions for all types of clients. “I have seen the evolution of the private or alternative lending space,” Morrison says. “It is no longer viewed solely as a lending option for those with bad credit, but an opportunity to support entrepreneurs and new Canadians. We have seen great growth in the space and normalization of the space.” The push to digitize and automate the mortgage sector has been squarely on Alta West’s radar as well. “We have seen a huge swing towards technological advances,” Morrison says. “We were on the technological path prior to the pandemic, but there is nothing like sending all your staff home to make you figure out how to do it remotely and digitally. COVID gave the industry that needed push towards better use of technology and more secure technology.” Alta West Capital will continue to base its decisions on each client and look for creative solutions, using new technology, where institutional lenders may have refused to listen.

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02/11/2021 2:43:18 am



Leading with technology Akber Abbas tells CMP how 8Twelve Mortgage Corporation is positioning itself at the forefront of the industry’s digital revolution by offering innovative solutions for brokers and consumers alike THE NAME of 8Twelve Mortgage’s endto-end mortgage platform, Infin8, was chosen for a very specific reason: to represent the infinite possibilities available to the consumers and mortgage professionals using it. According to Akber Abbas, the company’s president, CIO and principal mortgage broker, the platform was developed with the aim of furthering one of 8Twelve’s core goals: to advance the digital revolution in the broker channel with the technologies and processes at its disposal. The company itself is made up of three distinct business units: 8Twelve Mortgage Brokerage, a national brokerage; 8Twelve Capital, a mortgage administration company; and 8Twelve Financial Technologies, the holding company that houses those brands. Its forward-thinking, future-focused approach is one of the most striking aspects of 8Twelve Mortgage. Abbas says its founders’ innovation-heavy backgrounds (he worked for various Silicon Valley and technology companies; CEO and broker Gary Fooks has expertise in customer experience) played a key role in ensuring its continued success throughout the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Even in 2015, 2016, it was still manila folders and yellow notepads and a lot of paper going back and forth,” Abbas says.


“The reason why 8Twelve Mortgage has been growing year-over-year, month-overmonth, is because we were pandemic-proof or pandemic-ready. We were ready by being future-forward. We already had technology to be paperless; we were already working on managing Zoom meetings; we were already working on a remote environment, and we were doing that in 2017, 2018 and 2019.” That technology-centred approach meant that far from flatlining, 8Twelve’s operations actually flourished during the pandemic, helping it attract new talent and ensuring steady growth while many other organizations were facing upheaval during those uncertain early days of the outbreak in 2020. Central to its success among brokers is that intuitive, seamless system that has allowed the company to onboard talent and help new agents hit the ground running, irrespective of

their level of experience. “The system will take your hand and walk you through the steps of the mortgage; that’s why we’re seeing consistent fivestar reviews,” Abbas says. “We have teams in-house that take care of, for example, back-office administration, funding administration and so on. That’s really where our specialty is and why we’re growing really well. We’re taking a different approach on the mortgage brokerage business and how we’re onboarding and treating our staff as well.” That ability to walk employees through the process, and take care of timeconsuming administrative tasks for them, allows mortgage professionals to focus on the areas of their business that really matter to them, whether that’s developing new relationships or cultivating referrals. While mortgage agents have traditionally been required

COAST-TO-COAST PRESENCE The expansion of 8Twelve Mortgage in recent years has been significant. The company is now registered directly with multiple lenders in the broker channel. Its headquarters are housed in a 10,000-square-foot office at Yonge and Sheppard in downtown Toronto, and it has satellite offices across Canada, including in Quebec. In the Maritimes, 8Twelve is licensed in Prince Edward Island, and further expansion into Nova Scotia and Newfoundland is currently in the works.

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8Twelve Mortgage is founded and is initially licensed in Ontario with three mortgage agents


Expands licensing to British Columbia and adds more agents to its team


Is named a Top Brokerage and Top Mortgage Employer by CMP


Secures licences for Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan


“The reason why 8Twelve Mortgage has been growing is because we were pandemic-proof. We were ready by being future-forward” to find and manage business, working on new leads to the detriment of their productivity, Abbas says 8Twelve’s system lets agents focus on the side of the business that reflects their strengths. The company has also fully embraced integrations, viewing them as central to the future of the mortgage industry, and it’s always open to new partnerships and

enhancements. Its current partners include Filogix, Newton, Zoom, Hellosign and Docusign; standard email platforms are also built into the company’s technology. “We’ve created a platform that’s open to connect to partners today and in the future,” Abbas says. “Our philosophy has always been that great new technologies are being developed out there.”

Makes CMP ’s Top Brokerages and Top Mortgage Employers lists for the second year in a row The company has also built an impeccable reputation with lenders, which Abbas attributes to its team of diligent underwriters, who work with agents to package deals and information correctly. “Time and again, I hear from our lender partners that when they see an 8Twelve file, they’re bringing it to the top,” he says. “They know it’s consistent [and that] all the checks and balances are done. That increases our ability to collect fees and deliver value for our clients, but it’s also reducing the operating costs for our lenders, which they love. We’re building those deep relationships, time and time again.”

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Staying one step ahead of fraud CMP talks to FCT’s Marie Taylor about the organization’s front-line battle against fraudsters WHY IS title fraud such an attractive area for real estate fraudsters? There are many reasons, explains Marie Taylor, director and national underwriter of legal, risk and compliance at FCT – but most potent is the relative ease of the whole scam. “It’s a lot easier to commit title fraud than it is to rob a bank,” she says. “You don’t see anyone get hurt, you’re in and you’re out, and the funds just disappear. So it’s a very, very lucrative venture.” As a Certified Fraud Examiner, Taylor is dedicated to keeping her ear to the ground and ensuring that FCT’s clients stay protected from the potential predators who circle the industry. “I’ve been fortunate to have worked with many financial crime units across the country,” she says. “And I have had the opportunity to


work with some of the leading financial fraud subject-matter experts with a view to education and working together to stop fraud.” It’s an approach that has certainly paid off. Having been at FCT for almost 20 years,

sive,” she says. “We had a lot of resistance. But now all title insurance companies have incorporated fraud underwriting – and even banks all have underwriting for fraud contained within their mortgage instructions.” Yet while real estate buyers and investors can take comfort in the fact that fraud prevention is front of mind, it’s also prudent to keep an eye out for red flags that indicate the possible presence of fraudsters – most notably “not receiving bills you’re supposed to receive” or “receiving mail from banks thanking you for your business, but you have no accounts with them,” Taylor says. Such red flags are important to scout for – but the real difference in the fight against fraud comes down to taking individual protective measures. “Shred all documents with personal information,” Taylor advises. “Change your passwords on your computers and your banking services often. Routinely pull your credit bureau or sign up for credit monitoring services so that you can see if there’s any unusual activity on your credit bureau. And do not provide your social insurance number readily. Also, if you own a property, make sure you have a title insurance policy. While title insurance will not prevent title fraud from occurring, it will protect you from financial loss if you fall victim.” While fraud will never totally be a thing of the past, this kind of wariness ensures that real estate remains a secure, thriving and overwhelmingly safe market. “We will never eradicate fraud, but we can definitely make it less lucrative for fraudsters and constantly try and stop them in their

“[Fraudsters] are going to get smarter. But as long as we all stay educated and on top of it, we’re going make it a lot tougher for them” Marie Taylor, FCT Taylor has helped the organization take the lead in pioneering fraud prevention. “When we first implemented our fraud underwriting questions back in 2004, we hit a lot of resistance because people found it intru-

tracks,” Taylor says. “They’re going to keep on going, and they’re going to get smarter. But as long as we all stay educated and on top of it, we’re going make it a lot tougher for them.”

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Are you ready for the future? As breakthroughs in technology continue to shape the real estate industry, we’re at the forefront of what’s possible. We’re focused on developing the most advanced property intelligence tools and data-driven solutions to improve the experience across the real estate lifecycle. We’ve always operated at the cutting edge of change and continue to search for new and innovative ways to serve you. Want to learn how we can take you and your customers into the future? Contact us today. | 1.800.307.0370

Insurance by FCT Insurance Company Ltd. Services by First Canadian Title Company Limited. The services company does not provide insurance products. This material is intended to provide general information only. For specific coverage and exclusions, refer to the applicable policy. Copies are available upon request. Some products/services may vary by province. Prices and products/services offered are subject to change without notice. ®Registered Trademark of First American Financial Corporation.

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02/11/2021 2:46:26 am




Most of his woodworking projects take Markha m about three days to complete, including prep, building, sanding and finishing


Tables Markham has constructed


Barn doors he has erected


Years he’s spent renovating his current house

KNOCK ON WOOD The act of creation is a source of great fulfillment for mortgage industry veteran Joseph Markham JOSEPH MARKHAM’S longtime woodworking hobby took root in his childhood. “I always said that when I owned my own house and had a family of my own, I would have a big old farmhouse-style table for my family to sit at and enjoy dinners and conversations together,” says Markham, the principal broker at Edison Financial. “I grew up around fairly handy people and, from an early age, was taught the basics of tool use. I bought my first house in 2010, and what started off as adding in a closet led to me gutting the entire house.” That project eventually inspired him to pursue his childhood dream. “I spent hours


on YouTube and Google researching how to build a farmhouse table,” he says. “I bought the materials and the tools I didn’t already have and went to work. Three days later, I had built an eight-foot table.” At that point, Markham’s entrepreneurial spirit took over. He eventually built more than 30 tables, selling them on Kijiji. He also purchased and renovated two more houses, driven by the fulfillment that comes from creating something new. “Starting with an old, outdated room or a raw piece of wood and turning it into something that looks like new, or bringing out all the character and perfectly imper-

fect flaws in the material, is so satisfying,” he says. “Learning a new skill or trying something that I have never done before honestly brings a smile to my face, especially when it all comes together.” The hobby has also given him valuable perspective on business and life. “Every new project that I attempt to tackle, I respect the work and effort that it will take to complete it,” he says. “I also realize that I am in no way an expert, but if I put in the time and effort, I will have learned something new and built on my existing knowledge base. I will make mistakes, but that’s part of the journey.”

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02/11/2021 7:49:14 pm

Behind every mortgage, there are people. Discover how Anna Gomes, Senior Director of Underwriting, embodies Blue Culture. Visit

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02/11/2021 3:17:45 am

The road to better living starts with one bold word. Together with our broker partners, we believe that everyone who calls Canada home should have the opportunity to dream big. Whether it’s buying their first home or making room in the one they have, when you help your clients see what’s possible, you’re empowering them to say yes to bringing their dreams to life.

See what’s possible when you say yes. Let’s work together to start your clients on their journey. Go to #HomeHappensHere


02/11/2021 2:19:48 am

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