CMP 19.01

Page 1


The best places to work in the mortgage industry are prioritizing employee well-being and prosperity


The secrets to success for top-ranking broker Dalia Barsoum


What’s next for the mortgage stress test?


Growing demand for lenders that adapt to meet borrowers’ needs

MPAMAG.COM/CA ISSUE 19.01 | $12.95



CMP reveals the exceptional workplaces that have won employees’ votes for excelling in areas that are paramount to their well-being and success


With education and innovation as her driving principles, Streetwise Mortgages founder and industry high-performer

Dalia Barsoum keeps clients coming back


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


Industry representatives react to the scrapping of the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive and share their views on where it went wrong


02 Editorial

Getting ready for a market uptick

04 Statistics

Good news for housing affordability


06 Empowering brokers

CWB Optimum Mortgage is committed to helping brokers succeed

22 Big Six results

The six banking giants show caution in the face of economic uncertainty

30 Digital banking


The Canada Home Builders’ Association argues the case for reducing the mortgage stress test

B CEO on the bank’s “stunning” growth and what’s ahead

all businesses

The three foundations of sustainable growth for SMEs

mmunicating change

ur steps to building employees’ trust by prioritizing transparency


How leading ourselves well can be critical to leading others effectively


38 Broker focus

Former banker Jason Anbara has no regrets about his move into brokering

40 Other life

John Vo escapes his high-octane life as a broker by getting out on his motorbike

1 08
Lending experts discuss market challenges and the opportunities they offer in the alternative space

Gearing up for busier times ahead

It’s no secret that the mortgage market has seen muted activity since the Bank of Canada began hiking interest rates, but the fog could be clearing with plenty of evidence that buyers are beginning to step off the sidelines once again.

Take Toronto, traditionally one of the country’s hottest markets. After a chilly 2023 on the housing front, the city’s regional real estate board reported that the first two months of the year had seen a spike in purchase activity and new listings annually.

Jennifer Pearce, president of the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board, said that trend had emerged as borrowers became accustomed to interest rates at their current level – and with the central bank expected to reduce rates in the coming months, it could be set to intensify.

For many mortgage professionals across the country, the start of the year has already been marked by an uptick in clients seeking preapproval and prospective buyers resuming their homebuying plans. The onset of Bank of

The experience of navigating turbulent times will stand agents and brokers in good stead as the market begins to heat up again

Canada rate cuts, meanwhile, could herald a significant jump in activity – the type of development agents and brokers have been patiently preparing for during the past 18 months.

Those mortgage professionals have made use of the protracted slowdown in recent times by retooling their approach – picking up the phone and finding new ways of eking out business as well as streamlining operations and getting ready for the next market surge.

The experience of navigating turbulent times will stand agents and brokers in good stead as the market begins to heat up again, particularly with the need for knowledgeable, experienced mortgage professionals continuing to grow.

While rates may be on the way down, they’re not expected to see a significant immediate drop. Borrowers will still need high-quality agents and brokers to steer them through the purchase process and, of course, the wave of renewals on the way between now and 2026.

The mortgage market is unlikely to see skyrocketing levels of activity akin to the pandemic-era boom, but a brisker pace would be warmly welcomed by lenders, agents, and brokers alike.

The team at Canadian Mortgage Professional

ISSUE 19.01


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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 EDITORIAL Global Managing Editor Paul Lucas Editor Fergal McAlinden Writers Mallory Hendry, Kim Champion Lead Production Editor Roslyn Meredith Copy Editors Allison Ingusan, Christina Jelinek CONTRIBUTORS Michelle Bihary, Chris Green, Leah Mether ART & PRODUCTION Designers
MAY 2, 2024 | TORONTO CONGRESS CENTRE GET READY TO CELEBRATE EXCELLENCE IN THE MORTGAGE INDUSTRY! Join us at the Canadian Mortgage Awards, the premier event celebrating excellence in the mortgage industry. Don’t miss this opportunity to network with industry leaders, hear from top experts, and showcase your achievements. DON’T MISS OUT! Whether you’re a nominee, Excellence Awardee, or industry professional, the Canadian Mortgage Awards promises to be an unforgettable evening filled with networking, recognition, and celebration. Tables for the Canadian Mortgage Awards are in high demand, so don’t wait to secure your spot. We look forward to seeing you there! AWARD SPONSORS OFFICIAL MEDIA ORGANIZER TECHNOLOGY FOR MORTGAGE BROKERS AND LENDERS RESERVE YOUR SEAT NOW #MortgageAwardsCA



2023 may have marked an “annus horribilis” for housing affordability, but the start of 2024 saw some relief on that front, according to new data. The company said affordability had improved across 13 major Canadian markets, mainly thanks to a slightly lower stress test.



Canada’s housing market showed signs of recovery in early 2024, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association, with home sales activity increasing between December and January to a pace on par with the strongest months of last year. Senior economist Shaun Cathcart said the market was “starting to turn a corner but is still working through the weakness of the last two years.”

2.9% Canada’s overall inflation rate

National home sales increased 3.7% on monthly basis in January

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) monthly activity up 22% year over year

Newly listed properties increased 1.5% on monthly basis

However, newly listed homes remain near the lowest level since mid-2023

MLS Home Price Index fell by 1.2% month over month but jumped 0.4% year over year

UPFRONT STATISTICS 4 MORTGAGE INTEREST, SHELTER COSTS SURGE Source: Statistics Canada Consumer Price Index, January 2024 Source: Canadian Real Estate Association, February 2024
Ottawa Victoria Toronto
Mortgage interest cost inflation, year to Jan. 2024
Rent inflation, year to Jan. 2024
Percentage of overall inflation caused by shelter costs S10,000 $8,000 $6,000 $4,000 $2,000 $0 DROP IN INCOME REQUIRED TO AFFORD A HOME, BY CITY – DEC. 2023–JAN. 2024 $9,620 $7,890 $7,800 $4,820


$3,380 $3,350 $2,990 $2,700 $2,350 $2,020 $1,860 $1,730

Calgary Fredericton Hamilton St. John’s Winnipeg Montreal

Halifax Edmonton Regina


The Bank of Canada kept its benchmark rate unchanged at the start of 2024, once again holding steady despite market speculation that an interest rate cut could be on the way.



Housing starts fell in centres with a population of 10,000 or over in 2023 compared to the prior year, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, as the sluggish pace of home construction showed no sign of picking up.

223,000 units recorded in 2023 – down 7% from 2022 (240,590 units)

Single-detached starts down 25% year over year

Actual housing starts up 5% in Toronto

Actual housing starts up 28% in Vancouver

Montreal starts down by 37%


The Calgary market continued to boom at the beginning of this year, with data from the city’s real estate board showing that it remains among the most sought-after locations in Canada for real estate.


$569,361 Average sold price (up 11.2% y/y)

1,650 Number of transactions (up 37.6% y/y)

up 18% y/y

Semidetached sales (to 131 units) up 42% y/y

Row home sales (to 297 units) up 13% y/y

Benchmark price (to $702,200)

Source: 5 Source: Bank of Canada, January 2024, January 2024
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, January 2024
Calgary Real Estate Board, February 2024
5% 4% 3% 2% 1% 0% Jul 2022 Jul 2023 Jan 2023 Oct 2022 Oct 2023 Apr 2023 Sep 2022 Sept 2023 Mar 2023 Dec 2022 Dec 2023 Jan 2024 Jun 2023

All in as an industry leader and your lender partner

From innovative solutions to education and community support, ‘we’re obsessed with your success,’ says CWB Optimum Mortgage

THERE IS no question that CWB Optimum Mortgage is a leader in the alternative lending space. Providing an unrivalled client experience and a bespoke approach, it views every deal as a unique opportunity to provide tailored solutions that meet the specific needs of each and every client.

“At CWB Optimum Mortgage, we see each deal as a learning opportunity. We are deeply invested in educating our people, our brokers, and our clients,” says Melissa ArrietaLakusta, marketing manager at the lender. “We take pride in empowering brokers with the knowledge and insights needed to provide Canadians with a mortgage solution that best meets their needs, even if it isn’t a CWB Optimum mortgage.”

By directly educating brokers on mortgage solutions and how CWB Optimum Mortgage can help their clients achieve their financial goals, the lender ensures transparency, understanding, and collaboration throughout the mortgage process. This commitment to education not only sets CWB Optimum Mortgage apart as an expert in alternative lending but also demonstrates a genuine dedication to empowering both brokers and clients for successful outcomes.

“Sharing expertise, industry insights, and helpful tools enables brokers to navigate the complex landscape of alternative lending with confidence, and that’s one of our priorities,” Arrieta-Lakusta says, adding that CWB Optimum Mortgage is also a vocal presence in the mortgage industry more broadly.

Deeply committed to supporting the mortgage industry as a whole, CWB Optimum Mortgage takes a particular interest in opportunities to be able to connect and educate a vast number of brokers. Whether it’s spon-

soring and participating in association events like Women in the Mortgage Industry or seizing opportunities to demonstrate thought leadership through publications or panels, the lender aligns itself with what it believes in – and that’s initiatives that promote industry knowledge and collaboration.

This involvement not only demonstrates the company’s dedication to supporting educational opportunities “but also showcases our commitment to being an active participant in advancing the mortgage industry as a whole,” Arrieta-Lakusta says.

CWB Optimum Mortgage’s impact on clients, brokers, and the industry doesn’t go unrecognized. The year 2024 is just getting

an upcoming ceremony, Arrieta-Lakusta says just getting the nod speaks to the lender’s well-established expertise and premiumquality service.

“We’re much more than just another mort gage lender. Alongside our broker partners,

“Sharing expertise, industry insights, and helpful tools enables brokers to navigate the complex landscape of alternative lending with confidence, and that’s one of our priorities”
Melissa Arrieta-Lakusta, CWB Optimum Mortgage

started and the lender is already raking in new accolades, including winning a CMP 5-Star Mortgage Products award. With the lender’s Matthew Sheriff and Tom Taylor nominated for Lender BDM of the Year, and Victoria Cross and Darren Schienbein for Lender Underwriter of the Year, alongside other standout industry members in the Canadian Mortgage Awards, it’s clear that CWB Optimum Mortgage is at the top of its game. While winners will be announced in

we get to make the homeownership dreams of many Canadians come true. That’s an incred ible dream to be a part of,” she says.

“Whether it’s your client’s first home, a vacation house, or a rental property, we’ll help you get them there. Whether it’s broker education, innovative solutions, or community support, we’ll provide it. We’re all in as an industry leader and your lender partner –we’re obsessed with your success, and we want to see you succeed.”

O B S E S S E D W I T H Y O U R S U C C E S S ™
about us, our products, and services.
Learn more


Streetwise Mortgages’ Dalia Barsoum on her secrets to success – and how to navigate a turbulent mortgage market

AMID THE current turmoil of Canada’s mortgage market, Dalia Barsoum’s long-time approach hasn’t changed – and that’s because it hasn’t needed to.

The career of this renowned broker in the mortgage space began with a rise through the ranks in banking, in senior management roles at the Bank of Montreal. That experience included stints in wealth management, personal and commercial banking, strategy, and technology fields, but a switch to brokering seemed a natural next step for an executive whose entrepreneurial streak had always shone through.

Wanting more control over her time, and with a passion for real estate investing stoked by her experience in financing rental properties, Barsoum made the move to a mortgage agent role, working under a reputable broker who served as something of a mentor. What she learned in those early days stuck with her, forming the foundation upon which she built a hugely successful career.

For Barsoum, now president and principal broker at Streetwise Mortgages, the lessons learned in those early days have remained a hallmark of her approach throughout the last decade and more.

“As brokers, we need to stick with a few fundamental principles,” she tells CMP

“Change is going to happen, and each challenge has a different flavour, but this approach has always served me well.”

Educate and innovate

A broker’s first role – their duty, Barsoum stresses – is to go out and educate. Recent years have seen interest rate hikes, a cost-ofliving crisis, rampant inflation, and home

and in the future.” It’s doubly important in light of the major mortgage market slowdown and challenges presented by soaring interest rates in recent times.

The current market, Barsoum says, is “the toughest I have experienced,” even compared to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic or the tightening of B-20 mortgage guidelines. Against that backdrop, a

“What got us to a certain point is not necessarily what’s going to get us to the next level. And that’s something that I’ve kept in mind as I’ve navigated different environments”

price instability, which have presented an increasingly complex landscape for brokers and clients. Staying in touch with clients and helping them remain informed, particularly in times of rapid change, is a cornerstone of being good at the job.

Secondly, an ability to pivot is essential. Being nimble, according to Barsoum, “helps brokers gear up their business for success now

commitment to innovation is the only way to forge ahead.

“It’s important to step back, think through new ways of doing things, and look at where the puck is going,” she says. “What got us to a certain point is not necessarily what’s going to get us to the next level. And that’s something that I’ve kept in mind as I’ve navigated different environments.”



Name: Dalia Barsoum

Company: Streetwise Mortgages

Title: Founder, president and principal broker

Years in financial services industry: 26

Speaking roles: Barsoum was a speaker at CMP’s Women in Mortgage and Canadian Mortgage Summits in Toronto in 2023

Career highlights:

• Winning Broker of the Year (Ontario) and Canadian Broker of the Year at the 2023 Canadian Mortgage Awards

• Listed among the Mortgage Global 100 in 2022 and 2023

• Multiple wins of the CMP Woman of Influence award

• Streetwise achieving over $1bn in mortgage volume funded


A roadmap to success in all environments

Barsoum’s background in wealth management was essential to her realization that taking a strategic planning approach to financing income properties was essential, rather than simply focusing on one property at a time. That was how the concept of Streetwise, and her strengths in working with investors, developed.

Stepping out on her own as the company’s founder positioned her at the helm of a hugely successful enterprise whose success was driven by Barsoum’s eagerness to work diligently with clients to get them results.

“My approach was: ‘How can I solve a

me no.’ That’s how the word got out. And of course, that fuelled my growth.”

It wasn’t easy: with no book of business but a steely resolve to succeed, Barsoum faced a challenging first year in the broker profession. But she stuck to those basic principles she’d learned early on and trusted the process. Maintaining her tried and true approach saw her continue to thrive, tracking a rapid rise over the years that proved hard work, unwavering drive, and a commitment to the fundamentals are truly the recipe for success. After that first tough year, “things started to get better,” she says modestly.

It’s fair to say the principles Barsoum has applied to her career in the industry

“My clients would go out and say, ‘Talk to Dalia because she figured this out for me when the bank told me no.’ That’s how the word got out. And of course that fuelled my growth”

problem for real estate investors which I have personally experienced growing my portfolio?’ That became my thing,” she recalls. “I went out and told people, ‘Listen – you get declined by the banks; bring me your portfolio. I’ll figure it out for you.’ I figured out a way to get the deals financed strategically.”

Bringing together those twin tenets of education and innovation, her strategy kept clients coming back – and generated all-important word of mouth, an essential for growth in any market climate.

“Clients who came with a decline on their third property grew with me to their 15th, 20th property,” Barsoum says. “So my clients would go out and say, ‘Talk to Dalia because she figured this out for me when the bank told

have proven resoundingly successful. Her meteoric rise over the last 10 years hasn’t gone unnoticed: she came away with both the Ontario Broker of the Year and National Broker of the Year awards at the 2023 Canadian Mortgage Awards in Toronto and has emerged as one of the industry’s leading spokespeople on the mortgage market and broker priorities.

The key to that success is simple, Barsoum says: a willingness to let education and innovation underpin every move she has made throughout her career. For brokers today, that lesson is more critical than ever.

“Doubling down on fundamentals of the role should be top of mind for brokers as they navigate the current maelstrom,” she says.


Funding provided by Streetwise Mortgages

A lending, B lending, credit unions, private money, commercial financing, RRSP financing, joint ventures

Areas serviced British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia

Value of mortgages funded Over $1 bn

Contact Streetwise at:

• Email: info@

• Phone: 1-800-208-6255

PEOPLE 10 11 CONTENTS Feature article ............................................. Methodology .............................................. Top Mortgage Employers 2024 ................. PAGE 12 13 16 Employee satisfaction earns Top Mortgage Employers coveted places on the prestigious list of Canada’s best SPECIAL REPORT TOP MORTGAGE EMPLOYERS 2024


EMPLOYEES’ VOICES have reverberated across the industry over the last year, propelling the work of the country’s best lenders and mortgage brokerages to work for to the forefront.

Canadian Mortgage Professional unveils the Top Mortgage Employers of 2024, an elite group of progressive companies that distinguish themselves by excelling in areas paramount to employees’ success, such as:

• providing essential tools and resources

• fostering a thriving culture

• cultivating a positive reputation

• offering competitive compensation and benefits

• providing opportunities for advancement

• demonstrating strong and effective leadership

Thousands of employees rated 110 employer nominees across eight metrics, spotlighting organizations that exemplify the best overall employee experience.

“A company needs a great value proposition, but it also needs to have a culture of taking care of their people holistically,” says Kimberlee Freeman, founder and president

of KMF Enterprises and an associate member of the Canadian Association of Rent to Own Professionals.

The leading industry consultant emphasizes the key elements crucial to employee well-being and prosperity, for which this year’s award-winning mortgage employers have earned high scores:

• medical benefits

• retirement offerings

• paid time off

• quality training and support

• dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I)

• support for sustainable programs

This year’s top 26 mortgage employers prioritize the well-being and prosperity of

“We trust our team, and everyone knows that as the company does well, they will also do well”
Raj Babber, Oppono Lending Company
EMPLOYEE RESPONSES BY TENURE <1 year 16% 1–3 years 36% 3–5 years 15% 5–10 years 20% 10+ years 13%

their teams, as illustrated by three lenders that are consistently recognized for workplace excellence. Their people-first mindset is instrumental in enhancing employee satisfaction and driving organizational success.

Best mortgage lender to work for at the forefront of workplace trends

Oppono Lending Company

Employee rating: 9.67 out of 10

The Ontario-based mortgage lender has forged a reputation as a broker-focused and innovative company that empowers its ambitious staff to soar to new heights.

Employees noted the company sets itself apart in the following top-rated areas:

• compensation

• advancement

• DE&I

• reputation

One area in which the top employer is ahead of the curve is helping to cover employees’ cost-of-work expenses, such as cellphone bills, along with highway toll fees and public transit passes to get to/from the office. Other notable perks include:

• financial assistance for formal education or certification

• paid day off for birthdays, along with a flexible hybrid work program to encourage work-life balance

• in-office meals and snacks

• gym membership

• regular events to build team spirit

Oppono Lending has grown over the past two years and reached a significant milestone for both of its funds, nearing the $1.2 billion mark. It believes strongly in compensating its people well for their work, including monthly bonuses.

“If somebody has to worry about putting

“We have a full strategy dedicated to ensuring that we are taking care of our people and doing what it takes to attract new talent to our team”
Vivianne Gauci, HomeEquity Bank

“We have a philosophy in our office where we value everyone’s opinion, and it’s important that our people are happy when they come to work and feel that they make a difference,” says founder and CEO Raj Babber.

Employees are encouraged to take ownership of their success and to remain resilient amid the fluctuations of the mortgage industry, particularly during turbulent times. An open-door policy welcomes staff to have conversations, whether they’re related to business or their personal lives.

food on the table, then we fail as a company,” Babber says.

Driven to sustain its top employer status for two years straight, Babber has set his sights on ensuring the company remains a fun and exciting space to grow a career. Staff moved into a new bright and airy office in Markham, ON, in early 2024, equipped with top-tier technology and workstations to successfully tackle any challenges ahead. A new chief technology officer is at the helm to guide the dedicated tech team, and advance-


To help recognize and narrow down the nominations for the Top Mortgage Employers 2024 in Canada, CMP invited organizations to fill out an employer form highlighting their various offerings and practices. Employees of the 110 nominated companies were then asked to take an anonymous survey evaluating their workplace based on eight key factors: advancement; benefits; compensation; culture; diversity, equity, and inclusion; innovation; reputation; and sustainable programs.

To qualify, each nominee had to meet a minimum number of employee responses based on the overall size of the organization: employers with 10–100 employees were asked to provide a minimum of 10 responses; employers with 101–500 employees a minimum of 20 responses; and employers with 500+ employees a minimum of 50 responses.

Gold, silver, and bronze medals are awarded to the top three companies in each category based on company size and overall employee satisfaction.

ments have been made to strengthen the business’s underwriting and investor areas.

Babber says, “Every day, every moment, you need to improve.”


lender on a four-year top employer winning streak

HomeEquity Bank

Employee rating: 8.80 out of 10

Since 2021, employees have been voicing their satisfaction to keep the leading provider of reverse mortgages to Canadians aged 55+ in the spotlight as a top employer.

“This means a lot because our employees had a say in it,” says Vivianne Gauci, senior 13


1 = not important, 10 = very important

vice president of customer experience and chief marketing officer. “Especially over the last few years, we’re listening more than ever and learning how to do better.”

The bank’s mission of helping seniors age in place and improving their financial health resonates strongly with its staff, who

gave top marks for its commitment to the following categories:

• reputation

• innovation

• culture

• DE&I

What began as a novel voice of the customer survey in 2023 segued into the employee arena, with listening programs focused on quarterly check-ins and various engagement surveys that informed the firm’s people strategy. That feedback helped bolster an approach emphasizing employee well-being and happiness in an inclusive environment where everyone can thrive.

“One of our hallmarks is reputation, which starts internally with how aligned our people are to our purpose,” says Gauci. “That’s been the top-scoring question of our employee engagement surveys for the past three years.”

HomeEquity Bank’s leaders foster a family-feel environment in which open doors are standard. The well-being of its diverse workforce is prioritized, with benefits and programs focusing on physical, mental, social, and financial health.

With a laser focus on improving employee experience, the bank continues its modernization of processes and systems to support staff in providing an exceptional customer experience. Additional workplace benefits include:

• DE&I council composed of representatives across the business

• employee resource group focused on women’s issues

• visible and approachable CEO

• monthly town halls with public recognition of employees’ accomplishments

• wellness spending accounts

• healthy snack foods on-site

A new program, Moments Worth Sharing, showcases employees who have provided outstanding customer service

9.46 9.40 9.27 9.02 8.95 8.94 8.86 8.19 Compensation Culture Reputation Advancement Innovation DE&I Benefits Sustainable programs

while recognizing valued customers as integral contributors to the organization.

Another inaugural client experience award holds a special place in the hearts of HomeEquity Bank’s employees. The peer nomination recognition program was created to pay tribute and create a legacy for one of the bank’s long-serving employees, who passed away suddenly in 2023.

Gauci says, “She exemplified our core values of being customer-focused and a passionate advocate who goes above and beyond to create wonderful moments with our customers.”

The top employer is not resting on its laurels and will continue to listen to employees and act on their feedback to ensure continued enhancement of the employee experience.

“Without happy employees, we can’t make our customers happy,” Gauci says.

Top Mortgage Employer’s virtual environment leading the future

Canadian Mortgages Inc. (CMI) Employee rating: 8.76 out of 10

The mortgage investment company provides employees with an oasis of flexibility through its fully remote work environment.

“CMI was purpose-built from day one to be virtual, and we’ve designed everything to make employees’ lives easier and more efficient,” explains chief operating and financial officer Mike Spero. “It’s a real benefit for people who are looking for that type of remote work environment.”

Employees can take advantage of the virtual environment by choosing to live anywhere in the country they desire, a

“We’re constantly innovating and upgrading our core system, and a lot of that is driven through the employee feedback loop”
Mike Spero, Canadian Mortgages Inc. (CMI)

significant perk considering the rising cost of living and housing affordability.

The private lender earned high scores from employees for its commitment to:

• compensation

• culture

• innovation

• sustainable programs

CMI maintains a strong focus on understanding and respecting its employees’ backgrounds, strengths, and motivations while ensuring opportunities for continuous education and career advancement. It is also dedicated to continuously improving its employee offerings and work environment through employee surveys, not only to gauge satisfaction but also to implement initiatives that are important with an employee-led engagement task force.

Despite being physically distanced from its workforce, the top mortgage employer has successfully cultivated a thriving and tight-knit culture that is reinforced through multiple in-person annual staff events across Canada.

In addition to competitive compensation, benefits, leading-edge technology, and innov-

ative digital tools, other advantages include:

• zero commuting costs

• paperless company

• financial assistance for education, training, and certification

• employee-led corporate giving policy

The award-winning lender has more than doubled its headcount over the past three years, and its leaders remain vigilant about employee satisfaction levels, which keep improving year over year even during periods of growth.

“When we notice themes around different opportunities, a volunteer team of employees works together on the issue and makes recommendations that get escalated through management,” says Spero. “This is a way for us to make improvements.”

As 15
part of our editorial process, Key Media’s researchers interviewed the subject matter expert below for an independent analysis of this report and its findings.
Own Professionals






Adamas Financial Swivel Mortgage Group Syndicate Lending Corporation

Silver Tribe Financial Group

Bronze The Mortgage Coach


Gold Syndicate Lending Corporation

Silver Verico East Coast Mortgage Brokers

Bronze BRX Mortgage


Gold Syndicate Lending Corporation

Silver Referral Mortgages

Bronze Swivel Mortgage Group


Gold Syndicate Lending Corporation


Tribe Financial Group

Bronze Referral Mortgages

Diversity, equity, and inclusion


Adamas Financial Mortgage District

Silver Swivel Mortgage Group Syndicate Lending Corporation Tribe Financial Group

Bronze Verico East Coast Mortgage Brokers


Gold Adamas Financial Syndicate Lending Corporation

Silver Swivel Mortgage Group

Bronze Referral Mortgages


Gold Adamas Financial

Swivel Mortgage Group Syndicate Lending Corporation

Silver Verico East Coast Mortgage Brokers

Bronze The Mortgage Coach

Sustainable programs

Gold Adamas Financial

Silver Syndicate Lending Corporation

Bronze Tribe Financial Group

Overall winners

Gold Syndicate Lending Corporation

Silver Adamas Financial

Bronze Verico East Coast Mortgage Brokers



Gold Premiere Mortgage Centre

Silver True North Mortgage


Gold Premiere Mortgage Centre

Silver True North Mortgage


Gold Premiere Mortgage Centre

Silver True North Mortgage


Gold Premiere Mortgage Centre

Silver True North Mortgage Diversity, equity, and inclusion

Gold Premiere Mortgage Centre

Silver True North Mortgage Innovation

Gold Premiere Mortgage Centre

Silver True North Mortgage


Gold Premiere Mortgage Centre

Silver True North Mortgage

Sustainable programs

Gold Premiere Mortgage Centre

Silver True North Mortgage


Oppono Lending Company



Oppono Lending Company

Phone: 416 271 9096



Calvert Home Mortgage

Bronze Glasslake Funding ULC



Phone: 416 271 9096



Silver Ginkgo Mortgage Investment Corporation

Bronze Glasslake Funding ULC Reputation



Calvert Home Mortgage

Oppono Lending Company

Phone: 416 271 9096



Bronze Ginkgo Mortgage Investment Corporation Compensation


Oppono Lending Company

Phone: 416 271 9096



Ginkgo Mortgage Investment Corporation

Bronze Calvert Home Mortgage



Sustainable programs

Ginkgo Mortgage Investment Corporation

Calvert Home Mortgage

Oppono Lending Company

Phone: 416 271 9096



Oppono Lending Company

Phone: 416 271 9096



Silver Ginkgo Mortgage Investment Corporation

Bronze Glasslake Funding ULC

Overall winners

Ginkgo Mortgage Investment Corporation

Oppono Lending Company

Phone: 416 271 9096



Bronze Calvert Home Mortgage

Diversity, equity, and inclusion

Oppono Lending Company

Phone: 416 271 9096



Silver Ginkgo Mortgage Investment Corporation


Oppono Lending Company

Phone: 416 271 9096



Silver Ginkgo Mortgage Investment Corporation


Home Mortgage

Silver Manulife Bank

Bronze HomeEquity Bank

Gold Manulife Bank

Silver Bridgewater Bank

CWB Optimum Mortgage

Bronze HomeEquity Bank 17
winners Gold
Mortgage Centre
North Mortgage




Gold RFA

Silver Manulife Bank

Bronze Canadian Mortgages Inc. (CMI)


Gold Manulife Bank

Silver RFA

Bronze Canadian Mortgages Inc. (CMI)

Diversity, equity, and inclusion

Gold Manulife Bank

Silver RFA

Bronze HomeEquity Bank


Gold RFA

Silver HomeEquity Bank

Bronze Canadian Mortgages Inc. (CMI)


Gold Manulife Bank

Silver RFA

Bronze HomeEquity Bank

Sustainable programs

Gold Manulife Bank

Silver Canadian Mortgages Inc. (CMI)

Bronze Bridgewater Bank

Overall winners

Gold Manulife Bank

Silver RFA

Bronze HomeEquity Bank



Gold CENTUM Financial Group

Silver Verico Financial Group

Bronze Pineapple


Gold Verico Financial Group

Silver CENTUM Financial Group

Bronze Pineapple


Gold Verico Financial Group

Silver CENTUM Financial Group

Bronze Invis


Gold Verico Financial Group

Silver CENTUM Financial Group

Bronze Pineapple

Diversity, equity, and inclusion

Gold CENTUM Financial Group

Silver Pineapple

Bronze Verico Financial Group


Gold CENTUM Financial Group

Silver Pineapple

Bronze Verico Financial Group


Gold Verico Financial Group

Silver CENTUM Financial Group

Bronze Pineapple

Sustainable programs

Gold CENTUM Financial Group

Silver Verico Financial Group

Bronze Pineapple

Overall winners

Gold Verico Financial Group

Silver CENTUM Financial Group

Bronze Pineapple


Canadian Mortgage

“My first time attending after being in the industry for so many years, and what an amazing event and networking opportunity”


The Canadian mortgage event of the year will be back for another edition on September 26 - save the date!

After the biggest event to date in 2023, this year's summit is shaping up to be even bigger and better.

Registration officially opens on July 5 – but you can register your interest today and be the first in line to secure your pass.

1,000+ attendees

25+ speakers

Register your interest today and keep September 26 free. Visit for more information.

50+ exhibitors


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Big Six staying cautious

Canada’s leading banks continue to stockpile rainy-day funds amid economic turbulence and growing concern over potentially souring loans

PROVISIONS FOR credit losses at Canada’s traditional six banking giants spiralled upwards again in the first quarter as financial institutions braced for potential stormy waters down the line. Earnings season was marked by continuing caution in the opening three months of 2024, although on the whole banks posted robust financial results despite uncertainty over the outlook for Canada’s economy.

With a fog continuing to shroud the future of Canada’s commercial market,

concerns have arisen over the stability of major lenders’ commercial books, although there seems little prospect of a meltdown similar to that which occurred in the US in 2023 when Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank folded south of the border.

Scotiabank and Bank of Montreal kicked off the flurry of quarterly earnings announcements by revealing higher profits and rising loan loss provisions.

BMO showed a first-quarter profit of $1.29 billion, with revenue jumping from


Speaking to BNN Bloomberg, Lightwater Partners portfolio manager Jerome Hass said the loan loss provisions set aside by the banks had been unsurprising, particularly in the context of the recent economic uncertainty.

“Everyone signalled that this was going to take place, and it’s happened, but that’s been relatively modest too,” he said. “I know $4 billion seems like a large amount, but in the context of the banks’ portfolios, it’s still pretty benign, and so I don’t think there’s been too much that’s going to change people’s perspective on it.”

$5.1 billion to $7.67 billion and profit per diluted share coming in at $1.73 billion. The bank stashed away $627 million for credit losses, compared to $217 million in 2023’s first quarter.

Earnings per diluted share were down over the same time last year. Diluted EPS came in at $2.56 compared to an adjusted $3.06 in Q1 2023.

Scotiabank, meanwhile, posted net income for the first quarter of $2.2 billion compared to $1.76 billion a year prior, with profit coming in at $1.68 per diluted share compared to $1.35 in the same quarter last year.

The bank’s provisions for credit losses climbed to $962 million from $638 million


the same time last year, and adjusted earnings per diluted share slipped from $1.84 in Q1 2023 to $1.69 this time around.

RBC’s adjusted profit for the three months ended January 31 came in at $4.07 billion, or $2.85 a share. That was down from $4.26 billion at the same time last year but above analysts’ pre-earnings estimates of $2.80 per share.

The bank’s provisions for credit losses increased to $813 million, up 53% from Q1 2023. Revenue for the quarter came in at $13.49 billion, RBC said, an increase from $13.36 billion in the same quarter last year.

National Bank saw earnings of $922 million, or $2.59 a share, during the quarter – up from $876 million ($2.47 a share) in Q1 2023. That was higher than the $2.36 per share forecast by analysts as quarterly revenue swelled by 4.8% on a year-over-year basis to $2.82 billion.

Credit loss provisions jumped to $120 million at National Bank for the first quarter compared to $86 million a year ago.

TD set aside $1 billion for potential loan losses in the first quarter, up from $690 million a year prior, with adjusted


BDO Canada executive Shilpa Mishra told CMP that “deposit hunting” had been a significant priority of the Big Six banks at the beginning of 2024.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic and historic low rates, you had soaring personal and business savings,” she said. “So as a result, all the financial institutions had a more passive attitude to cash.

“But with all the savings being spent, the banks really now look at cash as queen. So there’s a focus on gathering.”

Concerns have arisen over the stability of major lenders’ commercial books, although there seems little prospect of a meltdown

net income slipping to $3.64 billion – a decrease from $4.15 billion in Q1 2023.

A slight uptick in net income for the bank’s Canadian personal and commercial banking unit (3%) was countered by a big drop on the US retail side, which saw net income dip by 43%.

CIBC revealed provisions for credit losses of $585 million compared to $295 million

last year, although first-quarter profit jumped from $433 million a year ago to $1.73 billion this time around with revenue rising by 5% on a year-over-year basis.

Diluted earnings per share at the lender came in at $1.81 – down from $1.94 in Q1 2023 but higher than the $1.66 expected, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv. 23

Farewell to the FTHBI

After a tumultuous journey since its introduction in 2019, the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive has been scrapped – and the industry reaction was predictably strong

IT WAS aimed at easing affordability for new buyers and helping get more Canadians into homes, but after a fraught four and a half years and waves of criticism, the federal government announced in early March that it was axing the much-maligned First-Time Home Buyer Incentive.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation said in a short statement that it was winding up the scheme, which on paper reduced first-time buyers’ monthly

mortgage payments through a sharedequity component. The national housing agency said it would not be accepting new


• Shared-equity mortgage with the Government of Canada, offering:

• 5% or 10% for a first-time buyer’s purchase of a newly constructed home

• 5% for a first-time buyer’s purchase of a resale (existing) home

• 5% for a first-time buyer’s purchase of a new or resale mobile/manufactured home

• Government shared in both the upside and downside of the property value – up to a maximum gain or loss equal to 8% per annum, not compounded, on the incentive amount from date of advance to the time of repayment

or updated submissions for the incentive past midnight on March 21.

In a statement to CMP, a CMHC spokes-

“It was a classic example of a policy designed to make it look like the government was doing something while doing little at all”
J.P. Boutros, government relations consultant

person said the program had been discontinued because the government viewed the First Home Savings Account (FHSA), a tax-free-in, tax-free-out program allowing new buyers to save toward a downpayment, as a more effective means of helping firsttime buyers into homes.

“The [FTHBI] was initially expected to sunset in fiscal year 2021/22 but was extended following Budget 2022 to December 31, 2025,” the CMHC said. “After a review of federal housing plans in light of the current housing situation, the federal government decided that the [FHSA] is a better tool to help first-time homebuyers buy a home.”

Refocusing the funding would allow the government to turn its attention to other impactful policy areas, the spokesperson said.

Where did the FTHBI go wrong?

The incentive provided a loan of up to 10% of the purchase price of a home to go toward a downpayment, repayable either upon the sale of the property or after 25 years. However, an April 2023 evaluation of the report showed that uptake of the program remained rooted well below its stated target of 100,000 users by March 2025, with only 18,291 successful applicants by the end of 2022.

J.P. Boutros, a prominent government relations advisor who was in Ottawa on behalf of Mortgage Professionals Canada for the Budget lock-up prior to the FTHBI’s introduction in 2019, told CMP he had immediately viewed the measure as a “bright shiny object” and a “classic example of a policy designed to make it look like the government was doing something while doing little at all.”

He said the likelihood that the community would be burdened with the IT costs of integrating the untested FTHBI into their system was an early red flag, noting that some lenders had reported huge expenditure on the program, and criticizing


The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive had faced challenges from the off with Conservative MPs Tom Kmiec and Stephanie Kusic urging the CMHC to torpedo the scheme as early as 2020 after an annual report showed its uptake lagged far below projections.

Mortgage Professionals Canada also criticized the incentive at its 2022 summit, with vice chair Veronica Love saying the scheme was “simply failing.”

the “untold millions” spent by CMHC to keep it in action.

James Laird, co-CEO of and president of the CanWise mortgage lender, said the policy had been “flawed from the beginning” and he was pleased to see it go. “It’s a shame that it took them this long to admit the policy failure, but better late than never,” he said.

“Allowing all consumers to amortize their

mortgage over 30 years has always been a better way to help first-time homebuyers and would be an effective replacement for this program.”

Laird said the main issues with the scheme were that it required the borrower to stump up the entire minimum downpayment – and slightly reduced the purchase price a buyer could qualify for. He also criticized the shared-equity component of 25


the scheme. “Even if a homeowner could qualify for the same amount, owning a home with the government still does not make any sense,” he wrote.

“The government gets to enjoy the appreciation of the home, while paying none of the expenses, i.e., property tax, insurance, maintenance.”

Scheme more popular in less pricey markets

Ontario and British Columbia – home to Canada’s two priciest housing markets, Toronto and Vancouver – saw muted uptake of the incentive, with just 1,125 applications approved and disbursed in the former and 589 in the latter, according to the housing agency’s evaluation.

However, first-time buyers took up the option more widely in Quebec (6,037) and Alberta (5,555), whose main markets are already considerably more affordable than those in BC and Ontario.

“We used that program a fair bit for clients that were just kind of on the brink of qualifying for what they needed”
Tara Borle, Mortgage Architects


Among the FTHBI’s most trenchant critics was Ron Butler, one of the best-known figures in Canada’s mortgage industry. The Butler Mortgage founder said the federal government had failed to take on board the lessons from a similar failed scheme in British Columbia.

“It had been tried years before by the BC provincial government and was a total failure,” Butler wrote on X after the program was discontinued.

“Why? Government gives small assistance in down payment and insists on their share of the profits when the house is sold someday. But the homeowner will pay all the property tax, the mortgage, pay for all the repairs, pay 100% of improvements and upgrades. The homeowners will pay everything and the government will enjoy profit on the sale.”

Tara Borle, an Edmonton-based broker at Mortgage Architects, told CMP the measure was a popular one among first-time buyers based in the city, particularly those who were already at or close to their budget limits.

“We used that program a fair bit for clients that were just kind of on the brink of qualifying for what they needed. We threw that in there, and it kind of bumped them up a little bit,” Borle says.

“I liked that program. We do a fair bit of insured business; that’s why we were able to use that program a lot – and we also deal with new builds, and [buyers] get a 10% incentive with the new build. So I’m sad to see it go.”

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What’s next for the mortgage stress test?

The OSFI doesn’t look likely to introduce changes any time soon – but the regulator continues to face calls to adjust the ‘imperfect’ measure

IT WAS a move that came as little surprise to Canadian mortgage professionals and market observers: the national banking regulator’s decision to leave the mortgage stress test rate, which safeguards the market’s stability, unchanged in December.

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) opted to keep the minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages at the greater of 5.25% or two percentage points above the contract rate, a move that was quickly repeated by federal finance minister Chrystia Freeland on the insured side.

While OSFI superintendent Peter Routledge has routinely emphasized the stress test’s importance to the mortgage market, he also conceded in September that the measure was an “imperfect” and “incomplete” means of testing borrowers.

That verdict arrived amid a spike in variable-rate mortgage costs since 2022 following a series of Bank of Canada rate hikes, although Routledge underscored that the stress test had been an effective means of ensuring borrowers were able to absorb the impact of those higher payments.

Regulator urged to introduce stress test changes

Few expected the regulator to introduce significant changes to the stress test in

December, but the OSFI has still faced calls in recent times to adjust the qualifying rate as a means of improving housing affordability in Canada.

Amid plunging homebuilder sentiment and growing pessimism on prospects for new buyers, the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) recently argued that a lower stress test rate would help get Canadians into homes and improve the outlook on the home construction front.

“We’ve been big proponents of not only ratcheting the stress test down a little bit overall but trying to encourage longer-term mortgages, which is something that the Bank of Canada has encouraged in the past as well. Moving to seven- and 10-year mortgage terms would enable buyers to be that much more stable when they come out of their mortgage terms and they look to renew.”

Lee said eliminating the stress test for those longer mortgage terms could have

“We’ve been big proponents of not only ratcheting the stress test down a little bit overall but trying to encourage longer-term mortgages”
Kevin Lee, Canadian Home Builders’ Association

Kevin Lee, CHBA’s CEO, said a cut in the qualifying rate, coupled with an emphasis on longer mortgage terms, should be under serious consideration by the OSFI.

“We know why it’s been put in, and we know that OSFI has been really reticent to make any changes in the name of financial stability, but when you look at all the data it would suggest that too much has been done,” he told CMP

a positive knock-on effect on the housing starts front, while also maintaining the stability of the market as a whole.

“If we’re going to look to double housing supply, people need the financial means to be able to get into the marketplace, and we have to decide what we want in the mortgage space,” he said.

“I think there’s a lot of room for walking back a little bit on some of this excess


tightening in the name of having more homeowners be able to be in the market, while still having a very stable and sound financial system for Canadians.”

Borrowers continue to bear the brunt of high rates

While home prices have dipped across many Canadian markets in recent months, high interest rates and the stress test have kept affordability firmly out of reach for scores of buyers.

Recent research by showed that the income required to purchase a home in Canada jumped on a yearly basis across nine out of 10 major markets in January based on a stress test rate of 7.37% (two percentage points above a 5.37% mortgage rate).

“There’s a lot of room for walking back a little bit on some of this excess tightening in the name of having more homeowners be able to be in the market”
Kevin Lee, Canadian Home Builders’ Association

Still, the Bank of Canada has also highlighted that the stress test has played an important role in mitigating the impact of rising borrowing costs in recent years and will continue to serve as an important tool in the face of potential mortgage renewal pain.

“Most borrowers will need to make adjustments, sometimes significant, to

ensure they are able to continue to pay their mortgage,” the bank reported in December. “The impact on financial stability, however, is somewhat mitigated by macroprudential policy.”

The stress test, the central bank said, “should provide a buffer for [most] borrowers to absorb interest rate increases and other shocks.” 29

A bumper quarter for EQB

The bank’s CEO, Andrew Moor, talks to CMP about its sparkling Q1 results – and what’s ahead

EQB’S SPECTACULAR first-quarter 2024 earnings were especially noteworthy for the lender’s strong performance in the face of a challenging housing market, according to its CEO, Andrew Moor.

The company saw year-over-year earnings growth jump by 12%, with revenue surging by 27% to just under $300 million and adjusted net income swelling to $108 million.

Speaking to CMP, Moor highlights growth in the company’s digital bank, EQ

a series of commercials aired during the recent Superbowl.

“That really seems to be resonating,” Moor says.

“And then of course, our mortgage broker friends continue to deliver for us. While the general single-family space was a bit more muted in the last year, in the last quarter [strength] is in reverse mortgages, and we’re really working well with mortgage broker partners, and people are finding ways to do business with us and finding

“Mortgage brokers are going to continue to win share, because getting a mortgage is becoming more and more complicated for regulatory reasons”
Andrew Moor, EQB

Bank, which saw its customer base expand by 38%, a particularly strong indicator of its progress over the past year.

That “pretty stunning” result, he says, arrived as the brand found its voice during the past 12 months, bolstered by a partnership with actors Eugene and Dan Levy and

customers when that’s a useful solution.”

EQB has become a “very significant player” with reverse mortgages in the broker channel, Moor says, while its focus on supporting the broker space has also seen strong investment in technology during the past six months.




Could the fog clear in Canada’s mortgage market?

While 2023 was marked by choppy waters for the mortgage market, Moor says there is room for optimism looking ahead, particularly with the Bank of Canada expected to continue with a less aggressive tone on interest rates. “I’m feeling like spring will

GLANCE total revenue (up 27% YOY) adjusted net income (up 17% YOY) adjusted diluted EPS Q1 (up 12% YOY) YOY growth in customer base to over 426,000 customers adjusted ROE Q1
$299m $108m $2.76

come soonish when the Bank of Canada starts to go into a bit of an easing mode and drops interest rates a bit. Qualification is going to become easier, and the industry can spring back to life a bit. That’s the hope and expectation.”

It may take a couple of months for that market uptick to arrive, but when it does, prospects for the mortgage broker community are strong for a multitude of reasons, according to Moor.

“I think mortgage brokers are going to continue to win share, because getting a mortgage is becoming more and more complicated for regulatory reasons,” he says.

“And obviously the kind of professionals employed in the broker channel are really going to win in that environment. We’re a great believer in brokers. All of our

extensions giving borrowers the ability to finance laneway houses, housing additions, and other types of construction investment, with those arrangements increasingly popular in markets like Toronto and Vancouver where supply shortages have been most sorely noted.

That will prove especially useful for brokers, Moor says, with little indication that the significant regulatory change required to ease the national housing crisis is on the way.

“I do think there’s always ways of thinking about the mortgage market itself and how regulations could make it a bit easier for certain parts of the community to buy a house,” he says.

“I’m not really expecting a bunch of change. Frankly, I don’t think that’s the mindset of regulators at this point. And so I think we as mortgage professionals have to figure out how we can more efficiently operate within the constraints that are applied.”

Also of note at EQB in the year ahead will be the rollout of a new small business

“We’re a great believer in brokers. All of our mortgages come through [them]. So we live in the same ecosystem, and we thrive when this ecosystem is doing well”
Andrew Moor, EQB

mortgages come through [them]. So we live in the same ecosystem, and we thrive when this ecosystem is doing well. We’re excited about how our mortgage broker partners can do this year.”

Gearing up for another busy 12 months ahead

EQB is currently planning to launch product

account, a development Moor says will benefit brokers and their clients alike.

“Because many mortgage brokers operate small businesses, hopefully they’ll be our customers. Whether it’s they themselves or their customers with small businesses, I think we’re really going to bring some new value to the marketplace,” he says. “So we’re excited about what that might do.” 31

Laying the platform for SME growth

What happens when your business has enjoyed strong growth but hits a ceiling and levels out? Business strategist and author Chris Green says SMEs need three foundations to sustainably grow

A FAMILY-OWNED dairy distributor, founded in 1985, had held market dominance since the business started up – until 2017 when everything changed. The local milk production company closed the factory and stop producing its brand. The distributor’s whole world crumbled overnight.

Having had the advantage of a superior local product, this small business did not have the business systems, the people capability, or the knowledge to compete in a hypercompetitive market. Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common story in the SME world and in different industries everywhere.

Many businesses are characterised by a period of high growth when things seem effortless and customers are plentiful, but without forethought, these businesses hit a ceiling and are unable to scale in any sustainable way. That’s why the key to SME success relies on having three firm foundations in place:

1 Get financially literate

Financial reporting, modelling and budgeting are activities that many small business owners struggle with – or even avoid. Many see these processes as a waste of time because they are based on assumptions, while

for others, interpreting the numbers in a business context can be challenging.

The reality is that numbers are the language of successful businesses. You must know what your numbers are telling you.

By undertaking a robust budgeting process, you will better understand the opportunity cost of deliberately allocating resources to one area of the business at the expense of another. It’s a discipline that forces you to decide how you will or will not compete; how you’ll choose what competitive advantages to invest in and think about how the market may react.


Considering direct costs, variable costs, overheads and capital expenditure in light of anticipated revenue enables you to explore what-if scenarios. In doing so, you can better understand the potential impacts of decision-making.

2 Capture all knowledge

Record and transfer all knowledge currently in your head. Traditionally, this would have been mapped out into an operation manual, training program, or anything that takes what you know and puts it in a form others can follow. In the modern era, there’s an endless stream of software applications and videos that make this possible.

Over time you will create a templated process for capturing the information you know and disseminating it to the team. If you find there is still a significant gap between what you know and the capability of the company to execute it without you, this may indicate a skill gap you need to either recruit or train for.

Once you have your information-recording system humming, it’s time to get your team involved and have them capture the information that’s in their heads. Over time, this process of systemising a business creates performance consistency. Not only that, but if you’re looking to sell, scale or replicate your business in the future, you will have created real value in your business model.

3 Define what’s important

For many business owners, taking the time to stop and reflect rather than motor on at a hundred miles per hour is uncomfortable because it requires self-reflection to dive into what is truly important. Who has time to waste doing this when there are so many more important tasks to complete in the day-to-day?

Yet you need to know what’s truly important to you and what your values are so you can prioritise business actions accordingly.

In his book Traction, author Gino Wickman suggests that to define our values in a busi-

Taking the time to stop and reflect [can be] uncomfortable. Yet you need to know what’s truly important to you and what your values are so you can prioritise business actions

ness context, we should think of three people who, if we cloned them, would lead to market domination. What are their characteristics? What do you most admire about them? What is it about them that would lead to market domination?

Identify your top five scoring words and draft a sentence that explains what each word means to your organisation and why it’s important. Sometimes it’s valuable to do this exercise with your team to get buy-in and encourage behaviours that align with the values.

Celebrating behaviours that align with your organisational values, and managing behaviours that do not, allows you, as the

owner, to set the standards – standards that will facilitate accountability as the business transitions to a more disciplined and accountable structure.

Like the concrete slab of a house on which all else is built, the above three foundations are the bedrock on which your business can be built so it can weather any storm or market disruption.

Chris Green is the author of BusinessbyDesign as well as a business strategist, mentor and facilitator with more than 20 years’ experience helping businesses. Find out more at


Be transparent in times of uncertainty

When major changes are about to happen in a business, uncertainty follows, and without information staff often speculate and morale can suffer. Leah Mether shares her advice on how managers can build trust

WE’VE ALL heard the saying “no news is good news”, but often, particularly at times of uncertainty when you know change is brewing, this is not the case.

In fact, not only is no news not good news, but frequently it is even worse than bad news, because it adds to uncertainty and anxiety. In a vacuum of information, people fill the space with their own stories and

even if it’s not what people want to hear, because this builds trust. As David Rock and Christy Pruitt-Haynes wrote in Harvard Business Review: “Research shows that getting an answer you don’t like is better than not receiving one at all. Any way you can provide useful information, even if it seems small, can increase people’s sense of clarity, if not certainty.”

You can bet that the things left unspoken by leaders are what everyone else is worried about and talking about. Avoiding the topic breeds suspicion and distrust

conclusions based on fear, rumour and innuendo. Often those stories are far worse than what is actually coming.

According to Hilary Scarlett, author of Neuroscience for Organisational Change, the brain finds uncertainty so uncomfortable that we are better at dealing with bad news than not knowing what the future holds. In fact, bad news is often better than no news.

At times of uncertainty, it’s important that leaders share as much truth as they can,

Uncertainty calls for transparency

The words ‘honesty’ and ‘transparency’ are often used interchangeably. But there’s a difference between them, and in times of uncertainty, transparency is what people need.

Honesty is telling the truth as you perceive it and refusing to lie or be deceptive – crucially – when you’re asked.

Transparency means easy to see through. If you are being transparent, you are sharing the truth that you believe needs to be known

because it’s the right thing to do. You’re not waiting to be asked; you are being open in your communication and proactively sharing. In that awkward period when you know change or a big decision is coming but you don’t know exactly what it looks like yet, transparency is a powerful trust and respectbuilding tool.

Four steps to better communication

So, how do you communicate with transparency to your team when things are uncertain? Here is a simple four-step framework to help you:

Tell them:

1 What you know

The facts. Share as much truth as you can.

2 What you’re doing about it

The action you’re taking.

3 What you don’t know

Don’t leave things unsaid. Address the elephant in the room and verbalise the unknowns.

4 When you expect to know and how you will keep them informed

Give people a sense of certainty amid the


uncertainty by making it clear that you will communicate any new information as soon you have it.

Share as much truth as you can; be honest about what you can’t share When communicating during change and uncertainty, most leaders stop after the second point in the framework.

They share what they know and what they’re doing about it but leave the unknowns unspoken, rationalising that if they don’t know the answer, they shouldn’t say anything. This is a mistake. Why? Because you can bet that the things left unspoken by the leaders are what everyone else is worried about and talking about. Avoiding the topic breeds suspicion and distrust.

But what if sharing is not allowed? What if you’ve been sworn to secrecy and your people ask questions you can’t answer? Again, the

answer is simple: speak the truth. Don’t say, “I don’t know”, if you do. This is a surefire way to erode trust if your people know or suspect that this is a lie and you’re simply not telling them. Instead:

• Be transparent: “I can’t share that information with you.”

• Empathise but stay firm to your message: “I appreciate you want more information, and this uncertainty is unnerving, but at this stage I am unable to share any more detail.”

• Include the ‘why’ if you can. It may be: “Because the structure has not yet been finalised”, “Because it’s commercial in-confidence”, “Because we’re still working through what the change will look like”, or “Because there are non-

disclosure agreements”.

• Outline your commitment to keeping your team as informed as you can: “My promise to you is that I will be as open and honest as I can be with you and communicate any updates as soon as I have them.”

Communicating when things are uncertain and unknown can be challenging, but it’s not complicated. Use the four-part framework in this article as a guide and you will reassure your people, build trust, and help steer your people through the storm of change to calmer waters.

Leah Mether is a communications specialist, champion of ‘soft skills’, and the author of ThroughtheStorm:HowtoCommunicateand LeadCourageouslyThroughChange information, visit


Investing in self-leadership

Workplace resilience expert Michelle Bihary explains why it’s important to lead ourselves well in order to be effective in leading others

SELF-LEADERSHIP is a game changer when we want to be the best version of ourselves. It helps us think, learn, and relate to others effectively, optimising our skills, talents, and potential. Self-leadership is leading ourselves from the inside out. It’s the influence we use to shape our behaviours and thoughts to live and work in alignment with our values, aspirations, strengths, and talents.

Emotional intelligence expert Daniel Goleman highlights the value of self-leadership: “Exceptional leaders distinguish themselves because of superior self-leadership,” he says. Every time we speak to ourselves, we are building an internal relationship that can support or undermine us.

Why is self-leadership important?

There is a critical link between how we lead ourselves, how we perform at work, and our capacity to contribute to a thriving, healthy workplace.

Poor self-leadership has a detrimental impact on our brain functioning, cognitive and psychological agility, relationships, career, and wellbeing. Underperformance, being hard to work with, and energy-draining, rigid, negative, closed-minded, impatient,


competitive or even toxic beheviours are often the results of poor self-leadership.

Common ways people lead themselves poorly include perfectionism, overly focusing on weaknesses and limitations, ignoring strengths and skills, being harsh or toxic toward themselves, and neglecting their own needs, goals, and values.

The seven key reasons it is wise to invest in self-leadership include:


You can’t lead others if you can’t lead yourself

If you’re not leading yourself well, you won’t be effective in leading others. Our relationship with ourselves is the foundation for how we relate to others. If we don’t

pressure and have the energy to engage fully in both their professional and personal lives.


Positive impact on others, relationships, and teamwork

When we lead ourselves well, we’re empowered and take greater responsibility for and ownership of our energy, presence, and behaviours, resulting in more proactivity and positivity. We’re also more consistent and reliable, we have better boundaries, and we’re more empowered in meeting our own needs and so are less demanding of others.

Energy and mojo


Positive self-leaders invest in building and optimising their mojo.

Poor self-leadership has a detrimental impact on our brain functioning, cognitive and psychological agility, relationships, career, and wellbeing

appreciate our strengths, skills, and talents, we’re unlikely to be able to appreciate them in others. If we can’t trust ourselves, we’re less likely to trust others and more likely to micro-manage.

2 Sustainable peak performance

Leading ourselves well helps us maintain our mental and emotional bandwidth – our capacity to be present, adaptable, and agile. Self-leadership guides us to use self-awareness and self-care to optimise our energy, wellbeing, and vitality. If we’re not leading ourselves well, our potential may be squandered through neglecting to optimise our strengths and skills. Self-leaders understand the critical value of good self-care practices, ensuring they perform well under

They have the physical, mental, and emotional energy necessary to meet their professional and personal demands. They don’t waste time on energy-draining behaviours like unnecessarily harsh self-criticism, shaming, selfblaming, self-sabotaging, or destructive habits that rob them of fulfilment.

Capacity to adapt and learn


Strong self-leadership provides the foundation for openness to learning. Active self-leaders invest in lifelong learning. Self-awareness is a core component of self-leadership, ensuring an appreciation of strengths, values, preferences, and talents. Self-leaders welcome opportunities to learn and grow, and see mistakes and failures as opportunities for learning. Self-leaders are not hijacked by their egos; instead they bring

a growth mindset, continually looking for ways to be enriched by the wisdom and skills of others.

6 Agency and autonomy

Feeling that everything is outside of their control is a common experience of poor self-leaders; they tend to focus their time and attention on what they can’t control, rather than what they can. Being pushed around more by what is outside of our circle of influence makes us feel powerless and overwhelmed. Self-leaders prioritise a mental focus on what they can influence and at the same time acknowledge what they can’t control.

7 Determined by your values

Your values are non-negotiable; they are an important part of who you are and how you navigate the world. Strong self-leadership is when you are clear about what you value, and so your values, intentions, behaviours, and actions are in harmony. Living up to everyone’s expectations can create internal conflict as others’ values and expectations are not always going to align with our own.

Self-leadership is a skill set that needs to be continually developed. Building self-leadership helps us fulfil our potential and make a positive impact on others around us. It leads to greater organisational success through empowering people to regain control of their direction and goals, and ensures that their best selves show up on the job. 37
Michelle Bihary is a people leadership and workplace resilience expert.

A move worth making

Jason Anbara took a calculated leap into the unknown by leaving a successful career in banking to enter the brokering field – and he’s never looked back

BEGINNING A new career and building a brand-new team from scratch is never easy, but for Jason Anbara the decision to forge his own path in the mortgage industry in 2015 after a four-year stint in banking is one he’s never regretted.

Anbara had been in the financial services industry since 2006, starting with a major credit card company and moving through managerial roles in marketing, collections, and customer service before making the switch to National Bank.

With everything going swimmingly in his banking role, Anbara carefully weighed up a switch to brokering before eventually taking the plunge – and the move turned out to be timed to perfection.

“Obviously when you’re doing well somewhere, it’s going to be hard to decide,” he tells CMP. “It took me a long time to actually make the move and try to see what the other side looked like. And the grass was greener, especially the way the market’s been turning. Having one option was not really good enough anymore.”

Anbara entered the broker profession during an era of significant upheaval in the industry and faced an inevitably steep learning curve as a result. His team at Mortgage Alliance had barely marked their

first five years when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, bringing a shock to the mortgage and housing markets.

Still, those experiences served the team well, Anbara says, giving them ample experience of

lished in the industry, where we’re strong and we’re here to stay.”

His team is now flying high at Mortgage Alliance, but for Anbara there’s no secret sauce for success – other than understanding

“There’s never been a better time to be a broker than today, because right now people need options” Jason Anbara, Mortgage Alliance

navigating troubled waters in the industry.

“Obviously, the changes that have happened have been pretty extreme,” he says. “So the fact that we made it out of all these years and all these events means that we’re well estab-

the value of networking, relationships, and good old-fashioned hard work.

“Networking is huge: creating partnerships with key players like real estate agents, accountants, lawyers,” he says. “The way I had


With the increasing complexity of Canada’s mortgage market in the 2010s, thanks to new qualifying requirements and tightening guidelines, Jason Anbara found the binary yes/no answer of the banking space insufficient to meet the needs of modern borrowers. That shifting market meant the broker space, with its array of lending options, was better placed to provide tailored solutions to Canadian homeowners and buyers than the more limited banking sector, Anbara says.

“Back then when we were at the bank, everyone was getting approved left, right, and centre,” he explains. “Now you need alternative options. You need private options. You need all the commercial business out there.”


the biggest success at the beginning was by having the right partnerships in place. You can’t just work smart in the mortgage industry; you’ve got to work hard.”

Amid the rapid growth of his own team –which now numbers around 65 staff – Anbara has drawn on his prior managerial experience, delegating additional responsibilities

to key team members and top performers within the brokerage.

That’s an effective way of ensuring the right people are in place to help the company scale, he says, as well as making it an attractive proposition for new agents who can draw on the experience and expertise of those individuals as mentors and guides.


2006–11 Risk management manager, MBNA Canada

2011–15 Development manager, National Bank of Canada

2015–PRESENT Mortgage broker, Mortgage Alliance

2017–PRESENT CEO and president, NorthLend Financial

“There’s a lot of mentorship; there’s lots of training, a lot of added value in working with our team for anyone that’s starting new in the industry,” he says. “Our team is mainly made up of new agents. I’d say more than half are brand-new agents, and they come to us because of the expertise and the training and mentorship we provide.”

While the turbulence of recent years has taken some getting used to for many, it’s also served to highlight the crucial role brokers and agents play in presenting solutions for their clients, according to Anbara.

“There’s never been a better time to be a broker than today, because right now people need options,” he says. “Having one option is not [sufficient] anymore, as most people won’t qualify on their own at this point because of the stress test, because of high interest rates, because of high purchase prices.

“So, having options right now is key, and since I’ve started [in brokering] it’s never been more obvious that brokers are the best option than it is now.” 39

An avid fan of all things motor-related, John Vo once had a Honda S2000 roadster convertible – “a nice way to decompress from the stresses of life and work,” he says




For motorbike enthusiast John Vo, getting out on the road is the perfect release from the high-octane life of a broker

IT ALL started with drinks and a barbecue with some mortgage industry colleagues, says broker John Vo, when an underwriter friend showed him his motorcycles. “I sat on his bike and pictured myself riding, then before you knew it, I had enrolled in the motorcycle licence course and bought myself a motorcycle,” he tells CMP.

Vo has been an enthusiast ever since, getting out as often as he can, even if that can prove challenging with the weather in

Atlantic Canada and his long hours as a mortgage broker. “One thing I have come to terms with is that if the weather is nice, I just have to make time to ride, otherwise I might not get to ride for a week or so.”

It’s been an effective way of helping Vo clear his mind and focus on being present.

“It’s like when I’m sparring, playing sports, or lifting weights,” he explains. “If I’m not present when I’m doing those high-risk activities, then the consequences

are serious. The fresh air and the rush of being on two wheels really helps put me in a great mood when I’m done.”

As for his favourite routes? “I love to ride on the old highways, which are backroads that typically go along the water,” he says. “We have some beautiful routes in Nova Scotia, which I love to ride with friends in the mortgage and real estate industries. It’s a great way for us to get out together and connect outside of work.”

Number of motorcycles and mopeds registered in Canada (2021)
YOY increase in motorcycle registrations in Nova Scotia (2021)
number of times
a week for
John Vo to get out on his

Women in Mortgage Summit


Women in Mortgage Summit Canada returns for its second year to celebrate the resilience of this evolving industry on June 5 at The Carlu, Toronto

Take part in an all-encompassing experience featuring a robust line-up of expert speakers, celebrate women leading in the industry, and gain the essential industry insights needed to elevate your career to an all-new level.

The summit is your exclusive opportunity to make powerful connections, navigate the latest industry challenges, find new inspiration to advance your career, and so much more.

Taking to the stage for 2024:

MELISSA LEONG Personal Finance Expert, National Media Personality, Best-selling Author

LEANNE CONROY National Sales Director MCAN Home Mortgage

HALI NOBLE Managing Director Fisgard Asset Management Corporation

KATE BRADY President Dominion Media Corp.

LAUREN VAN DEN BERG President & Chief Executive Officer Mortgage Professionals Canada


Vice President, Marketing, Sales & Strategy Glasslake Funding

Visit for more information CANADA
JUNE 5, 2024 | THE CARLU #WomenInMortgageCA Scan here to register
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