MORTGAGEBROKERNEWS.CA ISSUE 11.06 | $12.95
WOMEN OF INFLUENCE Meet 55 women who have made their mark on the Canadian mortgage industry
HOW HIGH CAN THEY GO? Is there any peak in sight for the housing markets in Toronto and Vancouver?
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CHANGING THE REFERRAL GAME How one system is helping brokers diversify offerings while building relationships
THE IMPORTANCE OF CUSTOMER SERVICE DLC's Tracy Valko reveals how focusing on service has made her a top producer
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WOMEN OF INFLUENCE COVER STORY
From top-producing brokers to influential executives, these 55 women have ascended to the highest levels of the Canadian mortgage industry – and they’re paving the way for others to join them
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UPFRONT 04 Editorial
Putting the housing market on ice
RBC recently warned investors to stay away from condos in Toronto due to overbuilding, but is there really cause for concern? PEOPLE
Home Trust’s new COO, Chris Whyte, shares his perspective on everything from technology to rate competition
How high can sales figures in Toronto and Vancouver go?
08 Head to head
Is it time to start taxing foreign buyers?
14 Commercial update
Leading economists offer insights into what’s next for Canada’s two hottest housing markets
A recent report assesses the state of the commercial market
A former Fort McMurray resident weighs in on the town’s prospects
BROKER INSIGHT For Dominion Lending Centres’ Tracy Valko, nothing can replace honesty and customer service
40 The referral system that’s changing the game
An innovative referral platform is helping brokers diversify their offerings and cultivate relationships
PEOPLE 47 Career path
Israeli expat Zack Mano Margalit has made his name in Canada’s commercial property market
48 Other life
Going off-piste with James Laird
BALANCING DATA AND GUT INSTINCT
When hiring new employees, when should you rely on hard facts, and when should you go with your gut?
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To cool or not to cool?
hat is the question. To industry ‘experts’ (read: every Canadian citizen), the answer seems obvious: The government needs to step in and intervene before Toronto and Vancouver’s sky-high housing prices get further out of reach. But to mortgage brokers – and others who comprise the country’s actual experts – the solution isn’t so simple. What sort of tactics should the government pursue? No one seems to have a realistic answer to that. “Macroprudential measures have strengthened recently but should be tightened further and targeted regionally,” the OECD said in a recent report. It did not, however, provide any suggestions on what sort of measures should be pursued. Target those pesky foreign buyers – and even our own home-grown investors – others say. “That leaves two … drivers [pushing prices in Vancouver and Toronto] – foreign wealth and speculation,” wrote BMO Economist Sal
Toronto and Vancouver could also face a downturn in the event the government intervenes and places further restrictions on mortgages, many brokers argue Guatieri in a recent research note. “Growing evidence suggests the former is a key factor, which offers hope that both markets will be spared a severe correction if the inflow of wealth continues. If speculation is also at play – and the number of homes bought and sold within a year in Vancouver has indeed turned higher – then both regions could face a downturn.” But those markets could also face a downturn in the event the government intervenes and places further restrictions on mortgages, many brokers argue. There seems to be no right answer to this discussion. We apologize for dredging up this tired debate; we know the industry has grown tired of all this ‘overheating’ talk. But it’s certainly the elephant in every Canadian’s living room these days, what with sales jumping 18% year-over-year in Vancouver last month and prices up 16% year-over-year. Meanwhile, in Toronto, sales are ballooning by 10%, and the average price is rising by 16%. All signs point to that continuing. With that, so too will the overheating debate. The team at Canadian Mortgage Professional
www.mortgagebrokernews.ca ISSUE 11.06 EDITORIAL Editor Justin da Rosa Writers Joe Rosengarten Libby Macdonald Executive Editor – Special Features Ryan Smith Copy Editor Clare Alexander
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Up, up and away
ACTIVITY AND PRICES REACH NEW HEIGHTS According to the most recent quarterly forecast from the Canadian Real Estate Association, the trends that marked so much of last year have only strengthened. And so far in certain markets, the only crimp in the action is a shortage of supply.
The nationwide figures and forecasts paint a picture of red-hot markets, but that good fortune is not enjoyed by all ACCORDING TO June figures from the Canadian Real Estate Association, sales in British Columbia and Ontario have recently reached new record highs. Given these twin engines of activity, CREA has revised its forecast for the national average price for this year to just shy of half a million – a yearly upward trend of just over 10% across the country. The last six months of 2016 are expected to bring an easing of sales activities in both British Columbia and Ontario
as supply tapers off. Meanwhile, provinces touched by the decline in fortune of natural resources present a marked contrast to the red-hot residential markets of the nation’s two leading belles of the ball. Oil-dependent Alberta, along with Saskatchewan and Newfoundland & Labrador, expected to continue to flounder in soft housing markets that are inextricably linked to poor economic prospects.
CANADA 2016 2017 2016 2017
536,400 537,500 $490,700 $491,100
British Columbia 2016 2017 2016 2017
Bank of Canada advertised five-year lending rate, as of May 25, 2016
Year-over-year increase in the national average home price, as of April 2016
Increase in home sales nationwide from March to April 2016
123,000 120,200 $722,500 $715,200
Estimated number of residential sales
Increase in actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity compared to April 2015
Estimated average house price
Source: Canadian Real Estate Association
ONTARIO BREAKS NEW RECORDS
TORONTO’S SELLER’S MARKET BURNS ON
A record-setting April saw Ontario’s residential sales activity top 25,000 for the first time in that month. Thanks to April’s boost, home sales in the province are outstripping those from the same period last year by 10.6%.
May saw a new record set for residential real estate sales in Hogtown – the Toronto Real Estate Board reported 12,870 home sales, and the average price for a detached house is inching closer to the $1 million mark.
YEAR-OVER-YEAR SALES INCREASE, ONTARIO
Source: Canadian Real Estate Association
Source: Toronto Real Estate Board, June 2016
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50,000 53,300 $395,400 $399,800
2016 2017 2016 2017
15,020 15,420 $274,100 $280,100
Newfoundland & Labrador
77,950 79,250 $278,600 $283,800
4,210 4,180 $253,600 $252,400
2016 2017 2016 2017
Prince Edward Island 2016 2017 2016 2017
11,880 12,240 $292,800 $294,600
2016 2017 2016 2017
2016 2017 2016 2017
1,930 1,920 $170,900 $171,600
235,500 234,000 $513,400 $520,900
2016 2017 2016 2017
9,750 9,910 $220,000 $223,400
Source: CREA Residential Market Forecast
BC SNAPS, CRACKLES AND POPS
THE LAP OF GLOBAL LUXURY
Both unit sales and prices are up across most of BC, and residential sales in the province are forecast to climb past the 12% mark for a record 115,200 units this year. Yet despite the market’s ‘overheated’ status now, the BC Real Estate Association expects things to cool heading into next year.
Although it relinquished its number-one spot from 2015, Toronto still was high in the top 10 cities for luxury property sales, according to Christie’s. Right behind Ontario’s capital in the worldwide listing? Victoria, BC.
2015 2016 (forecast) 2017 (forecast)
Year-over-year sales increase
Auckland, New Zealand 1
Victoria, British Columbia
3 4 Valencia, Spain
San Francisco, California 5 6 Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Costa Smeralda, Sardinia 7 8 Portland, Oregon
Kamloops and District
Chilliwack and District
Sydney, Australia 9 Kootenay
35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% -5% -10% -15% -20%
Source: British Columbia Real Estate Association, June 2016
10 Stockholm, Sweden
Source: Global Luxury Real Estate Market Report: Luxury Defined 2016
21/06/2016 3:46:58 AM
HEAD TO HEAD
Should overseas real estate investors be taxed? As foreign investors continue to be blamed for frenzied markets, Vancouver’s mayor has called for a tax on non-Canadian buyers
Michael Sjerven Mortgage broker Verico Vivid Mortgage
President and broker Canadian Mortgages Inc.
“CRA rules say that foreign buyers are to pay capital gains when selling their property unless they can show that they or a family member are living in the property as a primary residence. The issue is that some foreign buyers are buying properties through relatives in Canada, but then file taxes as nonresidents so they don’t pay any taxes. In order to combat this, many other countries, such as Australia and the United Kingdom, have introduced much stricter rules and much higher taxes for foreign buyers. It appears that foreign buyers may be contributing to the loss of affordable homes for Canadians – and a loss of tax dollars.”
“This is a very complex and difficult question to answer. As much as I believe in free enterprise and trade, we may need to start protecting our own citizens more. It makes sense to charge both a higher property transfer tax and increase annual property taxes paid to the city for any owners who aren’t residing in the country. Canada should also discontinue the investor visa program and not allow wealthy immigrants to easily move here. Studies have shown that immigrants under the investor visa program contribute far less to society (including taxes) compared to skilled workers moving to Canada. Higher taxes on foreigners ... may be a trend in the coming years.”
“There is little doubt that in certain segments, foreign buyers are playing a role. Taxing foreign buyers may cool the market in some segments, but it could also lead to Canada falling in prominence as a destination for wealthy immigrants. If immigrants with money are driving the housing market, they are driving our economy as well, and we wouldn’t want that to stop, now would we? Most lenders already require 35% down for these buyers; perhaps mandating that may be a better solution. This would ensure that our foreign buyers are strong hands, less likely to let go during periods of market turbulence.”
Broker/owner Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Mentors
ARE FOREIGN INVESTORS REALLY THE PROBLEM? As home prices in the nation’s overheated markets spiral out of reach for many Canadians, the mayor of perennial hotspot Vancouver has spoken up on the need for foreign buyers to be taxed. However, the discussion is clouded by the lack of reliable figures about foreign ownership. According to recent data released by CMHC, foreign ownership of condos in the nation’s two hottest markets is relatively paltry: 3.3% in Toronto and 3.5% in Vancouver. However, anecdotal evidence puts the proportion of foreign buyers much higher than that – up to two-thirds of residential Vancouver purchases over a period of two quarters, according to one informal survey.
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Raging out of control As Canada’s two hottest housing markets continue to smolder, CMP checked in with two of the industry’s leading economists about whether it’s sustainable – and what, if anything, the government should do to intervene MICHAEL CAMPBELL, Verico’s economist, was blunt when asked about the current state of real estate prices in Vancouver. “Is it sustainable? Absolutely not,” he tells CMP. “You’re compounding at a rate of 15% to 17%, so we’re not going to continue that growth rate, that’s for sure.” Vancouver sales volume increased 18% year-over-year in April, and prices skyrocketed 30% for the same period – and things got even hotter in May, according to Dominion Lending Centres chief economist Dr. Sherry Cooper. “Last month’s sales were 35.3% above the 10-year sales average for May, [which] ranks as the highest sales total on record for that month,” Cooper says. “While demand is very
Lower Mainland as a whole. The price gains are even larger for single-family detached homes, as supply is very limited.” In Toronto, the market snapshot is similar, although not quite as scorching: April sales shot up by 11% year-over-year, and the average price rose by 15% – and again, both saw another spike in May. “In Toronto … the activity and price increases are slightly less frenzied, which isn’t saying much, as multiple offers and paid prices well over asking have become increasingly common,” Cooper says. “The Toronto Real Estate Board reported a new record month for May sales, up 10.6% from a year ago, as the number of new listings was down 6.4%. The
“Is it sustainable? Absolutely not. You’re compounding at a rate of 15% to 17%, so we’re not going to continue that growth rate, that’s for sure” Michael Campbell, Verico hot, the total number of listings in Metro Vancouver has declined 37.3% from a year ago, helping to explain some of the upward pressure on price. Home prices in Greater Vancouver are up a stunning 48.3% in the past three years, and the one-year change has been close to 30%. The numbers are similar for the
excess demand in the Greater Toronto Area continues to push prices higher and, in some cases, to create panic buying.” Escalating prices seem to show no signs of slowing in the two cities, which has many potential homebuyers calling for action from the Canadian government. But as with any
public policy, the solution is never easy. “Nothing can be done without consequences,” Campbell says. “For example, the Conference Board of Canada yet again confirmed that BC will lead the country in growth. Last year, the country created 144,000 new jobs, and BC had 110,000 of them. “What can governments do?” he continues. “It’s overblown what people think they can do. They’ve already done something: They created record-low interest rates. That has pushed a huge amount of money into the market at the lower end. A 1995 condo, on a five-year mortgage average rate with a price of $250,000, [has the same monthly payment as] a [current] five-year mortgage for a $450,000 home.” Trying to manage housing prices could impact a huge number of Canadians, he points out – many of whom simply don’t want prices reined in. “People looking to get into the market
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TORONTO AND VANCOUVER MARKETS AT A GLANCE
Toronto sales, May 2016
$782,051 Average price in the 416
$751,908 Average price in the GTA
Vancouver sales, May 2016
$889,100 Average price in Metro Vancouver
$786,500 Average price in the Lower Mainland want lower prices; people who currently own property don’t,” Campbell says. “It’s humorous to see people who say [the government has] to do something about these prices. Ask them if they would offer
“A lot of people on the retirement side of things need their homes to sell at these prices because [their returns] due to record-low interest rates [are] so much less than when they started planning for retirement, so they
“The government is leery about triggering a collapse in housing. Nonetheless, housing growth this strong does not usually end well” Dr. Sherry Cooper, Dominion Lending Centres their home for about $1 million less, because that would really help. Of course they don’t. They don’t see it personally.” Sellers who are relying on their home appreciation to fund their retirement are particularly wary of any efforts to cool the market, Campbell adds.
need a much higher asset level. That’s a group that actually needs these prices.” Cooper points out that many ideas have been proposed to keep prices in check in the country’s two hottest markets. “Housing affordability is plunging in both regions, and there has been a rising
number of voices calling for government action of some sort,” she says. “Some have suggested an increase in the minimum down payment, tightening credit conditions or a rise in the cost of CMHC mortgage insurance – all of which would hurt first-time homebuyers the most, exacerbating affordability. As well, the idea of action to slow foreign buying – such as, for example, a luxury tax – has also been floated.” But again, the answer is not that simple. “This is a very tricky issue,” Cooper says. “The strength in housing [in these two regions] has been a key underpinning to economic growth this cycle. As well, 70% of Canadian households own their own homes, and home equity is, for most people, the largest component of household wealth, so the government is leery about triggering a collapse in housing. Nonetheless, housing growth this strong does not usually end well.”
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INVESTMENT UPDATE NEWS BRIEFS Suburbs are hot again, thanks to millennials Millennials are driving growth in suburban markets, making them ripe for the investor picking, according to one veteran. “It’s simple math: You could buy the same-sized condo in Burlington as you can downtown Toronto for arguably $150,000 less, and you’re renting it for almost the same amount of money,” Tariq Adi, president of Adi Development Group, told CMP sister publication Canadian Real Estate Wealth. “We’re going to see a big shift in the way people live in the suburbs.”
Roncesvalles locals to fight 8-storey condo Residents of hip Toronto neighbourhood Roncesvalles are banding together to protest the redevelopment of a former funeral home into an eight-storey condominium complex. As reported by the Parkdale Villager, the Roncesvalles MacDonell Residents’ Association [RMRA] said they need to take a stand to prevent the project by Craig Hunter & Associates from encouraging similarly “intrusive” proposals in the future. “We see [the funeral home], or any development coming in, as a precedent setter for what’s going to happen for the rest of the street,” RMRA co-chair Brian Torry said.
Leading investor: Correction would benefit investors It may go against conventional wisdom, but investors might want to start cheering for a market correction, says one leading investor. “As an investor, there are two things that come up in a market correction: First, everything goes on sale. That’s the most obvious thing,” Martin Kuev, an Ontario-based investor, told Canadian Real Estate Wealth. “So if you want to purchase additional cash-flowing properties, it’s a lot easier to do so.” The
second thing, according to Kuev, is an improved rental market. “If you’re already an investor, you already have properties that have rental income coming in. With a correction, it’s going to be a lot harder for people to purchase homes, so it’s going to drive that rental market up.”
Rental stock in BC getting harder to come by Recent figures from British Columbia’s central statistics agency revealed that a shortage in the supply of rental properties in the province is intensifying, despite steady growth in housing starts. As reported by Business Vancouver, the latest numbers from BC Stats showed that Vancouver has seen 4,616 starts last year, a higher figure than the 10-year average of 4,261. This has been counterbalanced by the inflamed demand, which has left only 255 condo units (both completed and unsold) in the city. This year alone, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver has verified more than 80 sales, and expects at least 225 successful transactions by the end of 2016.
Housing policy could cost investors A recent study’s suggestions to address housing affordability could spell lower profits for investors. “Code Red: Rethinking Canadian Housing Policy,” published by advocacy group Generation Squeeze, looked at how long it typically takes Canadians to save up for homes. The study also put forth a number of proposals for addressing affordability, including a ‘speculation tax’ on homes sold within 24 months of purchase. “Whether they reside here or abroad, people who purchase homes for purposes other than ... living in them or renting them out contribute to market forces that are driving housing prices beyond reach for a large, and growing, proportion of younger Canadians and newcomers to the country,” the study said.
Should investors avoid condos? A big bank sounds the alarm about one popular real estate investment, but is there more to the picture? Both the Globe and Mail and CBC recently sparked worry among Torontonians and investors across the country with their respective coverage of a Royal Bank of Canada report, released in late May. “Canada’s biggest bank has sounded the alarm about overbuilding in Toronto’s condo boom, saying the level of new units coming online, coupled with existing ones that are yet to sell, have the market in ‘high risk’ territory,” the CBC reported. The Globe countered with its own (similar) take. “Royal Bank of Canada economists are fretting over the condo construction boom,” wrote Michael Babad in the paper’s Business Briefing. “They’re flagging other issues as well, notably that of housing affordability in Vancouver and Toronto.” RBC did indeed say there is a risk of condo overbuilding, particularly in Toronto. “There were 5.7 multi-unit dwellings per 1,000 population under construction in Canada in Q1/16, or just shy of the decadeshigh of 5.8 units reached during 2014. This level is well into the ‘high risk zone’ (4.5 units or higher),” RBC economists Craig Wright and Robert Hogue wrote in their report, entitled “Canadian Housing Health Check.” However, the pair also claimed the
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condo market has heretofore been operating at a “healthy” level. “Healthy condo absorption has mitigated risks that arose following a spike in condo completions in early 2015,” they wrote. “According to the Toronto Real Estate Board, condo rental activity has surged in recent years. “Yet strong supply has been met with equally strong rental demand,” the pair continued. “So far, there is little evidence that condo investors who rent their units have overestimated rental demand.” Still, there is a chance that demand will peter out and lead to an excess of units.
“So far, there is little evidence that condo investors who rent their units have overestimated rental demand” “The prospects for high levels of condo completions in the period ahead in markets such as Toronto, Montreal and Calgary maintain above-average absorption risks,” the Wright and Hogue wrote.
Time to get back into Alberta
Realtor CIR REALTY
Years in the industry 12 Fast fact Mangat began his career as a software investor and worked for Accenture on various international projects before turning to real estate investing
Alberta is being overlooked by investors at the moment. Why should they focus on properties out West? Currently Alberta is experiencing economic conditions that have not existed since the 80s. [At that time], unemployment was 10%, [and the province] had a negative net migration rate. In 1986, oil was at $25 a barrel, down 79% from its high. Unemployment was 7.2%, and house prices had decreased 30%. Let’s compare that to the 2016 scenario: Oil has dipped 70% from its June 2014 peak, and unemployment is 8%, but there is a positive migration of 7,500, and house prices are down only 4% to 8%. So why invest in Alberta? Simple – it’s the growth engine of Canada. There is no other province that can duplicate the infrastructure, investment opportunities, average weekly income and quality of living. Also, Alberta has no rent control, so landlords can increase rents as dictated by the market, not the government. Strategic investors are buying, positioning themselves for the next bull market. When buying real estate, think of Warren Buffett’s words: “Only buy something that you’d be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for 10 years.” What sort of properties are best suited for new investors? What about experienced investors? Let’s start off with new investors: Buy a single-family home or townhouse, not a condo. Learn the skills of dealing with tenants and maintaining properties. A smart entry-level investor will form a joint venture with an experienced person ... and remember to always have an exit strategy. For any experienced investors, I recommend four-plexes and townhouse projects. For all investors, properties have to cash flow and be in an excellent location from the tenant’s perspective. They want to be close to public transportation and grocery stores, and have easy access to main roads, recreation areas, restaurants, coffee shops and downtown. The properties should be modern, with plenty of storage and newer appliances. Which areas in Alberta are the most attractive? Investors like Calgary because there are numerous areas to invest. Calgary is spilt up into approximately 196 communities, and I would easily recommend over 100 of them. However, I tend to invest in southwest Calgary due to my tenant profile list –areas like Killarney, Bankview, Kingsland, Windsor Park, Fairview and Acadia. What sort of tenants can you expect in the city? A smart investor could create a tenant profile and then look for properties that will suit the tenant. Tenants are the biggest factor that will determine your satisfaction with real estate. You will get a higher rate of return in some ‘rougher’ areas, but you will have to do more tenant management.
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Market sentiment among lenders mixed A recently released survey of commercial lenders reveals both good and bad news for 2016
The survey also found that commercial spreads on ‘high-quality’ assets are being priced at 195–220 basis points for five-year deals and 210–235 bps for 10-year deals. That represents a year-to-date increase of 15 bps for 2016. In addition, CMLS expects competition to ramp up among lenders in the sector. “We are currently seeing more lenders return to the market, and as a result, we anticipate spreads will move directionally lower,” the report said. “For those lenders that evaluate commercial mortgage credit from a
“We are currently seeing more lenders return to the market ... we anticipate spreads will move directionally lower”
The latest Commercial Mortgage Commentary report from CMLS Financial revealed that while lenders are generally optimistic about the market, a substantial number expect capital availability to decrease this year. The report, released in May, provides a targeted analysis of the commercial mortgage market in Canada. In total, 27 of Canada’s lending institutions – comprising more than 90% of the country’s commercial mortgage
market – took part in the survey that served as the basis for the report. At the end of last year, CMLS estimated the size of the secured lending market to be $205 billion, representing a 4.1% year-overyear increase from 2014’s total. CMLS reported that while lenders are generally optimistic about the market this year, more than 20% of respondents believe access to capital will decrease year-over-year in 2016.
Private commercial real estate firm jumps into the fray
A new private company funded by the British Columbia Investment Management Corp. [bcIMC] will soon test its mettle in Canada’s highly competitive commercial real estate sector. bcIMC will use its $18 billion in real estate assets under management to form QuadReal Property Group. Jumping into the fray with a war chest of assets totalling $123 billion, QuadReal will aim to expand across Canada and even overseas. Projections are optimistic in the short- and medium-term; assets are expected to grow to around $150 billion.
relative value perspective, the roller-coaster ride in corporate credits through Q1 2016 forced certain lenders to rebalance portfolios away from commercial credit during the first half of the quarter, redirecting cash to valued corporates.” That said, CMLS said it is seeing improvement in the availability of secured mortgage credit. “Given the ‘stickier’ nature of commercial mortgage credit vs. corporate credits, the basis between commercial mortgage spreads and generic BBB corporate credits reached new lows not seen in the last five years in the first half of Q1 2016,” the report said.
Toronto firm aims to be real estate portfolio trailblazer
Toronto-based firm Altus Group, which formerly operated as a commercial real estate consultancy for Canadian clients, has reorganized itself into Altus Analytics in a bid to establish an international standard for commercial real estate portfolio management. Altus Analytics is designed to facilitate attribution analysis, which will show how various asset types are doing in different areas. The system will also allow clients to monitor their properties’ quarterly performance, especially when compared to industry averages.
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Operating under pressure Brennan Wood Managing partner FOUNDRY MORTGAGE CAPITAL
Years in the industry 8 Fast fact Wood has been on the CMP Top Commercial Broker list for the last three years, was on the 2014 CMP Hot List, and won the 2016 CMA for Commercial Mortgage Broker of the Year
What are some major trends in the commercial sector that you think will dominate headlines in the next 12 months? There have been a couple of articles about syndicated mortgages in the Toronto Star and Maclean’s recently. It’s a very fast-growing investment product that a lot of mortgage brokers sell across the country. I believe that is a trend that is going to be front and centre – as we see projects funded with this product go sideways, a lot of RRSP investors are going to learn the risks of development the hard way.
What are some of the hotspots you’re seeing in the commercial segment this year? Construction continues to be robust in the GTA, whereas my colleagues in Alberta are busy with restructuring loans. It’s location-specific regarding loan types that are ‘hot.’ I do work with a large number of foreign investors, who require help identifying project opportunities and potential lending sources.
What are some of the challenges facing residential brokers who want to transition to the commercial side? Residential and commercial are two different animals. I am generally coordinating with CFOs, cost consultants, appraisers and lawyers, reviewing operating statements and rent rolls. The due diligence is complex, and I read every report before it goes to the lender to ensure I can identify potential issues and mitigate them before they become deal-breakers. Every lender has different pressure points, so understanding the lender and the transaction is crucial.
MCAP goes public; aims for $275 million in IPO
Canadian mortgage finance company MCAP aims to raise approximately $275 million in an initial public offering as soon as July, according to anonymous insider sources. Bloomberg reported that MCAP filed the necessary paperwork for an IPO with Canadian regulators in May. MCAP currently has $55 billion of mortgages under administration; if the reported IPO pushes through, it would be the second company to break the $100 million barrier in raised funds in 2016, after Mainstreet Health Investments’ $124 million IPO earlier this year.
Chinese spend billions on US mortgages
What special skills does a broker need to excel in commercial? The ability to develop rational solutions to complicated issues quickly. Often borrowers and lenders become fixated on issues that can be resolved but have the potential to derail a file in a hurry. A commercial broker needs to be able to operate under pressure, as there are millions and millions of dollars on the line. The ability to underwrite and understand a trans action is something very few commercial brokers are capable of doing. Every transaction is different, so it can be difficult to keep up on emerging lending trends for various types of commercial asset classes. Finally, you need to be able to decide quickly if a file is worth your time or not. We can spend months and years working a file; if I present a client with a term sheet, I need to know it will fund. And if I present a file to a lender, I need to be sure the information is accurate so they can push the file through credit.
What has been your most interesting deal? I financed a hotel portfolio that was in default. Literally the day before closing, the borrower passed away. I was still able to get the bank to fund despite the death and the ongoing default. I’m happy to report it’s a well-performing loan. I also funded a $90 million construction loan where one of the syndication banks pulled out two days before funding. We were able to bring the partner back to the table, but I had to work with the lenders and lawyers to restructure the loan syndication. Trades had to be paid; liens were registered on title – it was wild. We cleaned up title and funded after 14 months of blood, sweat and tears.
A recent study by the Asia Society and Rosen Consulting Group revealed that Chinese buyers have spent more than US$93 billion on homes in the US from 2010 to 2015, outstripping Canadians as the largest foreign buying segment of US residential real estate. The report added that Chinese purchases and investment in the US commercial real estate sector rose by around 70% annually between 2010 and 2015, placing Chinese investors right behind those from Canada, Singapore and Norway.
Businesses prefer to own office spaces
The historically low interest rates currently prevailing in Canadian markets are stimulating a fresh trend in the real estate sector: companies preferring to own their office spaces rather than leasing them. In an interview with BNN, Steve Gupta of The Gupta Group predicted that the ‘office condo’ trend that’s currently emerging in Toronto and Vancouver will eventually spread to other metropolitan areas, as the arrangement is too much of a bargain for businesses to ignore.
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21/06/2016 3:51:29 AM
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How long until Fort Mac recovers? Already a victim of changing fortunes, Fort McMurray is now in ashes. Former resident Rayna Boychuk ponders what’s next for the hard-hit town FIRST, TUMBLING oil prices forced a significant economic downturn in Fort McMurray, and then one of Canada’s biggest wildfires tore through the area, destroying more than 2,400 homes and buildings, and forcing the largest fire-related evacuation in Canada’s history. The city that is the heart and soul of Alberta, and that drives the Canadian economy, has had more than its fair share of heartache in the last 24 months. I used to call Fort McMurray my home. It’s where I built my mortgage business, and I have seen the housing market fluctuate through ultimate highs and ultimate lows. Twenty-four months ago, the housing market in Fort McMurray was a prime example of limited supply and high demand. The oil sector was humming along, and many Canadians were picking up their lives and families and relocating to Fort McMurray, as employment was indeed bountiful. However, many things have changed since then. The question on a lot of people’s minds right now is: How long will it take for Fort McMurray’s housing market to correct? The answer to that is not a simple one, as this situation is unique. We can speculate and hypothesize based on numerous variables and factors, but the truth is, no one is really sure. Is this major disaster likely to kickstart Fort McMurray’s housing market? In short, the answer is yes. However, I believe an unknown timeline is at the forefront of this question.
I spoke with Mark Hartigan, a long-time resident and Realtor with Coldwell Banker in Fort McMurray, and his opinion was rather reflective of mine. “Yes, the housing supply has decreased; thus, demand will rise, which will push prices higher,” he says. “However, there are a few
casters will certainly get a better idea of how the city will adjust once residents start to settle back in. The cost of constructing new homes will very likely go up. I spoke with a well-known local homebuilder, who indicated to me that the cost of lumber has already increased by 20%. Everyone will be trying to rebuild at the same time, contributing to a lack of contractors who can do it fast enough, and this will in turn drive the price of labour up. Considering that the average sale price has fallen 20.2% in the last year alone, this situation may very well end up having an unforeseen, yet positive, impact overall. We do know that a lot of new jobs will be created to rebuild the city; thus, we will begin to see an influx of people moving back to Fort McMurray. This tragedy may just offset the oil recession – not completely, but it may just give the city the boost it needs. I would also like to mention and recognize how overwhelming it was to see the country come together from coast to coast to help the people of Fort McMurray. I am
“Fort McMurray is the city that rolls with the economic punches, the highs and the lows, and always comes out better than before” other factors to consider. Many residents who have lost their homes may not be returning to Fort McMurray. For those who plan on returning, a lot of those residents will have to work through a lengthy insurance process prior to rebuilding or purchasing a new home in the region. Immigration into Fort McMurray has slowed down significantly due to minimal job opportunities in the oil industry. At the moment, I do not see prices increasing in the near future – again, timing is playing a big factor. Many also believe CMHC will try to control the housing market to make sure prices do not escalate quickly, although a nice steady rise is what we would like to see.” As people assess their future plans, be it remaining and rebuilding, renting, or choosing to relocate outside of the city, fore-
proud to say that the banks and lenders in our industry came to the table by not only offering some reprieve of financial obligations for their clients, but also by raising thousands of dollars for the victims of the Fort McMurray fires. When will Fort McMurray’s housing market rebound? We don’t know. But we do know that it will – Fort McMurray is the city that rolls with the economic punches, the highs and the lows, and always comes out better than before.
Rayna Boychuk is a mortgage broker with Dominion Lending Centers Primex Mortgages and is based out of Coquitlam, BC.
21/06/2016 3:53:55 AM
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21/06/2016 3:54:04 AM
LOOKING AT IT FROM ALL SIDES Chris Whyte, the newly appointed COO of Home Trust, has worked in almost every facet of the mortgage industry – and he’s got some thoughts on the trends that will shape it in the coming years
IT’S OBVIOUS when speaking to Chris Whyte that he’s passionate about the business he’s in. “I’ve fallen in love with the finance side of the industry. It’s nice to finance something that starts from nothing and becomes a completed building,” says the recently appointed executive VP and COO of Home Trust. “I saw both sides of that – from the business development and lending side, and then I spent some time on the work outside when the market was soft. It was informative for my career because it’s good to see both sides of an economic cycle. It’s good to see what can go wrong with a real estate development.”
Diverse experience Whyte also has experience on the bank side of the industry, where he got his start before transitioning to the broker channel. “I started out when I finished grad school in the banking business and initially got into real estate finance right off the top,” he says. “So I did sort of corporate commercial, land development, construction finance. I did that with a number of
institutions – TD, National Bank, CIBC.” It was at the latter bank where Whyte made his first foray into the broker channel when he took on a role at CIBC subsidiary PC Financial, overseeing the distribution channels for PCF mortgages. He then delved deeper into the brokerage side of the industry with a stint at CIBC’s FirstLine mortgage business.
customer, and that was driving a lot of the activity.” However, it was Whyte’s next role at D+H, heading the service provider’s Canadian lending business, that perhaps taught him the most about the mortgage business – and, indeed, the broker channel. “I kept my toe in the mortgage and broker space in working with the Canadian
“I’m seeing technology improve customer service. I’ve worked with some brokers in the industry who are cutting-edge in how they leverage social media to get their brand out and educate consumers ...” “That’s when I got involved more significantly in the broker origination channel,” he says. “It was a very different business from the way the bank operated. It was much more customer-centric. The nature of broker focus was really around serving the
mortgage technology at D+H,” he says. “You sit right in the middle of the economic model of the business, so when you’re working in that business, you have to deal with lenders, brokers, insurers. I found that to be a very interesting perspective because
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PROFILE Name: Chris Whyte Company: Home Trust Title: Executive vice president and COO Years in the industry: 28 Career highlight: “I was there when FirstLine hit its highest productivity. It was a really, really good team that really understood the business, and it was a pleasure to be a part of that team and to achieve that with them.” Career lowlight: “I was involved in the process of having to shut down the FirstLine business. That was a lowlight because I really believed in that business. I believed it was a strong brand, and I know there were some solid business reasons to shut it down, but it wasn’t easy to do.”
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INDUSTRY ICON CHRIS WHYTE’S CAREER TIMELINE
Senior development manager First City Development Corp.
1993 you’re seeing all the data and all the ways the industry is trying to be successful. You’re sitting at the eye of the storm and seeing how the industry is operating.”
Industry trends It’s safe to say Whyte has a massive amount of experience, and that certainly lends credibility to his personal predictions for how the mortgage broker space will evolve. “One of the big trends is the rise in technology,” he says. “In my early forays in the business, a big chunk of the business was manual. There was a little paper being pushed around. I’m seeing technology
more holistic service – offering great rates and personalized, full-touch service,” he says. “I think the jury is still out on the pros and cons. My personal advice is the fulsome advice model has a bit more legs. When you compete on price, you’re more easily interrupted. There is always someone who can be cheaper. Price is always something easy to identify and compete with. But knowledge and advice are more nebulous and secret sauce. The broker who can do that and still offer great value will solidify his position.” As for the challenges facing the broker industry, Whyte believes a sustained period
‘When you compete on price, you’re more easily interrupted. But knowledge and advice are more nebulous and secret sauce. The broker who can do that and still offer great value will solidify his position” improve customer service. I’ve worked with some brokers in the industry who are cutting-edge in how they leverage social media to get their brand out and educate consumers and get them through the front door of their origination process.” Another major trend Whyte has identified is the divergence of two very different business models within the broker channel, which he believes will continue for some time. However, he has an idea about which camp will win out in the end. “Some segments of the industry really are trying to build value by offering best possible rates, and I’ve seen others focus on
of good business has caused many to rest on their laurels. “A lot of people have concerns that the Canadian market is overheated,” he says. “I think it may be a bit overheated, but I don’t see anything that says we’re doomed for a big fall. I do think the sustained strong market in mortgages has potentially made the whole industry fat and lazy. I think we may have forgotten how to hustle for business.” However, if history is any indication, even if business becomes harder to come by, brokers will almost certainly be up for the challenge.
Manager of special loans National Bank of Canada
Director of commercial banking CIBC
Executive director of new ventures CIBC World Markets
Vice president, national sales and service CIBC Retail Markets, Amicus Division
Vice president of sales and personal lending CIBC Retail Markets
Vice president of alternate channels CIBC
Vice president of strategic accounts D+H
Senior vice president of lending D+H
Executive vice president and COO Home Trust Company
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21/06/2016 3:55:02 AM
GET TO KNOW OUR PEOPLE MY FAVOURITE
DONG LEE Job Title
V.P. of Operations
Song: Forever Young
by Audra Mae
A part of the industry for
Past-Time: Coaching my kid’s baseball teams
Etobicoke, ON 20 years
If your not GROWING you’re dying.
Movie: Empire of the Sun
FAVOURITE QUOTE Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. - Seneca
WHAT I LOVE BEST ABOUT OUR NETWORK People are by nature very interesting and our brokers are no different. I love the entrepreneurial spirit and engaging them as people. At the end of the day, we all have lives outside work and it’s nice to engage at that level from time to time.
ONE THING I CAN’T WORK WITHOUT
I’ve become useless without my phone - Who isn’t?
Meal: Korean food
Vacation Spot: Segovia, Spain
TV Show: Sons of Anarchy
MY DREAM DINNER GUEST
Winston Churchill - I’m reading his biography and find him fascinating.
Get to know more about Dong & MA by visiting
© 2016, Mor tgage Architects Inc. All rights reserved.
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JOINMA.ca/ourpeople/dong 21/06/2016 3:55:22 AM
COVER STORY: WOMEN OF INFLUENCE
WOMEN OF INFLUENCE These 55 women have left their stamp on the mortgage industry over the past year – and they continue to shape its future, one challenge at a time
A YEAR has passed since our last Women of Influence list, and what a year it’s been for the women of the Canadian mortgage industry. Despite a volatile and largely uncertain economic climate, the 55 women who landed on this year’s list have managed to not just survive, but thrive. From traditional brokers scoring big wins for their team, to managers who inspire the success
of others every day, to business leaders running and growing their own shops, these women have tackled and overcome all manner of obstacles. Their roles throughout the industry may be varied, but if there’s one thing all of these women have in common, it’s a dogged, tenacious determination to put their daily challenges in the rearview mirror.
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WOMEN OF INFLUENCE 2016
Dominion Lending Centres Elevation Mortgage
Canada Mortgage & Financial Group
Caplink Financial Corporation
Dominion Lending Centres Regional Mortgage Group Dominion Lending Centres Premier Mortgages
Verico My Better Mortgage
Dominion Lending Centres Smart Debt
TMG The Mortgage Associates
Epic Mortgage Solutions
Dominion Lending Centres Home Capital Solutions
Independent Mortgage Brokers Association of Ontario
Verico Xeva Mortgage
Centum Financial Group
Magenta Mortgage Corporation
Safebridge Financial Group
Dominion Lending Centres Regional Mortgage Group
Dominion Lending Centres Regional Mortgage Group
Real Mortgage Associates
Dominion Lending Centres
Verico Premiere Mortgage Centre
Dominion Lending Centres Innovative Mortgage Solutions
Real Mortgage Associates
Dominion Lending Centres Manulife
Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Negotiators
Fisgard Asset Management
Broker Financial Group
Mortgage Professionals Canada
Neighbourhood Dominion Lending Centres
CENTUM Financial Services
Dominion Lending Centres Smart Debt
Magenta Mortgage Investment Corporation
Dominion Lending Centres Forest City Funding
Dominion Lending Centres Brokers for Life
Neighbourhood Dominion Lending Centres
Neighbourhood Dominion Lending Centres
BlueShore Pacifica Alternative Mortgage Centre
Dominion Lending Centres The Mortgage Source
Franchise sales manager
Centum Financial Group
Dominion Lending Centres Smart Debt
Dominion Lending Centres
Urma Mollema’s abilities in the mortgage business extend across continents. Having created the largest mortgage origination company in South Africa in 2000, she was later selected as South Africa’s Woman of the Year in 2005 and the country’s Business Woman of the Year in 2008. Now in Canada, she has become a key member of Centum Financial’s team, particularly for her ability to build the firm’s brand in the mortgage space. Apart from her day-to-day responsibilities, Mollema keeps busy with her involvement with the Rotary Club and the Mrs. World Competition, an event where she previously represented South Africa.
An Ottawa-based mortgage broker, Debbie Belair is often the first point of call for those seeking to buy a home in the country’s capital. Last year was a big one for the city with the introduction of the Trudeau government, and the buzz around Ottawa was reflected in an increase in home sales. And it paid off for Belair – with $53 million in sales to her name, she continued her fantastic run as one of DLC’s top 25 brokers. Boasting more than 28 years of experience in the mortgage industry, Belair is committed to building her business at Belair Mortgage Group as Ottawa continues its growth.
When you consider Dr. Sherry Cooper’s laundry list of achievements and awards, her inclusion on this list is a no-brainer. A member of the Women’s Executive Hall of Fame since 2004, she was also previously a member of the American Bankers’ Association Economic Advisory Council and was named as the National Post’s third Most Influential Woman in Canada in 2002. Cooper spent three decades as the chief economist at BMO, advising Canada’s largest bank on the housing and mortgage markets. Now she lectures at McMaster University and the DeGroote School of Business, as well as serving as chief economist for DLC.
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22/06/2016 12:32:34 AM
COVER STORY: WOMEN OF INFLUENCE BERNICE FLEGG
Account manager Genworth Canada
Part of Genworth since its inception, Bernice Flegg has excelled in her position as an account manager with the firm. Her stellar career will come to an end this year, however, as she retires from the mortgage business. She will be missed by her colleagues and peers, many of whom got to know her on the various professional boards she has been a part of over the years, including Mortgage Professionals Canada and the Hamilton Home Builders Association. Flegg’s position on this list also gains extra credence from her extensive charity work, particularly the annual golf tournament she hosts in Ancaster, which supports various women’s shelters as well as Habitat for Humanity.
MARY PUTNAM VP of sales and marketing Canada Guaranty
Canada Guaranty’s growth in the industry has been inextricably tied to the abilities of its VP of sales and marketing, Mary Putnam, leading to her inclusion on this year’s Women of Influence list. The company currently has a market share of 15% in the retail mortgage space and plans to add three new lenders over the next year, so Canada Guaranty will undoubtedly continue to lean heavily on Putnam. In addition to her day job, Putnam is also a noted speaker on industry topics, imparting her wisdom and knowledge of the market to her peers in the mortgage business.
CLAIRE DRAGE Mortgage broker Mortgage Medics
With $34 million in sales to her name in 2015 – and $92 million as part of her team – Claire Drage of Mortgage Medics had a great year. Overseeing a team of over 40 agents – a number that is consistently growing – Drage is renowned for offering guidance and advice to the many young brokers just entering the business. A member of both Mortgage Professionals Canada and IMBA, Drage is an alum of last year’s Women of Influence list, and was previously named as a Reader’s Choice Mortgage Broker in 2014. She is also a founder of the Lion’s Share education group for trainee brokers.
SVP, residential mortgage investments and broker relations Fisgard Asset Management
As Fisgard’s senior vice-president of residential broker relations and a broker herself, Hali StrandlundNoble strives to encourage women to participate in industry association boards at a more senior director and executive level. In doing so, she hopes women will step out of their comfort zones and extend their leadership abilities beyond their households and brokerages to the greater community and industry at large. Having overcome her own personal fears of public speaking and being taken seriously as a woman in the industry, she says she found that allowing herself to be a woman made all the difference. “I did not allow myself to get dragged into the ‘old boys’ club’ way of doing business in the mortgage industry,” she says. By facing her fears and asserting her place in the industry, Strandlund-Noble has easily earned her spot on this list.
MEL LEWIS Mortgage agent Dominion Lending Centres Regional Mortgage Group
Genuine excitement about a job well done can be rare in what is, at times, a cynical, numbers-driven industry. However, Mel Lewis insists it’s her biggest motivator. “Helping families into homes or out of debt is the most rewarding part of this career,” she says. “People are genuinely appreciative and, more often than not, ecstatic to have been guided in the right direction.” Despite the challenges of maintaining a healthy work-life balance, Lewis is determined to be involved in as many industry events and learning opportunities as possible to better optimize her leadership skills. While she feels women are slowly cementing their place in the mortgage game, Lewis believes women still need to continue striving for excellence under all circumstances. Her own particular challenges in Alberta, amidst a lagging economy and uncertain financial times, have been a game-changer in how she tackles the day-to-day business of being a mortgage broker. “Trying times for our province have made for some serious lending changes and restrictions,” she says. “I have been changing the way I approach each deal and client.” It’s certainly been a learning curve, not only for Lewis, but for the entire industry, province-wide. However, her determination to overcome these challenges makes her an inspiring addition to this year’s list.
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22/06/2016 12:32:46 AM
WOMEN OF INFLUENCE 2016
SARAH MAKHOMET Mortgage broker Dominion Lending Centres Home Capital Solutions
Sarah Makhomet’s struggle to become a successful woman and mother with a high-pressure career is one familiar to many of those on this list. “I had to work longer hours and do things that most people won’t do,” she says. “For example, when I started in the business over eight years ago, I made a conscientious decision to hold off on starting a family until my business was established. Now with over 75 agents, I try to find work-life balance.” With a baby to care for as well, that balance is a fine one, but one Makhomet has managed with distinction, amassing $50 million in sales for her team in 2015.
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22/06/2016 12:32:58 AM
COVER STORY: WOMEN OF INFLUENCE CYNTHIA KRAMER National director of brand development Paradigm Quest
Cynthia Kramer is a people person. After 20 years in the industry, she is an eternal student of the mortgage game as well as the business world at large. As national director of brand development at Paradigm Quest, she has plenty of opportunities to learn from a variety of unique personalities during her day-to-day transactions with colleagues and fellow professionals. No stranger to overcoming challenges, Kramer has experienced her fair share of life’s lessons. “When I started out in this industry, I was a single mom and loved being the Super Mom type,” she says. “There were many times when I needed to overcome the guilt factor. Passion for being a mom and a role model for my daughter drove me daily to absorb as much information as I could.” While Kramer believes women have come a long way from her early days in the industry, she still has a desire to see more women at the helm of the larger mortgage companies, which means they need to continue scaling the hurdles in their way. One particular hurdle for her was a breast cancer diagnosis in 2014. “I was being encouraged by many to take time off from my career, but i found it difficult to let go,” she says. “This was a very personal decision for me and my family, but the decision to continue working came easily and quickly.” Convinced that continuing to work throughout her battle with cancer was a contributing factor to her remission, Kramer says her love for the industry and the people around her kept her going.
WOMEN OF INFLUENCE 2016
DEBBIE MCPHERSON SVP of sales and marketing Genworth Canada
As Genworth Canada’s rise has continued over the past year, Debbie McPherson has had a crucial role to play. In building the brand name across the country, McPherson has had the opportunity to meet people from a wide cross-section of the industry, which is an experience she values greatly. “The people, my peers, employees, customers, industry and community partners … they all contribute to making this industry a vibrant, challenging, dynamic, rewarding and fun one to work in,” she says. “The end result of our business, the raison d’être of what we do each day – helping hard-working Canadians achieve the dream of homeownership – makes me love what I do even more.”
ADELA CLEMENTALLEN Owner Dominion Lending Centres Regional Mortgage Group
Adela Clement-Allen’s worth to Dominion Lending Centres is clear – the network recognized her twice in 2015 in its Top 50 agents for both volume and numbers of mortgages funded across Canada. The numbers in question are indeed highly impressive: $24.5 million in sales and 76 deals. Aside from her professional credentials, Clement-Allen is known for her work with a number of worthy charitable causes. She sits on the board of directors for Build and Golf a Kid to Cure, which has raised more than $1.5 million since it was founded.
VP of mortgage operations
Magenta Mortgage Corporation
Denise Buckley has had an impressive career arc – her firm, Magenta Mortgage Corporation, has grown into one of the leading MICs in Ontario over the past five years. As property prices in Southern Ontario continue to grow and lending restrictions keep tightening, Magenta has emerged as a major player in the private lending space. After building her reputation as an underwriter, Buckley assumed the position of underwriting manager, then director of mortgage operations, followed by her current role, vice-president of mortgage operations. Under her watch, Magenta has grown its portfolio to $250 million, which represents a huge jump from its staring point.
Teresa DiFranco has built a name as someone who supports and guides her team at all times. That attitude has had clear benefits, helping Mortgage Architects accumulate sales of more than $130 million last year. DiFranco has consistently fostered a spirit of teamwork, meeting regularly with her team to discuss developments in the industry and how Mortgage Architects brokers can stay at the forefront of those changes. She also brings that dedication to charitable causes, and often volunteers at a church shelter to feed the homeless.
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22/06/2016 12:33:06 AM
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22/06/2016 12:33:16 AM
COVER STORY: WOMEN OF INFLUENCE PAM PIKKERT Mortgage broker Dominion Lending Centres Regional Mortgage Group
GAY ANDREWS Executive vice-president Caplink Financial Corporation
Believing in the possible has always been Gay Andrews’ approach to both life and career. Despite having had many mentors throughout her career, she wishes at least one had been a woman. “I have not had the opportunity to learn from women in a mentorship capacity, which is the reason I am so passionate about it now,” she says. To that end, she’s dedicated herself to coaching young women in her roles as executive vice-president at Caplink Financial Corporation and as COO of Camrock Capital. In the finance industry since 1981, Andrews first began her career at the Bank of Montreal, where she worked as a branch manager before leaving for an underwriting gig at Caplink. Throughout her career, one particular challenge she has found for women is their hesitancy in making their voices heard. “I would say, as women, we tend to not voice our opinions or our accomplishments – we should be standing up and shouting them out, sharing them.” She also suggests that women, while well represented in general in the industry, still have room to grow in leadership and mentorship roles within organizations and industry associations.
As an owner of a thriving Dominion Lending Centres brokerage and a mother, Pam Pikkert has seen her share of challenges, both personally and professionally, but her tenacious spirit has helped her pull through. “I have to overcome mom-guilt for the trips away and the late nights, and dealt with personal issues while still trying to keep a smile in my voice,” she says. After watching a business partnership disintegrate before her eyes, she had to rebuild from nothing, attempting some seemingly great business ideas that ultimately resulted in a net loss. “There have been so many changes in our industry, which seem to make it harder by the day to even get a mortgage done,” she says. “But really, I just love the challenges we get to overcome and look forward to seeing what is next.” Pikkert feels today’s women have to be all things to all people, and that their male counterparts do not fully comprehend the pressure they face. She points to the large number of female brokers, but echoes many others on this list in pointing out the alarming lack of women in key leadership roles at lenders, brokerages and even associations. In spite of it all, Pikkert maintains her well-known sense of humour and cheerful attitude. “I have finally acknowledged that a fast food supper served to my family happily will not only save my sanity,” she says, “but it will be their preference to have this meal over a home-cooked one served with wild eyes.”
AMY COBURN Mortgage broker Real Mortgage Associates
A broker with Real Mortgage Associates, Amy Coburn has more than two decades of experience in financial services to call on when prospective homeowners come through her doors. Originally a mortgage agent, her ability in that role meant the transition into a broker was a natural step. From there, she opened her own shop in Hamilton, building a solid client base that continues to grow. Although that alone would normally be enough to keep anybody busy, Coburn also devotes herself to the community, specifically in coaching local baseball teams.
KIM KUKULOWICZ VP of residential sales and partner relations Equitable Bank
When assessing Kim Kukulowicz’s merit as a Woman of Influence, one doesn’t have to search far for her credentials. She has been a key part of Equitable Bank, building its business in single-family lending in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, the Prairies and British Columbia. Then there’s the fact that she led the distribution of Equitable’s HELOC and was an integral part of the team that developed the Prime Mortgage program that positions Equitable to lend across a broader spectrum of mortgage solutions. She has also played a key role in role the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility program, which donates to a number of worthy causes.
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WOMEN OF INFLUENCE 2016
SHAWNA MACDONALD Principal broker TMG The Mortgage Associates
When it comes to the brokerage business in the Prairies, few people have experienced the success of Shawna MacDonald. She has been chosen as TMGâ€™s Group Broker of the Year for the region for seven out of the last nine years. In addition, she was named as Canadaâ€™s Top Mortgage Broker by Mortgage Professionals Canada in 2014. That success continued last year, when she funded $76 million in loans. She continues to excel at TMG, mentoring younger brokers at her firm on how to succeed in such a competitive industry.
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COVER STORY: WOMEN OF INFLUENCE KERRI REED
Verico Premiere Mortgage Centre
Kerri Reed stands by the people-first approach to business. The winner of Verico’s Mentor of the Year Award understands the fundamental assertion that people make the brokerage, not the other way around. “The people I have met are what really make this job for me,” she says. “I have had the absolute pleasure of working with many people from coast to coast.” Reed prizes the importance of delegating and trusting others, and she asserts that part of mentorship is knowing when to take a step back. The longevity of her agent relationships (many have been with her since the start) is a testament to her approach. Despite her success in helping build Verico Premiere Mortgage Centre into a $1 billion shop over the past 10 years, Reed does feel there’s still a gender line in the business on some level. “For women, there is always a struggle to not just be seen, but be heard,” she says. “There are far more men in power positions, but I see that changing.”
It’s a great time for women to be in the mortgage industry, according to Manulife’s Lori Smith. “I believe the opportunities for women have never been better,” she says. “I am excited to see how women will continue to succeed and lead throughout the industry in the years to come.” As the industry continues to evolve, that change is being driven just as much by women as by their male counterparts. “I meet women who are making change for the betterment of their organizations and the industry as a whole,” Smith says. “I look forward to seeing more women in leadership positions and the positive impact we will make for the betterment of our business.”
Partner Dominion Lending Centres Elevation Mortgage
Previously a mortgage specialist with RBC, in her first year as a broker, Julie Jeffery amassed sales of $10 million. Although impressive accomplishments like that have become increasingly commonplace among women in the mortgage industry, Jeffery still believes strides need to be made in getting more women into positions of power. “As a woman, I think there are unique challenges to handling family life, health, our teams, our own business volume and our place in the industry,” she says. “There is a ‘boys’ club,’ and I want to be in it – and in many areas, I have been included and welcomed and encouraged, particularly by DLC.”
KYRA WONG National sales director
For Kyra Wong, the challenge of being a woman in the workplace has always been finding that balance between home and work. There are only so many hours in the day, but Wong clearly is making the most of them, and her position as Manulife’s national sales director confirms that. She’s also noticed positive changes in the industry for women. “I think we are getting there,” she says. “I remember 20 years ago, there were far fewer women in this industry than there are today, so I’m glad this is evolving over time.”
Dominion Lending Centres Innovative Mortgage Solutions
For Sharon Davis, being a mortgage broker is a vocation that brings a lot of joy to people and is one she is delighted to do every day. “I love the people,” she says. “The ones we help celebrate the joy of a new home, the ones we give respite to in a debt consolidation, the ones we guide and show their ‘path’ that maybe they didn’t even know they were looking for, and even the ones we help build and define their grandchildren’s future.” Aside from the personal touch, the financial rewards of the job are pretty compelling as well – and in that regard, Davis’ franchise was not found lagging, landing in the top 20 among the DLC network in 2015 with $215 million in sales to its name.
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WOMEN OF INFLUENCE 2016
VP of sales, Eastern region
VP of sales, Western region
When Elaine Taylor first entered the industry, she made a conscious decision to take a step back to achieve better work-life balance. Quickly, she realized that her decision not only affected her, but also her fellow team members, and she subsequently began to place more emphasis on her career. Today, as MCAP’s VP of sales, Taylor shares her story with young women to help shape their perspective on what it means to balance career and personal life. While she believes women are well represented in the industry, she does maintain that there’s a lack of gender balance at the executive levels. For that reason, she tries to educate other women by spreading awareness on what it means to live a balanced life. “The industry is demanding; the pace is demanding,” she says. “For many of us, this is not a 9-to-5 job and has a way of consuming us, mainly because we love what we do. Balancing that with family life and personal commitments is challenging and can lead to conflicts and compromises.”
Megan McDonald is another great example of how the increased number of women in the mortgage business has benefited the industry as a whole. Despite this, women still lag way behind in assuming positions of power, something that McDonald is committed to changing. “Women represent nearly 50% of all registered mortgage brokers within the major brokerages, but are rarely represented in the high executive positions,” she says. “Our industry is not unique to this trend, and in fact, it ties very closely to the Canadian averages in business. The top 500 companies have 5% female CEOs, yet 60% of college grads are women. There is opportunity to change these statistics in and outside our industry.”
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COVER STORY: WOMEN OF INFLUENCE FIONA CAMPBELL Director, Central region, and mortgage broker, key accounts Manulife
With more than 20 years of experience in the lending business, Fiona Campbell knows better than most the challenges women face to make it to the top of the career ladder. Like many of those selected for this year’s Women of Influence list, she believes her gender is under-represented in top executive positions. “Women have, for all the time I have been in the industry, been under-represented at higher levels in both brokerages and lenders,” she says. “Achieving balance in your life and having your voice heard are major challenges, but women also put pressure on ourselves to be equal with men.”
Director, events & sponsorship
Regional VP, Quebec
Dominion Lending Centres
As one of the younger women on this year’s list, Lauren Smith has had to overcome any perceived notions clients may have held regarding her experience. As a result, today she is a greatly respected figure within the DLC group. Her role at DLC, as director of events & sponsorship, has allowed her to meet many different people, and that remains her favourite part of the job. “We are so fortunate to work with such an incredible group of individuals from all across the country,” she says. “The determination, drive for change, philanthropy, entrepreneurship and overall humanity of the industry motivates me to be not only a better employee, but a better person overall.”
As regional vice-president for Quebec at Mortgage Intelligence, Isabelle Barbeau has been rewarded by the opportunity pick the right people to drive the business forward. “We are in a very competitive market, and I’ve had the challenge to rebuild the team one broker at a time,” she says. “Quality was my focus over quantity – creating a group of experienced, well-supported brokers who grow in every aspect of their business.” Aside from that, fostering greater ties with other brokers in the industry is another part of the job that Barbeau loves. “My favourite aspect of our industry is the partnership and sense of community we have,” she says. “Especially in Quebec, the lenders and all the brokerage firms work together to achieve more recognition and awareness with the public.”
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WOMEN OF INFLUENCE 2016
Mortgage agent and regional partner
Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Negotiators
Dominion Lending Centres The Mortgage Source
In Vancouver’s thriving property market, it’s not surprising that more and more brokers have entered the business. As such, distinguishing yourself becomes that much tougher, but Laura Stein had a clear idea of what she wanted for her business. “I changed my business model to a face-to-face style of engagement with clients,” she says. “I opened a mortgage store on Commercial Drive in Vancouver and invited people to drop by and talk to an expert and have their mortgage needs met. People responded slowly at first, but now the walk-in business is growing exponentially.” Exponentially, in this case, meant tripling her sales from the previous year – proof of the value of real interactions with clients, even in this digital age.
DLC’s Frances Hinojosa certainly believes in the power of relationships. As a mortgage agent and regional partner, she has structured a star-studded team full of supporters. After 23 years in the finance game, she believes her biggest challenge as a professional is the fact that she is a woman. ”Our voice may be heard, but it is not taken seriously,” she says. But with the positive outlook and team spirit Hinojosa infuses into every day, those gender barriers will no doubt change for the better.
YVONNE ZIOMECKI SVP of marketing & sales
Owner Epic Mortgage Solutions
As the SVP of marketing & sales at HomEquity Bank, Yvonne Ziomecki certainly knows a thing or two about networks. The power of a strong network and support system is Ziomecki’s secret to consistent results – and to achieving the coveted work-life balance. “Balancing work with personal life, especially the needs of my children and finding time for myself, it’s not always easy,” she says. “Having a strong support network is key – and wearing heels all day is challenging!” Humour aside, she addresses the industry’s gender gap by insisting that she has met many impressive women during her career thus far, but she feels there’s always room for more. As a follower of Women in the Mortgage Industry, a group dedicated to raising awareness of the issues women face in the field, Ziomecki lauds the efforts of such organizations and women as a whole to continue growing and developing female leaders. While she feels the challenges facing women in the mortgage industry are vast, her outlook is far from conventional when it comes to tackling them. “I don’t think of challenges anymore,” she says. “I think of what has to be done, then focus on getting it done.”
Melanie Bell-Fournier wears many hats. As owner of Mortgage Architects’ Epic Mortgage Solutions and a mentor to young professionals, she attributes her success over the past year to attitude. For this industry expert, perception is reality, and her success in managing a thriving career and busy personal life is a testament that’s hard to ignore. When not walking the work-life high wire, Bell-Fournier volunteers across her community and lends her experience to a variety of boards.
JANNA DAWDY Mortgage agent
Real Mortgage Associates
Real Mortgage Associates’ Janna Dawdy burns passion like a race car burns fuel. Her years of experience in the industry have led her to assemble a team that shares her passion for producing results for clients. Her determination to meet her goals and insistence on gratitude have led her to fund some 125 deals worth more than $30 million. Today she finds herself in a leadership role, imparting her experience to a new generation of women in the industry – and she shows no signs of stopping.
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COVER STORY: WOMEN OF INFLUENCE TRACY VALKO
Dominion Lending Centres Premier Mortgages
Dominion Lending Centres Forest City Funding
Humility can go a long way in this industry, especially when it comes to listening to clients. DLC’s Tracy Valko has built her career on impressively consistent client relationships. She genuinely enjoys the daily dealings of interacting with clients, especially providing them with personalized strategies that can only come about through careful attention to a client’s wishes. “I love being a part of my clients’ journeys through life,” she says. “I’ve seen a large number of them get married and have families. It really is rewarding.” As for her own family, she finds that multitasking life’s roles, from business leader to wife and mom, can be challenging, especially when one strives to be exceptional at all of them. However, she feels the rewards far outweigh the challenges. “Personally, I think we have come a long way in the financial industry where women each year are becoming more and more recognized and celebrated for all of their success,” she says.
ROSA BOVINO Broker Invis
Having guided her team to more than $100 million in sales in 2015, Rosa Bovino puts great emphasis on fostering teamwork and learning. This dedication has brought her great success – and as a woman in the industry, she believes recognition should be more forthcoming for female brokers. “With the financial industry still being predominately male-focused, there is a need to shine a light on successful woman,” she says. “Women tend to not seek recognition for their accomplishments on their own, but these type of lists are always welcome, as they allow others to recognize them for their hard work, as well as empowering other women in the industry to work hard at achieving success and recognition.”
In her role as a broker with DLC’s Premier Mortgages, Alison Lopes does not discriminate. “I enjoy meeting people across all walks of life and helping them achieve one of life’s major goals, homeownership,” she says. For Lopes, facing the challenges of tough approvals and returning with a win for clients is one of her favourite aspects of the job. Starting life in Canada as an immigrant, growing up in a family with parents who had little to no education, helped mold Lopes into the leader she is today. “My parents provided an example of a high work ethic and endurance to stay the course, regardless of obstacles,” she says. Having had her share of personal family tragedies, Lopes held firm to a positive outlook. Now, after only seven years as a broker, she has placed on Top 50 national broker lists and received numerous accolades, including the Hall of Fame Elite Award for more than 550 files funded. Yet despite her success, Lopes continues to face plenty of challenges in her day-to-day life. “Balance in life is always a challenge, regardless of gender,” she says. “The commitments of work, family, friends and finding the time to give back to the community while still maintaining a sense of personal accomplishment is an ongoing concern.” Like others on this list, she feels women are generally well represented in the mortgage industry, especially compared to other similar professions, such as Realtors or financial advisors, but she adds that there is still room for gender equality to grow.
TANNIS BRISSETT Executive director Independent Mortgage Brokers Association of Ontario
As someone who has made it to the heights of her profession – serving as executive director for the IMBA and a board member for the CMBA – Tannis Brissett is well placed to comment on how women in the industry can achieve leadership positions. “As a female business professional in a male-dominated industry, you can find yourself in situations where we feel we have to adapt,” she says. “I believe remaining true to yourself and finding your own voice is key. Women have a natural common sense, keen intuition and a great ability to focus on people – these traits set us apart as leaders.”
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WOMEN OF INFLUENCE 2016
ANDREA HAINES Regional manager, Eastern Ontario Magenta Mortgage Investment Corporation
Andrea Haines of Magenta Mortgage Investment Corporation feels great satisfaction with her chosen profession – with good reason, too, as Magenta continues to expand its reach across Canada, including in Eastern Ontario, where Haines serves as regional manager. “Truly, my favorite thing is getting a really difficult or challenging deal done, and then knowing that you have given someone the opportunity to change their life,” she says. “I also love construction and seeing someone’s dreams on paper come to life.”
PAULA NEEDLER Director of operations and compliance Safebridge Financial Group
As the regulatory requirements of the mortgage industry continue to change, Safebridge Financial Group’s Paula Needler has plenty on her plate from a professional standpoint. Then, of course, there’s her personal life to consider; as a mother, striking the right balance is always a challenge. “I think all women, at some time or another, face the challenges of work-life balance,” she says. “We always want to be the best at what we do while ensuring everyone is taken care of. We tend to put ourselves last, but we need to ensure we take time for ourselves to meet our own goals.”
SANDRA TISIOT Mortgage broker Dominion Lending Centres Smart Debt
The word ‘multitasker’ was invented for someone like Sandra Tisiot. Not only does she run several successful businesses, but she’s helping to advance the causes of women in the professional realm by founding MyLifeLocker and the Women in Business Conference. “At MyLifeLocker, I speak and help women get their lives in order,” she says. “I am happy to report that I am in the middle of selling MyLifeLocker, so I am proud to have created something of value for Canadian families that can now be accessed across Canada and the US.”
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COVER STORY: WOMEN OF INFLUENCE TINA FRANCIS
Regional VP, Ontario
Broker Financial Group
At times, the tight-knit mortgage community can feel like family. For Barb Morgan of Invis/Mortgage Intelligence, watching her agents and brokers progress in their respective careers brings genuine joy. “I’ve worked with some amazing bosses, mentors, lender teammates and brokers – some of us for over 20 years now,” she says. “I genuinely like helping my brokers succeed – tremendous personal satisfaction there.” That satisfaction has been hard-fought, though, the result of regular travelling and late-night office sessions mixed with family obligations. “Some days I get off the road at 7 p.m., exhausted and hungry, but knowing my husband is working even later, I’m menu planning in my thoughts,” Morgan says. She feels women in the industry are indeed making progress –she has worked with many women who are successful team leaders, sales colleagues, VPs and CEOs. For Morgan, it’s simply a question of finding the right person – man or woman – for the job. She would know, as her career has been an inspiration from the beginning. In the ’90s, Morgan was a single mom, managing a bank branch while chipping away at a business degree at Wilfrid Laurier University at night as her daughter looked on. “I’m so proud to say she has inherited my strong work ethic, which made up for the days she would ask, ‘Do you know when you go to work it’s dark and when you come home it’s dark?’” Morgan faced another challenge in 2008 when she was laid off for the first time, along with seven others, in the wake of the financial crisis. “I took it very personally, not realizing at the time that what was happening in the financial world was much bigger than me having to change roles,” she says. Eight years later, she has worked her way back to VP status, and has nothing but gratitude for the leadership at Invis/Mortgage Intelligence for placing their faith in her abilities and acknowledging her efforts.
The last year has been particularly eventful for Tina Francis. In addition to joining the fledgling Broker Financial Group, she also learned she would become a mother for the first time. A common theme among the women on this year’s list is the challenge of maintaining a healthy work-life balance, and Francis is no different in that respect. In terms of working for equality for women in the industry, she believes lists such as this one are a great reflection of the immense work women do every day. “When women in this industry stand out by making great strides in their organizations, then we should continue to recognize these women and their accomplishments,” she says. “Showcasing the strength of the women on this list can inspire other women to do amazing things for the industry as well.”
CINDY FREIMAN Director of marketing & communications Mortgage Professionals Canada
In the mortgage industry, where the options available to clients are expanding all the time, the ability to promote your brand and get your message across is paramount. That’s good news for Mortgage Professionals Canada, because it has Cindy Freiman among its ranks. “My 10th year in the industry, 2015, was a big year for me professionally,” she says. “I embarked upon a new role with Mortgage Professionals Canada, then CAAMP, in December 2014 and spent the better part of 2015 working on a total rebrand of the association. This all came to fruition in November during the opening ceremony of our 2015 National Conference.”
RACHAEL BEEMER Mortgage broker Verico My Better Mortgage
A broker at Barrie, Ontario-based Verico My Better Mortgage, Rachael Beemer has become a real success story in the industry, amassing $40 million in sales last year. That isn’t news to CMP readers, of course – she was named Broker of the Year for small brokerages at the Canadian Mortgage Awards last year. Beemer is also well aware that for smaller firms to grow and add sales, the general public has to be aware they exist. As such, she was instrumental in instigating a successful radio campaign that significantly boosted Verico’s presence in her market.
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WOMEN OF INFLUENCE 2016
SVP of operations
Neighbourhood Dominion Lending Centres
Dominion Lending Centres Brokers for Life
Susan Thomas is a competitor – but she genuinely loves the fact that her mortgage industry competition can come together as respectful professionals to find ways to improve the industry, grow brokers’ market share in Canada and tackle issues such as the emergence of progressive technology. The latter is also creating challenges in Thomas’ day-to-day life. “With technology woven into every fabric of our lives, it is hard not to multitask,” she says. “I think work-life balance is a challenge I face on a daily basis, as we are bombarded with information.” She adds that it is essential to disseminate what you really need in order to be successful under the information onslaught. Success hasn’t come easy for Thomas, who has surmounted plenty of obstacles, including the financial crisis and its toll on the mortgage industry, as well as being diagnosed with lupus, which she says she doesn’t “let define me or affect my work.” Thomas echoes the sentiments of many others on this list in noticing the emergence of more females in the industry as a whole, yet a noticeable lack of gender representation in executive positions. “Changes will not happen overnight, but I do believe that over time, this will change,” she says.
SHARON VANDERDUIM Mortgage agent Neighbourhood Dominion Lending Centres
Sharon VanderDuim has been in financial services for more than 30 years, which makes her a veritable pioneer as a woman in the industry. “I grew up in the ’50s and ’60s and got suspended from school for wearing pants,” she says. Her sense of humour has carried her across a long career that she began as one of the first female bank managers in her neighbourhood. “I was very young at the time, 27 in fact, and it was a male-dominated industry then,” she says. She credits positive encouragement from her colleagues for enabling her to move into an order-taking position, and from there to a sales role. Today, as founder of the eponymous VanderDuim Mortgage Team at Neighbourhood Dominion Lending Centres, her passion is building a great business with selfless, committed and (most important) like-minded people. “I’m sincerely committed to going the extra mile to save our fellow community members and neighbours money, and my team is too,” she says. She holds firm to the belief that adapting to change and embracing new ways of doing business, combined with a solid knowledge base, can create success not only for her, but also for the next generation of brokers.
Sheila Hawkins wears several hats at the office – or in her case, offices. As both a mortgage agent at DLC’s Brokers for Life and an insolvency counsellor at Parley Consulting, Hawkins has found that getting her companies to work together symbiotically has been more difficult than she first imagined. As if her plate weren’t already full, she also owns CanMex, a cross-border brokerage for Canadians eyeing property south of the border. Yet all the hard work is worth it, Hawkins says – her favourite part of the job is hearing clients ask, "What do I do now?" and being able to respond, "Actually, I can help you with that.”
JESSICA RICKERBY VP of operations, managing partner and mortgage agent Martel Mortgages
For Jessica Rickerby, being a woman in the mortgage industry isn’t as much of a challenge as running a business. As Martel Mortgages’ VP of operations and managing partner, as well as a mortgage agent, she plays a dual role in her business, which gives her exposure to a diverse group of people and mindsets. Rickerby’s approach to clients is to support and educate them on how a mortgage works and provide them with options. In this capacity, she is a go-to for everyone in her circle, from clients to peers in the industry. "I love being challenged every day,” she says. “This industry is forever changing, and there is always something new to learn around every corner. If you stay positive and accept the changes, you will always find success.”
SABEENA BUBBER Mortgage broker Verico Xeva Mortgage
When Sabeena Bubber arrived in the mortgage industry, women were severely under-represented. A fish out of water in the old boys’ shark pool, she looked forward to the day when women would ask the question, "Are men sufficiently represented in the industry?” Today, she is happy that more and more women are choosing to enter the mortgage business – and Bubber has committed to doing her part to support and nurture her fellow women in the industry. "We need to get to a point where women are proud to celebrate their success," she says.
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COVER STORY: WOMEN OF INFLUENCE
WOMEN OF INFLUENCE 2016
Neighbourhood Dominion Lending Centres
Neighbourhood Dominion Lending Centres was DLC’s top franchise in Canada last year, and Danielle Hill had the distinction of being the brokerage’s top volume producer. It’s a reflection of her location in the booming GTA market, no doubt, but also of her skill in her chosen profession. One of the youngest women on this list at age 28, Hill was also named to CMP’s Top 75 Brokers list earlier this year. All that success hasn’t come by chance – in fact, Hill has achieved her goals by committing herself to continuous learning, attending various educational and professional development courses.
As president of her own firm, Sarah Albert is motivated by the fact her company and its ilk are transforming an industry that badly needed it by reaching younger Canadians who are finding it increasingly difficult to buy homes. “Personally, my favourite part of the job is the disruption to the industry – the fact that we have an opportunity to change how Canadians obtain a mortgage and how much they pay,” she says. “As mortgage brokers, it does feel like some days we are David against Goliath, but that is a challenge I welcome.”
Broker/director of broker services
CENTUM Financial Services
Canada Mortgage & Financial Group
Based in Vancouver, one of Canada’s hottest property markets, Kathryn Grant specializes in finding funding for her clients from a variety of mortgage lenders. As housing prices in the city continue to make it increasingly difficult for homebuyers to take that all-important first step on the property ladder, Grant uses her extensive knowledge of the lending industry to find her clients the best deal. She also blogs regularly about the industry on her website, most recently breaking down the differentials in down payments and what that might mean for prospective homebuyers.
SHANNON HILLMAN President BlueShore Pacifica Alternative Mortgage Centre
Having founded Capital West Mortgage with partners Sidney Rubin and Daymon Eng, Shannon Hillman has since overseen the growth of that business and the addition of two more, Pacifica Mortgage Investment Corporation and BlueShore Pacifica Alternative Mortgage Centre. In 2015, the companies’ combined residential and commercial mortgage sales exceeded $300 million, thanks to the growing popularity of alternative lending. For Hillman, specializing in this side of the industry is a great fit. “Working on the alternative side of lending means the deals that I come across are very diverse,” she says. “I love this because they keep my work fresh and interesting, and I am constantly being challenged.”
In male-dominated industries, it takes empowered, influential female leaders to reverse the stereotypes that can hinder women’s successes in the workplace. It also takes mutual recognition of shared goals and a willingness to uplift other women to become successful leaders. Judging by her relentless motivation in the face of personal challenges and a broad range of obstacles, Ameera Ameerullah is well on her way to becoming one of those inspiring leaders. “Many times, I received no guidance or support from others in the industry, leaving me to determine my direction on my own when I started in the industry,” she says. Other challenges include not receiving payment of earnings, lost motivation as a result, losing relationships with lenders due to quota challenges – and that’s only on the professional front. She also suffered a major car accident, which left her handicapped and unable to walk for months, yet she continued to work through these challenges and eventually ascended to her current position as principal broker for Canada Mortgage & Financial Group. “Gladly, I have overcome each challenge and managed to find the strength to more forward every time,” she says.
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ONTARIO AND BRITISH COLUMBIA
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SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL FEATURE
The referral system that’s changing the game An innovative insurance referral system is helping mortgage brokers across the country to build long-term client relationships and boost their bottom line
LAUNCHED IN 2011, Unitas Insurance Services’ broker-built referral program, which serves mortgage brokers in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, recently celebrated its 50,000th referral and its fifth anniversary. The Unitas system simplifies the insurance referral process for mortgage brokers, who earn referral fees simply by doing what they do best: selling mortgages. The company has plans to expand into Nova Scotia this summer and the Prairie Provinces this fall, so even more Canadian mortgage brokers will soon be able to incorporate the Unitas referral system into their daily operations. “The referral system was developed to meet a need that all mortgage brokers face,” says Rod Elliot, president and principal broker at Unitas. “Under the licensing regime in Canada, mortgage brokers are not allowed to offer insurance directly to their clients, yet home insurance is required in order to close on a mortgage. Brokers cannot even discuss needs or advise clients in any way. So our objective was to provide brokers with an easy means of helping their clients obtain that insurance.” The Unitas system is directly connected to the mortgage broker’s in-house origination system, so when a broker approves a mortgage, an email with information about
relevant insurance products is automatically sent out. The broker then has the option to print the document, email it to their client or disregard it. “The system automatically schedules a time for Unitas to call the client, but the broker has the option to either reschedule that call or hit the ‘do not call’ button for clients who do not give consent,” says Scott Musselman, vice president of operations at Invis/Mortgage Intelligence. “Upwards of
If the client ever has any cross-purpose needs going forward, Unitas will refer them back to the broker. “Our contact management system also allows us to keep in touch with the mortgage broker on regular basis to let them know what’s happening with their client,” Elliot says. “Even if we find out that a client is moving home a couple of years down the road, we will call the broker to inform them. It’s a great communication channel.”
“Even if we find out that a client is moving home a couple of years down the road, we will call the broker to inform them. It’s a great communication channel” Rod Elliot, Unitas Insurance Services 50% of new homebuyers consult mortgage brokers, and this system helps brokers easily fulfil their insurance needs during the mortgage origination process.” The system also acts as an effective CRM tool for mortgage brokers. Unitas acts on behalf of the broker and mentions the broker by name during each contact with the client.
Full-service solutions Since its inception, the referral program has helped thousands of mortgage brokers across the country add much-needed value to their client relationships. It gives brokers the ability to offer a different level of service, which helps to build mutually beneficial long-term relationships.
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CASE STUDY: A BROKER’S EXPERIENCE WORKING WITH UNITAS Having worked with Unitas since its inception, Cindy Pusateri knows all about the benefits of doing business with a company that possesses the expertise and infrastructure to distribute mortgage, insurance and financial products. “I enjoy working with Unitas, and I refer all of my clients to them,” says Pusateri, a senior mortgage agent at Invis. “I like the service they give my clients.” Having heard such great feedback from her customers, Pusateri decided to give Unitas a call when she was closing on the purchase of her own cottage in Fenelon Falls last summer. “I was scanning cottage insurance rates, and the quotes I was getting were ridiculous, even from my own insurance company that I’d been dealing with for over 10 years,” she says. “I spoke to Unitas and got a great quote. I’ve now transferred everything over to Unitas: my condo, cottage and my two cars. I’m very happy.” Pusateri was also pleased to get a firsthand insight into the service her clients experience when they’re referred to Unitas. “Customer service is so important in this industry because everything is so competitive,” she says. “There are three underwriters at Unitas who focus on Invis and Mortgage Intelligence brokers, and they’re really good with our clients. We’ve developed a strong relationship, and it gets even better the more I send to them.” Working with a company that offers such an array of key services plays an important role in enabling brokers to offer the best possible customer experience. “Everyone is so busy these days, so making clients’ lives easier is a truly important aspect of customer service,” Pusateri says. “Making clients’ lives as stress-free as possible by giving them all the tools upfront is really important for any broker. Working with Unitas makes my life so much easier.”
“Normally, we print the document and include it in our signing package along with a business card from Unitas,” explains Ana Cruz, mortgage broker and partner at LA Mortgage Team. “Clients walk away with all of the relevant information, and they’re also fully aware that someone is going to call them. There’s nothing worse than getting an unexpected call – it’s all about preparing the client and ensuring they know who is going to call them and why.” By integrating into a broker’s existing business model, the system allows brokers to focus on their core mortgage business and not be distracted by insurance requirements. “When a broker presents a client with their standard mortgage options, they’re easily able to offer home and auto insurance,” says Cruz, who has worked alongside Unitas since 2013. “Then, when Unitas calls the client, they already have all of the relevant information at hand, so the conversation is quick and easy. I always tell my clients that they should take that call because it may save them money, and it only takes five minutes.”
The unique expertise that Unitas delivers enables Canadian brokers to become premier full-service distributors of mortgage, insurance and financial products. The
convenience. “Giving clients everything they need to close their mortgage finances in one place helps brokers to provide excellent service,
“Upwards of 50% of new homebuyers consult mortgage brokers, and this system helps brokers easily fulfil their insurance needs during the mortgage origination process” Scott Musselman, Invis/Mortgage Intelligence holistic approach allows brokers to offer their clients a quick and competitive means to obtain the home, auto, property, commercial and group coverage they require. Unitas maximizes client discounts by quoting home and auto insurance with the same carrier, and the company’s recently revamped website, www.unitasinsurance. com, has introduced online quoting, which helps provide clients with an extra layer of
and that’s what everyone is trying to do,” Cruz says. “The extra stream of income from the referral fee is always beneficial, but that’s not the only reason I use Unitas. Working with them takes away some of the stress and additional work associated with completing your client’s financing. Buying a home is overwhelming, so any service that can help our clients through that is a win-win for everybody.”
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Customer service still wins clients For DLC’s Tracy Valko, the secret to success is “not rocket science” – it’s old-fashioned hard work and customer service
CMP: How did you get into the broker channel? Tracy Valko: I’ve been in the financial
CMP: Tell me a little about your brokerage. TV: I don’t have agents working for me; I
industry for about 25 years now. I started out working for the banks, and then I moved to the finance industry, where I was working in underwriting and mortgage collections for a company called Household Finance. That gave me a good foundation dealing with subprime mortgages. Then I worked with MCAP, and that’s where I started getting introduced to brokers. I got to experience some great relationships with the brokers in town. It really piqued my interest speaking to them, because they were able to build great relationships with clients. I ended up working with an independent mortgage broker as an assistant for about a year and a half, then went out on my own. I’ll be in my 17th year at the end of this year, and I haven’t looked back.
have a team. They all represent my brand, but we all work for the same collective goal. Competition is healthy, but when you’re working close together, you all want to work toward the same collective goal. It’s not just about giving clients a mortgage and saying, ‘All the best – we might see you in five years.’ We send out monthly newsletters; we touch base with clients at least once a year. That policy and that belief have kind of gotten me to the level where I am now. It’s not rocket science to be at a high level in your business. It’s good customer service.
CMP: So what’s the secret of your success? TV: We always do what’s best for the client. If we can’t do a better job for them than the bank, we tell them that. Being honest with them upfront has been tremendous for me. People nowadays still want that superior customer service. Too many people don’t do that, because we’re all rushed to meet different quotas and such, but I just don’t run my business that way.
CMP: You’re part of the Dominion Lending Centres network. Has that connection been helpful to you?
TV: Absolutely. I wanted to be with a brokerage that, in terms of their marketing exposure and recognition, is among the top in the industry. I wanted to solidify my presence in the marketplace, and Dominion has certainly done that. Everyone knows who Dominion is. And their back end is very, very good. There are a lot of tools they provide that make things a lot easier for us. And I’ll use everything; when I win any awards or accolades from dealing with them, I promote that. People will call you because of that, because they’ll see it online.
CMP: Do you feel like it’s a good time to be a broker right now? TV: I think this year’s an exceptional year – in a good way. I know my volume is higher than it’s ever been. This market is a strong market right now, and there are a lot of
VALKO ON BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS “Many brokers are so focused on the deal at the time, and not focused on the relationship that the client brings to the table. Change your business by seeing each client as an opportunity for referrals – and it’s not just sending out newsletters, because anyone can do that. It’s actually calling them, getting in touch with them, getting to know their lives. Prospecting is always great, but if you spend time working on your database, the consistency of your volume will go up. I think a lot of brokers forget that.”
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TRACY VALKO: FAST FACTS A broker/owner at Dominion Lending Centres Forest City Funding, Tracy Valko has nearly 17 years of experience in the mortgage industry. She joined the DLC team in 2009.
Consistently one of DLC’s top 40 brokers
Location: Kitchener, Ontario
Total volume 2015: $63,071,071 Loans funded 2015: 258
“We send out monthly newsletters; we touch base with clients at least once a year”
CMP Top 75 Broker
CMP Woman of Influence strong markets out there. We’re expecting some record increases in the housing market. We’re expecting a 10% increase in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, which is unheard of.
CMP: Do you see any challenges ahead? TV: As the volumes on these houses increase, it’s going to get tougher and tougher for firsttime homebuyers to qualify. No matter what, I’ve been through the ups and downs of the market, and there’s always a need for a broker. So I’m not worried from that perspective. I’m just more concerned
about young people trying to get into homes down the road.
CMP: Do you have any unconventional advice for other brokers –something many originators might not think about? TV: I spend an hour every day reading broker news. I’m on top of what’s going on in the global economy as well. You’ve got to make sure you’re on top of that stuff so you can educate your customers. I have conversations with brokers in the community, and I don’t think a lot of them are really educated about that stuff.
CMA Mortgage Broker of the Year nominee in 2014, 2015 and 2016
Funded 258 loans in 2016 for a total volume of more than $63 million
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Balancing data and gut instincts in hiring decisions When it comes to making decisions on a new hire, many experts will say that gut instinct should be left out of recruitment. But Christine Khor explains that balancing that innate instinct with cold, hard facts has many benefits
GUT INSTINCT, or intuition, is thought
The role of the gut
of as dangerous ground as it can – and often has – lead to a discriminatory selection process. Using intuition by itself may lead to situations where we only hire people who we know or like, people who we don’t feel threatened by, who remind us of ourselves, who are exactly the same as the other people on our team, etc. In other words, your gut instinct, if not combined with more scientific data, is likely to result in hiring the person you can see yourself having a drink with or inviting to a barbecue – not necessarily the person who is the best for the job. Though these experts are correct, it is important to note that the role of gut instinct and intuition should not be completely ignored. Instinct plays a vital role in how we make decisions and prevents us from falling into the dangerous territory of groupthink and overanalysis.
Instinct is a biological function that helps us to determine danger. It is a natural subconscious response. Think of a time when you’ve met someone you just didn’t feel comfortable around, and then you later found out that person had a shady past. Your intuition was confirmed by evidence. Think of a time when you felt a little off in someone’s house, only to find out later that your host had just had a heated argument with their partner before you arrived. This is your brain taking the temperature of a room, feeling the underlying tension and responding to it by eliciting your fightor-flight instinct. When it comes to business decisions, it is usually our expertise, experience and knowledge that allow us to read a situation and respond to it instinctually. So, why are we ignoring our instincts in business today?
Analysis paralysis When it comes to business decisions, the fear-of-failure mindset has permeated organizations at all levels and in all industries as a not-so-surprising side effect of having gone through a global financial crisis. It makes sense that after a period of economic instability, businesses will be cautious in their strategy, and business leaders will be apprehensive when making decisions. However, we all know that this kind of fearbased thinking is the major obstacle to innovation and can have a big impact on the hiring decisions of a business. Because of this fear, businesses are relying heavily on groupthink and committees. Management will call meetings, send group emails, request more research and stall for more time, rather than taking the perceived risk of making a decision. Many executives don’t want to be the one to make the final call in case things go pear-shaped. We like to call this ‘analysis paralysis,’ and it has become rampant in hiring decisions. Increasingly, recruitment within businesses is being stalled by elongated processes that include numerous rounds of interviews, background checks, psychometric assess-
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a high intellect but won’t get bored easily, will work for a salary lower than market rate, and will be satisfied doing a job they have already done before –basically, a unicorn. Of course, unicorns don’t exist. But people with the potential to grow and learn do. Your best candidate may not tick all the boxes – and in fact, they shouldn’t. If they did, they would have nothing to learn or gain from working at your company and would therefore be a flight risk. In other words, decision is risk, but in some stage of the recruitment process, a decision has to be made.
The balancing act
When it comes to business decisions, the fear-of-failure mindset has permeated organizations at all levels and in all industries as a not-so-surprising side effect of having gone through a global financial crisis ments, case studies, an increasing amount of reference checks and then a long waiting game where all the data is analyzed but a final decision is still not made. While this is happening, the talented prospects who went through this arduous process have gone on to find other opportunities. While it is absolutely necessary to gather evidence-based data on the skills, experience and cultural fit of a prospective employee, this process has to be as streamlined as possible and not become excessive. Three references are the standard to get a general consensus on how well a person did their prior jobs; however, we’ve been asked at times to do six. While it is often necessary to do a secondround interview or have the person meet
additional people within the team, a process of four interviews is excessive. If a manager cannot make a decision based on two rounds of interviews, three reference checks and perhaps one psychometric test, then it is usually their gut instinct telling them that the candidate is not the right person for the job. If instinct were listened to at this point, then a lot of time and money would be saved.
The key to making a good hire is to combine data-based evidence with instinctual responses. What it comes down to is that gut instinct should never trump evidence in the making of a decision, but it shouldn’t be ignored if it is sounding alarm bells. My advice is to pay attention to your instinct when it is telling you not to hire someone, but disregard your instinct if it is telling you to hire someone in spite of the evidence gleaned from interviews and reference checks. It is most likely personal preference at work here. Second, make sure you qualify your gut instinct with objective reasoning. Are you an expert in the area in question? Have you had a similar experience before, and was your instinct correct at that time? Do other people agree with your instinct? Are you sure that you are not engaging in any form of bias or discrimination? By removing the fear of risk mentality that may have taken residence in your management team, you give them permission to use their expertise, experience and wealth of knowledge to navigate decision-making. Provided data-based evidence is not ignored, the instincts of your management team can be a valuable asset to your organization.
Searching for a unicorn The heavy reliance on group consensus and box-ticking not only takes the humanity out of the hiring process, but it also supports the fallacy that there is a perfect person for the job in question – someone who has all the experience, all the skills, does not require training, has
Christine Khor is the managing director of Chorus Executive, a talent management company focusing on the recruitment, coaching and personal branding of executives. Her book, Hire Love: How to Hire Passionate People to Make Greater Profit, is now available through Amazon.
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Read Canadian Mortgage Professional anywhere, anytime
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The CMP magazine iPad® app is designed for mortgage professionals on the go. www.kaishinlab.com Packed with all the features, insights, news and analysis from your favourite magazine, this is your opportunity to keep up-to-date wherever you are. Take a look at the current emag, or download previous issues. For all the latest news and industry developments download your free CMP iPad® app today!
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UP FOR A CHALLENGE
Thanks to his fondness for challenges and unquenchable desire to improve, Zack Mano Margalit has come a long way
Inspired by a lifetime of watching shows such as Law and Order, Mano Margalit decided to pursue a law degree in his native Tel Aviv. At the end of his first year, he was one of 10 students on STARTS LAW the school’s honour list selected for entry into an MBA program, DEGREE which he completed mostly concurrently with his first degree “It was a challenge for me, and I always like that. I enjoy the business world a lot. When I was offered the MBA, I thought that was perfect for me”
HIRED BY EQUISHARE; COMES TO CANADA As the youngest in his MBA program, Mano Margalit found himself studying alongside classmates experienced in business, one of whom was already working with Equishare Investment Group, headquartered in Israel. Partly because of this connection, Mano Margalit was hired by the company in Israel and offered a job in Toronto, where he took advantage of his new location to get into the property market “I’d find commercial properties in Canada and the US, complete all the acquisition work and find [investors]”
PURSUES LEGAL CAREER After graduating university magna cum laude, Mano Margalit spent a year and a half working in a legal role for the Tel Aviv Civil Court. In his role he used both his degrees, helping the judge, whom he considers a mentor, write and research verdicts, particularly for commercial law
BEGINS CONSULTING CAREER Mano Margalit took a break from Equishare to manage some of his own properties – and purchase small residential properties – south of the border with the help of Canadian and Israeli investors. He also offered his experience in investments and acquisitions to Heathbanc Corporation “I helped [investors] achieve their financial goals by finding real estate deals and completing the acquisition and due diligence on their behalf”
RETURNS TO EQUISHARE Presented with “an amazing opportunity,” Mano Margalit returned to Equishare. His new position, as vice-president of business development, brought the potential to buy large commercial properties in the US, giving him his first taste of commercial mortgages. During this time, Mano Margalit also completed a certificate in project management at the University of Toronto
“Part of my job at Equishare was to be a project manager; it was very important to learn how very large projects are managed. It taught me a lot”
PURSUES OWN BROKERAGE VIA RMA After being sought out by investors needing assistance on the residential side, Mano Margalit realized this aspect of the business was in high demand. Selected to become the lead mortgage consultant for high-profile builders, he spent a significant portion of his time managing the financing for residential portfolios on behalf of his clients. As the residential side of the business grew, Mano Margalit started his own brokerage in 2015 under Real Mortgage Associates “We’re developing the team and growing the brokerage – and working on a plan to become a lender as well” www.mortgagebrokernews.ca
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TELL US ABOUT YOUR OTHER LIFE Email email@example.com
CARVING HIS OWN PATH James
Where James Laird skis, there’s not a chairlift in sight –and that’s just the way he likes it A DOWNHILL skier since the age of 3, CanWise Financial president James Laird was drawn to the world of backcountry skiing six years ago by a hankering for excitement. “In the backcountry, your sense of adventure is amplified,” he says. Backcountry skiing – an activity that takes place well away from groomed trails, where gliding down a pristine mountainside is preceded by the need to, as Laird puts it, “cross-country ski uphill” first – demands much from the participant, including a high level of fitness and a greater reliance on your team. Predictably for the entrepreneur, a large part of the appeal of this specific style of skiing lies in the potential to blaze his own trail. “You can go wherever you want; you’re not limited to where the chairlifts go. You see a mountain off in the distance and you want to go up it, you go up it.” And for Laird, the payoff is well worth the trouble. “It feels amazing to ski down something you saw from a distance, when you had to figure out how to get there and then get to the top safely. Skiing down it is just fantastic.”
Average number of vertical feet Laird climbs in a day
Degrees of the steepest run Laird has skied
Height, in feet, of the highest peak he has skied
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Women of Influence