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As co-founder of the Pineapple broking network and an avowed philanthropist, Shubha Dasgupta makes people his priority
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SPECIAL SECTION LENDING GUIDE
Always potential for growth
The ups and downs of housing today
Rough road ahead for homeowners
30 Saving time with Scarlett
The software advantage for brokers
31 Employer of Choice
SPECIAL REPORT BROKERS ON LENDERS
CMP presents 2022’s top-ranked lenders that have impressed brokers with their service and support
Multiple industry award winner and Canadian Mortgage Awards 2022 Broker of the Year Clinton Wilkins on the secrets to his success
The lenders winning brokers’ votes reflect on the factors that put them ahead of the game
CWB Optimum’s “wow culture”
32 Reverse mortgages
Equitable solutions for seniors
34 Compensating brokers
The MERIX luxury of choice
36 The newcomer segment
A helping hand from Home Trust
44 Broker network turns 20 CENTUM looks back on its journey
46 Borrowing power
Growing appeal of NPX products
52 Building productivity
The role friendships play
54 Team leadership
How empathy can motivate staff
48 Broker insight
Building a team with integrity
SPECIAL REPORT WOMEN OF INFLUENCE
The outstanding female leaders making their mark on the mortgage industry this year
56 Other life
A broker’s lesson from fostering cats
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Finding new routes to growth
Mortgage agents and brokers could have been forgiven for getting used to the frenetic pace that gripped Canada’s housing and mortgage markets until recently – but even without such barnstorming activity, it’s fair to expect a busy few months ahead to close out 2022.
Skyrocketing sales, and record volume in many cases, became the norm for agents and brokers across the country after Canada’s housing market boom began shortly following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yet with rising interest rates the name of the game throughout this year, those professionals have shown the crucial role they played for homeowners and new buyers alike in guiding them through a much-changed mortgage landscape.
Mortgage holders who have seen their monthly payments suddenly spike upwards have turned to brokers and agents to help find a solution. Variable rate clients made brokers their first point of call for advice on whether to lock into a fixed rate or weather it out on the variable. And would-be buyers yet to enter the market consulted with mortgage professionals on whether it was the right time to take the plunge.
While the daily deluge of calls from customers desperate to purchase is now a thing of the past, brokers still have ample opportunity in the current climate both to secure new business and develop stronger relationships with existing clients.
Indeed, many brokers and agents who have spoken to CMP during the recent market cooldown have emphasized the role social media is playing as an invaluable marketing tool in helping them show expertise and knowledge to current customers – and prospective new ones.
Others have highlighted community work and networking – the latter now possible in person – as key pillars of their efforts to grow their books of business and source new contacts in a cooler environment.
By continuing to innovate, evolve and provide first-rate guidance for clients, brokers and agents can generate new business in the current market and lay a solid foundation for the next time it takes off again.
Paul Lucas Editor
Fergal McAlinden Writers
Mallory Hendry, Bennett Richardson, Ksenia Stepanova, Ephraim Vecina
Roslyn Meredith, Christina Jelinek, Karen Atienza
Tracey, Ezard, Michelle Gibbings, Rebecca Houghton, Daniel Vyner
ART & PRODUCTION
Khaye Cortez, Juan Ramos
VP - Production Monica Lalisan Production Coordinators Kat Guzman, Loiza Razon
Client Success Executive Cole Dizon
SALES & MARKETING
Account Executive Shane Lakhani
Digital Development Director Kevin Shields Project Director Jessica Duce
President & CEO Tim Duce
Office/Traffic Manager Marni Parker
VP – Strategic Event Development Chris Davis
Chief Information Officer Colin Chan Director – People and Culture Julia Bookallil Global CEO Mike Shipley Global COO George Walmsley
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Agents and brokers have the ability to guide customers through the challenges and opportunities of the modern market
INFLATION’S IMPACT ON CANADIANS’ FINANCES
RATE HIKES IN LOCKSTEP WITH INFLATION RATE
In a bid to stem the country’s mounting annual inflation rate, a trend largely impelled by global economic and geopolitical pressures, the Bank of Canada began a series of oversized rate hikes this year. However, according to Beata Caranci of Toronto-Dominion Bank, the most significant impacts of these adjustments won’t be apparent until early 2023. “The challenge is that inflation is a lagging and backwardlooking indicator, and interest rates work with quite a big lag, meaning the peak impact and transmissions won’t be known until next year,” he said.
significant strength in sales activity during the pandemic, the Bank of Canada’s massive interest rate hikes during the first half 2022 put a hard brake on the housing market. In June alone, sales dropped in 75% of local markets across the country, according to CREA.
The recent drop in home sales alongside sharp rate hikes has led to a boost in new listings across Canada’s urban markets. But this newfound supply might vanish just as easily, warns CREA chair Jill Oudil. “While some people may choose to wait on the sidelines … others will still engage in the market in these challenging times.”
MONTHLY CHANGE IN
MULTI-UNITS BOOST GROWTH
IN HOME BUILDING
Multi-unit housing is emerging as an effective solution to Canada’s housing supply crisis, but this is being tempered by a lower rate of single-detached residential construction intentions. This has been especially prevalent in the largest markets, with regions like Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal posting higher multi-unit starts in June.
6-MONTH TREND IN NEW HOME CONSTRUCTION*
INVESTMENT IN RESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION SLOWS DOWN
Total investment in building construction across Canada saw the end of a robust nine-month streak of growth in June, a month after residential construction investment saw a noticeable dip. This was mainly due to significant drop of 6.7% in Quebec, which far outweighed the gains in other provinces.
INVESTMENT IN RESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION
A VIEW FROM THE TOP
Clinton Wilkins has hit the heights in Canada’s mortgage industry through perseverance and a strong client focus
BEING CROWNED the year’s best mort gage broker across the whole of Canada is in itself no small feat. But it’s an achievement that’s all the more laudable when oper ating from Atlantic Canada, a region that’s far from the red-hot activity and skyrock eting prices of the country’s two most headline-grabbing markets, Ontario and British Columbia.
Clinton Wilkins could have been forgiven for thinking that picking up that 2022 Canadian Broker of the Year gong at the recent Canadian Mortgage Awards in Toronto simply felt like business as usual. After all, the Dartmouth, Nova Scotia–based broker – head of the Clinton Wilkins Mortgage Team – has amassed an envi able haul of honours throughout his career, notably as a frequent member of CMP ’s Top 75 list recognizing the brokers with the highest volume achieved each year.
Still, collecting the award in front of a sold-out crowd at Toronto’s Liberty Grand clearly meant a lot to Wilkins – and “maybe a little more” coming from Atlantic Canada, he said.
“It’s really amazing that we can compete on a national level, and I think it just shows our determination and our will, [and those of] our clients, lender partners and teams,” he told CMP in the aftermath of that win.
The award added to Wilkins’ three wins
(2018, 2019 and 2020) as Broker of the Year (Fewer than 25 Employees) at the CMAs, while he also picked up the regional award for Atlantic Canada at the 2022 ceremony.
The secret behind his spectacular success? Taking the time to master the art of mort gage brokering, according to Wilkins, as well as establishing a reputation as a specialist in a particular niche of the mortgage space.
“Starting small and becoming that subject matter expert in your area is so
the step of founding the Clinton Wilkins Mortgage Team in early 2009. His team has achieved phenomenal volume since that landmark, a level of performance that’s been underpinned by laser-like focus on customer service and paying attention to the needs and individual circumstances of each client, rather than simply prioritizing the bottom line.
“I don’t really think of myself as just a mortgage broker anymore – I think of myself
important,” he explained. “Really honing your craft and perfecting it is the way to go. Sometimes we’re so busy trying to be every thing to everybody, and I think being more highly specialized is going to take you to the next level.”
Rise through the industry
Wilkins’ nearly 16 years of experience in the mortgage industry began with stints at various smaller brokerages before he took
as a good listener and relationship builder that happens to do mortgages full-time,” Wilkins told CMP in 2020.
“My goal is to listen to what issues people are facing in the financial industry and help educate to improve consumers’ financial wellbeing.”
That’s an important task, he said, because education in the mortgage industry can tend to highlight a firm, instead of providing useful and unbiased advice.
“In this industry, if you put some effort in, you certainly get some results ... I’ve never worked so hard as I have over the last couple of years”
Name: Clinton Wilkins
Title: Team leader
Company: Clinton Wilkins Mortgage Team
Based in: Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
Years in the industry: 16
Fun fact: Wilkins is a published author, having penned Confessions of a Halifax MortgageBroker in 2018
“A more informed consumer makes better decisions, which is good for the industry as a whole,” he said.
Some of the most important traits that have helped Wilkins navigate the choppy economic waters of recent times have been perseverance and trust in the process –qualities that unquestionably came to the fore at the outbreak of the COVID-19
done” approach that might prevail elsewhere.
“Our job is really to be the champion for the clients,” Wilkins explained. “With us, if we do a transaction and the client’s not happy, or they felt like they didn’t get good advice or a good rate, they may not come back.
“For us, it’s that relationship: we want that repeat, and that referral business. If you really want that service and advice, the savvy consumer is always going to go to the mortgage broker.”
CLINTON WILKINS: JOURNEY TO SUCCESS
BACHELOR OF COMMERCE Saint Mary’s University
BROKER OF THE YEAR (FEWER THAN 25 EMPLOYEES) 2018, 2019, 2020 Canadian Mortgage Awards
pandemic with all the challenges it brought.
Public health restrictions, a work-fromhome revolution, rapidly changing news on the economic front, and a sudden housing market boom all contributed to a perfect storm of conditions that presented both hurdles and opportunities for brokers and their clients alike.
Facing that environment head-on rather than being daunted by the new circumstances was crucial to success in the pandemic era, Wilkins told CMP
“I think we’ve weathered a lot of storms over the last 18 months,” he said in April. “There have been some people who may have retracted because business was maybe more challenging, but in this industry, if you put some effort in, you certainly get some results … I’ve never worked so hard as I have over the last couple of years.”
Brokers have demonstrated their value during that time, he said, because of their ability to build a long-term relationship with clients, setting them apart from the “one-and-
Brokers’ ability to access alternative and private lenders – options that aren’t open to major banks – gives them another unique value proposition for mortgage customers, according to Wilkins, allowing them to assess the entire picture of a client’s income, assets and credit and provide a tailor-made solution based on their specific circumstances.
That ability proved especially indispens able during the past two years, when market activity was at its height and buyers faced an often-anxious wait at various stages of the mortgage and purchase process.
“Being able to make an offer with confi dence is really important, and that’s where we come in,” Wilkins said. “It’s not just getting a rate hold in place. When we do a pre-approval with a client, it’s really that prequalification to make sure everything’s going to be good.
“There are always going to be situations where things are challenging, but we can work through that with the clients.”
REGIONAL BROKER OF THE YEAR Atlantic Canada, 2022 Canadian Mortgage Awards
CANADIAN BROKER OF THE YEAR
2022 Canadian Mortgage Awards
“I don’t really think of myself as just a mortgage broker anymore – I think of myself as a good listener and relationship builder that happens to do mortgages full-time”
AN OPINION THAT COUNTS?
Recalibration of the mortgage market
Brokers and agents must keep a close eye on which way the market is turning, says DV Capital’s Daniel Vyner
UNDOUBTEDLY, Canadian real estate has recently been a hot topic of discussion not only for those in the real estate industry but also often as the centre of conversation between family, friends and associates.
Most interestingly, there is rarely one constant stance on the matter. Seemingly, it depends on whether you’re speaking to someone planning to purchase real estate or to an existing homeowner – either one
many purposes, including consolidation of high-interest debt; making down payments on other real estate acquisitions; or simply as cash on hand for living expenses. Many home owners saw real estate values continue to rise year over year and had little reason or desire to believe the music would stop.
There were certainly homeowners who began to question the sustainability of refinancing over the long term or challenged
day for a segment of homeowners, including new owners who purchased real estate at the peak of the market and are witnessing their neighbours’ homes selling months after their purchase for hundreds of thousands of dollars less than they paid for them.
Similarly, homeowners who have never relied on real estate value increases as a method of supplementing income or servi cing existing mortgages are now facing carrying cost increases on certain mortgage products and renewal interest rate increases, all while simultaneously battling an increase in the overall cost of living. In summary, the run-up in real estate values created a false sense of reality and security for a segment of homeowners.
To make matters more challenging, most non-bank private lenders that ordinarily provide alternative financing options to home owners who are unable to qualify for institu tional financing for one or more reasons have adjusted how they underwrite, condition and approve their mortgages.
In other words, the private lenders that would ordinarily be stepping up to bat to fill the void and provide bailout funding to home owners in need are not as willing to do so. This presents a Catch-22. While private mortgage lenders are rightfully prioritizing their duty to safeguard their investors’ capital, the home owner, in need of private financing, no longer has this option, or at least not to the same extent as during a rising and more predictable real estate market.
who has owned for some time or has just recently purchased.
By Merriam-Websters’ definition, a house is a “building that serves as a living quarter.” The reality is that real estate, for a segment of homeowners, represents far more than a roof over one’s head. Today, the value of one’s property and equity or lack thereof are representative of one’s livelihood.
Over recent years, facing relatively low interest rates and with a strong desire to own real estate, many pursued real estate purchases; homeowners have often been rewarded with considerable equity apprecia tion, net of transactional and carrying costs.
That equity accumulation has allowed homeowners to access low-cost capital for
the old folktale that real estate values only go up, and took the opportunity to sell their homes, pocket their gains, and downsize to lower-priced homes, with smaller mortgages or no mortgages at all. Others may have shared the same feelings but, depending on their situation, pursued homeownership by all means necessary.
Fast-forward to today: real estate values are softening in certain markets, and trans action-related nightmares include the inability or unwillingness to close on purchases, in some cases jeopardizing a series of related transactions. There has also been a reduc tion in purchasing sentiment and an increase in borrowing costs and qualifying hurdles, meaning it is now unfortunately judgment
In my view, it is evident that a recalibra tion is occurring before our eyes that appears to mark the end of the line for a segment of existing homeowners unable to sustain homeownership without year-over-year real estate inflation and a transition of the prime borrowers of yesterday to the non-prime borrowers of today.
In summary, it is my opinion that being cognizant of evident realities is simply a sound approach for industry professionals and consumers alike to navigate the current real estate terrain.
The run-up in real estate values created a false sense of reality and security for a segment of homeownersDaniel Vyner is principal broker at DV Capital, a mortgage brokerage based in Toronto.
THE PEOPLE-FIRST PATH TO SUCCESS
FEW, IF ANY, six-year-olds initially aspire to be mortgage brokers – and Shubha Dasgupta was no different. As a child, he harboured ambitions to become a doctor as a means of helping people, but fate works in mysterious ways and Dasgupta ultimately pursued another form of service: as a mortgage professional, assisting Canadians across the country in their efforts to realize their homebuying dreams.
Starting out in the Canadian mortgage industry over 13 years ago, Dasgupta has since become one of its most influential and recognizable members, renowned for his role as co-founder and CEO of the Pineapple network (formerly CLC Network) and as the 2021 president of the Canadian Mortgage Brokers Association for Ontario (CMBA-ON).
Throughout an eventful tenure as a mortgage professional and executive, he’s never strayed from that ideal of providing exemplary service to clients – and technology has also been a prominent focus of his upward journey through the industry.
Starting out at Mortgage Centre and flipping the office brand to Dominion Lending Centres (DLC) a few years later, Dasgupta quickly established himself as an elite broker but, in his own words, “yearned for more.”
“I wanted to make a larger impact on this
industry and help drive positive change and a more digital experience,” he tells CMP
That led to the 2016 establishment of CLC Network, a company whose rebrand to Pineapple was announced last year. Its mission to help mortgage agents deliver peak performance through cutting-edge technology and innovation has proven a sure-fire hit
that many of life’s greatest moments started at home,” he reflects. “I wanted to be a part of ensuring that dream was possible for all Canadians.
“My goal is to help other brokers, owners and Canadians have simplified experiences, while driving positive change for all involved … Putting people at the forefront of everything
among the agent community, with around 600 now represented across 17 brands under the Pineapple banner.
The company’s tech focus dovetails neatly with Dasgupta’s view that mortgage brokering is first and foremost about service and helping people – an ethos he summarizes as “people first, everything else second.”
“When you think back in life, you realize
we do enables stronger and more meaningful connections while fulfilling our goals in a deeper way.”
The value of service is one that Dasgupta extends beyond the professional sphere as an avowed philanthropist whose charitable efforts have included time on the board of the Canadian Cancer Society and the corporate cabinet of Make-A-Wish Canada.
A culture of “trust, mutual respect and camaraderie” is one of the most significant
Shubha Dasgupta has never lost sight of the importance of service throughout his distinguished career to date
“When you think back in life, you realize that many of life’s greatest moments started at home. I wanted to be a part of ensuring that dream was possible for all Canadians”
Name: Shubha Dasgupta
Title: President and CEO
Years in industry: 14
Philanthropy: Dasgupta formerly led a volunteer group for the Canadian Cancer Society and co-founded the mortgage industry group CMI Cancer Fighters.
imprints he’s left on Pineapple – one that’s remained, and strengthened, even as the company has continued to scale upwards in recent times.
Meanwhile, the network’s forward strides in technology in the mortgage space and as a complement to the work of agents also remain a source of huge satisfaction for the executive.
“Our teams bring a positive outlook each and every day, taking very seriously the work we do,” he explains. “I’m also very proud of the work our teams are doing to advance the digital landscape of our industry.
with the current cooldown merely reflecting the return of a more normal market.
“The last couple of years, we’ve been going at 150km/h down a 100km/h highway, and right now we’re slowly back down to around that 100–120km/h range,” he says. “We’re still above [the speed limit] – we’re breaking in and around that, but it just feels like we’re going a lot slower.”
Indeed, Dasgupta has been around for enough time to know that in the housing and mortgage markets, things tend to balance out in the long run.
“The mortgage and real estate market
SHUBHA DASGUPTA: FAST FACTS
Member of Mortgage Global 100, 2020
4x member, CMP Hot List (2018–2021)
“Driving innovation is a key component to our goals, but ensuring we do so in a way that creates meaningful change has been special.”
Dasgupta navigated the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic with deftness, taking his company’s expansion and rebrand in stride during some of the most unprecedented times the Canadian workplace and economy have ever seen.
The country’s housing and mortgage markets boomed during that time, but while those wheels have slowed considerably throughout 2022, Dasgupta remains sanguine about their prospects moving forward.
He says it was simply unrealistic to expect that the pace of mortgage activity during the first two years of the pandemic would continue,
always runs in cycles, and it’s a normal part of any healthy cycle,” he says. “The price growth that we’ve seen over the last few years was never going to be sustainable.”
It’s a calm, measured, and well-informed view of the future of the market that mirrors Dasgupta’s own meticulous and methodical approach to business as a whole. Patience has proven a key contributor to his rise in the industry, according to the executive, blended with his strong resolve and work ethic.
“There’s no such thing as an overnight success, and everything comes to those who wait,” he says. “Remember that patience is not about waiting but the attitude and work you put in while waiting.”
The rise of Pineapple – and Dasgupta –has also come about thanks to a clear understanding of what the company needed to
President, Canadian Mortgage Brokers Association Board of Directors (2021)
President and CEO, Pineapple (2016–present)
continue its growth in terms of infrastructure and resources, as well as ensuring that its advancement didn’t arrive at the expense of its all-important service levels.
The ability to clearly address those needs is something that will surely stand the company in good stead as its founder and leader looks to the future.
“We always ask ourselves about purpose and intent,” Dasgupta says, “and having a clear insight into these areas for all aspects of our business. When you understand the goal, you can work back to create the roadmap.”
“My goal is to help other brokers, owners, and Canadians have simplified experiences, while driving positive change for all involved … Putting people at the forefront of everything we do enables stronger and more meaningful connections”
BROKERS ON LENDERS 2022
SOME GOOD NEWS IN A DIFFICULT MARKET
DESPITE SOUNDING like the proverbial broken record player, these are turbulent times – and it’s been that way for Canada’s mortgage market for well over two years.
With the chaos of the pandemic largely behind us, borrowers are now battling rising interest rates, softening house prices –TD Bank expects a 20–25% fall from this year’s peak by the first quarter of 2023 –and a possible recession on the horizon.
Financial services firm Desjardins
Group said in its August 2022 report that it expects a mild recession for the Canadian economy in the first half of 2023. This forecast has pushed lenders to become increasingly cautious with their policies. Clients need solid mortgage advice, and so throughout this year, the relationship between lenders and brokers has never been more important.
Now in its 16th year, the annual Brokers on Lenders survey gives Canadian brokers
the chance to evaluate the performance of the lenders they work with. In a complex housing market, the need for swift communication, strong BDM support, and flexibility from
“We believe and recognize that the industry requires a methodology that not only meets the echoed ‘common sense approach’ from lenders, but one that surpasses the expectations of brokers and borrowers”
Steve Kissuk, Strive
lenders is vital to the smooth running of a broker’s business. As well as rating Canada’s lenders across a range of different metrics, brokers also had the chance to discuss the biggest challenges they’ve had with a lend er’s service over the last 12 months, the areas where they perform the best, and potential areas for improvement.
This year, lenders managed to increase their scores in almost every category compared to 2021. The most significant increases were in turnaround time, under writer support, broker support and overall service levels, suggesting that lenders have significantly upped their game in response to a pressured environment.
Brokers recorded a minor drop in satis faction for interest rates – not an unexpected development given the overall rising interest rate environment – and satisfaction levels
seeing indications of a busier fall market approaching, according to Desjardins Group. Realtor partners have recorded recent upticks in activity, with more view ings on their listings, and brokers expect their market to speed up in response. Therefore, quick and efficient communica tion from lenders is going to be vital over the next six months.
The satisfaction rating for turnaround times stood at an average of 4.31 this year –a significant increase from 3.97 in 2021, and the highest increase in satisfaction across all categories. This suggests lenders have been focused on speeding up turnaround times over the last 12 months, and brokers are seeing the benefits.
Strive won the gold medal for turnaround times this year, and according to CCO Steve Kissuk, the key to its success is never losing
To uncover the best lenders in the eyes of Canada’s broker community, CMP reached out to brokers across the country, asking them to rate the lenders they work with across 10 key areas, including turnaround time, interest rates, product range, broker support, overall service levels and more. CMP also asked brokers to weigh in on important aspects of the broker-lender relationship as well as on commissions and bonuses.
For each category, the lenders were ranked in order of merit according to an average score calculated from the ratings they received from brokers. The top three in each category received gold, silver and bronze medals. The lenders’ combined average scores from all categories determined the overall gold, silver and bronze award winners.
of respondents said past clients were their strongest referral partners
still remained above 2020 levels.
All of our winners scored a medal in at least one category this year, reaffirming the effort and dedication that has gone into providing an excellent experience for brokers and their clients.
Communication is key
Although the housing market is showing signs of a cooldown, with sales slowing by 31% across the country, brokers are still
sight of the ultimate goal – each borrower’s unique journey into homeownership.
“We believe and recognize that the industry requires a methodology that not only meets the echoed ‘common sense approach’ from lenders, but one that surpasses the expectations of brokers and borrowers,” Kissuk tells CMP
“The underpinning to our business is service. Easily overstated, but it runs in every facet of our organization and is truly
40.5% of respondents have been brokers for over 11 years 28.9% of respondents said their own business was the type of deal they had with the lender
“We have all experienced significant life events at some point – we’re only human. We are honoured that we get to be real-life financial allies every day” Jason Provencher, Bridgewater Bank
BROKERS ON LENDERS 2022
embedded in our cultural framework.
“We believe we are a team of sensible and practical people that take the time to hear the details, who are relentless in servicing our broker partners, and understand that we must strive beyond the call of duty,” Kissuk adds.
“We celebrate fundings weekly, and supporting a borrower’s journey to home ownership is an exciting event to be a part of. Lose sight of this, and you’ve already lost.”
Strive also scored highest in underwriter support, overall service levels and satisfac
tion with credit policy, winning the silver medal in the overall rankings. Radius Finan cial took the gold with top scores in four categories, and RFA won the bronze medal.
According to Kissuk, the broker channel brings “immeasurable value” to
the Canadian lending landscape, and so investing in this channel is a no-brainer for lenders in Canada.
“With market uncertainty and vola tility, we believe that the future of the broker channel, both traditional and digital adopters, will be critically important in the long term,” Kissuk says.
“That is why it is the only channel we pursue.”
Spotlight on alternative lenders
This year, the rankings have been split into
“I do think we scored well [in BDM support] because of our culture – it’s called TYLF – treat you like family and friends. Ask anyone to lend a hand, and they’ll go the extra mile”
Jason Provencher, Bridgewater Bank
two categories – mainstream lenders and alternative lenders.
Hosper Mortgages was rated the top alternative lender this year, with top scores across all 10 categories and an overall score of 48.1 out of 50. Haventree Bank came in second, and Bridgewater Bank took the bronze, with a top score in BDM support –tied at 4.9 with Hosper Mortgages.
With the ability to be more flexible on loan criteria, alternative lenders are proving to be a popular choice across Canada as the borrowing environment grows increas ingly tough. However, competition among alternative lenders is high, and so the need to provide outstanding communication and support can’t be overstated.
According to Bridgewater Bank’s vice president for national sales, Jason Proven cher, the key to offering exceptional BDM support is simple – and it all starts with cultivating the right culture internally.
“I do think we scored well here because of our culture – it’s called TYLF – treat you like family and friends,” Provencher says.
“Everyone at the bank really lives it. Ask anyone to lend a hand, and they’ll go the extra mile every time with respect, famili arity, good humour and care.”
The same approach applies to the work of BDMs, he explains. “Alternative deals are often complex, so we really take the time to work on solutions with our brokers. We want to see clients in homes just as much as they do. We have all experienced signifi cant life events at some point – we’re only human. We are honoured that we get to be real-life financial allies every day.”
Provencher notes that there are also things that brokers can do to help lenders work with them more easily. A great first step is to simply give their BDM a call before submitting a file, which will offer both sides the chance to talk through the
deal and discuss any potential issues.
He says brokers should also take the time to explain anything that isn’t in the paper work with some informative deal notes, as this will save BDMs from having to come back to them again with queries.
“Every file has a story,” Provencher says. “Applications with good deal notes help us understand the grey areas so that under writers can make decisions quickly.”
Raising the bar
In addition to ranking Canada’s lenders, brokers were also asked about the biggest challenges they’ve faced with a lender’s service over the past 12 months, as well as the best thing a lender has done for them over that time.
hadn’t faced any issues at all with lender services – fantastic feedback for an industry under significant pressure.
When asked about positive experiences, the vast majority of responses praised a fast and efficient service, quick responses to complicated deals, same-day approvals, and flexibility in lending criteria. One broker particularly praised “logic-based approvals, and going above and beyond to fight for the merits of a deal,” while another compli mented their underwriter’s ability to “find ways to make the deal work.”
When discussing potential improve ments, a number of brokers mentioned interest rates as a pain point. Some wanted more education on lending products, while others suggested improving technology and
Steve Kissuk, Strive
Despite showing a clear improvement in the rankings year on year, turnaround times, speed of responses, and the amount of time taken to review documents were identified most commonly as challenges. This suggests that despite improvements, brokers still face some anxiety about the speed of the overall borrowing process and would like to see further improvements over the next year.
It’s not all bad news, as a significant chunk of broker respondents said they
upgrading broker portals.
The overall responses from this year’s Brokers on Lenders survey clearly show that lenders have put in massive amounts of effort to improve their service offering and create an excellent experience for broker clients. Responses were more positive across every category compared to last year, with many brokers having only good things to say about the lenders they work with –an optimistic sign in what promises to be a difficult market for years to come.
“We celebrate fundings weekly, and supporting a borrower’s journey to homeownership is an exciting event to be a part of. Lose sight of this, and you’ve already lost”
TRANSPARENCY OF COMMISSION STRUCTURE
BROKERS ON LENDERS 2022
SUMMARY: BROKERS ON LENDERS WINNERS BY CATEGORY
Phone: 416 896 7552
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: hospermortgage.com
Phone: 800 263 8349
Email: email@example.com Website: b2bbank.com
Phone: 1 833 256 0573
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: strivecapital.ca
Overall Turnaround time Underwriter support Overall service levels
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FOR MORTGAGE brokers across Canada, there are few better opportunities to give their verdict on the lenders they work with daily than in CMP ’s Brokers on Lenders report, now in its 16th consecutive year.
We asked brokers to provide feedback on the lenders they deal with across key areas, including interest rates, broker support, product range, transparency of commission structures, overall service levels, and more.
The results provide a compelling insight into the performance of lenders across Canada’s mortgage market and, in particular, those that stand out in the eyes of brokers as the best in the business.
Mortgage brokers have spoken, and now it’s time to hand the floor over to some of the country’s top lenders for their verdicts on why they achieved such strong rank ings in specific categories of the report,
and whether there’s a secret formula for their success.
Read on to find out what lenders Bridgewater Bank, Strive Capital, RFA Mortgage, Hosper Mortgage, Community Trust and Radius Financial had to say about their performances – and what they’ve been keeping top of mind over the past year that paved the way for those high marks.
CMP catches up with some of the companies that achieved the highest marks in this year’s Brokers on Lenders report to hear the secrets of their success
How does Bridgewater Bank go about processing files as quickly and efficiently as possible to ensure its excellent turnaround time?
A: We have a very close-knit team, and we work together to manage workloads. It’s safe to say that our underwriters and fulfilment team are thriving in their workfrom-home environment. The bank has put a lot of thought into the file process and aligned the correct resources to ensure we address broker feedback.
It has also led to a tighter escalation process. This starts with having a conversation with your BDM. In alternative lending, it’s important to discuss deals all the way through to
funding. Our BDMs and underwriters are always available throughout the process and ready to assist with document review to keep moving deals forward. With our broker site, bwbbrokerinfo.ca, we try to think alongside brokers to set them up with articles, checklists, tools and forms to help them get it done easier.
Brokers rated Bridgewater Bank’s BDM support very highly. What do you believe are the reasons for that strong reputation?
A: Knowing that someone is there when you need help is important, and that’s a massive focus for us. It sounds cliché, but it starts with responding – answering calls and emails promptly – and understanding all facets of mortgage lending. We call it TYLF (Treat You Like Family and Friends). Our BDMs set proper expectations around approval and timelines for funding – we don’t sugarcoat this as we know it’s important. It provides the foundation to great relationships.
Brokers know they can reach their BDM and talk through a deal. Our BDMs know the market, are highly experienced, and can offer more than simply a deal review. Not all deals are the right fit for us. If we can’t do the deal, we want to provide you with an alternative avenue if possible.
How important is technology in helping Bridgewater in its interactions with brokers?
A: In alternative lending, technology supports our brokers and helps streamline the process, but we know the important role our BDMs and underwriters have in packaging complex deals. Our new underwriting platform was rolled out this spring, and it makes the behind-the-scenes document process more seamless, enhancing the broker experience. We are making sure that we have the right tools to continually enhance our broker relationships.
What accounts for the bank’s very strong performance on overall service levels?
A: This really is a team effort. Behind the scenes, we have amazing people who like going the extra mile. We listen to the broker community and to all its feedback. Over the past few years, we’ve focused on improving service, including moving away from Calgary as the only hub for attracting new talent. We’ve placed an underwriting complement in Ontario and British Columbia. This has had a tremendous impact for our brokers. We also like to think we have hired and trained the best people.
Avenues like the Brokers on Lenders survey are so important to continually keep improving. We also survey our brokers and receive great feedback in day-to-day conversations. It all comes back to our TYLF culture – treating our partners like family is just intrinsically what we do.JASON PROVENCHER Vice president, national sales Bridgewater Bank
Strive achieved high marks for its turnaround time. How does it ensure files are completed as quickly and efficiently as possible?
A: Service underpins every decision we make. To that end, we’ve been fortunate to gain some of the industry’s best underwriting talent, empowering them with the right tools and support to make decisions quickly. Strive has built a team of experienced underwriters and management that put the broker experience first. That experience, combined with innovative tech solutions and an all-hands-on-deck approach, ensure a positive broker experience.
A: Communication is key. Our team is accessible to discuss a file, be it sales or credit. Further, we continue to explore ways to do this smarter and faster. This includes technology that will better enable our underwriters to make quicker decisions or ask for specific information that may be needed to support a decision.
How important are open and transparent commission structures to the company?
A: Transparency in all aspects of what we do is important as it speaks to fairness and integrity as a partner. Keeping things simple and transparent is key, not only from our credit perspective but also in the
way we work with our broker partners. When we are open and honest about commissions, or anything else for that matter, trust is built; and for a new entrant like Strive, trust and integrity in all that we do is paramount.
Can you pinpoint what accounts for how Strive achieves its excellent overall service levels?
A: Everyone across the entire Strive team is acutely aware of what we have
scheduled to close on a weekly basis, and from this, we truly take an all-hands-on-deck approach in execution. We are highly collaborative and supportive, take feedback, and are quick to identify and execute on opportunities to improve. We’re not perfect, but, to the adage, we learn from the mistakes and how to avoid them in the future. Most importantly, we remain humble and never take an opportunity for granted to support our partners.
What does Strive keep top of mind when it comes to underwriter support?
MARINA BOURNASPresident and CEO
RFA ranked very highly for its transparent commission structures. Are those a key area of focus for the company?
A: At RFA, our focus and business strategy has always been “Brokers First.” We know that commission is what drives a broker’s bottom line and that a transparent and competitive compensation structure is important to them. We want our brokers to know exactly how much they can expect to make per deal and be certain they will be paid competitively when they fund a mortgage with RFA. We’ve launched several periodic pricing and compensation promotions in 2022 and will remain competitive in this area.
Broker and BDM support were also strong areas for RFA. What are some of the reasons behind its reputation for stellar service?
A: For the most part, product is fairly standard in this industry. We believe the delivery of this product and the team underwriting each application is what truly sets us apart in the market. Brokers can expect our team to pick up the phone and find the best solution for their client.
Our commitment to service and continuous improvement resulted in us revamping RFA to put the credit experience at the heart of everything we do. This included promoting and hiring only seasoned credit professionals into key senior leadership roles. These changes have shifted our focus to deliver a best-in-class credit experience to the broker community. Our goal is to hire skilled underwriters and sales representatives who are dedicated to finding solutions so brokers don’t have to shop around.
On the sales side, our new threetiered sales model targets the needs of different brokerages depending on the level of support they require.
RFA’s strategic account manager (SAM) program is a new origination model that provides a highly efficient, personalized and enhanced service experience. SAMs are full-service account managers who operate within their own portfolios to support the needs of high-volume brokers. This model was designed for top-supporting brokers who deal with RFA day in and day out.
Our regional vice presidents (RVPs) are dedicated to helping brokers increase their business with RFA and achieve or maintain their ‘Insider’ status with us. This model is perfect for brokers who want to level up their business. Their RVP and dedicated senior underwriter are their main contacts for every deal.
RFA’s BDM program is perfect for new brokerages that need extra coaching and support. Our BDMs will onboard the brokers, coach them on our products and the industry, and help them every step of the way until they’ve gained confidence and application flow. We encourage brokers not registered with RFA to visit brokersfirst.ca and fill out our contact form. We’ll help you register and determine what sales model is best for your business.
RFA’s competitive interest rates are popular with brokers. How important is this? A: We know two of the most important items for our brokers are rate and service, and in this time of high housing prices and stretched affordability, competitive rates and affordable mortgage payments may make the difference to whether a client qualifies for a mortgage. It’s crucial that we offer competitive rates and further support our brokers through timely promotions and other special offers.RFA Mortgage
How does Hosper Mortgage maintain its extremely high standards where turnaround times are concerned?
A: You said it! The Hosper brand maintains a sky-high standard for speed, especially when a ‘rush’ closing is required. Our team of professionals are trained to deliver on rush closing dates, which often means we must underwrite the deal, coordinate closing requirements with lawyers, and fund the loan all within a very short time frame, sometimes under 48 hours. Since the Hosper team is trained to focus on speed at the forefront of every closing, these high-pressure deals are part of what we do best, and part of what allows us to stand apart from other alternative lenders.
What’s top of mind for Hosper regarding broker and underwriter support?
A: At Hosper, we understand that if our broker’s client is happy, our broker will be happy with us. So, with each interaction throughout the deal process, we make sure to provide answers quickly to give brokers the instant support they need. Our brokers don’t come to us for traditional mortgages; they come because their client needs a short-term mortgage solution as soon as possible. We understand that this is a high-pressure situation for the broker, so we make sure to provide the fastest and most efficient level of support found in the private lending space.
How important is a comprehensive and varied product range?
A: Hosper finds a way to approve deals
for every unique situation. Our team strives to achieve our mission statement each day: “To be your first-choice alternative to a conventional lender.” This would not be possible without our wide range of products, which include third mortgages, high-LTV financing, rush closings, and many more.
A: Traditional banks are becoming
increasingly more stringent, forcing more borrowers into the alternative lending space. At Hosper, we lend based on the collateral of the property; that’s it. We don’t lend based on the borrower’s financial situation. Hosper is here to provide simple solutions for those who are turned down by a traditional bank’s strict policies. We believe our brand’s lenience toward income and credit provide an unmatched feeling of relief for the broker and their client.
What do you feel accounts for brokers’ strong positive response to Hosper’s credit policy?
some of the best rates available in our category. But at the same time, we firmly believe there are many other factors that are equally as important, like fees, conditions and post-funding options. For example, you may have a mortgage with the lowest rate and no fees, but if the conditions can’t be satisfied, then this no longer counts for anything.
So it’s really a matter of finding the right solutions in lockstep with the needs of each individual client at any given time. When rates are rising, people tend to think it isn’t the right time to move, but this reflects a lack of understanding that there is so much more to a mortgage, and this is where brokers can really help to educate their clients.
Managing director Community Trust
How did Community Trust achieve its high score for strong turnaround times?
A: We were particularly pleased to be recognized for having strong turnaround times, because this is an area that we have placed a great deal of focus on over the past few years. The introduction of our 360-Service has certainly proved to be a real game changer, with our partners now able to connect with a member of our mortgage advisory team in less than 30 seconds.
But not only does this mean that our partners get access to real-time
support; it also allows for improved and streamlined processes, leading to faster decisions and document reviews. At the same time, our Business Optimization team continues to scrutinize our processes in their relentless pursuit of improvement, and it’s all these things combined that really make a huge difference to the overall broker experience. At the end of the day, we are completely aware of the importance of them coming through for their clients, and understand our role in making that happen for them.
The company’s interest rates proved popular in the eyes of brokers. How important are competitive rates to Community Trust?
A: Of course, it only makes sense that rates are always important to brokers and their clients, and we always strive to offer
Rates are always going to fluctuate, and this year has seen them rise higher than many might have predicted. What’s most important is that we always stay informed and agile in our approach to them, making sure we always remain driven by finding the best way to support our partners and customers.
How does the company make its commission structures as transparent as possible?
A: If there is any secret formula when it comes to our commission structure, it’s simplicity. The basic format of our broker compensation has remained largely the same for quite some time –aside from the occasional promotion – which gives a certain predictability about working with us.
We also include this information on all our rate sheets and related emails, so there is never any guesswork needed. In addition, our Preferred Partner Program (BariStar) is open to all brokers and represents a further way for them to be rewarded just for their role in bringing a solid partnership.
RON SWIFTCEO Radius Financial
How does Radius Financial go about ensuring it provides a quick turnaround time for its broker partners?
A: At Radius, we continually look for ways to improve our service levels by looking at what are the bottlenecks that slow down turnaround time. We identified two areas that had the greatest negative impact on our turnaround times: the inconsistency of income documentation, which often leads to re-underwriting of the deal when the income documentation was received post approval; and too many hand-offs in the underwriting process.
As a result, we implemented the requirement to have income documentation provided up front, which eliminated the need to re-underwrite the loan in the future and to streamline our process by having our underwriters underwrite, decision and complete all the fulfilment on each deal. Less hand-offs equals less time.
Does the company prioritize developing a diverse and varied range of products?
A: Yes, we meet weekly to discuss what is happening in the market and see if there are any trends emerging. We also gather intel and suggestions from our customers and our funders to see if there are opportunities to develop or expand on our product offering.
How important is a transparent commission structure to Radius?
A: We believe transparency is very important to build trust. Building trust helps build long-lasting
relationships. We are in this business for the long term.
How has Radius focused on supporting underwriters over the past year?
A: Our underwriters are critical to the success of our company. They are our primary point of contact for our broker customers. Therefore, providing the right support for our underwriters is a necessity. To start, since our underwriters work remotely, we make sure they have access to anyone in the company as a resource, whether it be for escalations, pricing or information, so they can
respond in a very timely manner.
We also have regular virtual meetings where we can share information and answer questions and respond to any issues that may arise.
Our underwriters also have access to training through external partners and internal resources to keep on top of emerging risk trends in the industry.
We also support our underwriters financially by providing above-average compensation (base and commission) so that our underwriters are well compensated for the high expectations we have of them in terms of their output and quality.
Saving time and money on payroll and compliance
Scarlett Network’s time-saving broker management software is an effective tool for increasing business efficiency, says Axiom Innovations’ Joe Fakhri, President and CEO
PAYROLL AND COMPLIANCE are two of the most essential but time-consuming oper ational elements faced by brokers.
Scarlett Network’s broker management software’s streamlined, automated payroll and compliance features give brokerages the ability to reduce payroll processing times and associated labour costs significantly.
“Scarlett’s payroll and compliance users have a major advantage over other brokerages still using manual processes and disconnected tools to run and process commissions and payroll,” says Axiom Innovations’ president and CEO, Joe Fakhri. “Apart from enabling brokerages to process payroll and compliance tasks quickly and efficiently, the added benefit and advantage Scarlett’s system provides is centralized and mineable data, which is a key feature for principal owners and brokers who want to delve into brokerage, agent, and lender performance,” he tells CMP.
“Brokerages are able to mine their data with granularity. With a click of a button, principal brokers and administrators can determine their top and most efficient agents and top lenders, to name a few. The wealth of infor mation and centralization of such information allow brokerages and their management teams to make proper and sound business decisions while continuing to increase business efficiency and saving time.”
That time-saving element is essential for principal brokers, according to Axiom business development manager Andrew Schultz, as it allows them to focus on what they’re good at: selling, and expanding their book of business.
“The time savings a brokerage gets from not having to spend a full day processing payroll
frees up that extra day to do revenue-generating activities,” he says. “While brokers are business people and business operators, at the end of the day they’re also entrepreneurs and salespeople to the core. Feeding the pipeline, building their team while closing deals is the primary goal –not managing payroll.
“Scarlett is not just for the big franchises and can be customized to fit big or small brokerages,” he adds, “freeing up an adminis trator’s time to do something more productive or allowing a principal broker to sell.”
The platform’s integration with each of the leading origination platforms in Canada means a brokerage’s staff are all inter
mation reports on the compliance side, which are submitted to regulatory bodies each year.”
Compliance varies by province; what is compliant in Ontario can be different in British Columbia and other provinces. Scarlett was built with the thought that brokerages can scale from one office in one region to multiple offices across the country, with individual users able to customize their compliance criteria specifically for the province where the deal originated.
Payroll also allows brokerages to configure how their agents get paid. After all, Fakhri says, “Scarlett is not just a commission processing system – it’s also a payroll source deduction system that enables brokerages to pay their
connected through the same solution, even if they have preferences for different platforms.
“At the end of the day, as a successful busi ness operator, you need to understand your business from a reporting perspective, even if it’s coming from all of the different origination platforms currently available in our industry,” Schultz says.
“Scarlett’s integration with those leading origination platforms across Canada allows principal brokers to access key performance reports, while also quickly and conveniently generating error reporting and annual infor
full-time staff members as frequently as their business requires.” This flexibility allows brokerages to pay based on splits, flat fees, or tier-based models, supporting almost every payout model used in the industry.
“Each of those features makes Scarlett an industry-leading platform for brokerages,” Fakhri says. “It allows them to take the finan cial pulse of their business clearly and effect ively while saving costly administrative time and money. That goes directly back to the company’s motto: ‘Don’t let your business run you. Run your business!’”
“[Scarlett allows brokerages] to take the financial pulse of their business ... while saving costly administrative time and money” Joe Fakhri, President and CEO, Axiom Innovations
CWB Optimum named Employer of Choice
EVERY YEAR, CMP puts out the call for the best and the brightest brokerages, recognizing those employers that faced challenges headon, while ensuring they provided a supportive workplace environment for their staff.
This year, with the impact of COVID-19 still looming large, brokerages had to prioritize investment in their most valuable resource –their people – by being agile, understanding, and, most importantly, willing to listen to their employees. CMP identified top employers by inviting organizations to fill out a form high lighting their offerings and practices, and then asking the nominated companies’ employees to evaluate their workplaces based on factors such as job satisfaction, bonus and incentive programs, career development opportunities, and commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Those on CMP’s 2022 list are the cream of the crop: the ones that took steps to apply that feedback, provide the tools for their employees to be successful, and nurture a vibrant – and resilient – culture. CWB Optimum once again made the cut and sat down with CMP TV to discuss what the win means to the company.
“The best way to describe who we are is we’re a wow culture,” Frank Giacomini, AVP, national sales, told CMP TV. “We want to wow everybody we come across: our clients, our brokers and each other.”
One of CWB Optimum’s organization-wide goals is to be a destination for top talent, and “if we have a reputation around that, what we’re doing is working,” said Rejean Roberge, vice president. “We’ve put in a lot of work to maintain a culture people want to be a part of. This award matters because it lets us know we’re doing the right thing by our employees,
While multiple factors play a role in main taining a positive workplace, it’s really about investing in your employees, said Marcia Lindberg, director of sales and marketing.
Over the last two years CWB Optimum leaned into work-life balance and day-to-day flex ibility, promoting employee wellbeing and, critically, welcoming their voices at the table.
“Their feedback is highly impactful for us, and we really do value and encourage it,” she said. “Their perspective matters, and it does shape our business and our decision-making.”
A stellar culture cannot exist without a diverse and inclusive working environment, and this, too, represents a perpetual goal for
the lender. Creating conversation is always a first step, and various initiatives are encour aged to ensure CWB Optimum is a safe place for everyone to bring their best, most authentic selves to work. That pays off in multiple ways, for the business and for clients as well, Roberge said, because it impacts “what we bring to the table in terms of innovation, service and ideas.”
Ultimately, Giacomini is not surprised that CWB Optimum has once again been given the nod as an Employer of Choice.
“We’re a diverse bunch, an inclusive bunch and a fun-loving bunch,” he said. “We work hard, play hard and are passionate about every thing – but especially our people.”
Welcoming – and acting on – employee feedback is critical to cultivating a resilient culture, say the team at CWB Optimum
“We’re a wow culture: we want to wow everyone we come across”
Frank Giacomini, CWB Optimum
C ANADIAN MORTGAGE AWARDS 2022
Reverse mortgages offer natural shelter
AS RISING living costs eat into house hold budgets and inflation erodes spending power, the carefully laid retirement plans of many on a fixed income appear in danger of being swamped.
Seniors with a traditional mortgage are under greater pressure as central banks globally continue to hike interest rates at breakneck speed. Even selling the family home to release equity looks less attractive now with the property market less buoyant than previously.
If not the perfect storm, it’s certainly a squall more than capable of capsizing those who prepared only for fair weather. Which is why more seniors may turn to the reverse mortgage financial solution, custom designed to stabilize their situation.
“A reverse mortgage can free up home equity that allows them to eliminate debt like traditional mortgages or home equity lines of credit that may be more expensive now, given rising interest rates,” says Damon Knights, head of the wealth solutions group at Equitable Bank.
Knights estimates market growth of around 18% from 2020 to 2021 in reverse mortgages, with no signs of slowing interest.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) data shows that in early 2020 the over-65 demographic was the only age group seeing a rise in trad itional mortgage delinquency, but this has declined along with rates in other age groups since late 2020.
In fact, reverse mortgages in some ways are the natural antidote to the current economic climate because, with interest accruing and being paid at the end of the life of the loan, they don’t put stress on current monthly cash outlays.
“We have a no-negative-equity guarantee, meaning a borrower can never owe more than the fair market value of their home, as long as they have met their mortgage obligations,” says Knights.
“Even with higher interest rates in recent months, borrowers are not required to make monthly payments.”
This protects a borrower from cash flow challenges as the fight against inflation increas ingly appears likely to be a marathon rather than a sprint. Statistics Canada data shows that the annual inflation rate was at 7.6% in July 2022, easing from the 39-year high of 8.1% hit in the prior month. Many countries around the world are experiencing even higher rates affecting the cost of imported goods.
Seniors may now be more inclined to
remain in their family homes rather than downsize, as they hope to bank the equity for future purposes such as renovations, helping a child with rent, or buying a home of their own –all things that are also suddenly much more expensive than a year or two ago.
A Home Care Ontario poll in 2021, which interviewed 1,034 Ontarians over the age of 55, revealed a deep-seated desire by Ontarian seniors to age at home. Of those who have thought about where they would want to live in their later years, 96% of respondents plan to stay in their own home or apartment for as long as possible.
How does it work?
Reverse mortgages allow people over the age of 55 to borrow against the equity in their home without having to sell it. Regular repayments are not required, and the interest is compounded monthly to the loan, with the total repayable when the last borrower moves out of the property or dies.
“Approval is for life, as long as clients are
Equitable Bank manages $45.8bn in assets and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Equitable Group Inc. It was founded in 1970 as “The Equitable Trust Company” and has become Canada’s ninth-largest Schedule I bank. Equitable Bank offers a diverse suite of residential lending, commercial lending, and savings solutions, including high-interest savings products and GICs. EQ Bank was launched in 2016 to provide simple and convenient branchless banking and has been named the top Schedule I bank in Canada for the second year in a row on the Forbes list of World’s Best Banks 2022. www.equitablebank.ca
Equitable Bank is seeing high demand for reverse mortgages due to demographics, greater acceptance among customers, continuing cost-of-living pressures, and more indebtedness in retirement
meeting their obligations, such as keeping property taxes up to date, having adequate fire insurance, and keeping the property in a good state of repair,” says Knights. Going into longterm care would also trigger repayment.
“Clients can stay in the home for as long as they want to, even if the property value drops.”
While property prices in many parts of the country are now flat or falling, Knights says that over the longer term it’s unlikely shortterm drops in home values will greatly affect reverse mortgage customers as long as the market remains resilient.
Based on Equitable Bank’s analysis of OECD nominal house prices, the compound annual growth rate for home price appreci ation in Canada has been 5.1% for the period 1991–2021 and 6.8% for 2001–21.
“This speaks to the long-term stability of Canadian home prices,” he says.
Equitable Bank offers the lowest reverse mortgage rates* in Canada, saving the customer more money over time and preserving more home equity.
The broker’s role
Brokers often field questions from retirees worried about what measures are in place to protect them in a period in their lives when circumstances can change suddenly.
Equitable Bank has low prepayment charges, making it less punitive to break a reverse mortgage if something changes or future plans are adjusted.
“[A reverse mortgage] is incredibly valu able to have in place,” says Knights.
While there has already been significant growth in reverse mortgage lending since 2020, there are still many opportunities out there for brokers.
CMHC data shows that the over-65 age group is the only demographic that experi enced an increase in the share of people with a mortgage loan in the second quarter of 2022 versus the same period a year earlier. Every other age group saw a decline, suggesting that the senior demographic continues to need more guidance to get their finances in shape for tougher economic times.
YEAR-ON-YEAR CHANGE IN SHARE OF CONSUMERS WITH A MORTGAGE LOAN, BY AGE GROUP
Over 74 65–74 55–64 45–54 35–44 25–34
Q2, 2022 Q2, 2021 -0.15 -0.10 -0.05 0.00 0.05 0.10 0.15 0.20 bps
Source: Equifax; Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Over 55s are also Canada’s largest demo graphic, with a combined $1trn locked in their homes, according to Statistics Canada.
An aging population, greater acceptance of reverse mortgages, continuing cost-of-living pressures, and more indebtedness in retire ment are factors that may lead to increased demand for reverse mortgages through the next fiscal year.
“Many seniors are looking for solutions to help them manage the increasing costs of living and ongoing debts,” says Knights.
It is also a product that suits the economic times and that doesn’t have the headwinds facing the traditional mortgage market.
“This business can continue to grow in spite of market conditions,” says Knights.
In the past, downsizing or switching to a rental were attractive, but these options are
tricky now as clients may not get the same equity out of their home that they would have a few months ago. It may make more sense to stay put and bank potential future equity when the market recovers. With rents also rising, the profits from a home sale will not go as far.
Brokers who can offer reverse mortgages stand to benefit their own businesses and assist those in need who may not have the right infor mation at their fingertips.
“With the market booming and clients finding more reasons to choose a reverse mort gage, understanding the product and your client’s needs will ensure you are ready to take advantage of this opportunity,” says Knights.
*Based on research conducted by Equitable Bank on March 23, 2022, comparing Equitable Bank’s Flex Lite and Flex Reverse Mortgages and the CHIP Reverse Mortgage offered by HomeEquity Bank. The comparison is based on interest rates and prepayment charge terms for a $400,000 five-year fixed rate new reverse mortgage, assuming outstanding mortgage balance being paid in full on any one of the last business days of each calendar year during the term and no interest payments made before the prepayment date. Prepayment privileges not included.
“Clients can stay in the home for as long as they want to, even if the property value drops” Damon Knights, Equitable Bank
MERIX: Offering true compensation choice
At MERIX Financial, brokers can choose which compensation works best for them on a deal-by-deal basis
MERIX FINANCIAL credits its partner ships with brokers as being crucial to its success, and in turn wants success for its brokers. In an uncertain financial climate, MERIX Financial wants to help brokers diversify and grow their income.
MERIX Financial is a company that is known for being proactive in seeking to fill a gap within the industry. Lendwise is a product of MERIX Financial that builds on the company’s already-exceptional reputation and relationship-focused approach, and MERIX’s third product is NPX, a highly competitive and niche solution for alternative lending.
MERIX and Lendwise both have competi tive compensation models; however, in 2022 the Lendwise tier-based compensation has been improved to allow all brokers to earn a competi tive industry-standard compensation without a restriction on volume, or product requirements. Jill Paish, executive vice president of national sales, has been at MERIX Financial for 17 years, and one of her key roles is to align sales object ives with firm business strategy.
Explaining the compensation improve ments, Paish says: “The new compensation model allows brokers to earn more on each of their Lendwise deals up front, with enhanced compensation on each tier as volume targets are achieved, also featuring retroactive pay and efficiency bonuses at the end of the year. As a result of these changes, we’ve seen a net increase of 25.2% in our Lendwise-funded volumes on a year-over-year basis.”
Lendwise offers value to brokers by maximising their upfront compensation, and MERIX creates long-term residual income through trailer fees. In combining
the enhanced Lendwise compensation model with the long-term value of the MERIX compensation model, brokers can choose which compensation works best for them on a deal-by-deal basis, while also retaining the relationship and benefits they have already built with the company. MERIX Financial is the only Canadian mortgage lender offering this true compensation choice, and this is what sets it apart from its competitors, Paish says.
“Regardless of your financial business strat egies, MERIX provides you with the avail ability of choice. If you like working with us, we have a product that you need, and rates
on both fixed and ARM terms with flexible cashback amounts up to 5%,” she says. “We’re certain that we can satisfy a large array of busi ness wants and needs and are always evolving and adapting to market conditions to give brokers confidence in doing business with us.”
Other company changes in 2022 have focused on making it easier than ever to work with MERIX Financial. Enhancements that have been introduced include a 120-day rate hold; more favourable treatment of rental income; more consistency in pricing; and the launch of AVM and new AMCs for appraisals.
“The number of enhancements is truly
that work; you decide what’s best for you, not getting locked into a compensation that someone else decided is right for you.”
As well as giving brokers the luxury of choice as to how they are paid, MERIX provides many other business-enhancing opportunities. These include a Personal Account Manager program that offers full-service underwriters a person alized business approach; and a basisPOINTS system allowing brokers to earn lucrative discre tionary pricing credits on every deal, which can then be used to buy down future deals.
Paish explains the further benefits. “We have distinctive product offerings like our new MERIX Cashback, which is uniquely available
remarkable and too many to list; we strongly recommend reaching out to your MERIX representative to make sure you’ve captured them all,” Paish says. “Additionally, for what ever reason, if you haven’t done business with MERIX in a while, now is a really great time to ensure we’re back on your radar as we are offering more solutions than ever.
“Our mission is simple: to stay on top of the evolving mortgage industry by continually listening to the needs of our originators and their customers.”
This is more than just a statement; it’s through evolution that MERIX Financial remains an industry leader.
“As a result of these [compensation] changes, we’ve seen a net increase of 25.2% in our Lendwise-funded volumes on a year-over-year basis”
Jill Paish, MERIX Financial
At MERIX Financial you can choose your compensation on a deal-by-deal basis, whether it's maximizing your upfront compensation with our new-and-improved Lendwise model, or building ongoing long-term revenue with MERIX Trailer Fees!
Whichever you choose, we're here to help you find your perfect compensation mix and are making it easier than ever to do business with us! Reach out to your MERIX representative today to learn about our numerous recent enhancements or visit merixfinancial.com/contact to get signed up.
Helping newcomers to Canada buy a home
Brokers can act as an invaluable resource for newcomers looking to buy their first home in Canada
IN FEBRUARY, the federal government revealed its plan to welcome more than 1.3 million permanent residents to Canada over the next three years. This ambitious goal underscores the important role that newcomers are expected to play in the coun try’s post-COVID economic recovery.
However, newcomers looking to enter the housing market often encounter unique chal lenges when applying for a mortgage from a traditional lender. This gives mortgage brokers an opportunity to act as a resource to help them understand their options when buying a home.
Understanding the newcomer segment Statistics Canada defines a newcomer as a permanent resident (also known as a landed immigrant) who has been in Canada for five years or less. Last year saw more than 405,000 new permanent residents settle in this country, with most coming from India, China, and the Philippines.
Federal immigration minister Sean Fraser said newcomers “play a crucial role in the future of our country,” and earlier this year announced a goal of welcoming 431,645 permanent residents in 2022, 447,055 in 2023, and 451,000 in 2024.
Unique challenges newcomers face Christine Xu, president and principal broker at MoneyBroker Canada, says a thin financial history in Canada can be a significant hurdle for newcomers to overcome when applying for a mortgage. “New immigrants often have to build up their credit history from zero,” she says. “With no Canadian working experi
ence, most are not able to find employment with high enough pay to be able to qualify for a mortgage. And though many newcomers come to our country with some savings, with a thin credit history and low employment income – or even no employment income if they are self-employed – it’s very difficult to get a mortgage approved from a traditional institutional lender.”
Role of a broker
These challenges make it important for brokers to educate newcomers on their options. For instance, Xu says brokers should advise newcomers to “establish their credit history as soon as possible by using credit cards or taking out car loans and leases.”
the time to understand their unique situa tion and evaluate their full financial picture, including factors such as their future earning potential and existing assets.
“Being mortgage brokers, we have to educate newcomer borrowers that there are alternative lenders out there who do not qualify borrowers with only reported salary income,” says Xu. It is equally important that brokers help lenders under stand how newcomers will be able to make their mortgage payments.
“Newcomers usually have savings with them here in Canada, or on the way to Canada from their home countries because they need to sell properties back home and transfer sale proceeds to Canada,” says Xu.
“And if the borrowers are self-employed, brokers should advise them to keep a good record of income by depositing all cash and cheques into their bank accounts regularly so they can show lenders their gross income to qualify them for mortgages.”
Another way brokers can help newcomers overcome their lack of financial history is by introducing them to alternative lenders such as Home Trust, who will take
“And lots of newcomers are entrepreneurs who own their own businesses, so they don’t have standard employment income.”
In the end, the key to providing quality service to newcomers is helping them under stand their lending options and partnering with lenders like Home Trust, who work to ensure that their entire story is heard.
Are you ready to partner with Home Trust? Visit hometrust.ca/partners to learn more.
The key to providing quality service to newcomers is helping them understand their lending options and partnering with lenders like Home Trust, who work to ensure that their entire story is heard
AN INSPIRING COMMUNITY
DESCRIBED AS “one of the most dramatic years in recent memory” for the Canadian mortgage industry, 2022 has come out swinging with a cost-of-living crisis, rising interest rates, and a cooling housing market.
As the industry emerges from the chaotic environment of the pandemic, this fresh set of challenges has left mort gage professionals with little time to rest. But while navigating this post-pandemic uncertainty has been no easy task, the industry’s top-performing female members have once again risen to the occasion with
their phenomenal achievements.
The Women of Influence this year have not only navigated the turbulence of the last few years – they have thrived and demon strated exceptional leadership, resilience and drive.
As if helping clients navigate the complexities of today’s mortgage market was not enough, our Women of Influence have also taken the lead in advocating for mental health, fundraising for charity, mentoring new industry entrants, and dedicating significant amounts of time to
WHERE THE 2022 WOMEN OF INFLUENCE WORK
educating their clients on finance.
Several of our Women of Influence have founded their own non-profit organiza tions over the last year, and one raised over $25,000 for various charities. Many of the winners are business owners, and were faced with having to shift their focus areas, priorities, and the way they did business. A constantly recurring theme throughout this year’s submissions was the sheer level of hard work that the last two years had required. There is no doubt that these Women of Influence have risen to the chal lenge with strength and resolve, inspiring many other women and peers along the way.
“Your career should be a marathon, not a sprint. Never forget, if it were easy, everyone would be a mortgage broker!”
Julie Brenneman, The Mortgage Centre
Paving the way to success
Among the 2022 Women of Influence, many have highlighted the important role of mentors throughout their careers, particu larly when they were still finding their feet in the industry.
Many of our winners have gone on to assume mentoring roles themselves, and have dedicated a large amount of time to fostering a welcoming, inclusive and diverse environment, as well as equipping the next generation of brokers with the skills they need to be successful.
“Having a mentor is 150% important for so many reasons,” says Denova Group DLC mortgage agent Stefanie LoRe.
“We can’t see what we can’t see. When you’re driving and there’s a blind spot, you have to physically turn and look at that blind spot. We have many blind spots in the mortgage industry, and we need somebody to help identify them.
“Having somebody come in and look at
member of the community and seek out professional support from your peers. This is one of the reasons behind Brenneman’s decision to teach a Mortgage Agents course, which helps new brokers learn how to excel in the industry.
“If you feel alone or unmotivated, my advice is to attend as many events as you can and widen your circle,” Brenneman says.
“Join various social media groups with other national agents. And stop competing with banks, and make friends with your bankers because they will be the best referral sources you ever have.”
Brennan adds that it also helps to seek out an accountability partner in the same career stage.
“In my case, that’s a couple women from different provinces who have become my ‘squad,’ and we are always supporting, never competing. It’s also important to keep constantly educating yourself on the industry, whether through podcasts, books
To compile the 2022 Women of Influence list, CMP encouraged mortgage professionals to nominate outstanding female leaders from across the industry, with a particular focus on their achievements and initiatives over the past 12 months. Respondents were asked to identify their reasons for selecting their nominee as a Woman of Influence, including professional accomplishments and contributions to the industry, as well as their commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
The final list was selected by a judging panel made up of industry leaders and previous Women of Influence, including:
• Petra Keller, executive director, Canadian Mortgage Brokers Association – Ontario
• Christine Buemann, mortgage broker, The Collective Mortgage Group
• Carmen Costa, principal broker and owner, TCG Lending Centres
• Laura Martin, COO and broker, Matrix Mortgage Global
• Kyra Wong, district vice president, National Mortgage Broker Sales, Manulife
To avoid any potential conflicts of interest, the CMP team voided self-voting and votes for a judge’s own organization.
the situation from the outside will help you overcome obstacles to success – and honestly, I think you should always have a mentor, even when you are established in your career,” LoRe continues.
“I believe everyone deserves the chance to shine, and I always encourage open dialogue to help everyone feel safe and welcome.”
According to The Mortgage Centre’s principal broker, Julie Brenneman, the mortgage industry can be a very lonely place when your phone is not ringing. Therefore, it’s important to be an active
or webinars. Your career should be a mara thon, not a sprint,” she says.
“Never forget, if it were easy, everyone would be a mortgage broker!”
The future of the industry
While Canada’s mortgage industry is studded with bright female stars, it’s now facing a new challenge – attracting a fresh generation of talent into mortgage and finance.
While few young girls might dream of becoming mortgage brokers, Stefanie LoRe
“It definitely was a boys’ club, and in some ways, it still is – but women are realising that there is a lot of space for them in this industry as well”
Stefanie LoRe, Denova Group DLC
says attracting new talent into the sector doesn’t have to be difficult. Throughout her career, she says the number of women in the mortgage industry has definitely grown. In fact, the 2020 Catalyst Women in Finance Report showed that women made up almost 50% of the financial services industry. But in order to attract new entrants, LoRe says female brokers need to share their experi ences and success, and explain exactly what is possible as a mortgage broker.
“The best thing about the job is the ability to help people,” she says.
“When clients first call me and think that it’s not possible, but then it happens and they’re over the moon – I really love seeing that. There’s also nothing better than being your own boss.”
She explains that women are now able to create communities of mortgage brokers, which was harder to do when she started out in the profession.
“It definitely was a boys’ club, and in some ways, it still is – but women are real ising that there is a lot of space for them in this industry as well. I think we just have to talk about our experiences and what we do, and the possibilities that it’s opened up for us. We all started at nothing, and it’s important to let people know that that’s normal, and we all created something from the ground up. Once they realise that, their mindset shifts to ‘well if you can do it, I can do it.’
“There’s nothing special about us, really,” she adds. “Only that we put in the time, and worked very hard to get where we are today.”
When it comes to succeeding in the mortgage industry, HomeEquity Bank exec utive vice president Yvonne Ziomecki says one of the most important steps is to have a specific goal, and to be prepared to put in a lot of hard work to reach it. She says it’s important for her to be a strong role model in this respect – both for her own children and for others starting their careers in the mortgage sector.
“I had my sights set on building a successful career in Canada, and I made sure I reached that goal no matter the challenges that came my way,” Ziomecki says.
“Education was my number one priority in getting to that goal, and later when I had my two girls, the need to show them that hard work and perseverance pays off was more important than ever.”
She explains that the mortgage industry is constantly evolving in the face of new tech nology and changes in the economic landscape.
“Brokers have an opportunity to grow their business in new ways with different target audiences. Clients are now more open to new ideas and new solutions, so brokers should step outside their comfort zone and present new ideas and create new connec tions and opportunities. I’m always looking for new ways to change the conversation, and change the way to approach our lending opportunities with our broker partners,” she says.WINNERS BY LOCATION
“I had my sights set on building a successful career in Canada, and I made sure I reached that goal no matter the challenges that came my way” Yvonne Ziomecki, HomeEquity BankBritish Columbia Alberta Quebec Ontario
WOMEN OF INFLUENCE
Tracy Valko CEO
The Mortgage Centre Hometown Financial
President and Chief Executive Officer
Chief Risk Officer
Denova Group DLC
COO/Mortgage Broker/Sales Coach
EVP, Marketing and Sales/CMO
Executive Vice President, Operations
Phone: (888) 465-1432 ext. 748
Vice President, Credit Operations Strive
Director of Underwriting
Phone: (888) 465-1432 ext. 766
Chief Executive Officer
WOMEN OF INFLUENCE 2022
WOMEN OF INFLUENCE
Canada Mortgage and Financial Group
VP, Single Family Underwriting MCAP
Principal Broker/Owner Centum Metrocapp Wealth Solutions
Premiere Mortgage Centre
Director, RESL Operations Home Trust
TMG The Mortgage Group
Vice President - Franchise Development Mortgage Centre Canada
Mortgage Planner Mortgage Designers
Vice President, Membership and Events
Mortgage Professionals Canada
Principal Broker and Owner TCG Lending Centres
Director of Operations
Centum Financial Group
Catherine Ellis Mortgage Professional Verico Xeva Mortgage
Mortgage Agent Mortgage Scout
Christine Buemann Broker
Collective Mortgage Christine Xu Mortgage Broker Money Broker
Founder Streetwise Mortgages
Dawn Stephanishin Mortgage Broker Invis
Co-Founder and Head of Training TMG The Mortgage Group
Vice President, Residential Sales First National Financial LP
Area Vice President TMG The Mortgage Group
Tribe Financial Group
Mortgage Broker HT Mortgage Group
Co-Founder and Mortgage Broker
Titan Mortgage Group
Principal Broker/Managing Partner DLC Clear Trust Mortgages
Mortgage Broker and Owner JCMortgages.ca
Managing Partner/Mortgage Agent Outline Financial
VP, Broker Relations
AVP, Business and Network Development Verico
Vice President, Marketing DLCG Mortgage Group
Executive Vice President/ Principal Broker Premiere Mortgage Centre Kimberlee Freeman CEO/Founder KMF Enterprises
National Director, Business Development Paradigm
Regional Vice President Verico Financial Group
District Vice President Manulife
Laura Scarlett Martin Chief Operating Officer, Broker Matrix Mortgage Global
Associate Director of Sales, Western Canada MCAP
Mortgage Broker XEVA Mortgage Verico
Marci Deane Broker
Mortgage Architects Mary Swaffield CEO
Alberta Mortgage Brokers Association
Meaghan Hastings Broker Owner
The Mortgage Coach
Michele Steko CEO Rise
Director of Community Engagement Invis Pacific View Mortgages
Director of Operations Synergy Mortgage Group
Pamela Pikkert Mortgage Associate Mortgage Alliance
Petra Keller Executive Director CMBA Ontario
CEO, Mortgage Broker Mortgage Savvy
Owner, Team Lead and Senior Broker
Invis Knock Out Mortgages
Mortgage Professional Verico Xeva Mortgage
Sandra Allard Mortgage Broker Planiprêt
Sandra Di Benedetto
Vice President Keyrate Mortgage
VP, Compliance Mortgage Architects
Shannon Dolphin CEO
Owner/Principal Broker The Mortgage Associates Est
DLCG Mortgage Group
Shirl Funk Broker/Owner Shirl Funk Mortgages
VP of Operations
Sherwood Mortgage Group
Lead Mortgage Planner Mortgage Architects
Associate Vice President of Aveo CMLS Financial
Varsha Sharma Senior Partner Syndicate Lending Corporation
Senior Vice President, Corporate Development TMG The Mortgage Group
Director of Business Development, Sales 8Twelve Mortgage
CENTUM celebrates 20 years
Centum Financial Group president Chris Turcotte on returning to the company’s roots, leaning into relationships, and getting loud about the value it brings
CHRIS TURCOTTE, president of Centum Financial Group Inc. (CENTUM), is happy to ring in the company’s two-decade anniver sary under his tenure.
“It’s been a trip,” Turcotte says. “I’ve experi enced both sides of the fence – I was a fran chisee for five years and then moved to the corporate side, where I’ve been running the brand for five years now – and knowing where we were versus where we are now is a moment of pride and a moment of celebration.”
The first CENTUM offices opened their doors in 2002 – five of those original offices were recognized at CENTUM’s awards cere mony this year – and today the group spans nearly 200 offices from coast to coast across Canada. Over the last few years, CENTUM has done “a lot of soul-searching from a leadership and corporate perspective” and gone back to its roots as a family-owned busi ness franchised by families, Turcotte explains.
Boiling that down to the business case, CENTUM did $1.6 billion in mortgage volume five years ago, and this year it’s on track to do $11 billion or $12 billion. When people see that kind of result, they tend to attribute it to
things like cutting-edge tech or other external factors, but for CENTUM it’s about relation ships. And not just business partnerships – because ironically there’s nothing more inauthentic than a relationship that’s only good when the money’s there, rather than true, authentic relationships where you’re there for the big moments, good or bad.
“We’re in ride-or-die relationships: whether we’re there for a funeral, a birth, or the grand opening of a new location, we
show up for our people,” Turcotte says. “We don’t claim we’re the biggest in the country; we just focus on our core values – and when
you look at [our] scoreboard and that six-times growth in five years, I’d argue it’s the right approach.”
“When people hear [our] pricing and what they get for it, they’re always surprised they haven’t heard about it sooner ... We’re really going to be highlighting what we offer” Chris Turcotte, CENTUM
CENTUM officially turned 20 in August and will roll out a variety of celebrations over the next 12 months, including a 20th birthday bash and a sit-down interview with U. Gary Charlwood and his son Martin to commem orate CENTUM’s history. With plans to delve into how CENTUM originated; the early ideas as to how it would complement Century 21 and what the future could hold for the brand, Turcotte says: “It’s a really cool story to tell, and it’s the first time we’re telling it – the mortgage geek in me is very excited about this interview.”
Building on 20 years of excellence, going forward CENTUM’s goal is simple: “We’re
going to keep being us,” Turcotte says, adding that the company’s two strategic pillars are value and stability. It’s delivering on that value, defined as the balance between the lowest amount it can charge, while indisput ably providing the most tools, resources and support. But the next step CENTUM has identified is “we need to get loud about it.”
“When people hear the pricing and what they get for it, they’re always surprised they haven’t heard about it sooner,” Turcotte says. “That’s shame on us, and we’re really going to be highlighting what we offer.”
As for the second pillar, there’s currently
a lot of consolidation in the mortgage space, and sadly, brokers speaking to the smaller brands often wonder how long it’ll be before someone buys them or they go out of busi ness. But CENTUM isn’t going anywhere, Turcotte says, and it’s not for sale. Stability means a lot to the group, and though
CENTUM may not do the most volume in the country, if you take the extent of the brands in the family into account, it is the largest organization by far.
CENTUM is underscoring its stability because it’s an uncertain time – markets are down, volumes are down, and recession is a real threat – but now is also the time to make a move. Turcotte implores mortgage brokers to look at how much they’re spending and what they’re getting for that, especially those that have a royalty agreement with an organization.
“What is the value of that brand making more money the harder you work? Now’s the time to reflect on that,” Turcotte says, adding that his ability to relate is his unique value proposition to mortgage brokers across Canada.
“If anybody wants to learn about how the flat-fee model at CENTUM works and the value that comes with that, reach out – all conversations are confidential, and even if it doesn’t go anywhere, if I’m just able to give advice as someone who’s run a brokerage, I’m happy to do that.”
“We’re in ride-or-die relationships: whether we’re there for a funeral, a birth, or the grand opening of a new location, we show up for our people”
More power to borrowers
No longer just a solution for alternative borrowers, NPX is now competing in the mainstream market
AS THE mortgage landscape in Canada has changed over the past 10-plus years, the need for additional options in alternative lending has increased. NPX was formed as an option for new and existing mortgage holders who may not meet the criteria for the MERIX brand and has since gone on to establish itself as a first choice for alternative mortgage solutions, offering unique and competitive products.
NPX provides solutions for non-traditional or self-employed incomes, as well as customers wishing to increase their borrowing power.
By being one of the only Canadian finance
higher purchasing power with extended ratios.”
NPX doesn’t just help first-time buyers or home movers; those clients whose mortgages were taken out pre-2016 and the stress test are suddenly finding themselves unable to qualify with many mainstream lenders when it comes to refinancing. By taking away the higher stress test rate, homeowners can remortgage with better borrowing power.
NPX has also seen a recent shift in the types of clients seeking its products: while predominantly it has existed as a lender for alternative borrowers, customers who could
Given the wealth of information available from brokers and other sources today, Lam and Grover explain that customers no longer go to their own banks as the first port of call. Instead, they actively seek out solutions that go above and beyond traditional banking. This is where NPX really shines.
“At NPX we have our business development managers or past underwriters – Eton was a past product manager, and I was an under writer,” Grover says. “So we have in-depth knowledge of all the policies and procedures.”
Lam continues: “Where we stand out is we have a higher approval rate because everything gets vetted; we do a pre-underwriting ... for the broker. Our business development team experts in NPX policy ensure we make our broker customers aware of what NPX offers. When the deal is presented to us, we can confi dently guide our broker customers to approval and deal funded. We are very proud of this.”
While some competitors offer similar single products, NPX has the edge, with three contract rate qualifying products that allow more flexibility of loan terms and types of income accepted.
• XTEND Mortgage ( Ontario only)
Borrowers can qualify at contract rate; borrowing potential extends to all income types and a 30-year amortization period.
• EXACT Mortgage
Eton Lam, NPX MERIX Financial
companies to not stress test customers when qualifying for their mortgage, NPX can now compete with more traditional lenders.
NPX offers excellent rates by allowing customers to qualify for mortgages at the rate-sheet price rather than the stress-test rate. Borrowing power is instantly boosted when qualified on the ‘contract’ rate. Business development directors Eton Lam and Nitin Grover are two of NPX’s resident experts, and their passion for helping customers is clear.
“With interest rates rising and the market shifting towards declining prices, first-time buyers and other buyers are having a tough time qualifying,” Grover says. “So it benefits the client to qualify at contract rate and [have]
go down the traditional lender route are now choosing NPX.
“Even though we are an alternative lender, our programs have been welcomed by both prime and alternative customers,” Lam says. “Because of this contract rate qualification, even a lot of customers that could qualify [with] any lender, they’re choosing to use us. The reality is, being able to qualify at the contract rate rather than the stress test boosts borrowing power.”
Grover adds: “The interest rate may keep going up, and it’ll be harder for other banks or alternative lenders to qualify customers. [With our] contract rate, we have an advantage –you’re still qualifying at a lower rate.”
Borrowers can qualify at contract rate to maximize loan amounts, with fee and no-fee options on a five-year term. With set guidelines, there is no grey area in this 30-year amortization product.
• XTEND+ PLUS Mortgage (BC and Ontario only)
Borrowers can qualify at contract rate, with extended amortization up to 40 years and a rent reduction option.
NPX is competing with mainstream lenders in a way that brokers and consumers are taking note of. By offering products that are not stress tested, NPX is no longer just an alternative solution for borrowers unable to take out a mortgage with other lenders; it is also a worthy contender for mainstream customers.
“The reality is, being able to qualify at the contract rate rather than the stress test boosts borrowing power”
A focus on growth
IN CANADA’S mortgage market, 2022 may have been a milder year to date than those that preceded it, but that’s not to say companies in the industry are having second thoughts on growth plans.
Graeme Moss, founder of the Hamilton, Ontario, Fair Mortgage Solutions brokerage, tells CMP that business at the company has remained robust despite the cooldown; and that it’s recently started a concerted push to hire both seasoned and newer mortgage agents.
Indeed, while a mid-July one percentage point hike to the Bank of Canada’s bench mark lending rate – a higher increase than most had expected – caused a ripple of concern to reverberate across the market, much of that alarm has now dissipated, Moss says.
“I think when prime went up 1%, it was like a wall coming down. I think people, with financial and legal [matters], get a shock. And when they’re shocked, they often just stay put and worry about it.
“But what we’re finding now is that people are adjusting to it. And I think there are signs that the more complex, or B, side is definitely rising. So if a broker does the A side and the B side, and they’ve got that
covered really well, I think they’ll do well no matter what.”
Those plans to bring in new faces aren’t just growth for the sake of growth. Moss emphasizes the importance of hiring talent that meets the criteria of both a good back ground and high integrity.
“The key thing is so the agent can win, the client should win, and the lender should win,” he says. “Another thing in our favour is reputation and reliability.”
Volume across the board is on the up, Moss says, with the company also fielding many co-broking requests as clients and the market adjust to a rapidly changing borrowing climate that presents both challenges and opportunities.
While stress and uncertainty continue to be high among Canadian homeowners and would-be buyers, Moss says the remainder
of the year appears positive. “I think all indicators are inflation is coming down a little bit, and that’s having a positive impact on potential interest rate increases and whatever [else],” he says.
The past two extraordinary years across Canada – not just where its housing and mortgage markets are concerned – have shone a light on the value that mortgage brokers and agents bring to the table, with 2022 throwing up its own fair share of twists and turns.
“Right now, you’ve got inflation, interest rates, Ukraine, Russia, China, US uncer tainty, global warming… I don’t think I know of a time in history where people have been hit by so many possible stressful things at once,” Moss says. “So there’s a lot going on.”
Of course, housing affordability has
HOW ARE NEW BUYERS FARING?
The struggles of first-time homebuyers appear to be continuing in the current market, with the cohort that’s facing the most problems seeming to be new buyers putting about 5% down. That’s seeing increasing input from parents, or the so-called bank of mom and dad, putting together the required down payment, Moss says. “[With] a first-time homebuyer, it’s almost like we need to get the parents on there to really boost it up,” he explains. “So they’re having a more difficult time.”
Fair Mortgage Solutions’ founder, Graeme Moss, discusses the company’s emphasis on culture as it brings in new faces – and sounds a positive note for the future prospects of the mortgage broker profession
featured near the top of the list of concerns for would-be homeowners over the last couple of years as prices have skyrocketed and bidding wars intensified, particu larly in red-hot markets like Toronto and Vancouver.
Despite the market slowdown, those obstacles remain for many homebuyers trying to take the first step on to the property ladder, although the problem is far from a Canada-only phenomenon, says Moss.
“It used to be that if you have an OK job and OK credit, you’d get a house,” he says. “Prices are sky-high right now [but] I think the government has limited ability [to address it]. It’s a market force world wide, not something unique to the United States or Canada or wherever. It’s definitely a market-driven thing.”
That said, the prime lending rate remains reasonable by historical standards, even after recent hikes, and Moss believes oppor
FAIR MORTGAGE SOLUTIONS AT A GLANCE
ESTABLISHED 2005 FOUNDER Graeme Moss
HEADQUARTERS Hamilton, Ontario
AREAS OF EXPERTISE
tunity will remain for the broker and agent community, and their clients, in the fall.
“I think from the mortgage broker point of view, it’s definitely trending up significantly higher,” he says. “And that sort of dovetails with why we need to get more people.”
LEARN FROM THE INDUSTRY’S TOP PROFESSIONALS TO TAKE YOUR BUSINESS TO THE NEXT LEVEL
The Canadian Mortgage Summit is a comprehensive one-day event built around one primary concept in mind: to help mortgage leaders like you do more business in 2023.
This event is your opportunity to hear from industry’s top mortgage brokers, lenders, and solution providers in strategic sessions that are designed to take you and your career to the next level. They’ll be covering the topics mortgage leaders need to hear to get ready for the year ahead, including new marketing strategies, innovations that can bring new deals into your pipeline, the state of the industry today and in the year ahead, ways to get in front of more borrowers, and strategies for edging out your competition.
The Canadian Mortgage Summit is the ultimate event to grow as a professional and equip yourself with the strategies you need to kick your business into high gear. Make sure you’re there to discover the insights you need to get ahead in 2023.
■ Enjoy a powerful combination of breakout sessions, networking, and expo hall with top mortgage professionals at NO CHARGE to attend
■ Discover new insights in 10 unique sessions all designed to keep you educated and informed, and not to sell you services or products
■ Absorb the collective knowledge and strategies of some of Canada’s top brokers, lenders, and organizations
Why friendships are important at work
SOME LEADERS believe that if a work environment is too collegiate, people will stop challenging each other, and ideas won’t be debated. However, combative environments in which a dominant person subjugates the opinions of others and is unfriendly and highly politicized can be destructive. The damage to employees’ mental health and wellbeing from working in such an environment is well known.
Workplaces are complex environments, bringing together a melting pot of people with varying ideas, assumptions, experi ences, expectations and ambitions. It’s about finding the balance between too much friendship and not enough collegiality.
If you want an engaged and productive workplace in which employees constructively challenge and go beyond the norm, consider how you nurture and encourage healthy friendships.
Our brain quickly assesses whether it sees someone as a ‘friend’ or ‘foe.’ It sizes someone up and judges whether a person is ‘in my tribe’ or ‘outside my tribe.’
The brain then processes the information we receive from that person according to
which category we’ve put them in. What this means in practice is that if two people are saying the same thing to us, and one person is considered a ‘foe’ and the other person a ‘friend,’ we will interpret what
employees who have best friends at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their jobs. Additionally, if they have at least three vital friends at work, they are 96% more likely to be satisfied with their lives.
they are saying differently. It’s like giving someone the benefit of the doubt. We will do that for a friend, but not for a foe.
If you see other people as ‘foes’ in the workplace, you are more likely to misinterpret their intent, which leads to distrust, disagreement and unproductive competitive behaviour. None of which help to build a collaborative and productive workplace.
In his book Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford to Live Without , Tom Rath outlines research which shows that
Having a solid network is vital to career success, but it’s meaningless if the relationships in that network aren’t genuine. It’s easy to spot the person who can network, network, network, yet the relationship is superficial and highly transactional. A relationship that focuses purely on what you can get from it fuels disconnection.
Connection is at the root of all human existence. Having someone you can share experiences with, bounce ideas off, and talk through problems with is good for the soul. When you work with people you like, the
Organizations often talk about culture but rarely consider the role friendships play in creating a healthy, dynamic and productive work environment, says Michelle Gibbings
Our brain quickly assesses whether it sees someone as a ‘friend’ or ‘foe.’ It sizes someone up and judges whether a person is ‘in my tribe’ or ‘outside my tribe’
work is more enjoyable, and you are likely to find yourself more connected. When you feel more connected at work, you’ll feel happier.
Of course, being happier sparks a whole range of additional benefits.
Good friends don’t just agree with you. They challenge and inspire you to greater heights. They help you see things from
different perspectives and explore new ideas. It’s much easier to take input and feedback from a friend who you trust. Similarly, having an affiliative and collaborative environment makes it easier for ideas to be debated, agreed on and progressed.
Research demonstrates that cooperating with others activates the same reward circuitry in your brain as when you eat chocolate. So cooperating makes you feel good too.
If you want to develop an influential and effective team, consider the role that friendship can play in helping to create the culture you need to excel.
As you do this, remember the words of relationship expert Dale Carnegie: “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
Michelle Gibbings is a workplace expert and the award-winning author of three books. Her latest book is BadBoss:What toDoifYouWorkforOne,ManageOne orAreOne. For more information, visit www.michellegibbings.com.
Having a solid network is vital to career success, but it’s meaningless if the relationships in that network aren’t genuine
The value of empathy in leadership
LEADERSHIP HAS long been a dynamic dance, balancing attaining results with managing and leading people.
In the current era, agility and adaptability have become key skills that allow individuals, teams and organizations to thrive. The ability of teams to move within the grey and evolve to new ways of working and collaborating requires their leaders to have a new level of skills to create a culture in which that is possible.
Historically, leadership has focused on developing cognitive, logic-driven, strategic thinking that can ‘steer the ship’ away from the rocks and into clear waters. Many have discovered along the way that without understanding what the crew need in order to pull together on the oars, and what motivates them, the rocks appear swiftly and too late for evasive action.
Thriving or surviving?
A 2022 Gallup survey of the global workforce found that 60% of people are emotionally detached from their workplace, with 19%
being downright miserable. With our personal and professional lives copping a real shake-up over the past two years, the teams who have weathered the storm the best have been those whose members show deep support and understanding of each other. Gallup also found that engaged teams create a 23% higher profit than miserable teams.
I’ve worked with some of those miserable teams. Most of them feel unseen, unsafe
and undervalued. They are in survival mode. The conversations between leadership and those on the ground are transactional, reflecting a ‘tell’ culture (I’ll tell you what to do, and you do it). No rich debate is held; there’s simply fearful compliance. Leaders do not lead; they
merely send out instructions and expect obedience. Mistakes are swept under the carpet for fear of losing jobs, and no one is prepared to signal when things might be going awry.
Fortunately, I’ve also seen the impact that empathy shown by leaders has on the results
The most effective leaders are those who understand the emotions that motivate their staff and help them thrive, says Tracey Ezard
We perform better in an environment in which we are supported to be our best and feel valued as a human being, not just a role
determined by both – it is not just IQ but emotional intelligence that matters. Indeed, intellect cannot work at its best without emotional intelligence,” he says.
Empathy holds a space for people to ‘be’ and for us to connect to their emotions. Empathy says, ‘I see you, and I value you’ – whether we agree or not. Empathy says, ‘I seek to understand what is happening for you and how I can support you to be the best you can be.’
The key for leaders? Get curious about your people. Ask questions to understand more about what makes them tick. What is
of teams and relationships within them. We perform better in an environment in which we are supported to be our best and feel valued as a human being, not just as a role. What we feel impacts on how well we think.
Research continues to open our eyes to the impact that a sense of belonging, psycho logical safety and trust has on our cognitive functioning and outcomes. Show me an empathetic leader who can offer a safe space for their team to share their feelings and concerns about any work initiative, and I’ll show you a team that is honest and open enough to work proactively on what’s working
and what is not. This team creates a learning culture in which it is safe to share where they need support and robust enough to allow discussion of the more challenging issues.
Empathy is a key skill of those with emotional intelligence. It is the ability to understand the emotions that motivate and sustain people to thrive. Daniel Goleman, whose extensive research into emotional intelligence redefined what we see as important in leadership today, sees both thinking and feeling skills as critical. “How we do in life is
important to them? How do they see the state of play in your organization? Where do they think the way you all work could be improved? What are their strengths, their challenges? What do they need to thrive and excel?
Let’s listen deeply to their perspectives with a desire to understand, showing humility and grace in response to their feedback, and acknowledging their courage in speaking up. Then there is no limit to what we can achieve together.
Tracey Ezard is a keynote speaker, author and leadership and team educator. Her leadership framework and book FerociousWarmthhelp leaders find the balance between the head and the heart, results and relationships, strategy and culture. Find out more at www.traceyezard.com.
Empathy holds a space for people to ‘be’ and for us to connect to their emotions. Empathy says, ‘I see you, and I value you’
Giving cats a new lease on life holds valuable lessons for this mortgage professional
WHILE WORKING as a mortgage broker as well as a paralegal, Cathy McMurrich has also been fostering homeless cats, which she says has provided unique insights into how to go about her business.
“An important, albeit hard, lesson is that I cannot save them all, as hard as I
and the rescue organizations try,” McMurrich says. “Sometimes you have to let go. I guess that’s the same with mort gages. With both, all I can do is try my hardest, fight for them – and if I don’t win that fight, I will win the next.”
McMurrich’s love for cats has deep roots: she grew up with pets and took in
some cats as companions before begin ning her fostering operation.
“It’s something that lets me give back,” McMurrich says. “I may not always have the funds to donate to various charities, but I always have a warm home and love to give a kitten a second chance in life.”kittens fostered by Cathy McMurrich to date cats in her care at any given time resident cats help her manage fostered kittens Cathy McMurrich continues to follow up on a kitten’s status for months, even after it has found a new home
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