Foundry Mortgage Capital
Years as a commercial broker: 8
Sales volume in 2015: $120 million
Totals deals in 2015: 15
CMP: You had a great year last year, business-wise. How has 2016 been going?
Brennan Wood: We still are doing quite a few construction loans; obviously construction is very hot in Toronto. We are doing quite a few land loans, so a lot of our focus has been on the development side.
CMP: There are a lot of benefits to being in a market like Toronto, but what are the main challenges?
BW: The reality is that while you are working with the banks, a lot of the time you’re competing against them for the same clients. So it’s a funny relationship – best friends one day and mortal enemies the next. You have to be able to differentiate yourself and show clients the benefits of dealing with a broker rather than directly with a lending institution.
CMP: What made you decide to become a commercial broker?
BW: I was a lawyer beforehand in Australia, and in 2008, the firm laid off my whole division. My family has been in commercial brokerage forever, so it was a business I understood. I had an offer to work with Mortgage Alliance, so I did.
CMP: How has the job changed most during your eight years in the business?
BW: The underwriting criteria has tightened a lot since then. In 2008, obviously there was a real shortage of capital compared to now. Finding capital isn’t an issue now; it’s finding good deals. The level of due diligence banks take now is also a lot greater.
CMP: Has technology changed how you work?
BW: Well, I can work using my cell phone now; when I started, I had a BlackBerry Torch that sometimes worked, sometimes didn’t. Also, at the office we have an online project management tool that we can all share files on. I think the big difference is the importance of having a strong online presence.
CMP: You’re based in Toronto; is most of your business in the GTA?
BW: We go where the clients are. A few years ago, I was doing more work in Alberta, Manitoba and BC. Now it’s much more in the GTA, but I have clients right across Canada.
CMP: So do you have any expansion plans for the business?
BW: Yes, we were touring office space last month. We are looking for something more centrally located in Toronto, around Yorkville or the Annex. When we started the business, it was three guys on a mission, and now we have an 11-person operation, and more people will be joining. I’m not looking to grow into a giant brokerage; I want to stay boutique and small and stay broker-focused. Everybody here wants to do deals. I would like to get over the $200 million mark soon, so that’s a personal target.