Karen Gibbard

Home Karen Gibbard
Where: Verico Gibbard Group Financial Inc.
Years in the business: 23 years in lending with 14 years as an independent mortgage broker

• Opening my own company: This is a very different feeling from just being a broker – it’s exciting and nerve-wracking but at the same time incredibly rewarding. I love the independence and being in charge of my own destiny.
• Winning CMP’s Mortgage Broker of the Year in 2012: Wow! What an incredible honour.
• Buying and renovating my office space: How better to feel in charge of your business than to take control of your work space and home for the business? I was able to create the atmosphere and professional look that a home office simply couldn’t provide (although I do miss wearing slippers to work!).

Who has influenced you?
I know this sounds corny, but really my folks have influenced me and made me the way I am today. I grew up in a modest, small-town environment, and I learned at a young age to be very independent. This self-reliance has really served me well as I’m not scared to try anything business-wise and I have a quiet confidence that if I put enough effort and thought into a project, I can do it.

Why are you influential?
The main comments I receive from other brokers is that they can’t believe I fund the level of mortgages that I do while maintaining an incredible balance of work and a great family life. With a nine year-old son and a rule that I cook dinner for my family every night (okay, almost every night), I don’t often work long hours but I squeeze out every ounce of work during the regular business hours. I have a busy personal life (taking a nightschool course and teaching two nights a week) but doing activities other than brokering during the evenings doesn’t negatively affect my business because I make sure every deal and every client are looked after before I leave the office at 5 p.m. – clients simply don’t need me at night because they’ve been looked after during the day.

What are some of the challenges that face female brokers?
Probably the biggest challenge I faced when I was younger and starting out was to gain credibility as a businesswoman and a good mortgage broker based on my performance; not what a young woman with a big smile looks like. I don’t have that challenge today, now that I am older and wiser, but when I started in the industry the comments were very cutting as to how I managed to get so much business. I wasn’t given any credit for my educational background, smarts and extreme work ethic. Although, after a few years I proved myself and either I stopped hearing the negative comments or I simply showed them, ‘the proof is in the pudding’ and was managing a pretty successful business with numbers that exceeded a lot of other brokers. I eventually gained a reputation for being the smart, ethical, hard-working mortgage broker that I knew I was way back then.

Is a list like this even necessary today?
I hope not! But unfortunately there will always be folks who take a negative view on someone else’s success. I think we all need to support each other and put ourselves in other people’s shoes to appreciate how tough things are sometimes and do what we can to help each other out.
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