Damian Wickie, Owner and principal broker
Favourite mortgage product: The one that best suits my client’s needs at that time
Years as an independent: 4
Always independent: Yes
Number of employees: 1
Volume in 2015: $20 million
What do you think are the biggest issues facing the broker industry?
The ease of entry into our industry creates a large percentage of unskilled brokers and agents who act as base order-takers with little professional knowledge or experience. They bog down lenders and provide a poor representation of our industry to the public. This affects costs, pricing, etc., but is largely ignored, as those same individuals feed the national chains with agents upon which to earn fees, brokerage costs, marketing fees, etc.
Our industry permits and in fact encourages a monopoly situation to exist with our origination system. The national chains are largely responsible for this, in that they are paid to use a certain system, and agents under that umbrella are given no choice but to comply. It’s bad business and dangerous to leave the entire industry exposed in such a way. Being independent allows us to fight to keep choice alive.
In your view, what is the biggest advantage of being independent?
Not being limited by someone else’s poor decisions or handcuffed by company policies that have nothing to do with brokering, but rather were developed to make the parent company itself money.
What do you do to cultivate your brand to make it memorable for clients?
The sooner brokers realize that it’s not the sign over the door that brings people in, but the person inside, the better off they’d be. Branding in our industry should be about the person, not the company, and that’s how I approach it. We’re a local company with national reach.
What does your company do differently to stand out from the competition?
Put the client first, and don’t push string. By that I mean that I never chase a paycheque or worry about who is paying what finder’s fee, but rather operate based on who is providing the best deal for my client at that time and act accordingly. My business is mortgage brokering and professional advice, and it is a livelihood, not a job or part-time gig to earn extra money. That is what makes the difference.