Location: Hamilton, Ontario
How do you think independent brokerages can continue to thrive in today’s market?
If independent brokerages continue to offer that service, and continue to push that message, they will continue to attract consumers whose standards continue to rise.
What advice would you offer to brokers who would like to set up an independent brokerage?
Go for it! Get a business plan, have enough capital to get started, know your market, and keep busy! Know your strengths, and weaknesses. Don’t ignore your weaknesses. Consider a business mentor. Network with the right people. Be active in your community. Be active on social media. Eating and sleeping are optional.
What is your strategy for generating new business?
At this stage in my business, I concentrate more on my existing clients. They are my best ambassadors. I look to them for referral business as well as repeat business. Having said that, I still have to be active and work on my circle of influence.
What is the most important thing a broker can do to grow their business?
Take care of your clients. Under promise and over deliver. Manage their expectations. Your clients are the most valuable asset you have. Take care of them and you will last.
What trends have you noticed this year? Have you had to adapt your business strategies to the market conditions?
Buying down rates is a race to the bottom. It’s a trend that continues to attract a certain type of client, and a certain type of broker. I am not that type of broker and I am not interested in that type of client.
What are your goals and strategies for the years ahead?
With the forecasted increase in interest rates on the horizon, I need to keep in touch with existing clients who may have concerns vis-à-vis their future plans. I continue to work towards eliminating all my filing cabinets. Every file in my office, old and new, will be digital in 2014.
Have you diversified outside of mortgages? If so, how have you incorporated this into your business?
No. I think there is enough diversity in the mortgage business to keep learning and serving different niche markets.
As an independent, what extra pressures do you feel surrounding volume bonuses? Is there any loss of diversity of product as a result?
Volume bonus earnings are gravy. They should not influence how you run your business. To do so compromises your integrity as an independent mortgage broker. Having said that, I acknowledge the pressures lenders have placed on brokers to reach and maintain status. It’s another discouraging trend that has emerged in the industry over the last few years.
What is the secret to building a successful brokerage?
No different than any other business; you need to have a solid administration. Things like marketing, managing human resources, accounting and cash flow management, etc., none of them can be neglected. A formal business place that is revisited once a year is a good idea. However, besides administration, like any other business, perhaps even more, you need to excel in sales.
What are the advantages of being an independent brokerage?
Independence is the hallmark of what I do. It’s why customers come to see me in the first place and it’s not something I’m willing to compromise. I keep 100 per cent of what I earn, and 100 per cent control of what I do, and how I choose to do it (i.e. branding). I operate under the mantra “small enough to care, and big enough to make a difference.” I believe this value resonates with many consumers.
Have you considered joining a large network?
Not yet. Both my administration and sales function well the way things are so I don’t see any real advantage.