Nick Ametrano & Kristian Harris Nick Ametrano & Kristian Harris


: Toronto, Ontario

What advice would you offer to brokers who would like to set up an independent brokerage?
1. It will require a lot of hard work.
2. Make sure you can offer something to your clients beyond just a great rate.
3. Be true to a strong set of core values and core purpose so that you can make the right business decisions.

What is your strategy for generating new business?
That one is like the Caramilk secret. We generate a lot of leads for our mortgage agents; for most of our agents over 90 per cent of their fundings every year come from leads that were generated through company marketing initiatives. When you consider that our lowest yielding mortgage agent has not produced less than $17M in volume a year that says a lot about our ability to generate new leads for our agents. Once you have a core set of values in place, it is all about testing, executing, measuring new tactics (then repeat). The final ingredient comes from what we refer to internally as “driving operational excellence.”

What is the most important thing a broker can do to grow their business?
Pick up the phone and work hard.

What trends have you noticed this year? Have you had to adapt your business strategies to the market conditions?
People change. Markets change. Businesses change. We will be successful because of our ability to adapt to change and by working with like-minded people whose beliefs and motivations are rooted in the two things that will never change: our Core Values and our Core Purpose.

What are your goals and strategies for the years ahead?
• Encourage and reward performance;
• Continue to be innovative;
• Discipline. We will continue to refine our systems and processes so that we are disciplined in our approach to providing great mortgage advice to clients.
• Mutual Respect and Support. We will continue to respect and support each other within
• Have Fun. The way we look at it time is precious so if we are going to spend our days working together and trying to serve customers better we are going to make sure we have fun doing it.

Have you diversified outside of mortgages? If so, how have you incorporated this into your business?
Yes. We offer insurance (term and MPP) to all clients. Ultimately, we believe that clients need to be protected from the unexpected. Having the right insurance product is an important piece to one’s overall mortgage strategy.

As an independent, what extra pressures do you feel surrounding volume bonuses? Is there any loss of diversity of product as a result?
To date, I don’t know of any product in the market that our clients want that we don’t have access to as a mortgage brokerage. Chasing extra five to 10 basis points doesn’t make for a sound business strategy. Identifying the right mortgage product that can create a valuable plan for your client is.

What is the secret to building a successful brokerage?
For it has been all about having a strong core purpose and set of core values that we use as a guide to all our business decisions. Leveraging your core values and core purpose when faced with those difficult business decisions has really gone a long way for us over the years. In particular, it has helped us attract and retain what we feel is the strongest mortgage agent team in the country.

What are the advantages of being an independent brokerage?
Quite simply we don’t give that label much thought nor have we ever taken a step back to analyze what advantages or disadvantages there are to being an independent brokerage. To date, we have won three mortgage brokerage of the year awards as an independent brokerage so we must be doing something right.

Have you considered joining a large network?
Not really. We have been approached from time to time to consider joining a larger network. There are some interesting options for agents who feel that being part of a larger network is of value to them but to date we have not seen an opportunity where joining a larger network would add greater value to our customers or our mortgage agents.

How do you think independent brokerages can continue to thrive in today’s market?
You need to be able to add real value to clients whether you are an independent or not. If the only value you can offer a client is to buy-down an already low rate then you will eventually cut yourself out of the market. To thrive in today’s market, you need to be able to offer a client something more than just a great rate, and we aim to do that on a daily basis.
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