Location: Mississauga, Ontario
What is the secret to building a successful brokerage?
The secret is relationships, relationships, relationships. I will stack my relationships against anybody’s technology any day because people deal with people they trust, that they’re comfortable with, who are competent and who provide good service and good knowledge. You must put out a very clear message that says who you are, what you do, what separates you from the competition and where you can be found.
What are the advantages of being an independent brokerage?
In my case, the advantage is I am one of one rather than one of a thousand. All of my marketing and all of my efforts flow right back to me. If I am a member of a large group I can be advertising for someone down the street.
Have you considered joining a large network?
No. Because large networks and franchises have not convinced me that they can drive enough business to my door to offset the cost of signing onto their network.
How do you think independent brokerages can continue to thrive in today’s market?
By building a relationship-based business model. There are people who are in the franchise business, there are people who are in the agent business and there are people in the mortgage business. There will be successes and failures in any model. One size does not fit all; some people are comfortable being on their own and some people are comfortable in a franchise environment.
What advice would you offer to brokers who would like to set up an independent brokerage?
Make sure that you are well-capitalized, make sure that you have a business plan and marketing plan. Because the M in mortgage stands for marketing and its very key is that you know what you’re going to do when you open your doors and go to market with a relationship-based model.
What is your strategy for generating new business?
Database marketing: direct mail to clients that I have dealt with in the past. 95 per cent of all the business I write is for a client I have had a relationship with in the past, or someone an existing client has referred to me.
What is the most important thing a broker can do to grow their business?
Build relationships and build long-lasting relationships. You also have to become knowledgeable about changes, to become an expert; to be able to offer A-business, B-business and C-business and be an expert in all those areas to be a true professional and expert.
What trends have you noticed this year? Have you had to adapt your business strategies to the market conditions?
We had to move a year ago to the B-market from the A-market because we are not discounters. We don’t buy-down rate so we’ve moved to alternative lending.
What are your goals and strategies for the years ahead?
Our goals and strategies are to continue to work in the alternative A and B markets and focus less on A business. We also, in the last year, launched a mortgage administration company that provides a platform for private lenders to run their business on.
Have you diversified outside of mortgages? If so, how have you incorporated this into your business?
No, absolutely not. The reason for that is people come to me because I’m a mortgage expert. They don’t come to me looking for chequing accounts, GICs, banking products; that’s not the identity I wish to project. I am a mortgage broker and I do one thing very well.
As an independent, what extra pressures do you feel surrounding volume bonuses? Is there any loss of diversity of product as a result?
I don’t look at volume bonus as a make or break on my business. I don’t base my decisions on how much money I’m making on a file. I’ll trade that for my independence.
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