GORD MCCALLUM,First Foundation
Founder, president and CEO

If there’s one broker who is consistently pushing the boundaries of the mortgage industry, it’s Gord McCallum. In 2016, his company, First Foundation, launched its own bank branch to become a more holistic financial services provider. “It’s one more thing that we’re able to do for our clients and the people in neighbouring communities,” McCallum says, “and so we’re very happy to have it available.”

First Foundation also launched layoff insurance in Alberta in 2016 as a diversified product line. “We wanted to do as much as we could help families in Alberta who were struggling, just to give them an added little bit of protection,” McCallum says. “We’re happy that people who needed it were able to have access to it and stay in their homes as a result.”

Helping Albertans was also a business opportunity, of course, but McCallum has a history of giving back to his community by supporting The Terra Centre, Habitat for Humanity and the Alberta Cancer Foundation, among others. McCallum says he wants to make sure his four kids know that helping others should come from the heart, as opposed being a good marketing tactic. “I think it should really mean something to them, and they should strive to make the biggest impact for the people who really need the services rather than for their own marketing efforts or optics,” he says. “I’d rather have better results than better optics.”

While the past year certainly had its challenges, McCallum says he faces even more heading into the new year, such as finding ways to clearly communicate how First Foundation can differentiate itself in the marketplace. But he’s proud of the company’s substantial success with its financial division, as well as in bringing together a new team.

“Because of what we’ve been able to build, I feel like all the main pieces are in place for us to scale up our operation now,” McCallum says, “so look for us to be growing in partnership with other brokers and people outside the mortgage industry.”

Also on the horizon for 2017 is the return of Canadian Mortgage Hangout, a web series McCallum regularly participates in, which features roundtable discussions on everything from technology shake-ups to the ramifications of the regulatory changes, which McCallum believes are anti-competitive and will limit choice. Still, he says, “I’m confident that brokers and our associations will continue to fight for that position, which is the competition and choices of benefit to the consumer.”

Furthermore, McCallum says he’s confident that “our lending partners and brokers alike will find good, creative, positive ways to deal with the changes that have been placed upon us. It’ll be really exciting to see what the new year brings in terms of innovation in the channel and access to new sources of funding and maybe new ways of securitizing things so that consumers continue to have good choices.”
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