John Bargis, Vice president
Favourite mortgage product: It varies, depending on what best suits the client

Years as an independent: 17
Always independent: No
Number of employees: 95

Why do you choose to remain independent?

Independence equates to entrepreneurship, individuality, uniqueness and more revenue for both the brokerage and its agents, as has been the case for Mortgage Edge. My belief in independence runs so deep, it has served as the driving force behind formation of the Coalition of Independent Mortgage Brokers of Canada [CIMBC], which has proven to be highly successful in its endeavours within one year of its inception.

What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of running your own shop?

After already experiencing the large national network concept, I believe independence has created nothing but advantages for many of the reasons already covered above, especially as a member of CIMBC, which allows Mortgage Edge to maintain true independence with more advantages.

Are there ever any temptations to join a network?

None at all. There is less than zero benefit for Mortgage Edge to join a network when it comes down to the math, which simply doesn’t add up. Not only would the firm itself significantly lose revenue by joining a broker network, but we would lose top-performing agents as well, who would be forced to take a loss on their commission in order to pay 5% to the network for next to no ROI. We’ve already been approached by the largest network players with offers of significant money in exchange for hanging their sign on our door – although I was flattered, we declined.

Why is it important to have a coalition of independent brokers?

Again, it comes down to value. The concept behind the coalition is to create a solid union of mortgage brokerages under their own independent and unique brands, all of which could count on the strong support of CIMBC equally. The model is actually very simple, and CIMBC has actually delivered on its mandate to increase the revenue of each and every one of its member broker firms and their agents, while maintaining complete independence without the cost of being part of a network. The coalition is up to 23 member broker firms within 12 months and growing, which is a real testament to its success.

Is it more difficult to develop a brand as an independent broker?

I have been in the business for 25 years, and very successfully I might add. I have always been of the belief that the brand lies within the agent, and have always promoted this with my agents for years by helping them understand that they are best served creating a brand within a brand by creating a strong value proposition for their referral sources and clients. Realistically speaking, clients and referral sources deal with those who best communicate what they have to offer and how they perform, regardless of what brand they belong to at the corporate level.

A good example of this would be the billions of dollars in volume that the monolines close each year through the broker channel. Having gone down the road of investing large sums of money as a network conglomerate on advertising on primetime TV, I assure you this volume is not as a result of the branding of any one corporate entity. It is, however, the result of the great job the feet on the street have done to develop their business relationships, which creates confidence enough in the consumer to accept mortgage financing from the virtual monoline lenders. Agents don’t give themselves enough credit on how strong their personal brand really is.

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