Superbrokers: Growing through Technology

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It’s been quite a year for all the broker networks polled in CMP’s annual survey, and if all the accounts are accurate, it’s a year that should end on a high note. Brokers enjoyed steady business with the help from low rates and steady housing sales. That said, economic analysts are predicting a balanced market going into 201, which should still bode well for the industry.
 
About the survey
This year CMP decided to let the brokerages speak for themselves, so in the following pages what you will find is a chart devoted to each participating brokerage that was generated based on their responses.
 
The actual survey was in the form of an e-mail questionnaire and follow up phone call, asking various questions about how the brokerage does its business. Along with the information charts, CMP has also included various answers to these questions.
 
Since the survey’s inception the number of participating brokerages has varied, citing several different reasons why. While several national brokerages opted to tell all and completely answer every question, some others selected to only answer specific questions for privacy reasons, while others still decided not to participate altogether or simply did not answer repeated e-mails and phone calls.
 
With the missing entries this survey is obviously not what you would call a complete coverage of the brokerage market in Canada, but it does include information from leading broker networks across the country and serves as a great reference tool for anyone interested in seeing what is out there. Of course, if you have any further questions about the information in the following pages, don’t hesitate to contact the respective brokerage.
 
Axiom Mortgage Partners
 
Axiom Mortgage Partners was built on the idea that strong individuals build a strong industry. “It’s these individuals who have insisted on remaining independent by running their own businesses,” says Mike Cameron, one of the partners at Axiom. “Axiom was designed to support and assist the type of entrepreneurism that you find in these industry innovators and forward thinkers.”
 
Training
 
Axiom has partnered with several industry leading training providers and agents have direct access to a number of online training modules. “We have also partnered with training providers to make live training programs available for individual licensee offices in addition to weekly training conference calls covering a variety of topics.”
 
Axiom also works closely with several creative marketing firms to produce strategic marketing plans. “All of our marketing is produced by experienced mortgage professionals who understand today’s mortgage consumer,” Cameron adds. “Our web technology allows agents to build custom marketing campaigns or one-off marketing pieces as needed. Targeted marketing lists are available for specific campaigns.”
 
 Axiom’s primary objective is to assist the independent broker/owner in reaching their target consumer so they can collectively grow the broker market share.
 
What’s ahead for 2011
 
Axiom believes that proper CRM and database marketing will make the most difference in any business. “Today, brokerages on average turnover or lose 88 per cent or more of their business on an annual basis,” Cameron says. “With the cost of acquisition being 10 times greater than that of retention this statistic seems insane,”
 
Perhaps Axiom’s greatest strength is helping brokerages build loyalty with their existing book of business while encouraging new business and referrals at the same time. A great CRM will do all of this and more. 
 
Company:
Axiom Mortgage Partners
Number of agents: 600+
Established: 2007
Compensation
·         100% volume bonus; each owner determines agent splits
·         All trailer fees paid to licensees regardless of whether they switch firms
Brokering Model
·         National network of independently owned and operated brokerages –not a franchise
·         $995 flat fee for entire brokerage regardless of the number of agents
·         70 locations across Canada
Ancillary Services
·         White label
 
Lead Generation
·         Automated marketing programs designed to encourage loyalty and generate referral business
·         All traffic driven back to individual agents
Compliance
·         Individual licensee is responsible for compliance
·         Provides best practice policies and procedures
Payroll
·         Each licensee is paid directly from the lender and is responsible for their own payroll
 
Bill Jamieson
 
“There is little value of a brand to a network unless the brand is generating sales leads,” says Bill Jamieson of Centum Financial Group. “We’ve partnered with the leading real estate website in Canada, a site which gets over 800,000 visitors per month. We pass the free mortgage leads from this site down to our network. Also, our brand advertising helps builds equity in your business. It is efficient and aggressive, andspecifically targets consumers who are in the market to get a mortgage today.
 
Centum is the only broker network in the mortgage industry offering advance commissions. “The Centum Commission Advance Program is fully integrated into The Centum Equity Builder, our exclusive CRM.” Jamieson says. “There is no double entry for the broker or agent and the commission advance forms are pre-populated from the transaction information within Filogix.”
 
Training
 
Centum uses an outside training company as well as delivering its own internal programs. The two sales mentoring programs:

 

Advanced Sales Mentoring – Agents learn proven traditional sales techniques on how to build a database of consumer contacts and how to market to those contacts for lead generation. This step-by-step coaching program can potentially increase sales by up to $20 million in two years.

Social Media Sales Mentoring: This internal program focuses on proven techniques on how to build a database of consumer contacts and how to market to those contacts using online social media. The step-by-step companion guides and training will helps agents grow their business through word of mouth, existing clients, and referral sources.
 
What’s ahead for 2011
 
Relationships management and lead generation will be issues for brokers and agents as the competition for mortgage business increases suggest Jamieson. Centum has developed a full suite of tools for broker and agents to capture and retain their market share. As well Centum has created business magament systems that make it easy for agents to build value, Some of the systems include:
 
·         Centum AutoPilot CRM
·         Equity Builder Lead Generation CRM with Sales Mentoring
·         Centum Primo Mortgage Products
·         Centum Protection Insurance
·         Centum Targeted Brand Advertising
·         Nexsys Underwriting Administration Service
·         Centum Customer Product Advisor
·         Centum Equity Builder Back Office Management
·         Commission Advance Program
·         Group Medical and Dental health Benefits
·         Daily Electronic Commission Payments
 
 
Company:
Number of agents: 2,000+
Established: 2002
Compensation
·         Royalty plan starts at 5 per cent
·         Commission and volume bonus splits vary between broker and agent
·         Trailer fees can follow brokers/agents, depends on lender program
Brokering Model
·         The storefront model is the only
·         Over 240 franchises across Canada and over 2,000 agents
Ancillary Service
·         White label – Exclusive Centum Primo Mortgage products
·         Home insurance
·         Creditor life insurance
·         Exclusive Centum Protection Insurance
Lead Generation
·         Online leads generated through partnership with real estate website (traffic: 800,000 visits per month)
·         Targeted branding through customer referrals. Ninety per cent of online consumers complete mortgage within 90 days.
·         No upfront marketing dollars from our brokers and agents
Compliance
·         No response
Payroll
·         Franchisees are paid daily
·         Turnaround time for receiving payment from lender to paying broker/agent: two hours
 
 
Dominion Lending Centre
 
Dominion Lending Centres (DLC) has developed a strong brand across Canada with its emphasis on television, print and radio advertising. The company’s goal, according to Gary Mauris, president and CEO, is be the mortgage brokering brand in Canada --competing head on with the banks for consumer business.
 
“Our national advertising fund powers this strong brand,” Mauris says. “We collect monthly funds from all agents and distribute this pool back into the region from which it was collected in the form of various advertising. Television is our primary advertising focus and for the past number of years, our television campaign included a schedule that accumulated a minimum of over 140,000,000 impressions (over 2.6 million impressions per week). We are seen on such programs as NHL hockey games in a variety of cities, local news channels, and home improvement shows on HGTV.”
 
DLC recently concluded and an endorsement deal with sports celebrity Don Cherry who will be featured on television commercials. “We will also be offering our agents advertising templates featuring Don Cherry to take advantage of this deal on a local level.”
 
Training
 
DLC provides a variety of ongoing free training for all mortgage professionals. This includes:
 
·         Power Calls -- hosted by a variety of industry partners, including lenders and other suppliers, to keep network abreast of any changes to products or industry rules
·         CRM training webinars
·         Leasing training webinars
·         Intranet training webinars
·         Underwriting training webinars
·         Communications training webinars
·         Monthly calls with Gary Mauris on the first Tuesday of each
·         Motivational Coaching and Sales Calls from a variety of suppliers.
 
“For the past few years, we have been holding a quarterly Dominion University for all franchise owners and support staff in a variety of locations across the country,” Mauris says. “This is an intense 2.5-day session where attendees get to interact with head office staff and industry partners including lenders.”
 
Our newest training and networking initiative created to further nurture the excellent culture within DLC is the inaugural Dominion Lending Centres National Sales Conference, which will take place in May 2011 in Las Vegas. Moving forward, this conference will be held every other year, and feature a trade fair, break-out sessions, and both business and pleasure events.
 
What’s ahead for 2011
 
“We will continue to add new advertising templates, training courses and communication tools to our Intranet site, as well as offering new training webinars to help our agents each month. It is our goal to always be ahead of the pack and ensure our agents have everything they need to succeed in this industry.”
 
Company:
Number of agents: 1,800+
Established: 2006
Compensation
·         Franchise owners receive a 95/5 split
·         How brokers and agents are paid is determined by individual franchisees
·         Trailer fees can be earned through white-label offerings
·         If someone leaves the company, the trailer fees follow contractually
Brokering Model
·         Franchise opportunities available –cost = $20,000
·         For an existing team with volume exceeding $40 million, this fee can be absorbed by head office
·         Over 200 franchises across Canada
·         Identifies and secures storefront locations for agents
Ancillary Services
·         White label
·         Equipment leasing, with internal credit department 
·         Creditor life insurance through Mortgage Protection Plan package (life and disability insurance) for clients
Lead Generation
·         Generate leads through national campaign and main website
·         Rotationally distributed to agents
·         Leads also generated by agent websites
Compliance
·         Every mortgage professional has access to ongoing education and up-to-date compliance information from regulators and industry associations
 
·         Information communicated via network-wide or province-wide communications (depending on the issue), the DLC Intranet, DLC Weekly Bulletins and the monthly Dominion Opinion internal newsletter
Payroll
·         Turnaround time for receiving payment from lender to paying broker/agent: 48 hours
 
Invis and Mortgage Intelligence (MI)
Stan Falkowski
Senior VP and National Sales Leader, Invis and Mortgage Intelligence
 
Invis and MI distinguish themselves from competitors by offering a high level of support through regional managers, who are a useful “go to” resource for brokers. They offer brokers comprehensive deal support and advice on tough deals, which is a benefit also to its lender partners. Whether they are transitioning from another institution or are new to the industry, new brokers at Invis and MI are given formal orientation and introduced to the regional managers, to the right people at its lender partners, which further enhances our lender relationships. 
 
“Our regional managers play a vital role in coaching and mentoring our brokers,” says Stan Falkowski, senior VP and national sales leader for Invis and MI. “We offer guidance on business planning, building relationships with referral sources, and reaching out to clients and potential clients.
 
Training
Training for Invis and MI brokers is offered internally. Guest speakers are also brought in on a regular basis.
 
“We are in the process of launching an all-new training program delivered by our Regional Managers, which spans a variety of topics including business development, marketing and advertising, client and database management, privacy and compliance, technology, underwriting, product knowledge and placement,” Falkowski adds. 
 
Orientation training is done on a regular basis for new hires to Invis and MI.  The company also arranges to have certain new recruits join the broker teams of more seasoned brokers if it is deemed that they are not yet ready to be a sole agent. By doing this they are given solid hands-on guidance and mentoring when starting out.
 
What’s ahead for 2011
 
This year marks the 10th anniversary of both the Invis and Mortgage Intelligence brands. Together, Invis and Mortgage Intelligence form the largest independent mortgage brokerage firm in the country.
 
“At Invis and MI we will continue to provide our brokers with wide-ranging support in the areas of IT, marketing, compliance and deal support, all to help our brokers serve their clients better,” Falkowski adds. “We consider our firms to be “full service” operations, so if someone wants to have an efficient payroll system, or someone to help with the design and development of marketing materials, or if they want a suite of marketing technology tools, and someone to look after regulatory compliance,  then we are the place to be. Our brokers spend more time doing business while make sure the systems are in place to support them.”
 
Company:
Number of agents: 1,400+
Established: 2000
Compensation
·         Prefers not to disclose
Brokering Model
·         Invis operates in all jurisdictions outside Quebec; MI operates in all jurisdictions
·         MI has an affiliate program that offers broker teams attractive commission splits and access to volume bonuses, payroll services, and compliance services for their entire team
·          Invis and MI Regional Managers help brokers establish their own offices, guiding them through the set-up process. The company shares a bundle of strategies to help brokers establish successful storefront operations. For example, tips for the pre-launch stage, marketing to the neighbourhood and post-launch strategies. 
 
Ancillary Service
·         Invis and MI offers a line of private label mortgages with competitive rates, a dedicated underwriting team, competitive commissions, both upfront and trailer.
·         Mortgage Insurance enables brokers to offer their clients competitively priced Mortgage Life Protection, Mortgage Critical Illness Protection, and Mortgage Disability Protection. Competitive commissions and trailer fees
 
Lead Generation
·         Invis Call Centre provides brokers with qualified leads.
·         Invis and MI also have affinity programs with major financial planning companies
Compliance
·         Zero-tolerance policy for fraud – past, present and future – and will partner only with brokers with solid reputations
Payroll
·         Weekly direct deposit
 
 
 
MortgageBrokers.com
Dan Putnam
President
 
Everyone has an ownership stake in MortgageBrokers.Com right from the start.  Its business model also offers a franchise option for top performers. “We believe that with our existing training systems, extensive business management tools and our leadership team, MortgageBrokers.Com provides all the necessary elements to allow members of our network to take their business to any level they desire,” says Dan Putnam, president of MortgageBrokers.com.
 
MortgageBrokers.Com also offers our Customer Service Operation (CSO) which offers co-brokerage assistance for all members of its network on private financing, commercial loans and/or complex deals that may be beyond the scope of expertise for a mortgage specialist.
 
“Our CSO department has unrivaled expertise in all areas of mortgage financing,” Putnam says. “We leverage our technology to control costs and maximize efficiencies at all levels of the organization. Our CRM, compliance, payroll and administrative platforms allow our mortgage partners to concentrate on being in front of clients, prospects and referral sources and building their book for the long term rather than at the office struggling with administrative paperwork and management.”
 
Training
 
“Training is vital to our networks’ success so we offer both on line training and regular internal training.We provide regular orientation training days for new agents and franchises and webinars for specific elements of our value proposition such as our CRM program,” Putnam explains.
 
What’s ahead for 2011
 
MortgageBrokers.com will continue to lead the industry in CRM technology development and management and will use this technology to enhance its overall value proposition. Based on extensive consultation with its network and after a full review of off-the-shelf CRM programs, the company developed its own. Called Eximius it uses smart-profiling of clients and referral sources to automatically generate meaningful and timely touches to an agent’s database.
 Internal logic engines determine when and what type of touches are automatically generated.
 
The cost of Eximius is $199 dollars per year, per agent regardless of the size of the data base. This fee includes Customer CRM, Prospect CRM and Referral Source CRM.
 
Company:
MortgageBrokers.com
Number of agents: 400+
Established: 20
Compensation
·         Variety of splits based on volume, experience and type of relationships whether a managing partner, business partner or franchise
·         Volume bonus paid to managing partners, business partners and franchises based on commission split agreement
·         Pays trailer fees
Brokering Model
·         Franchise model
·         Franchise fee: $12,500
·         Storefront model encouraged and will consider financial assistance
·         National network of 400 mortgage professionals
·         First three franchises launched in 2010
Ancillary Service
·         White label – myNext Mortgage
·         Life and disability insurance
·         Offers a Central Services Operation with access to lenders for hard-to-place residential as well as commercial mortgage placements
Lead Generation
·         Primarily sourced through its website. The site refers new mortgages but also includes a mortgage registry where clients with existing mortgages can register their renewal details. All renewal registry mortgages are referred to its network based on geography
Compliance
·         Electronic storage of all deal documentation
·         Centralized team of admin exerts review each deal for accuracy and completion prior to file being authorized for payroll
Payroll
·         Fully automated
·         Paid weekly for finder’s fee payment and biweekly for volume bonus
·         Money in by Wednesday, out by Friday.
 
Real Mortgage Associates (RMA)
CEO
 
Real Mortgage Associates uses a pay-per-use model that is unique to the industry. “We felt the traditional brokering model wasn’t doing what it should be doing for brokers,” explains Ron Da Silva, CEO of Real Mortgage Associates.”We knew there were certain components that were needed such as compliance and payroll processing, which we’ve included in our pay per use program.”
Many of RMA’s brokers are one-person operations or work in small offices and might only do two to three deals a month. RMA allows its brokers to pool their deals to get maximum value from lenders. “We also have an Intranet, which is full of tools to help our brokers in their business,” Da Silva says.
 
The goal is to allow small broker firms to maintain their identity yet have all the tools of a larger network.
 
Training
 
RMA offers an apprenticeship program for new agents. Senior agents manage their own business and must have broker designations. New agents must join a senior account. “You have to be a broker to train an agent.” In this scenario, the commission split is decided between the broker and the junior agent. “We pay the senior broker full compensation.”
 
What’s ahead for 2011
 
This past year RMA has increased its media exposure through advertising in local print and television to drive consumers to their website, which is designed to create awareness of the broker industry. For 2011 RMA plans to maintain its current course. “We’re attracting agents; we plan to increase our volume; and we are looking at introducing some ancillary programs.”
 
Company:
Real Mortgage Associates
Number of agents: 550+
Established: 2007
Compensation
·         Senior consultants receive 100% of all finders’ fees and volume bonuses
·         RMA provides payroll and compliance services to consultants. As such, it charges a standard monthly fee of $750 to process and pay up to 200 funded deals per year
·         A pay-per-deal program is also available
·         Trailer fees follow the senior consultant contractually
Brokering Model
·         Operating in every province but P.E.I.
·         Licence strategy
·         Flat fee and pay-per-deal fee programs
Ancillary Service
·         Central underwriting unit
Lead Generation
·         No
Compliance
·         Zero-tolerance policy for consultants that abuse lender relationships
Payroll
·         Weekly payment via electronic fund transfer
·         Broker firms paid twice weekly
 
TMG The Mortgage Group
Mark Kerzner
President
 
TMG The Mortgage Group is creating a culture whereby agents and brokers can grow and thrive. Through extensive training programs and state-of-the art technology, TMG agents and brokers have the tools and support to position themselves as knowledgeable and effective partners for  their clients. Indeed, TMG looks for people who want to be successful and who are sincere about helping customers navigate the mortgage process.
 
“The ideal candidate for us is one who believes in the mortgage broker model and who cares about customer needs,” says Mark Kerzner, president of TMG The Mortgage Group. “The person wants to be involved and operates within a moral and ethical framework.”
 
Training
 
TMG training includes a state-of-the art production studio with HD Green Screen in its Vancouver office for broadcasting weekly training sessions with TMG partner Debbie Thomas. Other broadcasts include interviews with industry partners that are eligible for AMP credits. TMG University offers additional training over nine modules covering all aspects of the mortgage process.
 
TMG’s marketing programs is incorporated into its CRM system, providing easy access for brokers. This includes e-mail marketing campaigns, customizable brochures and ads and a Build-a-Feature Sheet that can used for attracting referral partners.
 
TMG brokers also have access to a marketing and design team if something more creative is required.
 
What’s ahead for 2011
 
“We believe we will continue to grow in 2011,” Kerzner adds. “Our corporate culture is very inclusive and complementary and we focus on our business and the business of our brokers and agents.” TMG agents and brokers get strong support from regional management who actively manage their territories and will work with brokers to help meet their needs. “We have and will continue to have a hands-on, open-door philosophy,” Kerzner adds.
 
Company:
The Mortgage Group
Number of agents: 800+
Established: 1990
Compensation
·         Competitive compensation
·         Trailer fee 
·         Trailer fees follow the broker
Brokering Model
·         Offers different models: traditional broker, corporate agents, Team Leaders
·         Storefronts okay – whatever works best for the broker
Ancillary Service
·         White Label through Paradigm Quest
·         Pre-paid Visa
·         Creditor Life Insurance
·         TMG Leasing
·         Centralized payroll
·         Benefits program
Lead Generation
·         Custom websites are available
·         Clyde management system
·         Customized videos
·         Newsletter
Compliance
·         Required digital document storage and payroll compliance
Payroll
·         Automated payroll system
·         Paid weekly
 
 
 
Over the past year Verico has been proactively positioning itself in the market to be the best broker network across the country, not necessarily the biggest. Throughout the year, the communications department at Verico has been working to increase its profile in the industry through its public relations efforts. On the technology front, Verico has introduced its Mobile Office -- the first of its kind in the industry. With this tool, which is fully integrated with Filogix, mortgage professionals can complete an application form for their client anywhere.

“We set a goal for 2010 that encompassed 15 initiatives – 13 of those have been completed,” says Colin Dreyer, president of Verico. Some of those initiatives included creating a new website to better communicate with his network; new consumer videos to promote the industry; Verico Coaching for agents and brokers, and more.

Training
 
Training is an integral part of Verico’s package and is a critical factor to help businesses grow explains Dreyer. The company offers both in-house and outside training programs as well as individual coaching sessions with a success coach and there are four to eight webinars a month on all topics.
 
What’s ahead for 2011
 
“There have been so many changes in the marketplace due to economic factors -- lenders continue to modify their programs and the real estate market is balancing itself out,” Dreyer says. “Changes bring interesting opportunities especially for well-trained, experienced brokers. I’m excited about the opportunities coming in the New Year. We have the ability to position ourselves well for these changes and to capitalize on them.”
 
Company:
Number of agents: 1900
Established: 2005
Compensation
·         100% commissions; 100% volume bonus; each licensee determines agent splits
Brokering Model
·         235 locations in every province
·         Fee charged to licensee 
·         Encourages storefront model
 
Ancillary Service
·         Private label Verico Mortgage
·         Trailer fees on private label
·         Verico Insurance for mortgage life protection, critical illness
·         In-house preferred suppliers
 
Lead Generation
·         Corporate referral programs
·         Generate leads through referral partners which comprise of large national companies
 
Compliance
·         Individual licensee is responsible for setting standard
·         Part of licensee agreement
Payroll
·         Lenders pay directly to licensees
·         Individual licensee is responsible for their office
  • Centum Franchise Owner on 2010-11-12 7:54:43 AM

    I am a Centum franchise owner. I haven't received a single real lead in the 4 years that I have been with them. They have promised me leads over and over again, but nothing comes of it. Centum CRM Autopilot is just a glorified newsletter. Everyone has that. Equity Builder was launched as the latest and greatest CRM, yet less than 8% of the Centum agents actually use it. Centum Primo is the Centum white label of sorts. They are the most difficult lender to use that most Centum offices don't even use them. Centum Protection Insurance costs the client about 25% more than MPP, so its a tough sell. I could go on and on. Lots of promises with Centum, but little results. I'll be glad when my 5 year term is up so I can leave.

  • Sudershan Kaur on 2010-11-20 12:52:48 PM

    I like my co.Dominion Lending Centres.My production became double than my previous co. They give us training and support us in closing the deals.
    My Broker Sarah is very co-operative and nice young lady.

  • AB Mortgage Broker on 2010-11-24 6:09:34 AM

    The industry is doing a poor job governing themselves. Bob, I completely understand what you mean! The shady agents hide behind big brokerage names and even though they have been fined in the past, for some reason they are allowed back in the industry. Some brokerages have been cut off from some lenders and placed on RedX, yet the other lender continue to deal with them. Furthermore, why do brokerages allow part-timers? Why do they allow those who hold a real estate license, appraiser designation, lawyers, etc...to partake in the mortgage brokerage industry? I'll tell you why, it's all about numbers not quality or caliber of the agent...very sad!

    Forums like this are needed so other industry members can make an educated decision based on others experiences.

    Keep the comments coming...

  • Leontine Blonder on 2011-11-18 4:42:39 PM

    Many thanks for providing this review. It is really essential for me.

  • Bob on 2010-11-16 8:39:23 AM

    I am a recent graduate of COMAC and have started looking at brokerages for employment. The first company I looked at had a very aggressive applicant campaign. In short, I felt dirty leaving their "interview". I was hired on the spot as was everyone else who showed up at the "interview". I was told that you need to do whatever it takes to close a deal even if it meant "bending the rules". Example being a conditional real estate deal, conditional on financing, that it would be okay to tell clients that they had been accepted with lenders and okay to sign off on condition fullfillment even though this would be "stretching it a bit". Also that you need to sign your client to an exclusive contract that will hook them to you no matter how hard or little you work for them. How this company, or at least this franchise, operates is beyond me. I feel like I need to take another shower just thinking about it.

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