Talking back: The top 10 broker-friendly lenders

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Bridgewater Bank
Bridgewater Bank was another lender from last year's separate banks survey. In fact, along with ING it represents the only company on this year's list that wasn't on the non-banks survey before, and for good reason. With an overall score of 3.05 last year, enough to finish in third place, it improved its score this year to 3.42. But with non-banks traditionally scoring higher, this meant a sixth place finish this year.

(Editors note: in issue 4.7 CMP noted in its "medal standings" table that Bridgewater had scored bronze in only one category, when in fact it scored it in two, giving it the same amount of medals as several other lenders.)

Todd Poberznick, assistant vice-president, production, points to Bridgewater's increase in score concerning turnaround times as a highlight, but it also managed to place in the top three for other important categories like BDM support and satisfaction index on overall credit policy, a new category this year.

"We ran a 'Re-Fi Express' campaign that focused on quick turnaround times," he says. "It went over very well with our brokers and in turn their responses on the survey reflect their continued support."

He also mentions the lender's focus on service, which he says is accomplished through underwriters working closely with the mortgage professionals to ensure deals "get the attention they deserve," as well as to "respond quickly to all applications."

He suggests that the increased credit requirements from insurers mean that it takes longer to approve deals, but that it hopes to "compensate on [its] end with quicker response times."

That said, it still has some work to do.

"After ranking first in the broker support category two years running (2007-2008) we're definitely disappointed to see slippage in this category. It's certainly an area we'll be looking at very closely," he says. "When the market was booming, the focus tended to be on product development and technological enhancement. Now the tide has turned and when the market gets skinny, lenders need to listen to what brokers are looking for. How have their needs changed? What can we do to meet their needs?"

Abode Mortgage Corporation
Absent from last year's ranking, Abode is another lender that made great strides, especially in areas like BDM support, credit policy and transparency of commission structures.

Joe Digiambattista, senior vice-president, Canada, attributes it to a work environment that "fosters authentic employee satisfaction. Appreciated and engaged employees deliver amazing customer service for our loyal brokers. When these two key areas work cohesively everything else falls into place," he says.

He adds that the focus at Abode has been on "removing roadblocks" for mortgage professionals so that its "deemed easier to do business with," and based on the fact that it received the highest score for BDM support, the plan seems to be working in that regard.

One of the categories that Abode didn't score as well in was IT, despite, as Digiambattista says, spending "a lot of time and effort on IT solutions ... and we look forward to introducing exciting technology improvements to our brokers." Another area that he would like to see Abode improve on is product range.

"I would like to see us have a better score," he says. "We are working hard in making sure this happens going into the New Year by looking at a broader scope in our lending segments as well as the range within them."

Home Trust
Home Trust performed well in two of the new categories this year, receiving the second highest score for both overall service level to brokers and underwriter support. Overall service levels proved to be a particularly important category to respondents also, as it received the second most votes when they were asked to put the categories in order of importance.

It has been busy year too for Home Trust, says Pino Decina, senior vice-president, mortgage lending, which more than likely has to do with its high service scores.

"Home Trust has seen strong growth over the past year and we've been working hard to maintain our high service levels and fast turnaround times," he says, mentioning the launch of the "accelerator program" last fall - a range of high ratio-insured mortgage products.

"With the success of this new product line, our volumes have increased significantly over last year," he says. "With this rapid growth, we've expanded our underwriting staff to ensure we continue to develop one to-one relationships with our brokers."

Another initiative that paid off for Home Trust over the last year was its open house programs that went across the country.

"[They were] to increase awareness of our full product line and to introduce brokers to their dedicated underwriting teams," says Decina. "All events were well attended, and broker feedback was very positive."

Some areas of improvement, according to the survey results, were product range and IT, where it dropped .17 and .40, respectively, leaving Decina surprised by the results.

"With the launch of our Accelerator program last year, we greatly expanded our range of products. With this addition Home Trust is now the only lender offering a full range of 'Alt A' and 'A' products, so we expected that would have been reflected in a stronger Product Range score," he says, but admits that there is some room for improvement in the IT department.

"We are currently in the process of upgrading our system to streamline the mortgage approval process and reduce administration costs and time for our brokers," he says.

Page 4: Macquarie, Equitable Trust


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