Game Plan: Broker coaching

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With education and training for mortgage brokers continuing to be a hot topic of discussion in the industry, CMP asked four broker coaches about how they counsel clients, what needs to be done and why this issue is so important to the brokering community

Chris Johnstone

Did you know that 97 per cent of your customers now do research online before buying locally?

Technology is moving at breakneck speed. In just five short years we have seen our customers completely change the way that they go through the buying process.

Your mortgage customer is going to the front page of the search engines to research getting a mortgage and to find out who the most trustworthy mortgage broker is in their local marketplace.

As a broker in this ever-changing marketplace it can be overwhelming to keep up with all the different tasks that you need to be an expert at. After keeping up with constant changes with regulations and lender guidelines you have to followup on all your leads, keep in touch with your database and countless other tasks. At the end of the day it is incredibly hard to focus on learning and implementing online marketing.

It is impossible to be an expert at everything, which is why having an expert online coach is a necessity for successful companies and brokers.

The mortgage business has seen massive growth in its need for online marketing and social media coaching. New tools are introduced almost daily and it is has ended up being easier to get overwhelmed with information than it is to find something that works.

A marketing coach tests all the online marketing methods available and cuts through the massive volumes of information to find techniques that actually work for generating leads, deals and paycheques.

An effective coach and trainer finds and tests tools finding the ones that work. They are then able to turn those tools into a system that their students and peers can profit from without feeling confused or overwhelmed.

That is where I am seeing the greatest demand for my services. When I am consulting, speaking, or working with my broker customers I always make sure that my marketing systems are clear to understand, effective and easy to implement.

Now here is the really big secret in the mortgage world. When our future customers go to do their research online, Google and the other major search engines are showing them search results based on where they are searching from. They are then placing the brokers with the most amount of five-star ratings and reviews on the front page in their local market.

• 97 per cent of customers do research online before buying locally;

• Only 14 per cent of customers trust an advertisement – Your old website;

• Over 80 per cent of customers trust a Peer Review – your social proof website.

This is where the massive demand for my coaching and marketing systems is coming from.

Our customers are overwhelmingly choosing to go online for their information on which mortgage broker to choose. The search engines have changed to show local brokers on the search engines with their social proof ranking beside their profile.

Coaching students that work with me have all of the techie work done for them to get them to the front page of the search engines. We then focus on building my social alchemy system into their business to make sure they get and continue to receive a flood of five-star ratings, reviews and testimonials for their business.


Julia Krause

My coaching philosophy

Every deal is different and has its own set of challenges. Providing reading material and the accepted ‘mentoring’ system, obviously aren’t working. A newer broker needs his/her company to provide an accessible individual, an actual human being, to go to for unbiased help and advice, preferably an experienced, knowledgeable broker who is also capable of teaching and training. Ethical behaviour is taught during the process, on a deal-by-deal basis. For the trainer, there must be compensation that is not tied to the deal itself. A trainer spends a great deal of time educating a new broker about why a particular deal can’t be done, and there is value in imparting that knowledge.

Why I think it is important to the industry

(1) New brokers will learn faster, and they won’t lose deals & disappoint clients who then go on to tell friends and family what a terrible experience it was using a mortgage broker. (2) New brokers learn from someone who isn’t all about ‘get the deal done no matter what’ and in the process, learn ethical behaviour. (3) Eliminating the ‘trial and error’ method of submitting files will improve relationships with lenders because of the improved quality of deals they receive, improved closing ratios, and decreases in default/foreclosures. (4) New brokers won’t get frustrated and leave the company they’re with, thinking the ‘grass is greener’ at another company. (5) Lender BDM’s are being used to ‘train’ new brokers, but what new brokers learn from one BDMs is what not to say to the next lender they talk to or submit the deal to. The result? Fraudulent transactions. (6) The reputation of the whole industry would improve. Canadians will see that using a mortgage professional is the best option, regardless of competition from the banks.

Why the need for it has grown recently in the industry

The need for it has always been there. It’s just the rapid growth of the ‘superbroker’ companies over the last six years that has made it more obvious. We are in a relatively new industry, yet it’s an industry fraught with fraudulent transactions. The number of brokers entering the industry since 2005 and the market share mortgage brokers have in Canada do not correspond. I believe this is because new brokers aren’t provided with proper training in both the practical aspects of arranging mortgages for individuals, and in ethical behaviour. This is taking a toll on how consumers view mortgage brokers today.


Greg Martel, Owner/broker

Dominion Lending Centres - Harbour View Mortgages, Victoria, B.C.

Well, I have to say that this is one of the best times to be a mortgage broker. Now, I realize many brokers would completely disagree with me on this statement. But, I believe hands down it is true. I’ve heard repeatedly that the reason our industry struggles is because banks are squeezing us out and becoming more aggressive offering lower rates.

The latest 2011 CMHC consumer survey found mortgage brokers have only a 23 per cent share of the market. I see this as a huge opportunity right now for mortgage brokers across Canada and instead of focusing on the challenges we face with banks becoming more aggressive, I am focused on finding new ways to add value and provide my clients with services that banks are not offering.

We all know that mortgage brokers bring tremendous value that banks just can’t offer. We offer homeowners more personalized services that help them manage their mortgages, which in most cases ends up saving my clients a substantial amount of money no matter what the banks are offering.

This leads me to why it is so important that our industry’s training standards need to improve. The basic licensing requirements just don’t help brokers learn the appropriate skill set to be successful in this industry. I talk to brokers every day and I hear very similar stories about why they are struggling. However, in the midst of the economic challenges we face and banks offering more attractive rates, I personally am funding more than I ever have.

I mention my personal success, not to brag, but to demonstrate the real issue. Let me explain it this way, in business the playing field changes and when it changes you have to change too. You have to do things differently and adjust to the situation. Yes, it is true that these are difficult economic times and yes it is true that banks are offering consumers very low rates. I am not disputing that.

However, what is also true is now more than ever, there are many ways to reach consumers, gain their trust, and provide added value services they will love. We need to educate our consumers and show them the direct benefits they will receive from working with a professional mortgage broker. This is why additional training for brokers is vital to the success of the individual mortgage broker, our market share, and the consumer.

My coaching philosophy is simple: the same old way of doing business in the mortgage industry just doesn’t work. As in any business, it comes down to two things: marketing and innovation.

Steve Jobs said, “Innovation distinguishes between the leaders and the followers.” If you look at Apple, they don’t just innovate with their products, they also innovate with their marketing.

Now is the time for our industry to educate themselves, not only on the products we can offer our clients, but also on how we can more creatively share this information with consumers as well as become more innovative on what services we provide them with. When we do this as a whole our market share increases.


Greg Williamson

I think banks are looking to steal your business. 2012 will mark the beginning of a new and dangerous era in the mortgage broker industry. Here’s what I think may happen: Banks will offer more Realtor referral commissions, and larger payouts to them; they’ll cut interest rates and hire more mobile mortgage reps.

However, there is a silver lining to this dark cloud ahead for me…but only if I know how to add value to my referral sources and clients by using new tools, systems and marketing techniques to beat the banks.

People from all corners of our industry are screaming “Add more value and don’t just compete on rates.” Basically the message is “Be Better.” All at the same time brokers’ share of the market is slipping away and it’s no secret banks are already cutting their interest rates, and paying Realtors directly for business.

I often let my mind drift to a place where I never have the best interest rate. I ask myself how would the conversations with my referral sources and clients change? How would my marketing material change? How would my business change?

In my coaching community I am driven to provide mortgage brokers with tools to help them get to the customer first and add the most value, real value, not old word fluff disguised as value… and those who can’t, will be dead in the water.

OK, so how can we, as an industry, add more value and be better to beat the banks back?

We have to change the conversation and the role we play with our referral sources and clients from a servant position to a leader position.

The need to expose mortgage brokers to new marketing tactics, selling processes and lead generation tools has never been more apparent or important to me.

What if you had a systemized sales process that bonded, created a need, excited, and clearly explained a solution to a problem your referral source or client didn’t even know they had?

What if you could help your Realtor win listings and add value to their past clients? What about having a system of developing online referrals and charging Realtors a commission for that business?

This is a conversation that other mortgage brokers and bank reps are not having.

What are you doing now to disrupt your business before someone or something else does?

Nothing ever stays the same. I continue to challenge myself to learn more and to be better. Shift small and live big.

  • Ron Butler on 2011-11-24 5:50:37 AM

    I must object to Mr. Johnstone's statement that 97% of MY customers do local internet searches BEFORE they contact me.

    Where in the world is the PROOF of that?

    I think their is tremendous validity to good coaching and consultation; so why make an unsupportable blanket statement to aid your cause?

    Just tell the truth and the business will come anyway.

  • Chris Johnstone on 2011-11-24 8:18:08 AM

    Hi Ron,

    Thank you so much for your comment.

    The statistic I reference comes directly from the Google Latitude Longitude blog.

    It was posted on October the 25th, 2010. Here is a photo for your reference:

    Also, Here is a link to the archived blog post on Google's Blog.

    It is quite a shocking statement that "97 per cent of your customers now do research online before buying locally" I find that many Mortgage brokers and small business owners meet this statistic with disbelief, however it is verified by Google.

    Thanks again for making sure that our community is getting the best information possible!


    Chris Johnstone

  • Ron Butler on 2011-11-24 9:15:39 AM

    Chris, the Google "Blog" post you refer to repeats information attributed to BIA Kelsey which is a company that promotes the same thing you do: consulting in "Local Search"

    It is NOT verified by Google corporate, it was in a blog from a product manager at Google referencing another company, click the link yourself. It references a completely seperate company.

    Google as a company has NEVER published actual research that 97% of ALL customers use local search on Mortgage Matters or any other single subject. Common sense would tell me 97% of ALL of my customers don't even own computers

    There is no reference ANYWHERE to any legit independent research that 97% of ALL people in the world that have access to Google always, every single time they buy something or research something use local search on Google.

    Frankly, the idea is laughable.

  • Mike Barta on 2011-11-29 6:21:14 AM

    I wouldn't discount the claim. Even if your "new" (not repeat) clients are being referred to you by one of your referral partners, I suspect they have googled you before calling or signing anything with you. Most websites for mortgage brokers don't generate business but validate that you are a legitimate business.

    97% of your clients don't own a computer? Time to get a coach and get a better class of clients!

  • Ron Butler on 2011-11-30 4:47:39 AM

    Mike, I said 97% of ALL my clients, surely even you have clients who are elderly and don't have a computer at home.

    Just understand this: 97% is just an impossible number to defend. It basically means EVERYONE in North America uses internet local search for every single buying decision that they choose to consider.

    What about the people who asked a friend or family member, what about people who asked their Facebook friends about a buying decision? Facebook is the fastest growing buying advice site on the planet. Not as big as Google but definitely the fastest growing.

    I simply want to challange blanket statements that a consultant puts out into the world. I am not saying anyones consulting or coaching is invalid; I am saying we need to review the facts before we put money out to buy the consulting or coaching.

Broker news forum is the place for positive industry interaction and welcomes your professional and informed opinion.

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