Try not to snicker, but one brokerage has found a way to piggyback off of RBC’s success, relocating to a storefront the bank only recently vacated after 30 years.
“I don’t think they knew it was being leased to me,” said Terry Kilakos, a chartered Mortgage Broker and owner of VERICO North East Mortgages in Montreal. “All’s fair in love and war, though, and this location is not only great because it`s a corner lot on a high-traffic area, but it’s been identified as a bank for decades in the minds of consumers, which should help grow our walk-in traffic.”
That’s usually why banks vacating old branch locations avoid selling to other financial services players.
In fact, they frequently rely on sales agreements holding the buyer to a moratorium on that kind of business for as long as five years. Kilakos is leasing from the new owner of the stone-clad building and hasn't entered into any agreement with the bank.
He moves into the leased 3,000 sq.-ft. spot at the heart of Montreal`s Saint-Laurent borough on April 1.
The high-volume broker will bring with him a team of 20 mortgage professionals, along with high-profile signage effectively re-branding the building as a mortgage brokerage. Coincidentally, North East`s logo is blue and gold.
While several other banks call that section of Decarie Boulevard home, RBC’s move in late 2010 means Kilakos is now without a direct competitor at an intersection that's been synonymous with mortgages and retail banking for the past 30 years.
“It remains to be seen how much we will benefit from the building’s connection to RBC, "Kilakos told MortgageBrokerNews.ca, “but the expectation is that our walk-in traffic will more than double.
“There’s no mistaking it as a bank, and the fact that it’s a former RBC, I think will probably help a little bit.”
Brokerages continue their push to storefront locations as a way of moving beyond portfolio referrals and capitalizing on the lingering bias some consumers have for dealing with bricks-and-mortar financial institutions.
Former bank locations may present brokerages the best of those opportunities, effectively allowing them to piggyback off the reputation of Canada’s big banks and to better compete for clients.