Brokers must 'outsmart' banks

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The key is to “outsmart” the big banks, according to one broker, following one institution’s ad campaign plugging its lowest five-year fixed rate in recent memory.

“Let's be clear on something, if we put every mortgage broker in Canada in the mix, we will never have one tenth of what one big-five bank has to spend on advertising,” Ron Butler of Verico Butler Mortgage said in the comments section of “We have to outsmart; we will never out spend.”

Scotiabank is the most recent lender to jump into the market with a sub-three per cent five-year fixed rate, with its 2.97 per cent offering. It continues to be the lowest of its kind among the big-five banks.

The bank is aggressively advertising the promotion through the web and Twitter and while some brokers feel unthreatened by the latest offering, others believe now, with shrinking margins across the board, is the time to ramp up the competition.

“I think that we as a broker industry have to stop saying that the big bank offerings don't hurt us. You have to look at the state of the market and realize that volumes are down and that the banks have targets to hit,” one commenter noted. “We need to compete on our knowledge and service not rate because we will lose that battle.”

Still, the importance of competing on rate should not be downplayed, according to Butler.

 “If you think rate is not important in marketing mortgages perhaps you should ask yourself the question: why do the 5 richest companies in Canada think it is?” Butler said.
  • Cory on 2014-05-30 11:23:59 AM

    The 5 richest companies in Canada think rate is important to market because it is their entrance to a client. The mortgage is a "loser" for the first 4-5 years, but the cross sell is a "winner". Brokers don't have the same cross sell opportunities. I don't understand the comments about outsmarting the bank being our focus but then closing with marketing rate is important. So if I offer a lower rate than RBC did I outsmart them? Is that the message here?

  • Ron Butler on 2014-05-30 12:07:27 PM

    @ Cory, the message is that since we cannot out advertise them we need to approach marketing differently. Rate is a big key to marketing against them but we cannot outspend them on TV, Radio, Print so let's just concentrate on where the next generation of mortgage inquiries will start: online.

    Online is a somewhat more level playing field, when you google "best rates in Canada" the banks don't even appear except as a paid ad the same size as every other entry. There are 11 organic listings on page one of that search term that are nothing to do with banks.

    Social Media is another area the banks are unlikely to dominate, it is just too fast moving.

    We have a decent chance of future success if we adopt tomorrow's marketing today. The history of the growth of mortgage brokerage has been invention, nimbleness and early adoption. If we want to rely on giving "great advice" as our main proposition I will take you back in time to a huge convention in 1998 where the keynote speaker at the worldwide travel agents convention stated: "marketing travel on the internet will never work, the public demand experience, advise and first hand knowledge of their destinations and a computer can never provide that"

    Well, we all know how that worked out.

  • Lorne Dreger on 2014-05-30 12:53:39 PM

    More agents must show the clients the potential for outrageous IRD changes compared to the monoline lenders who don't use posted rates. We can't win the rate war but we can win on the advise side.

  • Cory on 2014-05-30 1:04:16 PM

    Ron, I understand and can appreciate the thought of playing in the online space to try to compete on that level playing field with the big guys. There is no question it is "level", to a degree. However, that competitive view is pretty limited to those who invest in multiple staff to run efficiently at 50 BPS per deal (I know you are doing well at it) or is limited to the superbrokers doing it (to this point none of them are to my knowledge). But to think that my Brokerage, or the other 15 brokerages in my community of 90 thousand people can all play in that space is simply not realistic. If Verico, DLC, or (insert any other name here) want to play in that space and give clients opportunities to search for a "branch" in their community then I agree they can get at it. This comes with another set of hurdles that will likely never be overcome. Otherwise the space is limited to a couple of guys trying to play on a National level against the banks. You are doing it, but most can't or won't. There are only so many first pages on google to play on.

  • John - Broker on 2014-05-31 4:03:37 PM

    I agree with Ron. He's bang on. On numerous occasions I find myself competing with a bank. I almost always win based on my service and knowledge. I've even won with a higher rate.

    Knowing what your competition offers is a HUGE advantage that a broker has. The bank representative rarely sees beyond his front door.

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

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