Canadian First Financial Centres has now doubled the number of broker-partners for its financial and insurance advisory services, adding 12 retail “Referral Partners” using an on-call model launched this year.
“We are thrilled with the rapid growth we have experienced,” said CEO Karl Straky, himself a veteran of the broker industry. “Our original target for 2011 was to reach 20 locations, through a combination of Canadian First Financial Centres and Canadian First Referral Partners, but the response was so favourable we had to finally cut the expansion program off at 24.”
Straky, in fact, started the company as a way of bolstering the utility of mortgage professionals, helping them deepen their relationships with clients to better compete with the banks and insurance companies. Those financial institutions bring several financial products under one roof and within easy reach of their clients.
Initially, Straky’s strategy relied on the one-stop-shop model, providing each retail broker-partner a dedicated insurance/financial planner. The model brings outsourcing inside the business. At the same time, it increases traffic for the retail operation.
The Referral Partner program has offered retail brokers the same opportunity to increase their usefulness to clients, said Straky, but is sensitive to the fact they don’t produce the kind of funded volume needed for a dedicated in-house insurance and financial advisor. Under the referral program they access financial and insurance advisors acting as mobile specialists.
That formula has had significant appeal with brokers.
“Our network growth was stopped at 24 to ensure we handle the setup, training and rollout of these new offices in an efficient, controlled and productive manner,” said Straky, suggesting the new 12 partners were identified and recommended by existing Canadian First Financial Centre broker/owners.
Even a more limited partnership with Canadian First helps retail brokers weather the uncertainty of a slowing market, said Peter Majthenyi, a lead planner with Mortgage Architects and one of Straky’s broker/owners.
“We’ve had great success with the Canadian First advisory end of our business,” he told MortageBrokerNews.ca. “It has also given the mortgage business a real lift.”
Like Straky, he points to the partnership’s core strength: helping brokerages better compete with the banks and retain existing clients by increasing their “relevance.” There’s also the added benefit of growing referrals through both ends of the business – the cross-pollination all banks depend on.
“It has brought more traffic through our door,” Majthenyi said. “And clients for our financial or insurance advisory services can become clients for our mortgage broker services, and vice versa.”