Mortgage specialist: Grass isn't greener on broker side

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One of Ontario’s leading mortgage specialists is setting the record straight for brokers, laying out his argument for why the bank increasingly provides the best of both worlds for aggressive entrepreneurs looking to maximize their funded volume.

“I have no desire to become a mortgage broker, in fact, I routinely have brokers phoning me to ask if they can become a member of my team,” said the mortgage specialist, based in south-western Ontario and a top performer with one of the biggest of the Big Five. He spoke with on condition of anonymity.

“I brought in a funded volume of $100 million-plus last year,” he said Saturday in an interview with “The bank’s brand has helped me do that, but the bank also is encouraging self-branding for mortgage specialists and greater independence, so I’m really working for myself, but getting leads from the branch network as well.”

The analysis may surprise some mortgage brokers critical of the bank specialist model as stifling entrepreneurship. They charge that high performers eventually migrate over to the broker channel.

That won’t be the case with this high-volume broker, heading his own branded team of mortgage specialists. They focus on residential, but also focus on promoting the lender’s increased willingness to fund rental investment deals.

“I could definitely have become a broker, but I think the brand the bank has is tremendously powerful in getting deals, and there are no branch specialists that I’m competing against,” he said. “Also, I get benefits and a pension by being a bank employee, along with rewards for being a high performer. I wouldn’t if I were a broker.”

A slowing market and the challenges of chasing leads will undoubtedly send a growing number of former mortgage specialists back to the banks and out of the broker industry, brokers told in February.

“I have no problem with former specialists moving into the broker channel – I made the move myself three and a half years ago after 13 years with CIBC,” said Jeff Trounsell, a sub-broker with Centum Pacific Mortgages in Vancouver. “But I would say that of those entering the market now as many as 50 per cent of them will have gone back to the banks or moved onto something else within a year. That’s different from the 60 per cent of my former colleagues at the banks who’ve come over to the broker channel in the last three years and are still at it.”

  • Quan Le on 2012-05-02 3:40:04 AM

    Mortgage brokers moved to become mortgage specialist at a bank? I know of 2 who did that, both no longer working at that bank. Specialists moving to become broker? I know a tons and they all told me it is the best decision they ever made.

  • Paul Bath CPMB on 2012-05-02 3:49:21 AM

    Obviously doesn't want to isolate him/herself from Mortgage Brokers who refer lucrative deals to him...or... doesn't really believe in what is being said. I have been in the Mortgage Broker business for well over 20 years and have found it most rewarding in all fronts.

  • Been There on 2012-05-02 3:49:26 AM

    95% of Bank Mortgage Reps are at the bank to cling to branch referrals. 80% of the 95% of these reps would never make it in the broker world. These people are one trick pony's heading back to the barn to feed off the tit of the bank day after day. I'v never seen a successful broker migrate to the bank to sit in a branch with their hand out. The banks can only hire internal account managers for the the rep jobs that are all too frequently opening up as the turn over ratio skyrockets. The branch leads pay peanuts and are drying up as they hire multitudes but can only feed the few.
    A half decent broker would have to be insane to submit to the stifling doctrine of the bank to stay in this business.

  • A Broker on 2012-05-02 4:00:16 AM

    Is this article a plant by one of the many head-hunting firms trying to fill the never ending need for bank "mortgage specialists"? 374 vacancies on Workopolis today. Have to ask Mr Anonomous if things are so great at "the bank" why are there so many unfilled vacancies across Canada?

  • Barb on 2012-05-02 4:01:38 AM

    5 people on our team are previous bankers and all receive lots of declines from the banks as they just dont have the options for clients. Also anyone who sends volumes to a trailer lender is building up one heck of a great pension plan! He doesn't know what he doesn't know!!

  • Broker vs Bank Blah Blah on 2012-05-02 4:57:41 AM

    I'm a broker but why trash bank or vice versa. We each have a role to play in the market. What I laugh about is brokers saying how much I can make if I was doing $100mil volume. One comment even suggest $1mil income, right. There are other things besides your commission income. But if money is all you care about...then I find it hard you care about the client just as much.

  • bc on 2012-05-02 5:48:18 AM

    Funny how the brokers are saying specialists work for the bank and brokers work for the client. In the same breath they say that specialists would make more money if they went to the broker side, sounds like brokers work for the $, not for the client.

  • JP on 2012-05-02 5:54:50 AM

    I worked as mortgage specialist at well-known financial institution for 6 years. Ranked always top 10 in the country funding $100 millions. Yes, free trips and great recognition were great as other agents looked at me with so much envy. When I left the bank to be a mortgage agent or broker, I felt I made a wrong move and regretted just for 6 months. Now, been in this business for more than 4 years, I am so happy working as a broker owner getting paid full commission, usually 80 bps and full volume bonus. One of my friends always tells me that she sometimes gets 25 bps on five year fixed term as she has no choice but matching RBC’s rate. If her insurance penetration for critical illness and life is less than 30%, cannot even get rate exception although she is willing to work 25 bps.
    For branch leads, if branch could not do the deal, they send it mortgage specialist and usually, they cannot be approved at most of time unless, referral banker would like to get paid under the table.
    Been there done that, and I love what I do now. Happy selling guys….

  • BANKER TO BROKER on 2012-05-02 6:29:55 AM

    I was a mortgage specialist for over 18 yrs with a top bank in Canada being in the top 10 for 15 years. I left after 21 years as I needed to be able to give my clients more choices and options and to embrace the wonderful world of self employment not Corporate Canada . Anyone who knows me and in the bank world knows I don’t do it for money. I was funding 70-80 million when I left. I know exactly who this person is and I probably know why he has spoken to Broker News. What he is reporting is not quite the reality he lives in. I am also pretty sure why he didn’t give his name but I sure could let everyone know if I wanted too. I have now spent my first year as a Mortgage Agent and couldn’t be happier. Yes I was regretting it the first few months but now I can’t believe how good I feel, I know I am being honest with my clients, not playing rate games with customers. The MS who does his 100 million is paid by how much he discounts, the more he discounts the less he is paid. His bank staff team is not normal with that particular bank. I had a great career with them, appreciate what I got and have now moved on to be a true entrepreneur which he is not. I have always loved my job but now I feel rewarded helping out my clients and knowing they had options and can make better choices for their mortgage needs. And yes sometimes that decision might be my previous company!

  • VirtualMortgageBroker on 2012-05-03 1:29:26 AM

    From a consumer point of view, I believe is way more beneficial working with a mortgage broker as we can put different products on the table for them at any given time. Bank specialist? they will offer their clients a 3.59% 5 year fixed and have to sell them on the fact that is the best product available for them, when you can easily find a 3.29% in the broker channels, given the same prepayment options as any big 5 bank.
    Clients should ask their mortgage specialist what the penalties are to break a mortgage if they need to sell..How about that?

  • BANKER TO BROKER on 2012-05-03 3:01:49 AM

    absolutely good point. The lender he works for charges IRD based on the discount the client got originally and today that lender is giving 1.85 off posted. it could potentially hurt the client in the long run. also if the MS at that bank tried to match a 3.29% their pay is cut significantly 300-600 on a $200k mortgage. their prepayment previledges are also middle of the pack. he is strictly an order taker as he cant offer different product, solutions and advise in an unbiased way.

  • Ron Butler on 2012-05-03 3:29:52 AM

    I get that it is popular to attack the mortgage specialists but let's face facts people: RBC is the number one mortgage sales organization in this country. Period. End of story. They have been since I started 17 years ago and they continue to be number one. Their retention of their own book is superb. I don't want to be a road rep either, I would not survive the first 5 minutes of the job interview, but give credit where credit is due. The consumer must like some mortgage specialists because combined they produce more business than we brokers do.

  • John Bargis, Mortgage Edge on 2012-05-03 3:54:27 AM

    This MS who chooses to live in the world of anonymity, clearly lacks in the understanding of true entrepreneurship by choosing to work harder not smarter under the masking of a brand...We need NOT know who the individual is to determine that in order to do $100 million in production at the Bank, the MS is clearly taking a deep cut in revenue to even compete with the better broker rates offered in the market place, and that's from the already lower revenue offered to the MS by the bank he/she is employed by.....And what about the lack of options the MS is able to offer to a client under a mono Bank brand, as the best option available to a client?....Look no further than the rates posted on Bank websites to determine whether a broker really looks after the best interest of the client as an unbiased intermediary...Brokers simply offer good solid advice to their clients and guide them through a process, and we won't apologize for getting compensated for a job well done "in the best interest of the client.".....Is the MS telling us they work for free? If not, I'm curious as to what process is employed by the MS to assess which one of their clients pays more or less on their mortgage rate through the Bank they work for???......My advice to the MS is, remain anonymous.....

  • BANKER TO BROKER on 2012-05-03 4:21:41 AM

    Ron I wouldn't call this an attack at all. he did an interview without giving his name. I know who it is so some of his facts are some what overstated or misleading but how can anyone check if they don't know who it is or what Bank. I know exactly why people go with banks over the last 17 years. I did it all those years.

  • CC on 2012-05-03 4:51:38 AM

    I may be mistaken but it certainly sounds like this person is a area sales manger and not a specialist which are two very different roles in this business, this maybe why they would not consider moving to the broker channel as their role is not to sell but to manage and its not likely they would make it in the broker world. It was mentioned this person has a team that produced 100 million in sales and I'm fairly sure this person received a large bonus. The big question is what did this team that did all the work receive?
    What options does his sales team have when the big bank declines the deal?

  • Hal on 2012-05-05 2:25:42 AM

    RBC road reps get 60 bps for a deal, and an extra 20 bps for bonus if their volume is high. I'd rather do 40% less work, get paid the same, and be able to give my clients a better mortgage and better rate than RBC.

  • AB Broker on 2012-05-02 3:02:29 AM

    Where's the argument? Sounds pretty weak to me. I have no value proposition, so I need to hide behind the brand. Instead of providing options to my client, I'll keep them ignorant and play off their weakness. But at the end of the day I have a pension, so working for 30 cents on the dollar is worth it to me. hahaha... Give me a break!

    Don't get me wrong, each to their own! If the bank model works for you, great, but it's not for everyone.

  • Nolan Matthias on 2012-05-02 3:15:32 AM

    Interesting that he or she is not willing to back up his or her own comments with their name.

  • JR ON Broker on 2012-05-02 3:24:49 AM

    At the end of the day, he/she works for the bank, a mortgage broker works for the client.

  • Len Lane on 2012-05-02 3:25:29 AM

    Hmmm interesting he doesn't say how much he made on the 100 million dollars..this side would have been well over a million dollars. My guess is he did twice the work and made only half the money. That's not good business sense,

  • D on 2012-05-02 3:28:55 AM

    I worked as a Mortgage Specialist for a major bank for 4 years, main reason I left was I was not offering my clients the best possible rate and product-I was selling that brand only. During my time there, I built up a network of referrals so when I decided to leave, I had a good system in place. Many of my bank clients sought me out and now I am averaging 40 million a year, great income and the satisfaction of knowing I am working for my clients, not the bank. Yes I pay my own benefits, but I am making 3 times the amount I did as a Bank Mortgage Specialist. Now 7 years later, no regrets, best decision I ever made. Unfortunately many Bank Mortgage Specialists leave the Bank before preparing, saving money and building up their referral network, so when the bank leads stop, they are left floundering unable to compete in the broker world.

  • Kevin St. Amand on 2012-05-02 3:33:43 AM

    I totally believe the comment(s) from AB broker, I was a specialist for five years prior to becoming a mortgage agent, I learned more in three years working for a brokerage then I ever did working for a Big Five lender. Their model wants to keep there specialists in the dark so that they can only preach one product, how does that help a client receive the best deal/service they are entitled too. Poor misguided soul, he doesn't know how much commission he is missing out on and dis-service he is doing for his clients! He is not a independent or working for himself, he is a employee of a (one) bank!

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