A warm welcome for brokers, compared to other lenders, helped National Bank grow its residential mortgage book by 13 per cent in the first quarter, according to a top exec -- although the growing use of Realtors didn't hurt.
“We’ve been a little bit more receptive to mortgage brokers than quite frankly some of our competitors, who have been more ambivalent,” Réjean Lévesque, an executive VP for the bank, told analysts Friday. “We have increased mortgage deployment officers doing business with real estate agents, but (the growth) has also come from the broker side of the business. Outside of Quebec, 40 per cent to 45 per cent of originations came from that (broker) channel.”
That dual embrace of brokers and Realtors not only helped Canada’s No. 6 increase its residential mortgage book by 13 per cent, but achieve its highest-ever first quarter profit.
Its net income of $332-million, represents a 3 per cent rise from the same period last year, corresponding with its own increasing share of broker business.
That improved position has come from building relationships with brokers and not, said Lévesque, from an aggressive broker compensation or interest rate strategy.
In fact, the bank was the last to move to match BMO’s 2.99 per cent offer in January, Lévesque told one sceptical analyst Friday.
The fact that Realtor referrals have also grown makes good on the bank’s pledge last year to develop that pipeline.
Brokers have generally objected, calling it “disintermediation” – or a move to cut out the middleman; ie, them. They also argue that it limits consumer options.
Under a National Bank program last year, Realtors won 50-basis point referral fees for sending their mortgage-seeking clients directly to the branch. That mirrors similar programs at other big banks.