When Home Trust launched a pilot of its Accelerator program last July, the suite of products was seen as a departure from the company's previous focus on alternative lending for B clients and the beginning of its new life in the prime mortgage market.
The introduction of the products in the Accelerator program went on to become a popular choice for mortgage professionals, making Home Trust one of the only lenders in Canada previously categorized as "alternative" to survive the credit crunch. The company saw a record fourth quarter in 2008, followed by a 25 per cent increase in net income in the first quarter of 2009 compared to the same period last year.
"When you have more products to offer, brokers don't have to do as much shopping around and it makes life a bit easier for them, so I think that's why we've done so well," says Home Trust president Nick Kyprianou, referring to the company as a "one-stop shop" because of its products for both A and B clients.
To add to its prime offerings, Home Trust also just launched a variable rate product under the Accelerator umbrella, something Kyprianou says brokers were asking for, especially since the Bank of Canada's announcement that interest rates would stay low over the next year.
Along with its move to the prime market, Home Trust's commitment to the broker channel has helped them build a network of close to 2,500 mortgage professionals. Kyprianou says that customer care is a big focus of the company, which gains clients solely through the broker channel.
"We always keep in mind that the client is not only ours, but also the broker's," he says. "Because we know brokers are busy, if a problem arises on a file, we try to solve the problem ourselves and then phone the broker to explain the situation. That's our value proposition."
And although some lenders are being more selective with mortgage professionals they work with due to the changing market, Kyprianou says Home Trust aims to stay inclusive and offer brokers a "full-service operation."
"We try to work with everybody and we don't take the stance that if you have a bad closing ratio, we're cutting you off," he says. "We always take the onus upon ourselves to work with a broker and educate and help them more."
In that vein, Home Trust holds regular educational seminars for brokers and offers value-added products they can use to help clients. As for the main quality Home Trust looks for in a broker?
"Honesty is key," says Kyprianou. "We're really looking for brokers who think of us as a partner - that's kind of it in a nutshell."
In addition to mortgage lending, Home Trust also takes in deposits (including GICs and RRSPs) and offers the Home Trust EquityLine Visa, a card that allows homeowners to access equity in their home with lower interest rates and repayments than regular credit cards.
Kyprianou, who helped bring the product forward, says the card can assist in debt consolidation and home improvements because it offers lots of flexibility, pointing out it's something brokers can sell as a value-added product alongside a client's mortgage.
Another offering is the Home Trust Secured Visa, which allows people with damaged credit (or no credit) to put down a security deposit to determine their credit limit.
"Not only does it give them a credit card, which is important - you can't even rent a movie today without a credit card - it re-establishes their credit bureau, so that's a good product for brokers to help their clients get re-established and qualify for a mortgage," he says.