Omid Jalili entered the mortgage industry in 1999 as a frustrated real estate investor. Frustration, it turns out, can make for a wildly successful mortgage broker.
“I had always been an entrepreneur, [but] finding the right mortgage was always challenging for me,” Jalili says. “My thirst for the right mortgage brought me to this industry.”
Like most brokers, Jalili began on the residential side of the business, helping clients finance their home purchases. As those clients began buying commercial properties, Jalili shifted his focus to accommodate their new mortgage needs – a move that complemented his penchant for numbers and financial analysis.
“Commercial is more challenging for me,” he says. “It requires that deep analysis of tenants, cash flow and financial segments, regardless of the size of the deal.”
In essence, Jalili says he took everything he loved about being a business owner and real estate investor, and applied it to his budding business as a commercial mortgage broker.
Love and business
Jalili spent five years working at established mortgage brokerages, but he couldn’t keep his entrepreneurial spirit at bay for long. In the early 2000s, two events took place that would forever change his life.
“In 2003, I got married,” he says. “My wife was a commercial lender at the bank.”
Together, Jalili and his wife, Masoum, decided to become partners in business as well. A year after tying the knot, they opened OMJ Mortgage Capital.
Working through their boutique brokerage, Jalili prioritizes providing his growing client base with a high level of service.
“[Quality of service] is very important; that’s our main focus,” he says. “Even though we are constantly active in marketing, referral sources and [repeat business from] our existing clients are our main business. Because of our good service, they come back and refer their family and friends.”
Those clients and their referrals have helped OMJ Mortgage Capital enjoy year-over-year volume growth, which has, in turn, boosted the company’s roster to a team of three brokers and five agents, all of whom boast plenty of industry knowledge.
“We always focus on hiring experienced agents, and the few that I have are ex-bankers or have been in the industry for a long time,” Jalili says. “The clients that we deal with are long-term clients, and most of them are very sophisticated entrepreneurs and business owners themselves.”
In fact, many of those clients followed Jalili from his old brokerage: “They wanted to deal directly with me and my own firm,” he says. Thus, he felt the pressure to maintain an exceptional level of service for all of his clients and among the brokers and agents who work under the OMJ brand.
“The reason we wanted to have a boutique firm was so we can control the service we provide our clients,” he says.
OMJ Capital’s emphasis on quality has hardly gone unnoticed. Earlier this year, Jalili was named one of CMP’s Top 10 Commercial Brokers, having funded more than $90 million in deals during the previous year.
“It’s amazing to have people recognize my hard work,” he says. “It’s a real honour, and it’s beyond rewarding.”
He’s quick to point out, however, that his own success was largely determined by that of his clients.
“I was fortunate that there were a few large deals that contributed to the large volume,” he says.
“These deals were very difficult; there were many roadblocks and challenges along the way, [but] the feeling of completing a large deal is amazing.”
Whether those roadblocks are related to cash flow issues, lease terms, billing problems or environmental issues, Jalili tackles them by working closely with his clients and the different lenders on his roster. His dedication to getting a deal funded – even if it takes close to a year – has earned him a fitting nickname: Doctor Finance.
A client actually bestowed that title on Jalili during a difficult transaction that had the client losing money and sleep. After a lot of hard work, Jalili was able to solve the issue, and the financing went through – and his client was able to enjoy a good night’s sleep.
“He said, ‘You cured me; you’re my doctor,’” Jalili says. “That’s how I became Doctor Finance.”