'The little network that could' shows it can

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Little-known network Axiom Mortgage Partners is gaining traction in its drive east, appealing to Ontario brokerages looking for brand independence – Oh, and 100 per cent commissions.

“Certainly, our flat-fee model – where each month a brokerage pays what really amounts to half the commission on a single deal  – has helped us attract both large and small firms here,” Tony Roberts, Axiom's VP of sales for eastern Canada told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “But, also people work long and hard to identify and build a brand and they’re hesitant to give that up, especially if it doesn’t cost them access to volume buying-power and compensation.”

It’s a message winning the Alberta-based Axiom a growing number of Ontario converts less than a year after Roberts spearheaded the push into the country’s largest market.

Those new Axiom brokerages – each conducting business under its own distinct banner – made the switch from their old networks without the kind of rebranding exercise that often keeps network affiliates from picking up stakes.

The defections haven’t cost them the volume bonuses and preferred interest rates they rely on, despite the dramatic cost saving many will achieve in ditching a system of commission splits.

The success of Axiom, now with a network family of 500-plus mortgage professionals from B.C. to the East Coast, reflects the larger industry shift away from that sharing model.

Still some brokers criticize the move as undermining the educational and training support broker networks have traditionally provided.

“I’m offering a cautionary note on the loss of the value-add brokers bring to the industry,” John Bargis of Mortgage Edge, told MortgageBrokerNews.ca earlier this month. “What we’re doing is eroding the tools that we have at our disposal to strengthen the industry at a critical time when we are facing plenty of competition.”

"This is a time to work together and not be divided.”

But Axiom Mortgage Partners is actively growing its back-end support for member brokers, said Roberts, pointing to a technological overhaul of its CRM, free to members and just one of several improvements meant to keep brokerages in the loop.

“In 2012, if you’re not leveraging the technological advances of today to their optimum capacity," the industry veteran told MortgageBrokerNews.ca, “chances are you will be left behind.

“It’s OK to have old school values, but why not maintain those values while increasing your efficiencies.”

Those kind of arguments aside, said Roberts, Axiom’s appeal to brokerages in Ontario may also have something to do with the message of its managing partner – Mike Cameron, the leader of the Mortgage Revolution, a grassroots movement encouraging industry professionalism.

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