The ties that bind

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One of the keys to putting together a successful mortgage deal rests with the ability to build strong relationships with lenders. CMP spoke to this year’s group of finalists for the Canadian Mortgage Awards’ Best Lender BDM to gain some insight into this crucial partnership

Randy Binstock

Home Trust Company

Firstly, to create a good relationship with brokers I try and break down all the potential barriers. I have created numerous contests that encourage participation while giving the brokers added value. The brokers and my company know me as Randy “B” Binstock the Bobble-head BDM. I have personalized my business and give the brokers a more intimate feel to our relationship. With this personal relationship they know that in return they will receive dedicated service built on mutual respect. Building mutual respect is established through keeping in mind the brokers busy schedule. Being on time for meetings and when rarely late, calling or emailing them advising of the delay is imperative in forming a solid working relationship. Furthermore, another aspect of mutual respect is when a broker commits to sending me a deal. I will ensure that they know I will work tirelessly for them to have an answer back at a mutually acceptable time and fulfill their client’s needs. My brokers know my policy called “No Stupid Questions.” I begin my presentations with examples of questions I have asked in the past. This creates a comfortable environment where all questions are allowed. This is important for new brokers to the business; they feel comfortable to ask anything at any given time. Lastly, I have learned over the years the partnership established between the broker and BDM is one that both sides win. I have learned that the secret to success isn’t really a secret at all. It is all based on my principles DRUP: Dedication, Respect, Understanding and Partnership.

Jim Fitzgerald

Radius Financial

The key goal for any BDM should be to partner with brokers to help them succeed and grow their business. The support and tools I provide my brokers with are crucial to the success of the broker/BDM relationship. My approach is to assist brokers within their community and with their referral sources. Strong communications backed by useful tools are essential. Each communication from a BDM should contain a value add and help brokers grow their business as a partner rather than a push strategy from the lender. As a BDM, I have a multitude of tools and information at my disposal. Ultimately I equip brokers with the right tools and information to grow their business whether with the end consumer or their referral sources. I go as far as sitting down with Realtors or clients to support my brokers. All the information I provide is easy to use and transparent, they choose what works for their clients. If one of my products doesn’t work for a broker I’ll be the first one to tell them. In return, I ask for support from my broker partners with profiles Radius Financial can accommodate.

Trevor Gordon

ING Direct

As a BDM, the primary focus is to build a relationship and provide education. The best way to make a relationship even stronger is to bring additional value-add to the broker. Not only should we be showing the broker how to use our programs but supply the broker with information on ways to grow their business, become more profitable and service their clients well. If a brokers business is increased, and there is a relationship built, it is only natural that an increase in the lenders volume will take care of itself. It is not about doing what is expected (we all do that), it is about doing what is not expected. Some of the value-add ideas I have focused on is simply asking the broker how they currently market their business and provide them with ways they can expand on that. Not by necessarily changing what they are currently doing but simply giving other ideas on how to expand. As well creating presentations that focus on the industry and offer CE credits are always great ideas especially for those brokers in remote areas where attending industry events can be difficult. I am a strong believer both parties must work together to build a long-term relationship. If a broker is using a lender for the first time, it is important the broker and BDM communicate closely ensuring there are no surprises so the transaction will go smoothly. Only contacting a BDM for a deal discussion when your other top lenders have passed on the deal does not build confidence. BDMs will pick up on this of which can impact the relationship. Rome was not built in a day and relationships are built on trust and professionalism, not just on one deal.

Rachelle Gregory-Marshall (Winner)

Merix Financial

A BDM should be a trusted adviser who helps the originator find the best product for their customer, but more importantly adds value to the relationship with their knowledge beyond just a low rate. I think the key focus for building a great relationship between the originator and their BDM really goes to what has been a primary focus for Merix in the broker market this year and that’s selling beyond rate. Accessibility is a focal point of the relationship not only the BDM but also the originator. These days not everyone has time to spend two hours in a meeting with their lender, which is why inside sales has been such a success for Merix. Making sure the broker and BDM returns calls and emails in a timely manner only translates into better service for the end client which in turn helps that originator build long-term value with their portfolio.

Chris Hoeppner

Street Capital Financial

Improving a relationship requires trust. When a broker can trust the answer coming from a BDM, and trust that the BDM will respond quickly to their question, need, or concern, the relationship begins to grow. This requires a commitment from the BDM to be an expert on their product, to be diligent in returning calls and emails, and to have a great relationship with the underwriters and managers to work as a team to solve problems and fund files. From the broker side, it requires absolute upfront disclosure, as well as a very thorough job in taking the application. By taking a complete application, asking the right questions of the client, and disclosing everything on the application, there will be less questions from the BDM and underwriter, quicker answers, fewer surprises, and a level of trust in the business being sent by that broker.

This creates a reciprocal relationship that makes the broker want to send business to that lender, and makes the BDM want to work extra hard to solve those issues that come up and “go to bat” for the broker when need be. If we as BDMs can’t show value to the broker, they have no reason to deal with us. If brokers can’t show they are serious about doing quality business with a high level of work ethic and integrity, the BDM and lender will be less likely to support and grow that relationship.

Jamie Leamont

Merix Financial

The industry as a whole for many years has viewed the broker BDM relationship as a “coffee and cupcake” role. In order to change that image BDMs have had to re-think the way they approach their roles and become business partners rather than friendly associates. My role as a BDMs is to support business growth with my clients, this can be done through helping to build existing referral sources, provide marketing ideas, or by providing consistent support within the offices. In addition to being an expert on their lender’s offerings BDMs need to have a strong understanding of who their clients are, what their business model is and how they can assist their originators in reaching their goals. In return BDMs must be clear on what their expectations are from the origination office whether it’s funding ratios, volume commitment or partner meetings. The competition is fierce on both sides of this industry. By working together cohesively we can build long-term relationships that will help to make us all more successful.

Eden McNichol

First National Financial

As a commitment to my broker portfolio, I strive to provide my broker partners with exceptional customer service. I build my schedule to accommodate the training and business development needs of my clientele. As part of my service guarantee, my voicemail and emails are responded to within two business hours. I respect my brokers’ time and provide them with efficient information updates. Forging a strong relationship with your broker partner or lender BDM, should be the first goal. Adapting to how each broker learns and retains information is key to building a more confident and knowledgeable broker community. When brokers invite lenders reps to present to their respective teams, they should ensure the BDM offers cutting-edge information and is open to new approaches when delivering their pitch. When I work with brokers, I find their stress and create a solution. Training and enhancing our broker channel is not a mundane experience. There are so many creative ways to build relationships, set attainable goals and become more productive together. Brokers and lender BDMs are partners and are dedicated to the same goals: developing quality business and exceeding their customer’s service expectations. If a broker feels a lender has fallen short of either goal, it would be prudent to contact their lender BDM as soon as possible. Allow them opportunity to listen to your scenario, create a timely solution and earn your business. Brokers should share their service experiences (good or bad) on a regular basis with their lender partners. This feedback allows us to grow and enhance our service offering to you.

Cheryl Murtagh

Street Capital Financial

The BDM role is to support their broker partners while advocating for the lender. I believe that open communication is a key aspect of the relationship between a BDM and broker. Full disclosure from day one is important to establish trust and confidence from both parties. I am a firm believer in “you get back, what you put in.” I am continually striving to improve communication between myself, Street Capital and the brokers we partner with.

Harry Singh

Equitable Trust

BDMs in the industry can improve their relationship with brokers by doing the following: 1) Being accessible to brokers: Great BDMs find a way to pick up broker calls majority of the times. And, the times when they are tied up and brokers do have to leave voice messages, better BDMs make it a point to return calls promptly. Efficient BDMs also evolve with technology and take full advantage of it by educating brokers on how to use it to get quicker responses. IMs and e-mails are a great and quick way to analyze a deal and BDMs have to be prepared to entertain queries via such media. 2) Understanding company and competitor products: Products and services change on a monthly if not on a weekly basis. Great BDMs keep abreast of not only their own products and services but also keep a keen eye on what the competitors are offering. This, in turn, has two advantages; 1) a BDM can better guide internal product development/ refinement efforts while better directing a broker when not in a position to assist with own products and services. Such value-added service becomes a differentiator in the marketplace. 2) Providing value added services: This can be sharing your unique ideas on how the broker can better market his services in the marketplace. Or it can involve doing a presentation to the broker’s referral sources to increase his volume of business. Or it can entail creating a marketing piece that markets a lender product but with broker information all over it. Such value-added services strengthen and solidify broker relations. Brokers in the industry can improve relationship with BDMs by doing the following: 1) Presenting deals clearly and with necessary details: Brokers can improve their relationship with BDMs by providing them clear and detailed information about deals that they are placing with the lenders. All too often, deals discussed bear no resemblance to deals submitted. It is the BDMs job to sell the deals internally on brokers’ behalf to the credit team and the more clarity and details that the brokers provide upfront, the better job in turn a BDM will be able to do in solidifying a rate, loan to value, etc. 2) Investing time in analyzing and understanding lenders: Effective brokers have taken the time to understand niche products that lenders offer and markets that they cater to. As a result, their submissions are well targeted and rarely come back as declined. The key is reaching out to the BDMs before submitting a deal until a clear understanding of the lender’s strengths and weaknesses has been established.

Cathy Tompkins

FirstLine Mortgages

I believe communication is the most important part of the BDM/broker relationship and improving this can yield tremendous results. Communication comes in many forms such as; in person, email, phone or texts. Ask your business partner their preferred method of communication and use that method whenever possible and when relevant. In person: a drop-in visit is not always effective. Have regularly scheduled training sessions with an agreed upon agenda. Use this face-to-face time to provide training on products and policies that is relevant and will help brokers grow their business and improve their funding ratios. Both BDM and broker need to be prompt for a meeting, attentive and respectful. Email: We all receive many emails and getting through them can be onerous. Keep your email messages clear, concise, accurate and professional. Return your emails promptly and always do your best to answer the question fully. If clarification is required, pick up the phone and contact your business partner directly. Email can be very effective if used wisely. Text messages: make sure texting is a method your business partner uses otherwise they may not even know where or how to find your text message. Keep your text messaging brief. Phone: take the call! Don’t hide behind voicemail. We all know how good it feels to get someone “live” on the phone. When leaving a message, give necessary details. If you are responding to a message, do it promptly and try to leave enough detail to fully answer the initial question(s). As in email, a prompt, concise response on voicemail can be a reasonable substitute for not reaching the person directly. Communicating effectively with your business partner is the key to a mutually successful relationship.

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