With much of the economic downturn over but not forgotten, the direction of the industry is certainly moving in a positive direction, which was obvious in the overall mood of nearly 500 mortgage professionals who gathered at the fourth annual CMP Canadian Mortgage Awards held at the Liberty Grand in Toronto, Ont., to recognize the collective efforts of their colleagues.
The event – platinum-sponsored by ING Direct – took on a '60s theme (think Mad Men) that brought out a funky and fun vibe, from the '60s-themed animators who greeted guests as they arrived at the pre-awards cocktail party, which was sponsored by FirstLine Mortgages to the life-sized cutout figures of Elvis and Marilyn Monroe. The black-tie event added glamour to the evening. One highlight of the evening was the videos of finalists from across the country who got into '60s characters from various television shows and movies such as The Brady Bunch, Gilligan’s Island and Austin Powers. There was plenty of cheers and laughs from the audience.
The humour continued with MC Jessica Holmes, a favourite on CBC’s Royal Canadian Air Farce
, who got the awards ceremony off to a great start with her laugh-out-loud skits and jokes. Other entertainment included '60s themed dancers from DeAngelis Entertainment – who showed off their groovy moves while performing to the song “Fever” – and lots of danceable music from the eight-piece band God Made Me Funky, who played at the after-party sponsored by Merix Financial
There were two new award categories added this year -- Best Newcomer Lender Underwriter of the Year, won by Ambrose Wong from Bridgewater Bank
in Calgary, Alta., and Best Newcomer Lender BDM, won by Rachelle Gregory from Merix Financial in Toronto, Ont. The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Garth Ellis, of Ellis Mortgages Canada who graciously accepted the award for the industry as a whole.
Tables with guests who cheered the loudest throughout the evening received bottles of champagne and the best dressed man won a bottle of Stoli Elite Vodka while the best dressed woman won a gift basket by Solisco. There were other wonderful prizes given away throughout the night – four sets of golf tickets, two from Maples and two from Royal Woodbine as well as Carlberg & Tuborg vouchers.
ING Direct’s George Hugh, VP, Broker Sales and Treasury, commented on why his company took on the role of platinum sponsor this year.
“ING became the platinum sponsor this year because we’ve made a lot changes to our model and we believe we’ve had a lot of success over the last year. It’s our coming out party and what better to way to celebrate then at the CMP Awards where everybody who’s anybody is always here every year.”
Tim Duce, president of KMI Publishing, CMP’s publisher and event organizer, was delighted with the outcome of the gala, particularly since attendance rose over 25 per cent this year compared with last year.
“I’m particularly pleased that the industry responded so well to the popular voting we set up for some award categories – that was an initiative that was requested by the industry after the 2009 awards.”
What are his plans for next year’s awards? - A simple promise to raise the bar and give the industry another great night to remember!
“Congratulations to the winners and nominees and a big thank you to ING and all the other sponsors for their support this year. I would also like to thank my team here in Canada for doing such a brilliant job.”
The following lists all the winners, who are sure to continue to have a bright future in the mortgage industry in Canada. All of them were happy to tell us what they thought contributed to their big win of the night.
The Firstline Mortgages Award for Best Internet Presence
Canadian Mortgage Trends
Robert McLister and Elaine Ferrara
“It’s a lot of late nights - it was the wife saying why are you not in bed yet at 2:30 in the morning - and caring about the industry and making sure we put out a lot of good material.”
“A lot of it is just our agents getting back and believing in the brand and taking a chance four years ago and joining the company that had an ad campaign that was different than anybody else and I am very, very grateful to all of them for taking a leap of faith and getting the system out.”
The Street Capital Award for Best Newcomer (Firm)
Obsidian Mortgage Corporation
Suganthan Thavarajasingamand and Paul Grewal
“We don’t work individually, we work as a team. Five or six people work on each deal and there are many steps to go through before a deal is done and that I think that is the success for this award. We’re going to work harder and maybe win more awards next year.”
The Genworth Financial Award for Best Newcomer (Individual)
Nick L’Ecuyer, Verico
, The Mortgage Wellness Group, Barrie, Ont.
“You know what? The one thing I wanted to say down there was that I thought Beyonce should’ve won! I didn’t think it was appropriate down there but definitely up here! But absolutely No. 1, is a strong mentor. I had that with Darick Battaglia; he mentored me right from the start, gave me all the tools I needed, and as a result here I am.”
The CHIP Home Income Plan Award for Employer of Choice
First National Financial LP
Stephen Smith and Gary Morrison
“I think we are extremely flattered. To be nominated is a reflection to our employees' feelings that we provide an environment and a culture that they enjoy working in, lets them fulfill their dreams and also deals with the mortgage brokers and provide a service that is second to none.”
The HLC Award for Best Community Service Effort
“It’s the community that supports us and we supported the community that we are in for the past 17 years and I think just contributing and helping people out is a wonderful thing.”
The Merix Financial Award for Best Customer Service from an Individual Office
Mike Averback, TMG
“Our dedication is to our clients. Every client gets a 100 per cent satisfaction guarantee from us. Typically a mortgage broker will touch a file five, six times maximum and that’s all they want to do because they want to move on to the next deal. We have a certain capacity of mortgages that we can do per month because we want to make sure that every client receives the best treatment possible, so we’ll touch a deal 12 to 15 times if we have to, to make sure that everything is going to plan and our clients are completely satisfied.”
The Stoli Award for Best Advertising
Dominion Lending Centres
“You know what? Bottom line is Dominion Lending has a unique advertising campaign right now. We are spending a lot here on television advertising creating a brand in the industry that they’ve never seen.”
The National Bank Award for Lifetime Achievement Award in the Mortgage Industry
Garth Ellis, VERICO Ellis Mortgages Canada
“Personally, I’m elated. I really consider it an industry award as opposed to an individual award. The contributions of all the other brokers who have managed to elevate the status and broaden the understanding across Canada, it serves to help me as much as themselves individually so regardless of company or regardless of individual broker some things transcend those individual agendas and that’s the industry itself.”
The Home Trust Award for Best Alternative Lending Mortgage Broker of the Year
Dave McKitrick, Alta West Mortgage Capital Corporation, Calgary, Alta.
“We invested in providingexcellent service to our customers, we invested in our software, we invested in our staff and so through education and through our upgrading of our equipment and software we’re able to provide the best service to our clients and I think for that reason it’s noticed in the industry.”
The MBN Award for Best Commercial Mortgage Broker of the Year
Randy Buckley, Murray & Company, Toronto, Ont.
“A mystery nominator! I’m totally humbled. There are a lot of great commercial mortgage brokers in Canada and I don’t why I would be selected and I’m pretty humbled and honoured by it.”
The TMG Award for Best Industry Service Provider
First National Financial LP
“Our staff and our technology. Also service is one thing we can control and it’s the one thing we’ve tried to control for 20 years now. Our staff is keen on getting good service back to the brokers and a quick turnaround time. It’s important to us and always has been.”
The Resmor Trust Company Award for Best Newcomer Lender Underwriter of the Year
Ambrose Wong, Bridgewater Bank, Calgary, Alta.
“It can be a tough business with policies changing and the rates going up so I think a lot goes towards customer service. All the banks actually offer the same type of products but I think customer service really stands out and will make a difference. Also consistent, hard work, just make the deals, make exceptions if you can within your premise, and get it done for your broker team out there.”
The CMHC Award for Best Lender Underwriter of the Year
Barb Starr, Macquarie Financial, Vancouver, B.C.
“I am truly humbled; it was the help of my team for me being here tonight and winning this award.”
The Mortgage Centre Award for Best Newcomer Lender BDM
Rachelle Gregory, Merix Financial, Toronto, Ont.
“My company has always been so supportive and I’ve had a lot of mentors. My mom is the president of a servicing company and she has always been such a great role model. Boris Bozick, the president of our company, has always taught me to give the best service that I can.”
The Verico Award for Best Lender BDM
Cynthia Kramer, Paradigm Quest, Toronto, Ont.
“I’m passionate about this industry and I receive back a lot of enthusiasm every day from my partners. Every day I enjoy coming to work and I think it shows. I enjoy working with my partners; they continue to make me grow and strengthen me in what I do every single day.”
The Macquarie Financial Award for Mortgage Broker of the Year (less than 25 employees)
Lou Perotta, Domus Financial, Oakville, Ont.
“I honestly don’t know why I won. I received a questionnaire and answered the questions the best of my ability so it must have been something in there that triggered the judges’ curiosity and interest. Two things that I do is respect the clients and respect my business partners. I also take time to give back to the community.”
The Bridgewater Bank Award for Mortgage Broker of the Year (more than 25 employees)
Gary Meger, Neighbourhood Dominion Lending Centres, Barrie, Ont.
“Do what’s right for the customer -- if you do that everything will fall into place. Invest in yourself and it will pay you back in spades.”
The ING Direct Award for Mortgage Brokerage of the Year (less than 25 employees)
Nick Ametrano and Kim Luxton
“The real focus for us is really building a strong foundation of core values and customer service. And I have to thank all the staff who do a great job at that every day.”
The ING Direct Award for Mortgage Brokerage of the Year (more than 25 employees)
Dominion Lending Centres
Gary Mauris and Mark Kocaurek
“It was a monster night for us. I’m very grateful and very proud of our team. Four years ago we had one broker and today we have 1,700 of them; we won best advertising and best branding. I look at the other winners and just think it’s the quality of people and the culture that we have in our company and it’s been a great four years. This is a combination of all the success of everyone giving back and going beyond the call of duty and giving more than what’s expected at every level through our network. I think tonight we were rewarded for that.”