Canadian First brings financial advisory services within reach

Canadian First brings financial advisory services within reach

Canadian First Financial Centres will now extend its financial and insurance advisory services to retail brokers outside of the dedicated in-house model it launched in 2009.

“This service is for the 20 per cent of brokers who actually want to do more for their clients not just talk about it,” Karl Straky, the company’s president and CEO, told “What we’ve found is that there are some brokers that don’t necessarily need a dedicated insurance and financial advisor in-house, but are still looking to extend both their value to clients and their own value proposition by offering those services to clients. So we’re advancing them the services of our financial and insurance advisors as mobile specialists.”

Straky started the company as a way of bolstering the utility of mortgage professionals, helping them deepen their relationships with clients and better compete with the banks and insurance companies, which bring several financial products under one roof.

That one-stop-shop model introduced by Canadian First has now expanded the profit centres for its 14 broker-partners, each with their own dedicated insurance/financial planner. The model brings outsourcing inside the business. At the same time, it increases traffic for the retail operation.

“The feedback from our broker-partners has been tremendous in terms of growing their businesses and enhancing their long-term profitability,” said Straky, referring to a network of branches at his partner firms, high-volume players operating in Ontario. All participate in co-branding programs with Canadian First, promoting the services in their signage and within their retail spaces.

The expanded model, launched this week, will allow new partners to leverage the same kind of branding, although remove the volume requirements associated with full-time advisory services.

Straky’s move comes as brokers face increasing pressure to diversify their offerings given slower housing sales across Canada. Ontario – Canadian First’s current market area, although it will push westward next year – is expected to suffer a six-per cent drop this year over 2010. Recovery could come as late as the third quarter of 2012, according to CMHC economist Ted Tsiakopoulos.

Even a more limited partnership with Canadian First could help retail brokers weather that uncertainty, said Peter Majthenyi, a lead planner with Mortgage Architects in Southern Ontario.

“We’ve had great success with the Canadian First advisory end of our business,” he told “It has also given the mortgage business a real lift.”

Like Straky, he points to the partnership’s core strength: helping brokerages better compete with the banks and retain existing clients by increasing their “relevance.” There’s also the added benefit of growing referrals through both ends of the business --the  cross-pollination all banks depend on.

“It has brought more traffic through our door,” Majthenyi said. “And clients for our financial or insurance advisory services can become clients for our mortgage broker services, and vice versa.”