Déjà vu: Another RBC mortgage specialist riles brokers

Déjà vu: Another RBC mortgage specialist riles brokers

Déjà vu: Another RBC mortgage specialist riles brokers

Controversial statements from another RBC mortgage specialist have now resurfaced – again in B.C. and again attracting broker ire.

“As a mortgage broker who has practiced for over 33 years, I take exception to the misinformation in a February 11, 2010, article written by another RBC mortgage specialist, even before this latest incident,” John Ribalkin, president of Verico Nova Financial Services, told MortgageBrokerNews.ca Tuesday.  “The primary job of a bank ‘mortgage specialist,’ working within the confines of their particular bank, is to sell that bank’s mortgages.  A ‘mortgage specialist’ working for ‘X’ bank is not going to offer the borrowing client a mortgage with ‘Y’ bank … that is simply not their job.”

The comments –which prompted a complaint to the Financial Institutes Commission of British Columbia (FICOM) – stem from a column that ran in a local North Shore newspaper early last year. Like a recent document coming from another Vancouver RBC employee, the piece attempts to explain the differences between brokers and bank-employed specialists.

 “The difference is that as an RBC mortgage specialist, my primary product is an RBC mortgage, however, I have access to over 20 other lenders in the event that the client doesn’t meet regular guidelines,” reads the consumer advice column. “There’s a myth in the marketplace that mortgage brokers get you a better rate than a specialist from a bank. Mortgage brokers just shop the banks that deal with brokers, and while they ‘shop’ for the best rate they also ‘shop’ for their best commission.”

The boast riled brokers in B.C., concerned the specialist had overstated the independence of RBC mortgage specialists. They were also angered by her attempts to downplay the customer service and ethical guidelines their broker registration mandates, said Ribalkin, who was spurred into action.

The newspaper later agreed to run both a letter to the editor from Ribalkin and an independent column clarifying the position of brokers.

The CAAMP Hall of Fame recipient and one of the founding members of the MBABC also filed a request with FICOM, asking it to investigate how exactly RBC mortgage specialists help arrange mortgages for clients that “don’t meet regular guidelines.”

Under B.C. law, anyone who works for a financial institution by placing mortgages with third-party lenders is viewed as a “contractor” -- not an employee of the bank. It means that unlike mortgage specialists employed by a bank, those contractors must be registered with FICOM in order to provide that service. The complaint has yet to be resolved, with FICOM updating Ribalkin as late as last month.

B.C. brokers are now contending with a more recent document from another Vancouver mortgage specialist at RBC. The bank has now distanced itself from the inaccurate description of brokers as “farming out” mortgages to lenders, charging “hidden fees” and performing multiple credit checks on a client.

“The RBC brand is defined by our clients and partners and we sincerely apologize for the inaccurate information that was presented in the document,” wrote RBC Public Affairs Advisor Nicole Fisher, in a letter to broker associations in Western Canada.


Both incidents speak to an increasingly competitive mortgage industry in Vancouver as housing prices continue to soar and stagnant incomes – plus new federal mortgage rules – make it harder for borrowers to qualify. Those factors are projected to increase the number of homebuyers seeking out the assistance of brokers, a move that could increase market share for the broker channel at the same time it reduces business for the Big Five.


  • Julia Krause 2011-04-21 4:05:09 AM
    Just want to say THANK YOU John Ribalkan for speaking up.
    Post a reply
  • Rob Campbell 2011-04-21 6:07:55 AM
    Here we go again.
    And again with RBC.
    It’s really too bad that RBC hasn't rolled up their sleeves and tried to roll out something that will sooth the tension that is growing, as well as implement a train session for their reps in conjunction with CAAMP to make sure that all of their reps are fully aware of the Brokers Act and what our responsibilities are.
    Like I mentioned in another comment section this week, us Brokers cannot gauge the ripple effects that these comments from RBC’s reps will have out there in the market. We need to keep our clients well educated with what we do and how we do it.
    Good on Mr. Ribalkan for giving his thoughts.
    Just my two cents.

    [twttr] @therobcampbell
    Post a reply
  • www.bcmortgagedeals.com 2011-04-22 3:36:15 AM
    What is interesting as well is that RBC employee's are not salary employees (besides a base); they are able to offer lower rates to a client if they reduce their commission on a deal. A broker OR specialist always have some opportunities to do what is best for themselves rather than their client; but they won't have a client base for very long if they do.
    I have sent files to bank specialists, received files from bank specialists and even done a mortgage for a bank specialist.
    We all have a place in this industry, but bad mouthing, trashtalk and slander will only muddy the waters and make us ALL look bad to the public and our potential clients. The last thing we need to do is afvertise like politicians. I will ensure I continue to promote myself with positive services I can offer for my clients and not spit ill informed babblings about my competions. I hope we can all do the same.
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