MortgageBrokerNews is continuing its series of features on the finalists for Broker of the Year in both categories -- the under 25 employees and the 25 and over. This year’s group is the most diverse, spanning the country. Winners in both categories will be named at the upcoming Canadian Mortgage Awards on May 10 at the Liberty Grand in Toronto.
Karen Gibbard, Verico
Gibbard Group Financial Group, North Vancouver, B.C.
Finalist in the Mortgage Broker of the Year (Fewer than 25 Employees) category
Karen Gibbard decided to restructure the office in 2012, and in the process she redesigned the business dynamic and earned herself a place among this year’s CMA finalists. She actually won last year.
“In 2012 we restructured our office and this process gave us the energy to re-think all of our processes and how we do business,” says Gibbard. “We reviewed every aspect of our business and have made positive changes to increase our efficiencies on files and communication with clients. The results have been astounding.”
A slow market in 2012 didn’t slow down Gibbard, who recorded strong volume numbers last year.
“Our volume was strong (even in a weaker market), our client satisfaction increased, our funding rations with our lending partners significantly increased, and the overall morale in the office is riding high and incredibly positive,” she says. “Who says change isn’t a good thing?”
Like many brokers in the industry, Gibbard began in the lending sector.
“I’ve been in lending for 23 years now and was fortunate enough to have experienced many different jobs and positions within the industry – from Internal loan auditor to loan collector, loan clerk, to a Mortgage Development Manager for a major Credit Union,” she remembers. “From there I joined the world of self-employment as an independent mortgage broker in 2000.
“I had just graduated from university (part time while I was working) and thought that running my own business and giving clients the power of choice when it comes to mortgage options and lenders was the most logical step for my career,” says Gibbard.
Although brokering does afford a lot of freedom as far as work hours are concerned, Gibbard remains a nine-to-five office sort of person.
“I continue to work hard and treat being a mortgage broker as a full-time job. A lot of mortgage brokers are taking advantage of the freedom that this career allows (and there is nothing wrong with that),” she says, “but I’ve always worked in my office nine to five; which is great for my clients and the Realtors because they always know where I am to get a hold of me – in my office working.”
As a working mom, married to her husband, Dan, and raising an eight-year-old son, Luka, family does remain a priority for Gibbard.
“My all-time favourite hobby is travelling. I LOVE it! Since I was 18 years old and hit the road for a tour of the South Pacific I was hooked,” she says. “Now, I incorporate it into my life and it definitely seems that my son has been bitten by the same bug as me. This year he and I are going to Tokyo on our way to meet my husband in Croatia for a summer vacation.”
A hard work ethic has paid handsomely for Gibbard, but there is a secret to her success.
“Knowledge is absolutely a cornerstone to our success. I read pretty much everything a lender sends me regarding their policies,” she says. “It takes a huge amount of time and effort but it’s incredibly valuable information and it sure pays off when I have a tougher deal.
“As an ex-auditor you learn to memorize policies and procedures, so I keep this up and do my best to know what each lender is offering and make sure my staff get the important points so they are kept up-to-date as well. We also encourage the lenders and high-ratio insurance company representatives to come into our office for a learning session. These also add good value to building on our knowledge base to better assist clients with their mortgages.”
For a full list of finalists and to reserve your place at the industry’s biggest night visit www.canadianmortgageawards.com