If the sincerest form of flattery is imitation, lenders of the broker channel prepare to blush.
A St. John’s brokerage is duplicating the organizational structure of those non-bank lenders, replete with BDM and underwriter. The approach is about compartmentalizing the mortgage process, creating efficiencies and improving the customer service experience of clients, said Leslie Penney, VP of business development at APlus Mortgage Group. The new cooperative program, which he helped develop, has also increased sales.
“There are always superstar brokers,” Penney, a CAAMP member, told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “But we are finding that the cooperative approach of dividing the work between someone responsible for tracking down the leads – a business development manager – and someone who writes up the applications and deals with the client – an underwriter – can yield more business than an individual, independent broker.”
The company, which covers one end of Newfoundland and Labrador to the other, still has six independent brokers operating under its banner, but introduced its first cooperative team more than a year ago in an effort to better manage client files.
“It alleviates the problem of someone wearing many hats,” said Penney, by allowing one broker to zero in on generating leads, through an established referral network. The BDM's in-house partner is strictly focused on meeting with clients, assessing needs, arranging mortgages and then shepherding them through that process and onto closing.
“We’ve seen positive growth with the team that have bettered our expectations of an individual broker,” Penney said. “We’re still a broker with access multiple lenders and all that means for clients, but we did look at the business model of lenders in the broker channel and realized that divvying up the mortgage process between a development manager and an underwriter could allow us to maximize our sales and our customer service to both referral partners and our clients.”
Those customers were, in fact, the driving force behind the new model. It ensures a client ready access to the person handling their file, rather than having to wait for a broker to get back to the office or answer an email or telephone message.
It also makes it easier and faster for real estate agents, accountants and other referral partners to funnel leads to the brokerage, given the streamlined approach, said Penney.
Still, the innovative model – more closely linked with real estate agencies – may have limited appeal for other brokerages and, especially, brokers themselves.
“It’s not for everyone,” Penney told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “Both the BDM and the underwriter are on salary and that won’t work for a lot of brokers who like their independence and working alone. But the program shows that we’re not stagnating here in the East, and that we can lead the way.”