CMP: What made you first get into the mortgage broker industry?
Doug Adlam: My parents started real estate business in Mississauga in 2001 and later added mortgages as a complementary service. I started helping them grow the business while I was at university, mainly helping out in marketing and branding. Then in 2007, I worked on a business plan for taking a different approach to the mortgage business and the brokerage structure. I launched a new mortgage business in January 2008.
CMP: How is your structure different?
DA: In 2008, the typical mortgage brokerage was modeled after real estate – you had a principal broker and then a bunch of mortgage agents who do their own thing. Those agents were responsible for finding their own business, meeting with clients, taking applications, understanding underwriting rules and preparing all of the paperwork for approvals – everything right through to the closing and then all of the after-close customer service support.
I thought that model wasn’t really a business because it is essentially made up of a lot of individual businesses, which are the agents who work with the company. I saw that it could be done in a different way. The mortgage process is extremely complicated from beginning to end, and I thought it would be a good idea to find professionals with individual areas of expertise – skills like bringing in new business, client relations, adjudicating and underwriting mortgage files, documentation support, problemsolving, and [ensuring the] accuracy of mortgage signing packages.
CMP: How has Champion Mortgage been able to keep growing?
DA: I attribute it to a really strong foundation and a clear vision. When we first started out, the goal was – and still is – to be the benchmark for mortgage brokering, to be the new standard. We wanted to create a new and better way of doing things. We’ve been able to accomplish that through open communication with our clients and asking for feedback. We aren’t so egotistical that we think we have figured it all out, and we realize the only way you can survive in any business is to continue to innovate and reinvest in your team and your customers’ experience.
CMP: Which markets do you focus on, and how has business been so far this year?
DA: Our primary markets are Mississauga and Guelph, although our biggest market share is in the Guelph area and the surrounding towns of Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo, and right through to the GTA. We are definitely seeing a stall on the real estate side in our markets in terms of new listings and purchases. However, they are happening, and it has not completely stopped. In the last two weeks, we have done more pre-approvals than in the previous 90 days, so it has seen a pickup. I think Canadians are starting to see that the feared fallout of the economy hasn’t happened and that there are still great homes available.
CMP: What tips would you give to brokers who want to grow their books of business?
DA: Be honest with yourself about the level of service you are providing your current clients after they have set their mortgage up. Ensure that you are keeping your clients informed about all of the changes how they might be impacted. Start to have discussions about what might happen if interest rates continue to go up. Start to look for partnerships with financial planners who can help clients budget appropriately and plan for increasing interest rates.
It’s also important to ensure you have the right partnerships with the right lenders. If things continue to get difficult in terms of rules and house prices, it’s crucial to have relationships with lenders that have enough products – and the right products – to help and protect your clients. Really make sure you look at the fine print. Take the time to examine the standard charge terms and really understand the mortgage you are providing to your client.
CMP: What do you get up to in your spare time?
DA: I spend the winters in the hockey rink. I referee junior hockey – that includes everything from university hockey all the way down to Junior C. In the summer, I spend time up at the family cottage.