TECHNOLOGY ISN’T going anywhere. But even though it’s become an increasingly integral part of the mortgage process, many brokers are still resistant, fearing technology will eliminate the personal touch.
Not James Loewen – his independent Ontario-based brokerage is on a mission to change the way technology is viewed in the mortgage industry. From the moment you land on Loewen Group’s newly redesigned website or go to book an appointment, it’s easy to see that this is a tech-forward brokerage.
“You can either fight change or lead the way,” Loewen says. “I’d rather be an innovator and part of the movement than struggle and fade away.”
Loewen opened Loewen Group in 2010 and, over the past decade, has sought to provide excellence in customer service and a user-friendly process for his clients. After a few years of trial and error, the brokerage settled into a team model, in which each individual is responsible for unique tasks and they all work to support each other, as opposed to having independent sub-agents.
“My role is to support and train them and ensure their success,” Loewen says. “People often have it backwards and say ‘my team ensures my success,’ but it’s really quite the opposite. One of the most rewarding parts of my job is watching my team develop and celebrating their successes.”
The team has spent years working on an interconnected marketing strategy to link potential clients from offline to online. The first step was to make a concerted effort toward garnering Google reviews, which has been a major focus over the last three years. The Loewen Group has a five-star rating on Google, something the team worked very hard to achieve. “Great customer service, easy-to-use technology and always asking our clients to leave a review were a big part of that,” Loewen says.
The second step was to make sure those reviews took interested searchers to a website that would provide them with valuable and educational information, as well as an easy way to learn more about how Loewen Group does things differently. Bringing this vision to life took another year. Finally, at the start of 2020, the final pieces of the puzzle are coming together, thanks to Loewen Group’s marketing blitz across several buses and more than 50 bus stops across Burlington.
“It’s a process,” Loewen says. “If they see us on a bus or shelter, they will Google us. When they see our high Google reviews and rating, they will visit the website, which will lead them to all our information and resources, and eventually they may want to go to the next step, which is an application. It’s like a house of cards that has to follow the right steps.”
Having technology that’s easy for anyone to use, no matter their tech ability, is a major selling point for Loewen. While Loewen Group meets with clients in person if they prefer, the team makes an effort to educate clients on how technology can make the process easier, quicker and more hassle-free.
“People think if you meet in person, you’re doing a better job and you’ll get more referrals, but we have to recognize that clients don’t know any different,” Loewen says. “If you’re a first-time homebuyer, you don’t know how the experience has changed since your parents’ mortgage 40 years ago. Technology is not just replacing the traditional mortgage – it’s going to far improve it. This isn’t your grandpa’s mortgage."
Loewen is especially proud of the brokerage’s Finmo portal, which puts calculators, client applications, and automated document request generation and submission in one place. Each member of the Loewen Group team strives to be a trusted expert in the mortgage space, and making sure clients are comfortable and know what’s happening every step of the way has always been a priority.
“Spending hundreds of thousands of dollars justifiably makes anyone nervous,” Loewen says, “but if you can show someone how a transaction is going to happen step by step, from A to Z, you can build a level of comfort.”
Loewen’s key to success has always been surrounding himself with people who believe in the same things and are committed to working toward the same goal. The team treats clients they way they would want to be treated and educates them on using technology the smart way: to enhance the experience and make it easier for everyone. While Loewen admits it wasn’t easy to cede responsibility to his team at first, doing so has made the business better in the end.
“When you create a company, it’s your baby and you don’t want anyone else to touch it,” he says. “But then you realize that there are others who are better at certain aspects of the job, and when they take over, you’re left with the parts that you enjoy the most. It’s an incredible and freeing experience.”