CMP: How did you get into the broker space?
After university, I got my bachelor of commerce degree, and I landed a job at a finance company. I worked with them for five years, understanding everything there was to understand about credit. Essentially, from there I started to work as a mortgage underwriter for a subprime lender in Vancouver.
That’s basically how I got in. I was working with brokers, but I was on the underwriting side. Eventually I saw that I was putting in a lot of hours to do what I was doing, and I thought, “You know what? I should see if I can do this brokering thing.”
So I got my licence. I didn’t know anyone in Vancouver because I had just moved out from Saskatchewan. I just hit the ground running and tried to be a broker. That was in 2001, so it worked. I’m still here! My Saskatchewan roots of being a hard worker and having no problems walking into a room and networking my brains out really helped. And I think my lending background really helped as well – I did some time with RBC as a mortgage specialist. Understanding the other side of it really helped me as a salesperson, because I understood credit; I understood income. I understood all the aspects of an application because I’d been working with credit for six or seven years before I became a broker.
CMP: Tell us a little about Verico Xeva Mortgage.
Xeva was formed at the end of 2013. It was a merger of four companies, including my own. We all became Xeva Mortgage together. All the people who joined had
been in the business for as long as I had. We all had experience in lending or banking, and we’d been friends supporting each other, that kind of thing. I wish I’d done this at the beginning of my career rather than going through all the hard knocks to get to this point. I’m thriving in this environment. We work very hard to see each other be successful – and we’re proud of each other’s success. We celebrate each other, and we find ways to help each other grow. I’d hit a plateau in terms of how much volume I could do, but last year my business grew by almost 50%. I attribute that directly to the Xeva model and the people I’m surrounded by on a regular basis.
CMP: You mentioned the “Xeva model” – what is that, exactly?
All brokerages have access to education, but the people in our firm who are helping to educate junior brokers are actually Top 75 Brokers. Three of the brokers in the firm are CMP Top 75 Brokers. We all help each other with our own businesses, but we also help all the brokers within the firm. We don’t do that for any financial benefit – all of the brokers pay on a flat-fee model based on their volume. They’re here because they want to be here, because they’re getting the support they need to grow. But they’re
not paying through the nose for it. They get to grow, but they also get to keep the benefits of their hard work.\
CMP: Xeva is part of the Verico network. Has that connection been helpful to you?
I was a Verico broker before being part of Xeva, and I definitely saw the value in being part of Verico. I have access to tools that I wouldn’t be able to create on my own.
I also have access to a larger network of brokers that I can rely on. When you work on your own, it can be a very isolating thing. Having a network to draw on really helps to alleviate that stress. Before I was with Verico, I was with a smaller firm, and it was a very isolating experience not having that support.