The Great Recession wreaked havoc, but for Equitable Bank there was a silver lining: Joe Flor.
An underwriter for Wells Fargo, he was one of many casualties of the 2008 crisis. However, by then his reputation was known throughout the mortgage industry and he began fielding offers from various firms.
“Graciously, I had a few lenders looking at me at the time. I had CIBC, First Line, Home Trust and Equitable, and obviously I chose Equitable Bank,” he told CMP. “I don’t want to say that I brought processes with me, but I brought different ways of position deals, how to underwrite and explain why I believed in certain files. I had a lot of confidence from senior management.”
As director of national sales, Flor has become an indispensable member of the Equitable team. Brokers are lenders’ lifeblood and Flor and his team work diligently to identify opportunities for them. Part of that is choosing the right brokers with whom to partner.
“What we do in terms of cultivating relationships is each BDM has a list of key brokers they’ve identified as the people they really want to get the business out of,” he said. “It’s not that they don’t give anyone else top service, but these are the guys we strategize about. They’ll go see them twice a month, learn what niches they’re in, whether it’s self-employed or new to Canada or bruised credit, and we work with them to offer the products we have to get that business.”
Flor also works with select brokers to identify what he calls ‘rainmakers,’ or key agents.
“Outside of taking them for lunches and dinners, when we hold events they’re invited and we reward our broker partners all the time,” said Flor. “We take them golfing, for example. We reward our key people. From a relationship standpoint, it’s not out of sight out of mind—and I think brokers appreciate that more than coming in with a box of doughnuts. At the end of the day, if you say, ‘Hey, this is how Equitable can help you,’ they value that because there are so many lenders out there who are not going to remind them what they do, but it’s nice my team goes out there and reminds them every opportunity they get.”
Flor has a knack for talking to people and asking the right questions, getting down to brass tacks and efficiently, and expeditiously, helping files close. His personal touch is a major reason he was such a successful underwriter.
“I was able to talk to brokers about deals, the next deals, their families, basically build relationships with them as an underwriter. That gave me a lot of confidence to get into sales. Now I can look at deals in their office and piece them together.”
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