CMP: What made you first get into the mortgage broker industry?
David Hetti: I was in the financial services business as a senior manager at Assante Capital Management. After the collapse after 9/11, Assante went through a restructuring, and I was let go. With the experience I had in sales, managing people and negotiating, I decided to start something by myself, and that’s how my career in mortgage brokering evolved. I joined Invis in December 2002; today, Invis and Mortgage Intelligence are one.
CMP: How would you describe your time in the industry?
DH: It has been fantastic; we have grown tremendously. It is a journey, but when I stepped into this industry, I knew it was my life calling. That’s how I see my mortgage business.
CMP: You’ve operated during a tumultuous period for the mortgage brokering industry. What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced?
DH: Initially, the biggest challenge was learning the ropes and gaining the experience. I have 20 agents working for me, and I always tell them that there’s nothing in this business than can replace experience. The biggest challenge at the beginning was getting that experience, prospecting and gaining clients. Then once you have the clients, you have to learn how to close transactions. It was an amazing experience gaining that expertise and product knowledge.
Prospecting came easy for me; getting on the phone and doing cold-calling was not a difficult task. But as we have progressed, the market has become more and more competitive; there have been rate wars and undercutting. One of the things I have done is to differentiate myself. I don’t compete in the price market. Everybody was competing for price, but I didn’t want to. I try to enhance the customer experience and to deliver a product that truly fits with each client.
Another challenge today is the magnitude of fraud in the marketplace. We are noticing that clients we have said no to are being serviced by others in the marketplace. There is less fraud now that the rules have changed, but it does still happen.
CMP: What markets do you focus on, and how has business been so far this year?
DH: We are based out of Oshawa, and our business comes from the surrounding areas – anywhere from Pickering, Haliburton and Port Perry to north of there. Business has been fantastic this year.
We have seen an increase in the Tier II type of business – people with challenged credit or those who are self-employed, who can’t get approved by the traditional lenders. They have been the majority of our business, and we’ve seen an increase in business going to private lenders. We haven’t seen a decline in our business since the mortgage regulations have tightened.
CMP: What’s your secret to growing your business?
DH: We don’t do the things most people do. I have a very holistic approach to my business. In the good old days, we didn’t have social media or Google or Facebook ads; it was all about connecting with our clients and enhancing that relationship. I keep doing that. We have a process that helps us keep our relationships close to us. We also look for opportunities to enhance and prosper with credit cards and life insurance and so on.
We marry our growth with technology. We try to automate as many processes as we possibly can, and we have been able to grow through social media marketing. We have an elaborate marketing system, and we do weekly blogging. There’s not a single day that goes by, whether I’m working or not, that marketing or prospecting does not happen.