George Hugh calls it his “edge”: his background in capital markets and the banking sector, which preceded his career change to mortgage broker. Hugh started Taurus Mortgage Capital from scratch, working initially with one underwriter to build the company’s client base and value proposition. What set him apart, he says, was his 20-plus years of banking experience, including a stint as vice president of treasury and head of mortgage origination at ING Canada, which gave him insight into a side of the mortgage industry that not many brokers have seen.
“With my different background – accounting, finance, risk management – the way I spoke about a mortgage was very different,” he says. “That immediately separated me from the others. So when, for example, I talked about fixed versus variable mortgage rates, it was very detailed. With the explanations that I gave, speaking a language in a very simplified way, people started to trust me.”
While Hugh was a relative newcomer to the broker world when he founded Taurus, his time as head of ING’s mortgage broker channel afforded him another advantage: invaluable interaction with some of the nation’s leading mortgage professionals and a firsthand look at their approach to the industry. That gave him an inside glimpse into what worked and what didn’t in the broker space.
“I got to meet some amazing brokers from across the country while I was in charge,” he says, “and I realized that everyone had a different view on how they drove their business. I took a little bit from everyone and created Taurus. Not every model worked for me, but through my learnings of how the different brokerages operated – what they were good at, what they weren’t and what I thought they could do better – I developed my model for Taurus. It’s an amalgamation of all the different views and ways and strategies that people have.”
From that blend of ideas came the company’s client-focused approach, known as The Taurus Way. It’s a core value that has permeated the company’s ideology during nearly a decade in business, centred around simplifying complex mortgage issues for clients. Hugh quickly realized that knowing what’s right for a customer starts with one task: getting to know them.
“I would say that a lot of people spend maybe half an hour with their clients getting to know them,” he says. “I spend a minimum of an hour and a half. I do put the work in upfront because I’ve got to demonstrate that I am different, and you need to come to me.”
Taurus’s approach is one that Hugh describes as “wealth-building”: taking the time to expand clients’ knowledge and, consequently, their wealth.
“If I give you the knowledge, you get the guts,” he says. “When you get the guts, you start doing the right things. That’s the whole model. I spend a ton of time trying to provide my clients with information that they don’t know. I think that’s the game-changer, because AI technology and blockchain technology are designed to remove the middleman. The question is this: We as brokers, as professionals – what are we going to offer that the AI can’t do?”
Taurus’ growth since 2011 is ample proof that this client-intensive approach has served Hugh well. In fact, he says, it’s an ethos he’s not willing to sacrifice – even at the expense of potential expansion.
“I can double my business tomorrow,” he says. “But the reason why I haven’t done it is that I refuse to sacrifice the level of service that I give to each and every one of my clients. I will not grow and sacrifice the service levels; I find that the level of service in all aspects deteriorates the busier you get. You start to sacrifice – and service should not be sacrificed.”