The road to consistency and success in the mortgage space is often a long and craggy one, as Trish Pigott, owner and broker at British Columbia-based Primex Mortgages, can attest – but the long-term results are certainly more than worth it.
Pigott’s mortgage journey began in 2004, far before her ownership of the franchise that she has held for more than 10 years now.
“I used to be a regional manager for Home Depot Canada, and I was with them for 13 years,” Pigott said. “It was a very corporate-driven organization and it became a plateau situation for my career as far as income and promotion opportunities went, unless I relocated to either Ontario or the US.”
A colleague’s suggestion that she would do well in mortgages proved to be the initial spark towards a career in the industry.
“I started researching it even when I was still in the corporate world and took the courses needed at UBC [University of British Columbia], and things gradually took off from there,” Pigott said. “I took a leave of absence from my Home Depot position because I was on the road five days a week, and it was definitely not a path that I wanted to continue.”
“Once I finished the UBC course, I interviewed at mortgage companies and that kick-started my career. I took a leave of absence for six months before I officially left just to make sure that I can do it, and have a decent amount of income comparable to what I was leaving behind. And here we are.”
A lack of expectations on Pigott’s part – “just because I didn’t actually know any mortgage brokers” – proved to be an advantage, as she didn’t hold any pre-conceptions colouring her choice to take on this path.
“I was extremely hungry for information and knowledge, so I did my best. I attended every function and event, and I just kind of learned on my own,” Pigott said. “At that time, I didn’t have quite as much access to things that we do today through online channels, so I pounded the pavement. I attended open houses, attended all the training classes, learned my lender products, built relationships with the realtors in my area... everything we did at that time was on paper. Sixteen years ago was a very different time in terms of technology, but at the end of the day the only true key is hard work and I definitely worked a ton – morning, noon, and night.”
Pigott said the arrival of her daughter represented a major shift “just because this is a business where I didn’t have any mat leave period.”
“Most people get to take maternity or paternity leave when they have a traditional job, but in my case, my business was just starting to grow and then I was expecting my first child,” Pigott said. “Trying to balance home life and my new work life was probably the most challenging period of my career. Luckily, I have an extremely supportive husband, and he had great benefits – he was able to take paternity leave. I’ve always held my business as a top priority, so it’s definitely nice when you have a very supportive spouse that is able to help with childcare and ‘round-the-clock schedules.”
And contrary to many other industry professionals’ experience, Pigott’s venture enjoyed sustained strength during the last major financial crisis.
“I know a lot of brokers who get panicked when they hear the word ‘recession,’” Pigott said. “Going through the challenges of 2007 to 2009 and the credit crash, that was actually a very strong time for my business, even though that was literally the period when my daughter was born. I was never willing to entertain the panic side of things; the way I’ve looked at the industry is that there are houses on every street, and somebody has a mortgage on at least one of those houses. There’s no reason I can’t succeed in any market or climate.”
Pigott impressed upon her team the same approach during the COVID-19 pandemic, a move that she said helped keep their performance robust over the last few months.
“We can’t use market or economic conditions as an excuse not to succeed,” Pigott said. “We might have to change, we might have to pivot, but we can’t ever blame the market or the economy for why we’re not doing well in our business. I’m a firm believer in that – always have been, and always will be.”