After ten years at BMO, working her way up from teller to financial planner to mortgage specialist, Julie Tran left the bank for a brokerage.
Tran, now a managing partner at Peak Mortgages in Vancouver, says that she left the bank because she had discovered a love of the mortgage business and wanted the freedom to serve clients directly that only a broker has. She’s flourished as a broker and attributes much of that success to the lessons she learned as a banker. While a shift from bank to brokerage has come with challenges, Tran says she’s pleased with her success and sees brokerages as a great option for the right kind of banker looking to grow outside one of the big six.
“The bank was a great opportunity; I was there for over 10 years and I learned a lot. But being there for 10 years, I felt like I needed to grow and expand. And the only way I felt I could have done this was to go and become a broker,” Tran says. “I wanted to give my clients the best possible solutions. I didn't think I could do that with a bank because I was working [only] with the bank, whereas being a broker, I have so many other options for my clients.”
In her trajectory through BMO Tran worked as a teller, an assistant manager, a financial planner, and a mortgage specialist. More than anything else, she says she enjoyed mortgages. It was a chance to engage directly with client’s dreams and make them a reality. She says she loved the creativity that lending work would require. After becoming a mortgage specialist, though, Tran noticed that her options were limited. She could shoot up, and aim at becoming an executive, or stay in the specialist role. She left for a brokerage because it allowed her so many more options to make those client dreams reality.
Tran says that at Peak, she now works for her clients and not for the bank. The bank, she had noticed, applied a single policy without much leeway for clients who might not fit into their standards for financing. As a broker she says there are so many more options in terms of lenders, that she can find the best solutions. At BMO Tran would have to turn away clients who didn’t fit in the bank’s program. Now she can find the solutions that fit best.
Banking experience has been key to Tran’s success. She says that BMO’s commitment to customer service has served her well in on the relationship-management side of the brokerage business. She learned management skills, too, that she’s put to work as a managing partner at Peak. Even working as a financial planner gave Tran an eye for markets and broad economic trends she can use to serve her clients as a broker. She has a broad base of financial services knowledge she can pull from to answer almost any question a client may have.
Tran has excelled at peak, joining as a partner and moving up to Managing partner within two years. She says some of this success has been driven by mentorship. She says forging new relationships with lenders and underwriters was challenging coming from the more vertically-integrated world of the bank. Joining Peak, Tran was able to learn from a deep, well-connected team that already had strong connections and relationships in the lending and underwriting space. Peak and it’s leaders furnished Tran with the entry point she needed.
Tran says that the decided to make the jump to Peak when she realized that she had already built a degree of self-sufficiency at the bank. She says that other bankers looking to make that shift should work on establishing independent client pipelines.
“I ended up making a big jump when I realized that I didn't need anything from the bank in order to succeed,” Tran says. “Many bank mortgage specialists rely on referrals that come from the bank. I came to a point where I never needed any referrals from the bank, in order to grow my business.
“I think if somebody is looking to switch to a brokerage, they should make sure that they're you have no reliance on the bank. Once you become a broker, you actually have to go and get those deals, they don't come to you.”