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Described as “one of the most dramatic years in recent memory” for the Canadian mortgage industry, 2022 has come out swinging with a cost-of-living crisis, rising interest rates, and a cooling housing market.
As the industry emerges from the chaotic environment of the pandemic, this fresh set of challenges has left mortgage professionals with little time to rest. But while navigating this post-pandemic uncertainty has been no easy task, the industry’s top-performing female members have once again risen to the occasion with their phenomenal achievements.
The Women of Influence have not only navigated the turbulence of the last few years – they have thrived and demonstrated exceptional leadership, resilience, and drive.
“Your career should be a marathon, not a sprint. Never forget, if it were easy, everyone would be a mortgage broker!”
Julie Brenneman, The Mortgage Centre Hometown Financial
As if helping clients navigate the complexities of today’s mortgage market was not enough, CMP's Women of Influence have also taken the lead in advocating for mental health, fundraising for charity, mentoring new industry entrants, and dedicating significant amounts of time to educating their clients on finance.
Several of the Women of Influence have founded their own non-profit organizations over the last year, and one raised over $25,000 for various charities. Many of the winners are business owners, and were faced with having to shift their focus areas and priorities. A recurring theme throughout this year’s submissions was the sheer level of hard work that the last two years had required. There is no doubt that these Women of Influence have risen to the challenge with strength and resolve, inspiring many other women and peers along the way.
Among the 2022 Women of Influence, many have highlighted the important role of mentors throughout their careers, particularly when they were still finding their feet in the industry.
Many of the winners have gone on to assume mentoring roles themselves, and have dedicated a large amount of time to fostering a welcoming, inclusive and diverse environment, as well as equipping the next generation of brokers with the skills they need to be successful.
“Having a mentor is 150% important for so many reasons,” says Denova Group DLC mortgage agent Stefanie LoRe.
“We can’t see what we can’t see. When you’re driving and there’s a blind spot, you have to physically turn and look at that blind spot. We have many blind spots in the mortgage industry, and we need somebody to help identify them.”
“Having somebody come in and look at the situation from the outside will help you overcome obstacles to success – and honestly, I think you should always have a mentor, even when you are established in your career,” LoRe continues.
“I believe everyone deserves the chance to shine, and I always encourage open dialogue to help everyone feel safe and welcome.”
“It definitely was a boys’ club, and in some ways, it still is – but women are realising that there is a lot of space for them in this industry as well”
Stefanie LoRe, Denova Group DLC
According to The Mortgage Centre’s principal broker Julie Brenneman, the mortgage industry can be a very lonely place when your phone is not ringing. Therefore, it is important to be an active member of the community, and seek out professional support from your peers. This is one of the reasons behind Brenneman’s decision to teach a Mortgage Agents course, which helps new brokers learn how to excel in the industry.
“If you feel alone or unmotivated, my advice is to attend as many events as you can and widen your circle,” Brenneman says.
“Join various social media groups with other national agents. And stop competing with banks, and make friends with your bankers because they will be the best referral sources you ever have.”
Brenneman adds that it also helps to seek out an accountability partner in the same career stage.
“In my case, that’s a couple women from different provinces who have become my ‘squad,’ and we are always supporting, never competing. It’s also important to keep constantly educating yourself on the industry, whether its podcasts, books, or webinars. Your career should be a marathon, not a sprint,” she says.
“Never forget, if it were easy, everyone would be a mortgage broker!”
“I had my sights set on building a successful career in Canada, and I made sure I reached that goal no matter the challenges that came my way”
Yvonne Ziomecki, HomeEquity Bank
While Canada’s mortgage industry is studded with bright female stars, it is now facing a new challenge – attracting a fresh generation of talent into mortgage and finance.
Although few young girls might dream of becoming mortgage brokers, LoRe says that attracting new talent into the sector doesn’t have to be difficult. She has observed throughout her career that the number of women in the mortgage industry has definitely grown. In fact, the 2020 Catalyst Women in Finance Report showed that women made up almost 50% of the financial services industry. But in order to attract new entrants, LoRe says that female brokers need to share their experiences, their success, and explain exactly what is possible as a mortgage broker.
“The best thing about the job is the ability to help people,” she says.
“When clients first call me and think that it’s not possible, but then it happens and they’re over the moon – I really love seeing that. There’s also nothing better than being your own boss.”
She explains that women are now able to create communities of mortgage brokers, which was harder to do when she started out in the profession.
“It definitely was a boys’ club, and in some ways, it still is – but women are realising that there is a lot of space for them in this industry as well. I think we just have to talk about our experiences and what we do, and the possibilities that it’s opened up for us. We all started at nothing, and it’s important to let people know that that’s normal, and we all created something from the ground up. Once they realize that, their mindset shifts to ‘well if you can do it, I can do it.’”
“There’s nothing special about us, really,” she adds. “Only that we put in the time, and worked very hard to get where we are today.”
When it comes to succeeding in the mortgage industry, HomeEquity Bank executive vice president Yvonne Ziomecki says that one of the most important steps is to have a specific goal, and to be prepared to put in a lot of hard work to reach it. She says it is important for her to be a strong role model in this respect – both for her own children and for others starting their careers in the mortgage sector.
“I had my sights set on building a successful career in Canada, and I made sure I reached that goal no matter the challenges that came my way,” Ziomecki says.
“Education was my number one priority in getting to that goal, and later when I had my two girls, the need to show them that hard work and perseverance pays off, was more important than ever.”
She explains that the mortgage industry is constantly evolving in the face of new technology and changes in the economic landscape.
“Brokers have an opportunity to grow their business in new ways with different target audiences. Clients are now more open to new ideas and new solutions, so brokers should step outside their comfort zone and present new ideas and create new connections and opportunities. I am always looking for new ways to change the conversation, and change the way to approach our lending opportunities with our broker partners,” she says.
To compile the 2022 Women of Influence list, CMP encouraged mortgage professionals to nominate outstanding female leaders from across the industry, with a particular focus on their achievements and initiatives over the past 12 months. Respondents were asked to identify their reasons for selecting their nominee as a Woman of Influence, including professional accomplishments and contributions to the industry, as well as their commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
The final list was selected by a judging panel made up of industry leaders and previous Women of Influence, including:
· Petra Keller, executive director, Canadian Mortgage Brokers Association - Ontario (CMBA)
· Christine Buemann, mortgage broker, The Collective Mortgage Group
· Carmen Costa, principal broker and owner, TCG Lending Centres
· Laura Martin, COO and broker, Matrix Mortgage Global
· Kyra Wong, district vice president, National Mortgage Broker Sales, Manulife
To avoid any potential conflicts of interest, the CMP team voided self-voting and votes for a judge’s own organization.
The Women of Influence report is proudly supported by CMBA – Ontario.
10th annual Women of Influence report