Advice for brokers in midst of a changing lending climate

In the latest episode of CMP Talk, Community Trust’s Grant Armstrong, director of national sales, shares recent conversations he has had with brokers and what brokers need to be keeping top of mind in today’s evolving lending climate. Find out how the company achieves quick turnaround times, provides outstanding broker support, and how technology is facilitating leading lenders in their interactions with brokers – making a real difference to improving the lender-broker experience on all fronts.

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Narrator 1: [00:00:04] CMP Talk, the Canadian Mortgage Professional Podcast. This episode is presented in partnership with Community Trust. In the latest episode of CMP Talk, Grant Armstrong, director of National Sales and Lending a Community Trust, joins us to discuss how community trusts broker support was able to score highly amongst brokers this year. Hear about the way technology is being implemented to achieve success, the important role of the company's BDMs and what brokers should keep top of mind about community trust.

Fergal: [00:00:47] Hello again and thanks for joining us on another edition of CMP talk. I'm Fergal McAlinden, CMP'S news editor. Well, it's been another eventful year to date for Canada's mortgage broker community, with the market taking plenty of twists and turns throughout 2022. It goes without saying that support from lenders is one of the most important parts of a broker's job in the ever changing mortgage climate. And today, we're joined by one of Canada's leading lenders to tell us more about some of the ways they're helping brokers navigate the current market. For today's edition of CMP Talk. I'm very pleased to welcome Grant Armstrong, director of national sales and lending at Community Trust. Grant, thanks for joining us today. How are things with you?

Grant: [00:01:21] Fantastic. And yourself? 

Fergal: [00:01:23] Things are going well and I actually can't believe, as I was saying that intro, it's hard to believe that we're getting towards the end of the year already. You know, only a couple of months ago, so many twists and turns, as I mentioned. But yeah, I hope everything's going well with you. And we're thrilled to have you on. 

Grant: [00:01:37] Thank you very much. It's always a pleasure to come and talk to you about the industry. It's a pretty amazing experience. 

Fergal: [00:01:42] For sure. I mean, let's start with that changing market that I mentioned. Obviously, interest rates are on the up. The market is a little bit cooler this year than it was last year or at the beginning of this year. I wanted to ask if anything has actually changed about the advice that you've been giving or the conversations that you've been having with brokers over these last few months. 

Grant: [00:02:01] So the advice hasn't necessarily changed, but it's just become more relevant and we've really been double doubting it. So the number one piece of advice we give to brokers is know your client, understand your client, especially in the space when you're dealing with non traditional income verification, clients with unique circumstances really get to know your client, understand how they get paid, how do they generate their revenue, what's their business structure. Some of the things that are a little bit more deeper than most brokers used to asking, but that's the number one conversation we're having today because that helps us when we're trying to review those applications and make decisions on them relatively quickly. 

Fergal: [00:02:39] Obviously, one thing that's happened over the past couple of years is that there have been so many new entrants to the space and obviously brokers have a huge array of different lenders to choose from and the current changing environment. What do you view as community Trust's specific unique value proposition? 

Grant: [00:02:53] Great question. And one of the things I'd say that is really unique to community trust is we haven't changed. We've been very consistent. We do obviously have to focus on specific areas. We look closely at income, but our policies and procedures have been very consistent to make sure that brokers understand how we work. But what we have changed is our technology. We put improvements into things such as the Community Trust Cafe. Our insta value, our insta share. We consistently get feedback from the marketplace and how we can improve our technology. We have many changes over the last year, specifically to our Community Trust Cafe. We brought out a mobile app and these were because our broker partners asked for it. So that's one of our best value propositions in the place today. 

Fergal: [00:03:39] One thing as well that always strikes me is that we talk about this quieter market and how things have cooled on a lot. But that's not to say that brokers aren't still doing business, and a lot of the brokers that I talk to are still very busy at the minute. So it may be a little bit of a quieter market, but how have you been achieving quick turnaround times for brokers this year to date? And I ask that knowing that the company did really well, scored very highly with brokers and our recent Brokers on Lenders report? 

Grant: [00:04:05] Well, we were very honored to receive a bronze award for brokers on lenders on our turnaround times. And I will say community trust is busy. It's one of the most amazing things about being a growth organization focused on trying to help more Canadians and partner closer with brokers. So we continue to be busy and we continue to to to work with our partners across the country. But our turnaround times have dramatically improved. We've internally, we've moved around some of our processes. What questions do we ask? We've really doubled down on training and making sure both internally and externally, everybody knows what we do, and that's led to a faster turnaround time. Typically, our partners are getting responses on our applications within the first business day and majority of the time we're getting commitments out in just a couple of days based on what our broker partners are looking for. So we're very happy with our turnaround times. 

Fergal: [00:05:02] Yeah, for sure. And I'm sure that will be music to the ears of our brokers who are listening today. Just on the subject of that, brokers and lenders report. The company's broker support also scored very highly in the eyes of brokers. Is there anything in particular, Grant, that you've been focusing on there this year? 

Grant: [00:05:18] Service is something we live and breathe every single day, so how we take care of our partners. So we evolved. We just celebrated about a month ago, our one year anniversary, our mortgage advisory team. Our mortgage advisory team is extremely unique in the industry. It's a dedicated team of professionals that are available from 8 p.m. to 8 p.m. and their sole job is to support brokers when they have questions. You're never more than 45 seconds away from picking up the phone and calling and getting a live person on the phone that can answer specific questions about your deal. That's in progress. A new deal. Need help with conditions. Want to understand what we do a little bit better? So we put an entire group or forward facing to make sure our broker partners have the support when and how they need it. 

Fergal: [00:06:09] And that leads nicely onto what I was going to ask you next, which was about technology. We always hear about how technology has become so much more relevant and important in the industry over the past couple of years. The pandemic might have supercharged that to some extent, but I know that it's a real focus for community trust and for brokers and lenders alike. It's really important. What role do you think the technology should play for leading lenders and their interactions with brokers? 

Grant: [00:06:33] So our Community Trust Café, whether it be through the computer or mobile, is a really key point or part of our interactions process. So you can communicate directly with community trust through the cafe or on the app. And right now we've got a dedicated team of individuals who are actually picking up these messages, answering them right away, or if they don't have the information, they're the ones seeking out to get the information for a broker partner. So technology is enabling us to get back to our partners faster and more accurately, the old school way of calling in, waiting for your underwriter, or waiting for your mortgage officer and playing a little bit of telephone tag that's disappeared for us. So between our mortgage advisory team or through our Community Trust Cafe, you post your question, you call when you want to. And we've always got somebody standing by to make sure you're taken care of. And that was only done because of the technology that we offer.

Fergal: [00:07:27] So when it comes to credit policy, I often hear from brokers that that's very important for them as well. Could you tell me a little bit about that and how the company keeps brokers in mind when it's putting that together? 

Grant: [00:07:37] So credit policy is something that we review on a regular basis. We make sure that we have the best credit policies that reflect our risk appetite and also ones that help Canadians achieve their goals. But our brokers are the ones that tell us where we want to get feedback. They can tell us what they need or what's in the industry or just challenge us. Sometimes we don't always directly change our policies based on that feedback. It helps inform future decisions. We're very, very lucky to have a broker advisory council. We have that today in Ontario and BC and Alberta, where we bring in key business partners that provide us very frank feedback. And this is on our service, our processes and our policies, and we take that away. And when we sit down to actually determine what tweaks we need to make, changes to what things need to be evolved, the brokers comments are part of that discussion and making sure that the policies that we do change are in line about what our partners need. 

Fergal: [00:08:36] Okay I see. Nice. Yeah, it's always great to hear about that constant feedback. Kind of brings me to my next question as well, which was about the role played by BDMs Grant. Obviously their part in acting as a conduit between lender and broker is really significant. Maybe now more so than ever. How important is the role played by Community Trust?

Grant: [00:08:54] BDMs are extremely important. So our BDMs and we're very lucky. We have a group of BDMs which are on the marketplace and working with the partners. We also have an internal business development group. Are these business development representatives are our way of making sure that our partners know what we do. The biggest focus they had for 2022 and they're going to continue to focus for 2023 is training and educating. The last couple of years, business has been so quick moving and it's evolved and it's changed. And so we talked a minute ago. Our policies evolve. Sometimes these group of individuals are the ones that can help bring that information out into the marketplace. So our BDMs have helped brokers streamline their businesses, grow, their businesses become more efficient, and they also become that sounding board for them when they want to change their business model. So the business development managers, both our internal and external BDMs are critical to both community trust success as well as our broker partner success. 

Fergal: [00:09:56] Yeah, and I've kind of quizzed you about a lot of different aspects of how Community trust deals with brokers. Grant, just last of all, before we wrap things up, is there anything that you'd like and would like to encourage brokers to keep top of mind about Community trust that maybe they don't already know?

Grant: [00:10:11] Community Trust has got a number of different ways to support Canadians. Our goal is to help Canadians achieve their financial goals. We want to show them that we care about their business, their finances, their needs. So what I encourage is, as brokers in the marketplace, pick up the phone and call your local BDM, call our mortgage advisory team, have a cup of coffee and learn what the community trust differences and and how they can help them grow their business and ultimately help their clients. 

Fergal: [00:10:38] Okay, perfect. Well, look, it's always great to hear from Community trust. Lots of stuff in there for brokers to keep in mind, as usual. So thanks for coming on today. Grant, We really appreciate it and I'm sure we'll talk soon. 

Grant: [00:10:48] And thank you for having me. 

Fergal: [00:10:50] That's just about all we have time for today on CMP Talk. Our thanks again to Grant Armstrong and Community Trust for joining us today. Thanks to you for listening. Stay tuned for more great content from CMP in the very near future. We'll see you next time. 

Narrator 1: [00:11:01] Thank you for listening to this episode of CMP Talk. For more from Grant and the team at Community Trust. Visit them a Like this episode of CMP Talk, you can also listen and follow us on Spotify.