Brokers rating lenders: What’s most important for brokers today and how lenders can level-up

CMP’s Brokers on Lenders awards saw members of Canada’s mortgage broker community give their verdict on the leading lenders across the country in a range of different categories. One of the top winners was Community Trust, which came away with bronze medals for its turnaround time, interest rates, and transparency of commission structure.

In the latest CMP Talk podcast, Community Trust’s Grant Armstrong, director, national sales, and Lisa Abbatangelo, vice president of mortgage operations, dive into what’s most important for brokers today, how lenders can meet expectations, and why the company ranks so highly in brokers' eyes. Also hear how the company created its successful credit policy, how its BDMs approach broker support, and much more.

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Narrator 1: [00:00:03] CMP talk, the Canadian Mortgage Professional Podcast.

Fergal: [00:00:18] Hello again and thanks for joining us on another episode of CMP Talk. I'm Fergal McAlinden, CMP's news editor. And our most recent magazine, you may have noticed our brokers and lenders report giving mortgage brokers across the country an opportunity to share their thoughts on how the lenders they deal with have been performing over the course of the last 12 months. That report asked brokers to give their opinion on their lending partners across a range of different categories, including turnaround time commission structure, overall service levels, and many more besides. On today's episode, we're speaking with one of the companies that performed particularly well in the eyes of Canada's mortgage brokers to hear their views on some of the reasons behind that success and why they scored so highly. Joining us today from Community Trust and very happy to welcome Grant Armstrong, director of national Sales and Lending, and Lisa Abbatangelo, vice president of mortgage operations. It's great to have both of you with us today. Thanks for coming on. How are things with you?

Lisa: [00:01:08] Great, thanks. Always happy to be here with you, Fergal. 

Fergal: [00:01:11] It's fantastic to welcome you both today. First of all, I want to say congrats on the fantastic performance in the Brokers and lenders survey. I know that we've talked about this before, but obviously it's very important for community trust to hear how it's doing in the eyes of Canada's mortgage brokers. Grant, Can you just let us know a little bit behind that and the reasons for that? 

Grant: [00:01:29] Absolutely. You know, we're really happy to hear from our broker partners about what we're doing because they're our partners. Ultimately, our products are there for Canadians to become more financially successful, but it's the broker partners that help us bring those products to Canadians. So we need to hear when they're happy. We need to know what's going well and just we all seem to know when there's opportunities to improve. So getting this feedback on community trust and especially this time actually being recognized for some of the things we're doing great is fantastic and very critical to our business. 

Fergal: [00:02:01] Yeah, for sure. And I mean, at least I think, as Grant said there, it's not just one thing that brokers are giving their views on. There's lots of different categories here. One of the ones that always comes up as among the most important is turnaround time. And I know that Community Trust scored really well there. What was the reason behind that? 

Lisa: [00:02:19] You're right. Turnaround time is one of those things since the beginning of time always been important to everyone, really. Brokers, customers, even ourselves in our daily lives. It's something that we've heard from our partners that strong, reliable turnaround times are critical to their success and their ability to deliver on their commitments to their clients. We take it very seriously. So our turnaround time focus is to make sure that their applications go smoothly, reliably and quickly, even if we're not able to help fast is also appreciated the eyes of the broker partner and we appreciate that and we respect that. But we also know that speed alone does not result in an award winning experience. A speedy decision must be paired with a quality decision and we're very, very much focused on those two working together in tandem to be successful, though, in providing speedy quality service, we also need our partners to be on board with the same approach. It starts with a reliable and a quality application. We also are very dedicated to and proud of our 360 degree service model, which means that our partners can get access to real time support the way that they choose, whether it's digitally by phone, they can connect with a mortgage advisor or a BDM. This allows the turnaround time responses to the brokers to be at their fingertips the way they choose, but also allows our underwriting fulfillment teams to really focus on those faster quality decisions and document reviews. 

Fergal: [00:03:56] Yeah, for sure. And that issue of real time support is one that I hear time and again from brokers, especially in the current climate, how important that is. One other thing as well that always comes up as an important topic in these surveys is transparency of commission structure. Another area, the Community Trust did really well highlighted the company achieved that. 

Grant: [00:04:16] We were just transparent. We wanted to make sure that our partners knew what our commission structure was. We launched in, I believe it was 2020, our BariStar program, which is our Partner Rewards program. And we put down pen to paper what the commission structures are, what the volume bonus programs are, the benefits, everything that we do, we put it out there for our partners to be able to hold us accountable to it. That's what helped us make sure that our brokers understood what they were getting into in their working with community trust. Our partners, our key to our business, and if we can't be clear and concise on how we're going to compensate them for that business, there's an issue there. So we made sure that was top of priorities for 2022, and we'll continue that into 2023. 

Fergal: [00:05:05] And one thing that I'm interested in hearing about, Lisa, maybe you can take this one, is the company's credit policy. It got really good reviews from brokers across the board as well. Can you talk me through how that's formulated? 

Lisa: [00:05:16] Mm hmm. For sure. It's so rewarding to know that we've got a credit policy that resonates with our broker partners and satisfies them and the demands that they're really under to try to support their customers. It's one of the most challenging tools to maintain. I'm not going to lie, especially in the alternative lending space. Alternative lending in many ways is storybook lending, where the story really matters. It's an art, not a science. So it has to be paired with prudent residential mortgage underwriting standards. [00:05:54] With Etsy. Etsy. [00:05:56] It is a highly collaborative exercise and one that's informed both externally by our regulators, by our brokers, by our customers needs, as well as internal sources, our product team, our credit risk team or servicing team, our compliance team. That list kind of goes on and on. Very collaborative approach. It's important that we hear from many different areas, both internally and externally, and then we strive to maintain a credit policy that ultimately can help Canadians become more financially successful and secure, which is our mission.

Fergal: [00:06:32] Okay, fantastic. I was wondering, Grant, if you could maybe talk to me a little bit about the company's BDMs and how they work to service brokers. That was obviously another one of the categories and brokers on lenders. Yeah, tell me about about that. 

Grant: [00:06:46] Well, I'm proud of all the accomplishments we got through the awards. I'm especially proud of this one. Our BDMs, both our internal business development associates, associates and our business managers, they've been representatives of the organization in the field. Their goals are really, as Lisa talked about, the storybook lending or storytelling. They're the ones out there helping our partners. Give us the story, gather the information package, the the deal to meet community trust credit policies and maintain that quality. That's what we want them to do. So what we've done is we've really supported our business managers, make sure they're out on the road. They can go out and see the partners in person, use the digital technology. They're hosting webinars, they're hosting events, they're hosting training sessions. On average, our BDMs are out there 150 to 200 touchpoints a month, if not more, making sure that our broker partners are constantly aware of what we're doing. And that's what made our brokers recognize them for the support that they give. They know when they need the support of their BDM. As part of that 360 service approach, they can call the mortgage advisory team. They've got a portal. But when they really need that person to talk them through some challenges or how they can partner better with community trust, they know they can just pick up the phone, they get a hold of their BDM and they get the help they need when they need it. 

Fergal: [00:08:14] Yeah, it looks like such an important role and one that, as you say, requires so many different skills and trades to be able to do. We've talked about a lot of different sort of niches and areas of brokers across maybe overall service levels is possibly the most all encompassing in terms of overall quality. Again, community trusted really well there in the eyes of brokers. Lisa, How satisfying was that for you? 

Lisa: [00:08:39] Oh, so extremely satisfying and something that we're very, very proud of. It's excellent service level scores just touches on so many different things that we've been trying to focus on very intently. And it's not an easy thing to do on an ongoing basis. So we're very proud of it. We're very humbled by it. We listen to our partners and we take action. And I think that's something that's a real differentiator for us. And so we've heard many times that it's something that needs to be concentrated on. And so we've placed a really great deal of focus on it over the past few years. We talk about a relentless pursuit of excellence, and it's really something that means a lot to us. It's not just words. It's something that is extremely important to us in everything that we do. And we really believe it's a game changer. And we're hearing from our broker partners that that is actually the case. We also know that it's a journey, not a destination. So we'll continue to learn, we'll continue to listen and care about the service that we provide. It's part of our we care mission and vision, and it means something. 

Fergal: [00:09:52] Yeah, for sure. And that relentless pursuit of excellence that you mentioned is a really good way to sum it up, I think. Is there anything else that that encompasses for you, Grant, that maybe we haven't mentioned? I mean, we've covered a lot of points about how the company services, brokers, anything else that you wanted to highlight? 

Grant: [00:10:10] Lisa brought it up and talked a lot about our 360 service approach. That's that's really critical and essential to what we do for a broker partners, our business development managers and our internal business development associates. They're a big part of it, but we also focus a lot on technology. We have an incredible Community Trust Café, which is our portal. Our broker partners said we want to be able to travel easier with it sometimes, so we created an app available for them to download and have rate at their fingertips everything they need to know about their applications. That is what we're here to do is bring simplicity, quality, great products to our broker partners and make it make it easy for them to go forward with. 

Fergal: [00:10:54] So just before we run things off, it's obviously a survey that has taken the views of brokers from all across the country. A lot of different views are taken into account. Do either of you have a message for brokers in light of the results in the survey? 

Grant: [00:11:08] So I'll say a couple of things. The first and probably the most important. Thank you. Thank you for sharing what you like. Thank you for recognizing some of the hard work of the incredible people at Community Trust that work tirelessly to to put these programs together and provide that incredible service. The other message is stay tuned. We've got some more amazing things coming up at the end of this year. In the beginning of next year. I can't yet share what it's going to be, but just stay really close to us because you're going to think you're impressed now, going to continue to go down that path. And then maybe. Lisa, did you want to add anything? 

Lisa: [00:11:46] Yeah, for sure. I absolutely agree with what Grant had said just perfectly. We really humbly thank our brokers for their trust and look forward to continuing to work together to raise our bars together, to stand together and to together best serve and support our customers. Stay tuned. This is, as I mentioned before, a journey, not a destination. More great things to come. Looking forward to it. 

Fergal: [00:12:13] Okay. Well, I think that's an excellent point to wrap things up on. I want to thank you both again for coming in today to share some of the reasons behind community trust performance and the brokers and lenders report. We look forward to hearing from you again. I'm sure we'll catch up soon. And congrats again. 

Lisa: [00:12:28] Thanks Fergal. 

Grant: [00:12:28] Thank you. 

Fergal: [00:12:29] That's just about does it for today's episode of CMP talk. Our thanks again to Community Trust for joining us on the show. Thanks to you for listening and we'll see you next time.

Narrator 1: [00:12:38] Thank you for listening to this episode of CMP Talk. For more from Grant and the team at Community Trust. Visit them at communitytrust.com. Like this episode of CMP talk. You can also listen and follow us on Spotify.