Massive mortgage market upsurge - what does it mean?

In this episode, CMP chats with Community Trust on its performance during the first quarter of 2022 and what the massive upsurge in market activity and deals being funded means for the industry.


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Narrator: [00:00:03] CMP Talk, the Canadian Mortgage Professional Podcast. This episode is presented in partnership with Community Trust. Grant Armstrong, director of National Sales and lending at Community Trust, joins us in the latest episode of CMP Talk to discuss what to keep top of mind in the current lending climate and how community trust are handling the upsurge in market activity

Fergal: [00:00:39] Hello again and thanks for joining us on another edition of CMP Talk. I'm Fergal McAlinden, news editor for Canadian Mortgage Professional. And today we're kicking off the first of our specialized lending series of podcasts, which will feature some of the major lenders in Canada's mortgage space, speaking on all the biggest issues currently taking place in their world. For today's episode, I'm joined by Grant Armstrong, director of National Sales and lending at Community Trust, to talk us through some of the company's progress this year to date and how the market is playing in Canada's alternative lending space. Grant, many thanks for joining us today. How are things with you?

Grant: [00:01:13] Fantastic and yourself?

Fergal: [00:01:14] All is great with me. We spoke a few weeks ago for the first ever episode of CMP Talk, so I'm really glad to have you here today and excited to hear how things have been going over at Community Trust since we last caught up with you. How have things been at the company in the first quarter of 2022 and what are some of the things that you're most excited to share?

Grant: [00:01:34] Before I jump into that again, thank you so much for having me back. I enjoyed the podcast and very honored to be able to come back so soon and and talk a lot about community trust in the industry. The first quarter has been very exciting. We've continued to see some incredible partnerships over from left over from 2021 and carrying forward into 2022, continuing to work with new partners that we've never worked with before. But we're really excited to share a couple of things. March 1st of this year, we fully opened our offerings to all of British Columbia, so we're now servicing all of the registered brokers within BC and bringing the community trust products to that marketplace. We've also continued to to double down and enhance our service experiences. So what are the key things that we're known for is our wonderful mortgage advisory team. So very happy if a broker or an agent requires some support 8a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, able to jump on our call center and get in front of an agent within typically under 30 seconds. And these are advisors that can support them on their applications, answer questions about specific applications, help them through conditions, understand what's going on. But we've also expanded that to our digital communication. So just in the last month, we launched our mortgage advisory team supporting our online messaging through our Community Trust Café. And typically when messages are coming through, we now have the ability to ensure that we're getting nearly live communication back and forth with our partners. So when a question or a comment on a specific application has been posted, we have a trusted mortgage advisor who's able to respond, back, help out, triage, or get that information to the right source to make sure the application flow smoother and quicker.

Fergal: [00:03:17] Okay, great stuff. And I know that it's been such a hectic mortgage market over the past couple of years. And one of the big questions that everybody had when the year began was whether activity was going to continue at this pace or if we were going to see any kind of gradual slowdown. Have you noticed a market that's as busy as last year, or how would you describe activity so far this year?

Grant: [00:03:37] Activity has been strong. There's absolutely been some peaks and valleys already in the first quarter of this year. We have seen your traditionally after after the holiday, the end of year. Things may slow down a little bit, but we've also seen with some of the rate changes as some of the the prime rates and the alternative rates have risen a bit. You've also seen a lot of buyers or transactions coming in to capture the rates that they currently are. So still a little early to say how busy it's going to be for the year, but at least a community trust has been a very solid first quarter of the year.

Fergal: [00:04:12] And one thing that I'm always interested in hearing is how companies have managed to handle that massive upsurge in market activity and deals that's taken place since the pandemic began. Has there been anything in particular that Community Trust has done to cope with that additional work?

Grant: [00:04:31] So Community Trust not only had to go through the uniqueness of the of the pandemic, but we also had some very strong growth goals that we wanted to accomplish over these years. So we really focused on a few areas. Our number one thing was what do we need to do to maintain or improve or excel in our service? So we looked across our lines of business. We looked at across the processes that we have, and we captured areas that we could see as a bottleneck, or it could be an area where they are partners or maybe not enjoying the experience. And we said, how do we tackle it? And that's how we came up with our advisory team last year and we saw the service levels rise from there. We've also continued to develop a lot of training to our staff, so we have an incredible learning and development manager who works with our new staff coming in constant training, constant upgrading of skills to help make sure that everyone is ready to tackle applications as they come across. We've also looked at invested in our technology. Our Community Trust Cafe that came out last year really helped make sure that our partners had a singular point to be able to upload documentation, access rates, access information about community trust. We updated at the end of the year Conditions Management Portal. We launched a app so our partners can communicate us through our through their mobile devices. Those are just some of the things that we've carried through into 2022. And we continue to take those exercises to where could there be a bottleneck, where could it be a service opportunity that we can bring a better level of service towards? How can we enhance technology? How can we train and change some of our processes to make it easy? So that's how we're tackling our volumes to make sure that we maintain our winning service experience.

Fergal: [00:06:17] All right. Excellent. Well, you kind of touched a little bit on my next question here Grant, which was just really about about mortgage brokers. Obviously, a lot of our listeners are brokers and they're dealing with an increasing number of lenders and all of that. We've talked about it before a little bit in the past, but for anybody who might not know, could you give us a little bit more information about how Community Trust works, specifically with brokers?

Grant: [00:06:41] Absolutely. So we try to bring as many processes, my apologies, as many options to our partners that they want. So typically an application come in, come in. We've got two key ways to communicate with us and work with us. We have our Community Trust Café, which is our portal, which allows direct communication into our teams to chat function rate on every specific application, which also makes sure that we can capture important conversations. There's nothing lost in communication. Our underwriting team or fulfillment teams or advisory teams have the ability to send messages out, provide regular updates, and our broker partners have the ability to message back immediately commenting on their providing additional updates, new information, answering any questions you may have. The other benefit is our service layer. We're mortgage advisory team again at 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. A partner can pick up the phone and call in and say, Hey, I want to talk to somebody. And a lot of brokers are historically looking that they feel that they need to talk to the underwriter on the file. But what they really need is they need an underwriter or an experienced individual that can help them navigate their questions. So that's what we've done to support, and that's how brokers can work with us. Essentially how they want to work is how they can work with us.

Fergal: [00:08:06] It's always kind of difficult to distill a message in the 30 seconds or a minute, so I apologize for this one in advance. But for any brokers who aren't already working with Community Trust. Do you have an elevator pitch for them or what would that elevator pitch be?

Grant: [00:08:22] Quite the spot. But my elevator pitch is if you haven't worked with Community Trust and you're looking for an innovative lender, one that specializes in alternative financing and providing solutions for your client, she give us a call and experience the amazing service that we offer you, your client, and the transactions that we're trying to go through.

Fergal: [00:08:41] All right. Very well. But I'm impressed with that one. And Grant, just in on the current lending climate in particular. Is there anything that you're keeping top of mind at the moment or any kind of trends that you've noticed that you're keeping an eye on?

Grant: [00:08:58] One of the things the last couple of years have taught us is it's very difficult to predict what's going to happen next. And you can't focus on one, two or even three very specific. You've got to ensure that you keep your your your fingers, your toes, your nose on various different parts, whether it be the real estate, the employment, unemployment, interest rates, appraisal values, purchase transactions, condos. So we've got a fantastic team around us, a community trust, to make sure that we bring a lot of the relevant information. We want to make sure that we keep our fingers on all the necessary parts. So we're maintaining a very close eye on the interest rate markets, both not only for alternative lending, but for our prime partners. We're looking at unemployment rates. We're looking at municipal provincial bylaws that may affect individuals abilities to work, whether businesses are shut down, whether there's limitations on gatherings, because all of these have an effect, especially with our ability to support so many entrepreneurs. They're the ones that can be affected by some of these municipal or provincial changes. So not one specific thing, but we've done a great job of keeping a really good finger on the pulse of all the areas that we lend in to understand what's going on in that specific community, both on a micro and macro scale.

Fergal: [00:10:25] Okay Nice I kind of expanding on a little bit from what you mentioned about municipal and provincial bylaws. One thing that I'm always talking to people about these days is whether there's anything on the regulatory side from either the provincial or federal governments that you would like to see enacted or that you think would would be a good idea for the market. Is there anything that kind of stands out at you that you would think this would be really good for my work as a mortgage professional or for the mortgage industry in general?

Grant: [00:10:54] I there wouldn't be anything specific that I'd be looking for the regulators to introduce or change. I think the regulators do a fantastic job of providing feedback and guidance to lenders. And again, I think the best thing I can ask for is to continue that consistent message and share with all the lenders that they work with, the expectations that they have of everybody, and to keep keep supporting the mortgage industry like they do.

Fergal: [00:11:25] Well, one thing that I have to ask you about is the Canadian Mortgage Awards, the CMAs, which are coming up on April 28th. So the clock is really ticking down towards those. I know that you're sponsoring the Community Trust Award for Alternative Broker Specialist of the Year. How excited is everybody at Community Trust for that and what's the significance of that award to the company?

Grant: [00:11:47] We're extremely excited, excited to see some of our partners we haven't seen. I know there's a number of partners and especially now the community trust is as expanded. So the last time there was CMA's in person, the community trust was very focused on Ontario, but we're now in British Columbia and we're looking at new and exciting places, excited to see some of our partners from British Columbia that are coming in, or partners in Ontario that we haven't had an opportunity to get together with. But this award is incredibly important to us. Community Trust is an alternative lender. We the alternative industry, alternative mortgage industry story, is is a key part of the mortgage industry. And we're excited to celebrate those who excel in it, who provide the best advice, the best experience, best guidance. And that's what this award is, is recognizing those individuals that really understand the alternative. Mortgage industry is a key part of Canadians financial solutions.

Fergal: [00:12:46] Okay. Awesome. Well, we've kind of gone from one topic to the other today and we've covered a wide range of stuff. Is there anything else that you think is important to note or mention to our listeners that we haven't covered so far?

Grant: [00:12:58] My biggest advice is if you're if you're not familiar with community trust or you want to learn more, pick up the phone. Our mortgage advisory team is there to teach, educate, share information about community trust. We have an incredibly talented group of business development managers, a talented group of inside business development associates. We've really built a program that supports our business partners. So if you'd like to learn more about community trust, give us a call 188-649-1169 or email us at [email protected] And we'll get back to you and spend some time to teach you what we do and and learn all about you as well.

Fergal: [00:13:41] All right. Great stuff. Well, I think that's a really good spot to leave it at. Grant, thanks a lot for coming on. We really appreciate it as always. And I'm sure we'll talk to you very soon. Well, we'll see you at the CMAs, for sure.

Grant: [00:13:53] Absolutely. Very excited. And thank you so much for having me today. This was exciting and I hope I'm not pushing, but can't wait for the next time I get to come back and talk to you.

Fergal: [00:14:02] We'll definitely have you on again soon. And thanks again. We really appreciate it. That's about all we have time for today. But make sure to stay tuned for more great content from CMP in the very near future. Our thanks again to Grant Armstrong and Community Trust for coming on today's show. Thanks to you at home for listening and we'll see you very soon.

Narrator: [00:14:22] Thank you for listening to this episode of CMP Talk. For more from Grant and the team at Community Trust, visit them at