Continuously honing the tools and knowledge acquired in early experiences is vital to a mortgage professional’s longevity
Patience and persistence combined with a personable approach are the main components of at least a decade-long career in the ever-challenging mortgage industry, according to Paul Occhiuto, broker and managing partner at Clear Trust Mortgages in Toronto.
An exacting set of standards and a strong drive towards success come naturally to the athletically inclined Occhiuto, who plays soccer and rides a Peloton bike in his spare time. He also juggles his work time with being a husband and a father to three daughters.
Occhiuto said that he was blessed with a strong repertoire of skills and experience, having cut his teeth at industry-leading organizations.
“I worked at the TD Real Estate Secured Lending corporate office for three years, then I led a successful sales team of mortgage specialists for five years at TD,” Occhiuto told Canadian Mortgage Professional. “I have now been a managing partner at Clear Trust for the past 20 months.”
Occhiuto said that his early experiences provided him with valuable tools that have served him well in his time in the industry so far.
“From my early days in the branch world as a financial advisor, I worked on a few mortgage files and realized my passion for the lending space,” Occhiuto said. “This is the career for me because it allows me the balance to help clients find solutions for their home financing needs along with leading a successful group of mortgage professionals.”
However, the shift from operating in a bank branch to managing a tight-knit operation like a brokerage was anything but easy.
“I am more actively the managing partner of the brokerage, which allows me to focus on building the team and help each individual agent in our brokerage grow their book of business,” Occhiuto said. “The most challenging period of my career was making the leap from the bank to the brokerage where we had a team of 12 agents, which we have now grown to over 40 agents who are all productive.”
Steady exposure to professionals who are just starting out has given Occhiuto a good idea of what his operation needs – and what industry newcomers need to bring to the table.
“My advice to new agents starting out in the industry is to build a solid business plan on paper which will outline their list of referral sources,” Occhiuto said. “I also suggest joining a brokerage that will provide ongoing support to help you succeed and be very active in sourcing business – in particular during the first six months.”
These experiences, together with the consistent fine-tuning that every transaction provides, gradually defined Occhiuto’s strong points in the industry.
“My two areas of specialty are relationship management and customer service,” Occhiuto said. “In order to optimize my performance in these areas, I take the time to get to know people and connect on a personal level.”
The value of this seemingly simple approach should not be underestimated, Occhiuto said.
“When it comes to customer service, being available to answer client’s questions and walk them through the entire process is key, as obtaining a mortgage is likely the largest transaction they will complete,” Occhiuto said. “The most important lesson I have learned in my career so far is that you need to build long lasting relationships with both your partners and clients. The relationships I have built and continue to build are the foundation of my success.”
For Occhiuto, this is emblematic of the mortgage industry’s best characteristic: the mortgage professional’s input and effort almost always yield returns many times over.
“If you are willing to work hard and be actively prospecting, you will be successful,” Occhiuto said. “Your hard work is directly linked to your compensation. There truly is no better industry to be in.”
The returns for Occhiuto have been numerous and significant in the decade he has been in the industry.
“I have been fortunate to have won numerous awards at the bank over the years in both the corporate world and as a top 10 sales manager (leading the mortgage specialist),” Occhiuto said. “Being named on the Canadian Mortgage Professional Hot List and Rising Star in 2021 in my first year in the business was a proud moment in my career.”