How are Canada's top mortgage brokers thriving in 2023?

Leading mortgage pros on what they’re keeping top of mind at present

How are Canada's top mortgage brokers thriving in 2023?

For brokers and agents, it’s no secret that Canada’s mortgage market has undergone significant change in 2023 – and some of the best ways of thriving in the current climate were up for discussion during a panel at the recent Canadian Mortgage Summit in Brampton.

Moderated by Rachel Oliver (pictured top), managing partner of Clover Properties, the panel convened leading mortgage professionals to have their say on the traits required for top agents and brokers to flourish in 2023 and beyond.

Amidst the current downturn, the agents and brokers who show innovation, perseverance and presence of mind will be the ones who emerge successfully on the other side, according to Dalia Barsoum (pictured below), founder and broker at the Ontario-based Streetwise Mortgages, who participated in the panel. 

“We all know that the markets are cyclical, and we’re obviously in [a cyclical market] right now,” she said. “The question for us in this industry is not whether it’s going to get better, it’s when it’s going to get better. I think it’s a matter for those that are going to be creative, have the grit, have perspective, and are willing to do whatever it takes to rise on the other side.

“Those are the folks who will thrive in this environment. If you’re looking in the rearview mirror thinking ‘It used to be this and now it’s no longer that,’ that’s going to lead to a crash.”

Collaborative approach essential in present market

Appearing alongside Barsoum on the panel were Zeynep Babir, director of business development at 8Twelve Mortgage, and Kerri Reed, executive vice president at Premiere Mortgage Centre.

For Reed (pictured below), the expertise of agents and brokers is an essential component of helping borrowers find their way in a challenging market.

“We’re in an environment where our own individual levels of experience and the information that we understand and are able to provide back to our clients is key,” she said. “There is so much information out there that the everyday consumer does not understand, and our environment is changing daily.

“We’re currently seeing clients who are receiving notifications from their banks or lending institutions with regards to their secured lines of credit and I can guarantee that 90% of those clients do not understand what the changes are that are coming to their secured lines.”

Reed highlighted the importance of agents and brokers taking a collaborative approach to the current climate, particularly with regulations and trends evolving at a rapid clip.

“With a fast-paced, changing environment, the agents and brokers are looking to focus on how much it is that they know and the gaps that they actually don’t know. The more you know the better,” she said. “Knowledge is power. Knowledge is key.

“At Premiere Mortgage Centre, the agents and brokers are so well-versed and connected in leaning in and leaning on each other to fill in those gaps. It’s almost like they’re mentoring each other and in doing that they’re providing each other with the golden nuggets of information that are allowing them to shine when it comes to being an expert in our own businesses.”

Why technology is more important than ever

Babir (pictured below) of 8Twelve Mortgage said technology had come to the fore – and would continue to do so – in streamlining and scaling mortgage broker operations at present.

“The industry is evolving. So many things are evolving, and we need to leverage technology to our benefit,” she said.

“What does that mean? Technology can help you scale your business. Technology can help you streamline processes. Technology can help you streamline client journeys [and] referral partner journeys, and it will allow you to scale and streamline things in your day-to-day operations so you have that opportunity to really focus on your business. You’re working on your business.”

That said, the value of the human aspect can’t be overlooked either, with the mortgage industry remaining a relationship business, according to Babir.

For brokers, that means maintaining strong relationships with fellow industry professionals as well as current and potential clients.

“Always be in contact with your clients, your referral partners. That’s the only way you’re going to be able to maintain and scale your business,” Babir said, “but of course using technology to create streamlines, to create processes, to create efficiencies and consistencies.”

Barsoum said she was taking a closer look in the present climate at ways to generate revenue in the business, improving conversion, and adding more value above and beyond what she typically does.

“Taking a closer look and a much more granular look at how we do things in our business on a day-to-day basis to generate revenue,” she said when asked her main current areas of focus.

“And then on the expense side, I think we sometimes all get comfortable when the markets are doing well, and I can guarantee you that if you take a close look at your business today you will find some lazy dollars in your business – dollars that are not working hard for you.

“That could be dollars in unproductive staff, or dollars in marketing that is no longer working, or dollars that you’ve been spending… on autopilot. So take a closer look and get those dollars working hardest for you.”

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