In-person vs. virtual: What's the best way for mortgage professionals to meet?

Panel discusses the pros and cons of face-to-face and digital interactions

In-person vs. virtual: What's the best way for mortgage professionals to meet?

Clear communication and strong partnerships between mortgage lenders and brokers are more important than ever in 2023 – but are virtual meetings or face-to-face interactions the best way for mortgage professionals to cement bonds in the current climate?

A panel of leading lenders came together at the recent Canadian Mortgage Summit at Brampton’s Pearson Convention Center to discuss the components of a successful broker-lender relationship – and the best means of establishing connections within the industry today.

Chaired by DLC Group of Companies chief operating officer and broker Dong Lee (pictured top), the discussion featured panelists Alix Boyd (regional vice president – Eastern Canada, Radius Financial), Leanne Conroy (director of sales and business development, MCAN), James Grantis (director of investments, Hosper Mortgage) and Vrushank Muzumdar (business development manager, Lendfinity).

Lee described relationships as “core” to the mortgage industry, a traditionally “belly-to-belly” business where strong links with customers, referral sources and other industry members had always been key.

“Those that lose sight of that will lose sight of their business,” he said. “Leveraging technology to do the things that you need [will] help you be more efficient – but don’t ever lose sight of how important that conversation is, the ability for me to meet you and get body language and you being able to see me for who I am.”

What do mortgage professionals need to know about building relationships at present?

Conroy (pictured below) also emphasized the centrality of relationships in the current climate, particularly with the market having witnessed a pronounced downturn since the heights of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We really have to dig deep and have a core group of people that we have relationships with – not 1,000,” she said, “because when my broker partners call me, we’re close. We have a relationship. It’s trusting. We can talk about stuff... because we’re going to hash things out.”

Maintaining those relationships may have been difficult during the past year amidst a turbulent market, Conroy said – but she highlighted the importance of the entire industry realizing that everyone is in it together at present.

“I just want everyone to understand that [in] the ecosystem of the mortgage industry, we’re all equal,” she said. “There might be individuals, who have a higher approval, but whether we’re mortgage fulfilment or on the appraisal side… we’re all equal. There is no hierarchy and so we have to learn to work together. We’re all part of a team.”

Muzumdar (pictured below) said in-person meetings were a hugely important way of conducting business in the industry, although he also noted the value that virtual arrangements have provided during recent transformative years.

“Meeting in person just always becomes easier because you’re personable, you get to read off the body language, and it’s easier to get comfortable with people,” he said. “At the same time, after COVID there have been significant technological advancements, which makes things even more convenient. There’s Zoom, text, WhatsApp, everything.

“There are more avenues for us to relay information, and that goes both ways. So it’s easier to manage relationships in this day and age, and that gives us even more ground to establish more relationships.”

Why face-to-face meetings are more invaluable than ever

Boyd (pictured below) agreed on the usefulness of technology in establishing connections where in-person interactions aren’t possible, but said face-to-face encounters had advantages that digital solutions couldn’t offer.

“I think that you can meet or at least speak with more people in a day with the inclusion of technology, but is it more effective? I don’t necessarily think so,” she said. “I would rather go into an office and speak to five people than speak to 50 people over the phone.

“There is that personability, that next-level experience that you can have by meeting your lending partners in person. Again, we’re trying to build that trust with you all. As a lender, I love to go and meet my broker partners, and I love to meet with people again in person. It makes it that much better, and it takes it that step farther.”

Grantis (pictured below) also underscored the importance of in-person interactions despite the convenience offered by virtual arrangements.

“Meeting somebody is a binary thing: Have you met this person or not? When you’re looking through your CRM and your contact list, you kind of have that: ‘Did I meet that person?’ Yes or no,” he said. “It could have been three years ago, it could have been last month.

“If you look at that binary yes or no and you look at who your promoters are, the ones that have actually given you referrals, I bet you they’re ones that you’ve met even just once, because there is that piece in that person who’s about to refer you to just want to make sure they’ve met you as well, and everything checks out with that.”

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