There are alternatives to a suit and tie, reports Don Horne. One Regina broker is getting a (bare) leg up on the competition.
“I’m not even Scottish!” says Jackson Middleton.
But the broker wears his kilt proudly, and loudly, and his attire has garnered him a high profile in the industry and a loyal client base.
“I was a pants and shirt and tie guy at the office for all of my meetings with clients,” says Jackson Middleton, principal broker at Highland Mortgage Partners, but better known as “the Kilted Broker.” “I started wearing the kilt at home and at the office because it was comfortable. I would change into pants before meeting the client – until one day….”
That one day was when a client showed up half an hour early for an appointment, and caught Middleton literally with his pants down.
“The client caught me in my kilt, and after a brief pause he said ‘That is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!’” says Middleton. “They made such a fuss about it, wanting me to keep it on during our session, and then referred me to a friend, saying ‘He’s the guy in the kilt.’”
From that second meeting onwards, Middleton hasn’t looked back at wearing pants.
“Why would you want to wear pants?” he asks.
As for whether it sets the proper business tone, Middleton – who best describes his ancestry as covering the entire United Kingdom – says the rewards of being the only broker in a kilt far outweigh the positives of joining the thousands who work in a business suit.
“I attended the CMP Summit last year and I was waiting for the elevator, not knowing a single person who was there,” he says. “Suddenly three people walk up to me and say, ‘You must be the kilted broker!’ From a marketing standpoint, it is great – but I certainly never planned it. I see a lot of marketing schemes that look contrived or forced – this was totally by accident.”
As for whether it affects his credibility or hinders his professionalism, Middleton did do some soul-searching first before casting off the pants forever.
“I questioned myself, ‘Is this professional?’ But I found that a lot of my business is first-time homebuyers; and first-time buyers are nervous about the entire process, and a suit and tie makes them even more nervous,” he says. “I meet my clients over coffee, and it is easy for them to spot the guy in the coffee shop who is wearing a kilt. It’s not a gimmick; it’s comfortable.”
Born and raised in Regina, Sask., Middleton and his wife and two children still live in the city. Having owned a kilt for almost a decade, he has no plans to ever wear pants again after doing business in the kilt for four years.
“The goal is to do business in what I believe,” says Middleton. “If you want to do business with a suit go ahead – there’s a lot of them out there.”