Rocket reflects on seismic year, looks ahead to 2023

The mortgage giant is making waves north of the border following its full alignment with Edison Financial this year

Rocket reflects on seismic year, looks ahead to 2023

While 2022 has been a year of big change for many companies across Canada’s mortgage industry, it may be safe to say that Rocket Mortgage Canada has had a more eventful one than most.

The company rebranded from Edison Financial in July, aligning fully under the brand of one of the largest mortgage lenders in the US after a period of association as sister companies.

That marked the latest step in a whirlwind journey for the company that began in January 2020, just months before the COVID-19 pandemic brought about one of the most seismic shifts the Canadian economy has ever witnessed.

Navigating that turbulence, and the mortgage market boom that followed, paved the way for the rebrand – one that company president Hash Aboulhosn (pictured top) described as a significant achievement that had been some time in the making.

“That was obviously a huge undertaking and a big win, and I think really a realization of a goal and a dream that many of us have had, bringing that Rocket experience, brand promise, [and] culture to Canada,” he told Canadian Mortgage Professional.

The company’s volume has spiked during what was a down year for many other brokerages in the Canadian mortgage space, according to Aboulhosn, in what he described as a reinforcement of a trend that’s emerged in the industry of late – that being the emergence of disruptors who are fundamentally changing the way the mortgage process plays out.

“I think that what we’re seeing is a continuation of a trend – namely that new entrants, innovators are really driving a shift in client preference and volume away from legacy providers to a lot of these new entrants,” he said.

“Despite the industry broadly being down, us and other similar new entrants are up in a big way… I think that’s a reflection that in times of uncertainty, in times of change, consumers seek out new alternatives, new opportunities, new experiences, in a much bigger way.

“And it really, despite some of the challenges of the year, presented a lot of opportunities for us and others as well.”

Part of Rocket’s philosophy as a business is that it’s the most adaptable, rather than the strongest, that survive – a mantra that stood it in good stead during a period of rapid change in Canada’s mortgage and housing markets in 2022.

That meant keeping their ears to the ground, focusing on the data and doubling down on understanding the needs of clients, team, and lender partners, Aboulhosn said, prioritizing adaptability and nimbleness “rather than [being] stiff and unwilling to change.”

Moving ahead under the Rocket brand

Bekim Merdita (pictured below), Rocket Mortgage Canada’s executive vice president, said that Edison Financial had started with the goal of revolutionizing the mortgage industry – and that the Rocket rebrand had served not only as an affirmation of its progress toward that target, but equally as a means of accelerating and pushing it forward.

“There are a lot of other newcomers like Rocket who are making a play for the digital space – so just being Rocket doesn’t necessarily get you where you want to go,” he told CMP. “But it certainly helps, and I think that with the strong team that we have, we can continue to press forward and see success in the Canadian market for the future.”

A big part of that progress has been the rollout of a new client portal in 2022, the result of extensive discussions with clients in recent years about their pain points when applying for a mortgage – with the lack of insight into what’s going on with the mortgage process a common bone of contention for customers.

“Our client portal was really about helping the client understand every single stage of the mortgage journey, letting them know first and foremost: here’s where you’re going to sign your documents. Here’s where you’re going to upload your documents. Here’s where you’re at in every single step of the underwriting process,” Merdita said.

“It’s relieved a lot of the pressure and uncertainty that clients were feeling as they’re working through the mortgage process… People want to know they’re making the right decision and that when they make that decision, that their mortgage is going to go without issue, and we’re giving them that certainty right now.”

Entering the lending space

Rocket has been making progress toward becoming an approved lender in Canada in recent months, starting on the insured space with the goal of eventually expanding to the uninsured side.

Its aim is to launch as a lender in early 2023, a move that Aboulhosn said would be a “tremendous leap forward” for the company and its clients.

“One of the reasons is as a broker, we are trying to deliver our clients this consistent experience,” he said. “And that’s easy to do for the things in your control. But behind the scenes, as we’re dealing with 10 or 20 lenders, each lender has got 20 different processes, 20 different technology platforms, 20 different nuances.

“I think as a lender ourselves, we’re going to be able to take all that complexity and simplify it, and deliver people visibility, speed, reduced anxiety, certainty, and all those features that they’re expecting – by basically bringing it all in one house.”

Looking to the future

Despite the volatility that’s gripped the mortgage and housing markets in 2022, a bright future lies ahead, according to Aboulhosn – not just because of Canada’s status as the fastest-growing country in the G7 in terms of population, but also as a result of the country’s underlying economic strength.

“As a financial services industry, as a real estate industry, I think that one of the areas that Canada really punches above its weight globally [is] banks, insurance companies, real estate,” he said. “Truly, I think we build international businesses in that space.

“And so I’m optimistic about the level of talent and level of demand growth over the long term. It’s going to continue to be very positive.”

How is your company gearing up for the year ahead? Let us know in the comment section below.