The power of referrals

Christelle Mwamba of Choice Financial tells CMP how she's built a thriving business by cultivating relationships with financial advisors

The power of referrals

Christelle Mwamba is a wealth of knowledge. She’s spent the past decade working with financial advisors and high-net-worth clients looking to grow their real estate investment portfolios, finding creative solutions and relying on strong lender relationships to get deals done.

“With self-employed clients, a lot of their money stays within their business, so customizing loans to help these clients takes a lot of creativity and experience,” says Mwamba, a business development manager and mortgage agent at Choice Financial, a Mortgage Outlet brokerage. “These are my favourite clients, and banks are starting to adapt to these types of borrowers.”

Most of Mwamba’s business comes from existing clients and referrals from her network of wealth advisors. Her ability to find solutions to challenging scenarios has built tremendous loyalty with clients and encouraged them to continue building their real estate portfolio.

Mwamba started her career at Macquarie Bank, where she partnered with the wealth division of the bank to offer mortgages, kickstarting her experience in that niche. She also spent time at Scotiabank and BMO before being recruited to Mortgage Outlet. During her time at the big banks, Mwamba was able to dig into product guidelines and grow her relationships in private and commercial banking, as well as develop expertise in complementary products like mortgage insurance.

This knowledge is especially beneficial for her clients with big mortgage portfolios, who require more customized products. While Mwamba’s vast knowledge of investor scenarios is a huge asset, what sets her apart is her commitment to her referral sources.

“When I get a referral from someone in my network, that borrower becomes my client, but so does the referral source,” she says. “I want to ensure that client is taken care of, but also protect the relationships between the borrower and their financial advisor as well and build a fence around that client.”  

Mwamba attributes her success to the relationships she’s cultivated with those referral sources. “My relationship management sets me apart,” she says. “I’ve been recruited throughout my career because they understood the value of my network and my ability to maintain these connections.”

One of the biggest recent challenges Mwamba has faced is the shift to a virtual environment. As a business development manager and someone who believes in the human touch, it was hard for her to give up face-to-face meetings. However, she’s adapted to the situation at hand and learned new ways to connect with her clients and partners while still maintaining her authenticity.

Social media has been key to those efforts. With interest rates as low as they are, it’s stimulated a lot of curiosity from her clients about what they can afford and whether it’s a good time to expand their portfolios.

Going forward, Mwamba is focused on tapping into more real estate relationships, doing more educational seminars and working with more first-time homebuyers. She has recently partnered with a young real estate agent for co-branding and mentorship.

“I enjoy working with young professionals because I can pass along knowledge to them the same way my mentors have done for me,” she says.

Working in the financial industry from a very young age, Mwamba says she often found herself in a room filled with only men. She began to build relationships with the handful of female advisors she knew, who ended up being great mentors throughout her career.

“As a young Black female in the mortgage industry, it was difficult finding my voice in the beginning,” she says, “and I want to support others who may also struggle.”