The view from the top

Jim Tourloukis, Canada’s number-one broker by volume, tells CMP about his experiences in the industry and his thoughts on recent changes

The view from the top
CMP: What made you first get into the mortgage broker industry?
Jim Tourloukis:
Prior to joining this industry, I was the CFO of the Canadian arm of the world’s largest mutual fund company servicing financial advisors. At that time, nobody was working with financial advisors to service their clients’ mortgage needs. I saw an opportunity and started my company to do just that. Doing so gave me access to over 30,000 clients, and my first year was about $100 million in mortgage production. Today, most financial advisors have this type of service directly or through firms like mine.

CMP: How would you describe your time in the industry?
I have really enjoyed working in this industry, not only because I get to run my own firm and be in charge of my own destiny, but because we really make a positive impact on our customers’ bottom line. We truly save our clients’ money and provide them with solutions that put them in a much better financial position.

From an industry perspective, it is one of the best industries. I have had the opportunity to work with some of the best and smartest people in the business and have had a fun time doing so. I look forward to the next 10 years.

CMP: What are your thoughts on the recent measures introduced by the Ontario government to cool the housing market?
I think it is important that the government do something, as a 30%+ increase year-over-year is just not sustainable and would lead to a major correction down the road should this have continued.

Having said that, I’m not sure that these changes will lead to a long-term solution for the GTA. There is just too much demand and not enough supply, and economic forces will prevail, which might mean that the GTA will be out of the reach of the average Canadian. This is no different from what you see in Manhattan, where the average person cannot afford to live on the island and commutes to work from the outskirts. I’m afraid this could be our new reality in the GTA.

CMP: How have the last few years been from your perspective?
Business has been fantastic, and I continue to see tremendous growth yearover- year. Has the business gotten tougher with more stringent rules? Of course it has.

However, I have been fortunate in that most of my business is AAA+ clients, where things continue to be business as usual.

CMP: What’s the secret behind your success in the industry?
I think there are many factors that have led to my success, none more important than what I call value-added service to our clients. Not only do we save our clients time and money, but we also give them solutions they may not have implemented. This is evidenced by the fact that over 60% of our business is from past clients or referrals from past clients.

Of course, none of our clients would be happy without the perfect execution from my staff, John Papadopoulos and Jerry Danese. John and Jerry are the best in the industry and always put the client first. There is no success without John and Jerry.

CMP: What do you get up to in your spare time?
Oddly enough, I have set my business up so that I do have plenty of spare time to spend with friends and family. Most important to me is to spend time with my wife and children. I make it a habit to drop off my kids to school every morning and pick them up in the afternoon. This is time that I cherish greatly. As a family, we do extensive travelling during the year, as we enjoy discovering different parts of the world. Dinners out with friends are also a favourite pastime.