Top mortgage exec shares her decade-and-a-half journey

Long experience in the banking sector primed this exec for the challenges of the mortgage space

Top mortgage exec shares her decade-and-a-half journey

Building a strong presence in the mortgage industry is a long and difficult trek, but for Vanessa Thomas of HALO Advisory Inc., the results are more than worth it.

As someone who has been working in the financial services sector for more than a decade and a half, Thomas has established a stellar resume working on multiple high-level roles at institutions like Scotiabank, the Bank of Montreal, the Royal Bank of Canada, and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.

The banking sector planted the seeds for what would become her approach in the mortgage space.

“At the bank, I began working as a generalist and thrived on the lending side of the bank where I held progressive roles in sales and risk management,” Thomas told Canadian Mortgage Professional.

“As a child, I do not recall wanting to be a banker – what I did know as a new immigrant to Canada was that I wanted the North American dream. As I worked in financial services, I learned that one way to create generational wealth was through the investment of real estate. I became passionate about helping others achieve their dreams of obtaining real estate and business assets through credit – this is when it became a career for me.”

This eventually led to her decision to leave the banking sector earlier this year to take on the role of president and commercial mortgage agent at HALO Advisory Inc. and TMG Black Capital – a move that brought with it a fair share of new struggles.

“The most challenging period of my career was the decision to leave the relatively safe confines of working for a bank to become self-employed,” Thomas said. “My principal broker, CEO, mentor, and life partner paved the way for me to join the exemplary commercial brokerage that is TMG Black Capital.”

The decision was also impelled by a crisis of a more personal nature.

“Many people asked me why I left the financial services industry to become self-employed,” Thomas recounted. “The answer is simple: In 2022 I lost my father after his decade-long battle with cancer.”

“The lesson that I learned after this loss is that nothing is permanent, so I live life and operate my business with the purpose of helping others achieve their dreams. This has impacted my business in the way that I give advice to people. I provide them with candid, honest advice. I set clear expectations and take the time to truly understand my clients’ needs and wants.”

This period also gave Thomas ample material for solidifying her professional philosophy.

“Working on your business and working in your business is the balance that we all seek,” Thomas said. “When I am working on my business, my specialty is relationship management; I was fortunate to receive the highest sales training available [when] working at the major financial institutions, which equipped me to manage difficult situations by prioritizing tasks and assembling a team to manage every unique financing request.

“When I work in my business, my specialty is streamlining processes. I do this by taking the best practices from the companies I worked with, and applying them on a scale to analyse financing requests – giving my team the ability to review numerous financing opportunities efficiently.”

The capacity to constantly re-evaluate one’s approach is a core component of success, Thomas argued.

“Ask questions, and don’t be afraid to say ‘no’,” Thomas said. “It is more powerful to turn away an opportunity or to ask for help rather than to take something on that you have not yet worked on and don’t have support on.”

Thomas continues to take enormous pride in her career, having acquired multiple awards and accolades through the years, but “the milestone that I am especially proud of was the fact that I had three children throughout my 17-year career in financial services – all while working at the highest level in a primarily male dominated industry,” she said.

“Aside from being a busy mother to three children (ages 10, six, and four) I love to bake. It’s my stress reliever. You will often find a three-tier cake at my house on days when I’ve had a stressful day at the office.”