Broker on the value of vulnerability and being '100% real'

Industry veteran highlights the core importance of showing up

Broker on the value of vulnerability and being '100% real'

In her more than 14 years as co-owner and broker at a Nanaimo-based brokerage, Caroline Roach of The Mortgage Centre – Fitzwilliam Mortgage Corporation in Nanaimo shared the most important lesson she has learned so far.

“I just have to show up as me,” Roach told Canadian Mortgage Professional.

This value of “being yourself” cannot be overstated, Roach stressed.

“When I first started out I had this image of who I had to be to be successful in this industry, that I had to put on a strictly business persona – high heels, fancy clothes, and always trying to look like I had it all together and figured out,” Roach said.

Such an approach has proven to be a bedrock for her storied career.

“People want to do business with people they can relate to – and the only way to build real trust is to be vulnerable. So now I show up as me, a little hippy, a little hot mess mom, but 100% real,” Roach said. “Since making that change and accepting the vulnerability, my volume has been growing at a steady rate of at least 30-50% each year. I love my clients and I wouldn’t be able to connect with them on the level that I do if I didn’t show up as me – flaws included.”

Operating for a prolonged period with an organization like The Mortgage Centre helped hone this approach to a fine edge, Roach said.

“The head office team both out in Ontario and here in BC are amazing and I am incredibly proud to be a part of the network,” she said. “This business has given me the freedom and flexibility to be at home with my son while also building a career. A lot of people say that you cannot be part-time in this industry, and for some that may be true, but for me it was the perfect solution.”

The personal approach also helped immensely when establishing vital links with colleagues and other industry players.

“Relationships are key in this industry, and not just when it comes to your relationship with your clients,” Roach said. “We work hard to maintain a good relationship with our lending partners, specifically those who lend on the islands. We also advocate for our community to our lending partners who don’t; some of them have gone to bat for us trying to convince the higher ups that the islands are a good investment.”

However, this strategy has its fair share of risks, as well.

“The more files you have, the more opportunities there are for fires on files. I am an incredibly empathetic person and I care so much about my clients and their outcomes – maybe a little too much, so I take it personally,” she said. “You can’t do that in this business, you’ll drown under the weight of it.”

Brokers should always remember the adage “I didn’t create the problem; I’m just here to help.”

“I’ve stepped up my personal rituals: more exercise, more meditation, more yoga, and completely disconnecting from my phone and email when I’m not on the clock,” Roach said.

“I work on so many different types of files, but I guess something that I specialize in is the islands. While I now live on Vancouver Island, I grew up on Gabriola, one of the gulf islands and am still very connected to it,” she added.

“The islands are different when it comes to mortgages. Some lenders won’t lend on them, while some only will if it’s insured. There are a lot of unique property types as well. The other issue on the islands is that there are virtually no ‘B’ lenders who will go there, so it takes a lot of creative problem-solving sometimes when trying to find a solution for a client.”