This senior mortgage specialist entered the financial services industry at the mere age of 16
Substantially deep roots in the financial services space have held up Susanna Penning, senior mortgage specialist at The Mortgage Advisors, as a uniquely dependable professional over the past few decades.
Starting at Scotiabank as a teller at the mere age of 16 back in 1988, Penning built up experience in the financial world even as she continued to work through her high school and university education.
“After finishing my Commerce degree in 1995, Scotiabank recruited me for management training in operations and retail sales,” Penning told Canadian Mortgage Professional. “In the early 2000s, I made the switch to commercial lending. I left Scotiabank in 2006 to become a mortgage agent with RMA. Shortly after, I joined Oriana Financial and then The Mortgage Advisors/Verico family in 2012, where I continue to work today.”
Lengthy experience has given Penning enough knowledge to navigate through the mortgage space essentially effortlessly.
“Years in banking had afforded me a very solid background in mortgages, both on the sales and admin sides,” Penning said. “These skills paired nicely with my gregarious and extroverted sales abilities: a double threat. Success soon followed and spurred my love of the industry.”
These skill sets have pushed Penning towards becoming a trusted provider of full-service advice, covering the spectrum of banking, investing, and borrowing.
“I have a very deep and extended network of professionals whom I trust,” Penning said. “Clients appreciate the high level of service and advice, which is desperately missing from bank branches these days; 90-95% of my clients are AAA borrowers and my client base is now very mature. Many of them of are sophisticated real estate investors, so rental property financing is a niche I have nurtured over the years.”
These strong links have been established in every side of the transaction equation.
“I work very closely with realtors who also specialize in this area, so the relationships are mutually beneficial,” Penning said.
At the same time, Penning stressed the importance of delegating the work to other capable professionals.
“Early on, I learned that I could not be everything to every client,” Penning said. “There would always be a subset of clients that I could work well with, others not so much. Rate shoppers and over-analytical clients (think 10 spreadsheets) were not my forte. Rather, clients who needed a well-rounded financial approach, hand-holding customer service and total seamless efficiency were my target clients.”
Penning recounted that this aspect was a bit of a learning curve for her.
“Learning to let go of deal control and trusting enough to hire an assistant was very difficult for me,” Penning said. “I had a series of failed starts and blew through quite a few assistants. Eventually I did land on a great one, who helped me to continue to grow. Then it happened again; we reached critical mass. This time around, I engaged a business coach to help me evaluate my business and priorities, including how to find the right team members. I now have a team of four.”
And while maximizing the use of social media and the latest technologies could grant immense returns, Penning said that one trait remains fundamental: “Be genuine and authentic in your interactions, and you will be rewarded. Don’t chase the commission; do the right thing and it will come back to you in spades.”
Having knowledgeable support in one’s personal life is a significant boon for a mortgage professional, Penning said.
“I’ve been blessed with the support of a wonderful partner,” she said. “A mortgage agent career can sometimes be all-consuming; there were times during COVID when it seemed to be 24/7. We often forget to thank and acknowledge the other silent members of the team who help to make things happen: our spouses and our children. Their love and support are the purpose and reason for my success.”
For Penning, the thought of family is an especially poignant pillar of stability.
“Four years after the sudden death of my six-year-old daughter, I started volunteering at CHEO (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario) as a way to honour her memory,” she said. “Every Friday afternoon for the last 15 years, you could find me there.”