For agents and brokers, having the right approach can help ensure a positive year even in a down market, says consultant
With an eventful year undoubtedly in store for Canada’s mortgage market in 2024, agents and brokers are ramping up their preparation and putting business plans in place for the 12 months ahead – and having the right mindset should be a key focus of those strategies, according to a leading industry consultant.
Kimberlee Freeman (pictured), founder of KMF Enterprises, told Canadian Mortgage Professional that agents and brokers shouldn’t rely on the possibility that rates will eventually fall to have a good year in 2024, with improvement in three areas – knowledge, execution, and mindset – crucial for success in the coming months.
Even in a down market, agents have plenty of opportunities to educate referral partners and clients with alternative mortgage solutions, Freeman said, meaning there’s still potential to eke out success in challenging times.
“What’s the mindset you’re going to have every day? Are you going to wake up thinking, ‘What’s the most I can do today?’ or ‘What’s the least that I can do today?’” she said. “As we turn the page to 2024, maintaining a positive mindset is more important than ever. Get rid of excuses and have only solutions on how to execute a powerful year.”
Agents should embed a “hustle” approach to their mindset, Freeman said – one that must be rooted in best business practices and taking pride in work rather than simply focusing on the bottom line.
How can mortgage professionals develop the right mindset for 2024?
Of course, there’s no precise secret to building a strong mindset as a mortgage professional, particularly with each member of the industry built differently (and dealing with their own unique circumstances). Still, there are several general suggestions, Freeman said, that can help agents develop the right approach.
Among those: prioritizing health and a balanced outlook. “In life, everyone and everything may pull you in different directions. Whether it be family, friends, clients, or other responsibilities, never put yourself last,” Freeman said.
“If you aren’t charged and healthy then you won’t be much good for anyone else anyways. Make sure you have ‘your time’ every single day.”
Having a mentor or circle of influence is another must, Freeman said – and the importance of remaining coachable, irrespective of tenure and length of service in the industry, can’t be overstated.
The onus is on principal brokers to act as “powerful leaders” for their brokerages, she added, setting clear expectations of their team’s business behaviour and mindset whether they’re dealing with newer agents or seasoned industry veterans.
That’s because a negative mindset can quickly set in and spread throughout the brokerage, something that’s ultimately detrimental to the culture of that company.
The Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) is on the lookout for new members to join its Mortgage Brokering Technical Advisory Committee.— Canadian Mortgage Professional Magazine (@CMPmagazine) November 22, 2023
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“Going against common beliefs, agents are not ‘self-employed’ in the truest definition of the term,” Freeman explained. “They’re not independent contractors so long as they reside under a principal broker’s house and license.
“The agent or broker must understand they’re under their leader’s brand, compliance, and liability – and therefore, the rules of the brokerage house must be followed and respected.”
Behaviour, she said, is molded, and a few basic expectations established at a brokerage can help create an environment that cultivates “well-rounded, polished” mortgage agents.
Examples include cameras being switched on as a mandatory rule for all Zoom meetings, expected attendance for all lender presentations or team meetings (“advise your principal broker in advance if you cannot attend due to an emergency or genuine conflict”) and requiring agents to hit a specific number of calls per week, whether referral partners, lender meetings, or database calls.
Principal brokers shouldn’t be afraid to lay down the law, Freeman said, to ensure their business is as successful as possible. “It’s your brokerage house, so your rules must be followed,” she explained. “If you’re not ready to manage your team for success, then your house will always be chaotic – and the kids will always rule the roost.”
It’s time to start thinking differently about the idea that expectations can’t be set for agents who are described as self-employed or independent contractors, according to Freeman.
“The principal broker may have minimum unit and volume targets you’re expected to hit monthly or annually. Depending on the tenure of the agent, some may be exceeding these targets – but it doesn’t mean they’re exempt from further coaching, training, or rules of the house. There’s always room for growth at any stage of your career.”
Positive, proactive approach benefits industry as a whole
Ultimately, success and a flourishing career as a mortgage agent simply can’t be achieved without the right mindset, Freeman said – especially with borrowers and prospective clients now presented with an array of options to choose from to service their mortgage needs.
“I’m always curious why someone wants to become a mortgage agent to only sit back and not put in the work required to be successful. Why do they want to be in this industry?” she said. “Not to mention: if I were a client, I’d want the most knowledgeable mortgage professional to handle my needs. I would not want someone who doesn’t take their career seriously.”
Approaching the profession with a positive and productive mindset also rubs off on others, Freeman added, helping contribute to the overall good health of the mortgage industry.
“People often feed off your energy. What do you think happens to people around you when you have a negative mindset? It’s not good for anyone,” she said.
“As we grow and evolve, I ask people, ‘Have you ever been told that you have changed someone’s life with your mentorship and influence? Are you leading positive change or are you fighting it? Are you constantly growing, evolving, and changing? Are you willing to put in the work?’”
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