Most people would expect that a broker who does more than $260 million in volume in one year wouldn’t have much of a social life and perhaps would be in danger of burning out, but that’s surprisingly not the case for Gord Pipkey, this year’s No. 1 on the Top 50 Broker list.
Pipkey, owner/broker of VERICO Real Mortgage Services in Richmond, B.C., is very honest and sincere about the reality of his profession and how he has managed to survive.
“The sad part is that to do that kind of volume, I’ve never taken much time off. I found myself on a treadmill and just kept running. I was sort of an eight-to-10 guy, six-and-a-half days a week and I was surprised that I didn’t exhaust myself at any point, but I kept my energy up and that energy came from looking after my clients.
“I never focused on the commission. I never dreamed of this. I just did the deals and it kind of happened.
Pipkey got his start as a Realtor as an owner/ broker with Realty World in 1984. He also did some in-house mortgage brokering as well. In 1989, he sold the business and moved to Washington State and set up shop as a real estate and mortgage broker, which in those days was much more lucrative than it was in Canada, since at that time in the U.S. 80 per cent of mortgages were done through the broker channel.
“No one paid brokers here in those days,” says Pipkey. “Only if you did a B deal did you charge fees and get paid something.”
He returned in 1994 and worked as a real estate manager and mortgage broker until becoming a full-time mortgage broker in 1997. It made sense as brokers were finally starting to be able to make a living doing it full time.
“It started with Laurentian Bank,” recalls Pipkey.
“They were the f rst to offer me any kind of compensation. I was allowed to keep the application fee as a finder’s fee.”
Then Household Trust and Confederation Trust began paying referral fees to brokers and quite quickly other lenders began dealing with the broker channel.
Real Mortgage Services remained independent and grew from $70 million in funded volume in 2000 to over $300 million in 2009, until joining the VERICO network last year.
Pipkey says over the years he resisted numerous offers to join national broker networks. “I didn’t need to own a franchise to be successful.”
What changed his mind?
Pipkey says it came about through a client of his, Sean Widdess, who just happened to be
VERICO’s national sales manager.
“There was no pressure, but it finally just made sense to me to join VERICO.”
According to Pipkey, his volume really started to grow in 2006 as a result of client referrals from his fi rst years in the business, but real growth has occurred since he took the advice of his son, Steve, who works alongside him at Real Mortgage Services.
“We didn’t even start using our client database until a few years ago, when Steve took the initiative and said to me, ‘I’d like for you to be in a position to maintain our client base as a source of new business.’”
“Before that clients only came back because they remembered me,” he says. “I’m old fashioned. If I did a good job, I always said, ‘Someone will come back to me.’
Advertising isn’t a must for Pipkey either. “If I do a good job, that’s my advertising.”
Although nearly half his business comes from Realtor referrals and agents he trained during his days in the business, Pipkey agrees with his son that to cultivate and service our existing client base is another great source of business.
Deals in 2011 are facing challenges, according to Pipkey, including a softening housing market. But the biggest threat in his mind is the aggressiveness of banks and credit unions going after broker business business and the tightening up and new restrictions on mortgage lending policies.
“I can feel it because their pricing is such that, despite my volume, I can’t get the same rate many times as a lot of my business is now being siphoned off by the deep discounting of the banks and credit unions not using the broker channel.”