Great agents born or made?

The skills for writing a contract are there with new agents, say brokers, but it is the crucial qualities that make a good salesperson which are most lacking.


The skills for writing a contract are there with new agents, say brokers, but it is the crucial qualities that make a good salesperson which are most lacking.
“It is the sales and marketing aspect that wipes people out,” says Layth Matthews, CEO of RateMiser Mortgage Advisors. “I can’t tell you how many untold thousands of dollars and years I’ve wasted on new hires that just didn’t have the heart for it. The best thing I could have done was charge $100 a month to get them to focus; sort of an ‘Hello! Are you in it or not?’”
For Matthews, he suggests he’s been in the business too long to waste any more time risking reputation and time on untrained agents.
“If they want to try it and give me a flat fee, then maybe I’ll mentor them,” he says. “But I’m getting too old to do this anymore.”
Brian Matthey, a partner with Verico The Mortgage Professionals in Kingston, Ont., told that he has trained six agents by having them fulfill an underwriter’s role for two years before going out on their own, bringing in deals while working with a broker/trainer, splitting the commission on sourced deals 50/50.
The industry perception is that mortgage brokering is a “get-rich-quick” profession, expecting high commissions with little effort, Matthey says.
“They walk into the office, saying ‘I’ve written the exam, I’ve got my license’ and I say ‘What experience do you have?’ and they say ‘None.’”
The emphasis Matthey places on the strength of personality is shown in how he recruited one young man into the brokering world with a chance encounter at a bank.
“I was standing in line at TD Bank, and there was a teller there – from how he was with the customers, I could tell he had a great personality,” says Matthey. “He was making $22,000 a year, and I told him ‘You won’t make a lot of money with me, maybe $25,000 a year for the first two years, but I think you have what it takes to make it as a broker – and we will train you to make sure you are a success.”
The training that Matthey has sworn by for over a decade is a system where he splits the commission with the training broker and the rookie agent 50/50 for the first two years.
“They start as an underwriter, and all they do is tag along with their trainer and learn how the business works, how a deal is done – gain experience,” says Matthey. “The 50 per cent of the commissions goes straight into a bank account for the agent, and at the end of the two years, they have banked anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000. More importantly, they have that book of clients as well, and a database that they can leverage off those clients.”
Matthey is renewing calls for IMBA or CAAMP to institute an apprenticeship program like that used in other professional fields.
“Financial planners have it, why don’t we have apprenticeships?” asks Matthey. “If IMBA or CAAMP took a leading role, we could have the same level of professionalism and accountability. We’ve got 2,000 or 3,000 licensed brokers? That means nothing. How many qualified brokers are there? That’s the real question.”
For Matthey, the responsibility for training agents rests solely on the broker.
“A lot of superbrokers are doing damage to the industry” by not properly training newcomers to the channel, he says. “I had one guy who came to me – he was in the car sales business – and he wanted to get into it right away. I told him no, he needed to enter our two-year program. After six months, he came to me and said he was glad he did the training.”
Although it may seem like a lot to invest in training, Matthey says the payoff is much greater than simply taking in agent after agent and hoping one out of 10 or 20 works out.
“I don’t understand how the major mortgage brokers do it, as the 80/20 rule still exists (20 per cent of brokers doing 80 per cent of the business),” he says. “These poor guys get sold a bill of goods at the start, and after six months or a year they can’t tell you when they last got paid. They’re out of money, struggling and starving, and they end up going to another brokerage or leaving the industry angry and disenchanted. If you train them to be a success, they aren’t going to leave you.”