MERIX renewing broker focus, building on strong foundations for 2024

The lender's commitment to 'going beyond the deal' is based on the strongest possible lender-broker-client relationship

MERIX renewing broker focus, building on strong foundations for 2024

This article was produced in partnership with MERIX Financial

Fergal McAlinden of Canadian Mortgage Professional spoke with Rachelle Gregory, senior vice president- originations at MERIX Financial, to hear how the company is building on what’s made it successful during its 18 years in business

MERIX Financial is doubling down on the strong relationships it’s developed with Canada’s mortgage broker community, building on the foundations it’s established over 18 years in business to take its broker partnerships to the next level.

When Canadian Mortgage Professional caught up with Rachelle Gregory (pictured), MERIX’s senior vice president – originations, she was on the road as part of the company’s In Your Backyard tour, a cross-Canada educational roadshow aimed at meeting brokers from a variety of markets in their very own towns and cities.

That epic tour – which sees each stop conclude with locally-picked live music – reflects MERIX’s grassroots approach, Gregory said, and has won praise from brokers for allowing them to discuss their specific markets with the lender in a fun, relaxed setting.

“We really focused on some of the smaller markets where we have a lot of really great supporters,” Gregory told CMP. “Our focus is to support the brokers in those markets – we really try to customize and bring them education about their own areas and their own markets rather than assuming everybody just wants to hear about the big cities.”

For MERIX, there’s plenty to talk about moving into 2024. Gregory can speak with some authority on the company’s growth and future plans: she took over the sales leadership of the brand just this March but is a MERIX stalwart, having been the third employee to join the company upon its launch in 2005.

How ‘addition’ is central to MERIX’s approach in 2024

A key focus for the company moving into the new year is addition – enhancing its rock-solid foundations with a series of new product launches and technology updates to augment what it’s already built over the decades.

Those efforts will be geared around renewing and strengthening something that’s always been a cornerstone of MERIX’s approach: what Gregory describes as “going beyond the deal,” focusing on partnering in the relationship with both homeowner and broker.

“It’s not just a relationship with the broker when the deal funds. Because we partner with them through the lifetime of the mortgage, we pay the broker every year for as long as the client is with us,” she explained.

“Our focus is really making sure that the homeowner feels the relationship between the lender, the broker, and us is a really cyclical relationship because the broker is the person who referred that client to us.”

Somewhat unique to MERIX’s approach is the fact that brokers are often included in the company’s conversations with borrowers about renewal, enhancing the client experience, while the broker is also paid every time a client renews.

Not only does that put the broker in a strong financial position – it also creates a much more long-term relationship between broker and homeowner, Gregory said.

During the In Your Backyard tour, the company hasn’t been spending a lot of time talking about policies and interest rates. Instead, it’s been giving brokers detailed info about some of the feedback customers are giving in call centres and helping educate brokers on how they can partner with MERIX to help clients feel supported through what’s happening in today’s turbulent market.

“Often, we hear that the homeowner hasn’t spoken to their broker since they funded their mortgage. Often, they’ll reach out and say, ‘I might be concerned about budgeting my household finances,’ and we’re having conversations with them,” Gregory said.

“We do feel that there is an opportunity for brokers to communicate more often with their clients to help them feel supported through what’s happening in the market.”

With that in mind, MERIX is developing new tools to help brokers build deeper relationships throughout the journey of the client’s mortgage, including a forthcoming homeowner budgeting tool that helps Canadians map out and better control their household finances.

Brokers shouldn’t just be having those conversations with first-time homebuyers or low-income borrowers, Gregory emphasized, with higher-income earners often contacting MERIX about difficulties budgeting and managing their finances.

“That’s actually a really great opportunity to reach out because the higher the income, the greater the likelihood of having higher credit card balances,” she said. “So we’re encouraging brokers to reach out to all of their clients.”

A strong focus on what’s made the company successful

MERIX is enhancing and improving its processes – but crucially, the company is not moving away from what’s traditionally made it such a hit with brokers and borrowers alike, Gregory said.

Its MERIX 2.0 focus for 2024 is built on three key questions: firstly, how does the company enhance its technology to make the broker experience more efficient? Next – how does it provide tools to help the broker enhance their relationship with the homeowner in the current market? And finally – how does it enhance its product suite to provide brokers and their clients with the best possible variety of options?

Crucially, the company’s compensation model will remain unchanged, offering brokers the choice either to receive their compensation upfront or opt into its trailer fee program. That’s also allowed on a deal-by-deal basis, meaning brokers can choose based on the client profile and have even more control over managing their own revenue.

For Gregory, retaining and improving that model is a strong example of how MERIX is committed to “addition” in the coming year: building and expanding the foundations that have taken the company to where it is today.

“That is not changing,” she said. “Now we have this great foundation – and we’re building beyond and making sure our tools and products help support that.”

Rachelle Gregory is senior vice-president – originations at MERIX Financial, a mortgage lender based in Canada.