How one leading mortgage brokerage is changing the sale-driven consumer narrative and redefining the client mortgage journey
This article was produced in partnership with Vine Group
Karen Surca of Canadian Mortgage Professional sat down with three of the founding partners of Vine group: Hugo Dos Reis, David Goncalves, and Chris Darwiche to discuss Vine Group’s personalized and advice-driven mortgage approach, as well as its streamlined relationship with lenders.
The first rule of business dictates that the consumer should always come first. Nowhere is this more evident than in the mortgage sector. In today’s mortgage climate, there are a host of choices available when shopping for the best mortgage fit.
Mortgage services, once viewed as the bank’s domain, are now being offered by mortgage brokerages with specialized knowledge and lending connections. Many times, mortgage brokers can outperform traditional bank lenders.
To compete, the needs of the consumer take centre stage. For Vine Group the level of professionalism offered by a mortgage brokerage is vital.
Recognizing a niche in the mortgage sector six years ago, Vine Group set up its operations with a focus on providing advice-driven, personalized, and holistic mortgage solutions.
Before this approach could be put into practice, however, the founding members had to recognize that there were inherent inefficiencies in the brokerage market. Chief among them was that nothing was being done to protect and support the broker when transitioning from the banking world.
“When we decided to go into the broker market, we came from a banking background and shared a lot of the same hesitations as a lot of mortgage professionals to this day experience. We felt that there was no real plug and play when it comes to taking the existing business that you have built in the banking sector and then building on it in the broker world,” Chris Darwiche (pictured immediately above), partner and broker with Vine Group, explained.
Building lending relationships
In addition to the lack of broker transitional support, Vine Group noticed that there was also very little being done to support and protect the lender in the broker sector. The founders of Vine Group determined that both aspects needed to be properly addressed to streamline and personalize the mortgage process.
From the get-go, Vine Group decided that it would concentrate its efforts on creating a “full-service brokerage and make it easier for brokers to come in and allow them to focus on areas they are good at rather than focusing on administrative duties that are required to help the business run smoothly,” Darwiche explained.
The brokers that Vine Group hired also had to fit their business model. Rather than pushing rates and shopping lenders, Vine Group hand-picked brokers to reflect its client, advice-driven brand.
Forming the lending relationship was the next step to provide the type of advice-based business that Vine Group envisioned.
“Most brokers just want to get the deal done. We looked at the desire of the lender to make things more efficient and help improve the lender’s business model,” David Goncalves (pictured immediately below), partner and broker with Vine Group, stated.
“It is a win-win for everybody. The consumer wins, the broker benefits, and it helps with the job of the lender,” Goncalves added. “We have created a system that allows us to be a little more conscious of the impact on the lender and be more mindful of the lender’s time and resources that are being applied to the broker market.”
Addressing industry inefficiencies
Vine Group has always felt that the broker community was of better value for Canadians; however, it also recognized that much needed to be done to change the overall public narrative.
Read next: The People business
Setting out to stamp out negative stereotypes, Hugo Dos Reis (pictured top), partner, and broker with Vine Group, explained that the group “wanted to change the general national perception of the typical sales-driven mortgage broker by elevating the message.”
“We wanted to say that a broker is the best option if you want a mortgage in Canada. There are far more options and better overall advice, and we wanted to take a leadership position by elevating the broker to the highest level - the specialist in the mortgage world,” Dos Reis added.
To help reinforce the concept that the broker is the one that holds the professional expertise, Vine Group decided to never just focus purely on the best rates.
“Having access to the best rates is not hard. What Canadians are looking for is to be guided through the array of offerings in the marketplace and how it impacts them directly,” Dos Reis added.
Vine Group has chosen to focus company branding on providing the best solutions and advice-driven direction that is dictated by each client’s financial picture.
“Our whole mantra is advice. We are in the people business because we are in the business of finding holistic solutions for people not just spewing the lowest rate. We look at the whole financial picture and what is best for the client for the next five years,” Goncalves highlighted.
Streamlining through ‘the Vine Hub’
Recognizing the often-disconnected roles that the client, broker, and lender can experience during the mortgage process, Vine Group developed a central tracking system to input client and lending information to merge these avenues. It called it the Hub.
The Hub was built out of two necessities: the need to protect Vine Group’s brand and the urgency to streamline the mortgage application process right through to the final stages of lender submission.
“We needed to stop sending out so many applications to different lenders, so we developed a centralized process to ensure that we are efficient with our lenders. It (the Hub) allowed us to access more lenders and, as a result, offer the customers more options,” Goncalves stated.
Utilizing and creating technology to empower the Hub is part of an overall business strategy to help move the company forward and address those efficiencies that Vine Group has tackled head-on, Darwiche explained.
These efforts are backed up by an in-house marketing team that has used social media platforms to ensure it stays on brand and is recognized for its niche role in the mortgage market.
What will the new year bring?
What a difference seven years can make. Vine Group has grown from five brokers and one small office to 55 plus brokers and 28 full-time staff. Branching out to have a foothold in five Canadian markets, it does not intend to stop growing.
“We chose the name of our brokerage because as a vine grows it connects to different things,” Dos Reis reflected.
“We are working beyond a local bubble and are now coast-to-coast. We won’t stop until we hit water. We are very excited about where we are going and know that the sky is the limit,” Goncalves concluded.
By putting the client first, going against the mortgage grain, and utilizing available technology, Vine Group is taking its leadership role and unique vision into the new year.
Chris Darwiche, founding partner of Vine Group, has always believed that an educated decision outweighs a rushed one. Darwiche also believes that the evolution of the industry is enhancing key players within the industry with technology and replacing them with it.
David Goncalves, founding partner of Vine Group, has expanded the company in Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta. He has always referred to the mortgage industry as a people business, providing advice rather than being solely sales-focused.
Hugo Dos Reis, is a founding partner of Vine Group one of the top mortgage brokers in Canada, and a leader in financing solutions for real estate investors. Dos Reis has presented to thousands, authored numerous articles, and contributed insight to several news outlets. Dos Reis’s philosophy is to “take care of your clients, and they will take care of you.”