How 8Twelve Mortgage became an exemplar of excellence in digital innovation

The 2022 Canadian Mortgage Awards (CMAs) saw 8Twelve Mortgage Corporation named an Excellence Awardee in the Brokerage of the Year and Digital Innovation in a Brokerage categories. What were the reasons behind that success? CMPTV recently spoke with the company’s chief executive officer Gary Fooks to hear about the company’s progress – and what’s in store for the future.

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Fergal: [00:00:22] Hello again and thanks for joining us on another edition of CMP TV. I'm Fergal McAlinden, CMP's news editor. And today, we're taking a closer look at a company that's been making waves in the mortgage industry of late at the recent Canadian Mortgage Awards in Toronto. 8Twelve Mortgage Corporation was named an excellence award in two categories brokerage of the year on digital innovation and a brokerage. Those honors reflected the company's significant growth in recent years. And with me today to discuss the reasons behind that success and all the latest developments at 8Twelve. I'm very pleased to welcome Gary Fooks, who serves the company as chief executive officer. Gary, thanks very much for joining us today. How are things with you? 

Gary: [00:01:00] Great, Fergal, thanks very much for having me on. I look forward to the opportunity. 

Fergal: [00:01:04] Well, let's start with the Canadian Mortgage Awards, Gary. I mean, how does it feel to be named an excellence awardee for brokerage of the year and for digital innovation in a brokerage? 

Gary: [00:01:13] Look, we're honored. Obviously, it's a big industry out there. A lot of amazing people doing some very, very cool and exciting things. And to be nominated and have those awards, it's just I think it's a testament to all the hard work that we've been putting in, especially over the last several years, you know, during these unprecedented times. This speaks to the character of the team and everyone involved to give us the opportunity to be at the table today and speak to you in this honor. 

Fergal: [00:01:40] Well, one thing that's particularly notable about 8Twelve, and I know that we've talked about it before, is how it uses proprietary technology for a very innovative approach. Is that something that you could tell us a little bit more about, maybe for those viewers who are not aware of that approach? 

Gary: [00:01:54] Sure. Yeah, with pleasure. I mean, look, you know, I've been in the mortgage industry for going on seven years now. And over time, I find from experience that agents have to use 5 to 7 different technologies to run their business. You know they may have a really good CRM and they use another tool to look at rates and then something else for their telephony or their or their email platforms. And I found myself in the team. We found this to be extremely inefficient. So in the world of Uber and skip the dishes where people want responses in real time, quick, convenient. We really wanted to make sure we offer that same type of process in the mortgage world. So our tech stack is proprietary, it's called infinite, and we built it with that in mind. So when you're on Infinite, you do not have to use other platforms to be able to service your business from the beginning, all the way to when you send that client that gift once you fund their mortgage. 

Fergal: [00:02:45] Well, whenever I'm speaking with brokers these days, one of the main things that they tell me about their jobs is how they've had to do everything in such a short space of time with the increased volume they had over the past couple of years. Could you tell me a little bit more about how 8Twelve technology helps brokers close files more quickly? 

Gary: [00:03:02] Yeah, for sure. So, I mean, look, you're bang on. Obviously, it's a very competitive market out there, right? You have a lot of digital brands that are coming out, lenders are moving to digital rates are very aggressive. And there's a lot of information in the market today. You know, the bond market, which affects the fixed rates, is moving constantly. You know, rates are moving constantly. So mortgages has become a volume game. And to do volume, you need the right infrastructure and technology to be able to handle that volume efficiently, because there's a reason why companies like Travelocity and Expedia are very successful. Clients can go there. It's a one stop shop, whether you're booking your airplane or your your car or your hotel or doing all at once. Right. You never have to kind of leave. That is the same methodology here. That's the same methodology we use at 8Twelve. The idea is that from the second you get that customer interaction to processing the file, requesting documents, doing everything through a secure environment, providing updates through emails, text messaging to all stakeholders in the application, whether it's the client, the realtor, the referral partner, or the appraiser or the lawyer at the end that's going to close off that transaction. You want to be able to do that very quickly and very efficiently so that clients feel like they're getting that same type of service that they would get with any other five star type of organization. So if you don't have technology to do that, that's going to be a challenge. And if you don't have technology that kind of amalgamate all that into one, it's just going to take you longer to do the same job. So we really, as I said before, we really took that into mind where, you know, let's avoid having to use multiple channels to service that client. Let's try to really be efficient and service that client with one channel and still accomplish all those requirements to to win that business in today's fast moving mortgage market. 

Fergal: [00:04:45] Right. And I suppose what that will also do guarantees make sure that the broker is able to concentrate on what they're really good at. I mean, it removes some of those administrative requirements that we talked about, and they don't have to focus as much on some of those other tasks. They can just focus on selling, right? 

Gary: [00:04:58] Yeah. And it's all tied in together, right? I mean, looking for rates and finding the best rate is one aspect of the process, making sure you're servicing the client efficiently, effectively, in a timely manner. That's a whole other aspect. So you got to, you have to do both. You have to make sure you have all the right up to date information, whether it's rates, policy guidelines from all the lenders, but also make sure your customer is included in that process throughout the entire process in real time. And when you do that together, I mean, it's a formula for success. At least that's what we found at 8Twelve. 

Fergal: [00:05:26] Okay, good stuff. And I understand as well, Gary, that there are some plans in place to provide mortgages through a co equity product. Could you give us a little bit more information about that and what's coming down the line in that respect? 

Gary: [00:05:36] Yeah, so we're very blessed to have had the opportunity. There's a big co equity provider in the marketplace that is offering customers who lack the full down payment to get into their home ownership. They're offering the ability to invest with them into their first nest as they like to say so. 8Twelve has the exclusive mortgage product to be able to help clients who actually need the mortgage to get into that property. We're very blessed to have the lenders that are in the space choose us as that mortgage provider. And with everything that's happening, you know, costs going up, prices going up to help Canadians get into their first home where they normally potentially would never be able to get in or may miss the market moving forward. For us, that's massive fulfillment in in what we do every day because that's what gets us up in the morning to help Canadian families. So we're going to expand and build on that through the co equity partner that we work with and really try to get thousands of Canadians into their first home, you know, remainder this year and through 2023. 

Fergal: [00:06:32] Okay, great. We'll keep an eye out for that one for sure. I'm Gary. Just before I let you go, is there anything else coming down the line from 8Twelve that you wanted to let our viewers know about or even any other trends in the tech space that you're keeping an eye on that are going to play a really big role over the next couple of years? 

Gary: [00:06:47] Yeah, I mean, the idea of technology moving more just outside the mortgage application, I think that's a big one that's happening now. So what we're doing at 8Twelve, that's a little bit different than majority of our competitors, if not all. We're really trying to build an intimate relationship and an intimate financial relationship with our customers because it's not just about the mortgage, it's other products that they're going to be looking for, whether it's insurance, whether it's car loans. We really want to make sure that as they make their financial decisions that impact their entire profile, we can have a hand in that and help them with that. So whether customers need to rebuild their credit because they've had some challenges through COVID, whether customers need to find products where they can save for a down payment, we're really here to make sure it's not about just doing the mortgage. It's about building an intimate financial relationship with our customers. And that's really the focus of of what we're trying to do through technology. And I think you're going to see start seeing that more and more, especially as open banking becomes more prevalent in 2023. That's going to be a big push for us here at 8Twelve. And you're going to start seeing others adapt in that same way if they want to be successful in the space. 

Fergal: [00:07:49] For sure, that open banking issue is one that I hear time and time again from the companies involved on the tech side of the mortgage industry. So we'll keep our eye out for that one for sure. Look, Gary, that's all that we have time for today. But I'd like to thank you for coming on. Our congratulations again to 8Twelve for their success at the recent CMAs. And I'm sure that we'll be in touch very soon. We're always interested to hear what's coming down the line. So thanks again for coming on. 

Gary: [00:08:13] Yeah, Fergal the pleasure's always mine. Appreciate the opportunity. Always enjoy speaking to you. Happy to do this again in the future. 

Fergal: [00:08:19] That's all we have time for on today's edition of CMP TV, I'd like to thank 8Twelve Mortgage Corporation again for coming on the show. Thanks to you for watching as always. Stay tuned for more great content from CMP in the near future and we'll see you very soon.