What's behind a successful mortgage product?

Vivianne Gauci, SVP of marketing and customer experience at HomeEquity Bank, talks to CMPTV on the back of the company’s recent 5-Star Mortgage Products success. She explains how the company approaches its products, how important mortgage brokers are in the process and what’s in the works for the future.

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Fergal: [00:00:22] Hello again and thanks for joining us on another edition of TV. I'm Fergal McAlinden, CMP's news editor. And today we're placing a focus on one of the companies that was recently named a recipient of CMP's prestigious five star mortgage product awards. That honor recognizes the companies in the mortgage industry whose products are viewed by brokers as the best. And once again, lending giant Home Equity Bank was on that exclusive list. Here to talk us through some of the reasons that the company's products have made such a strong impression on mortgage brokers across Canada. I'm very pleased to welcome Viviannene Gauci, senior Vice President of Marketing and Customer Experience at Home Equity. Viviannene, thanks very much for joining us today. How are things with you. 

Vivianne: [00:01:00] Thanks for having me, Fergal. It's great. Enjoying the the great weather we're finally having in the summer? 

Fergal: [00:01:06] Yeah, absolutely. It was a long time coming. First of all, congratulations on being named on this list. As I mentioned, it's a very prestigious one. Could you just start off by telling me a little bit about home equity approach to its products and some of what goes into putting them together? 

Vivianne: [00:01:21] Well, Fergal, you know what, home equity bank we're a schedule one federally regulated bank. We've been doing reverse mortgages for over 35 years and we're the only bank in Canada that's dedicated exclusively to working with Canadian homeowners that are aged 55 and better. We like to say, and because of this, we have insights and a deep understanding of this customer base and what happened and what matters to them. And at this stage in life, what customers need in our products is a way to achieve independence, to have a level of financial freedom. They want to be able to retire on their terms. And so they may be doing anything from renovating their home. They might want to get some travel in, or they might be having to finance some health care and or actually also creating a legacy for their kids. So helping their kids or their grand kids out. So we design our products with all of those different needs in mind specifically for this this audience. 

Fergal: [00:02:36] Let me just come back to something that you mentioned there, Vivianne, about the company's track record, because I'm always struck whenever I'm speaking with home equity about that 35 plus year record that you mentioned, servicing homeowners 55 and better, which I love. How important is it to have such an established track record whenever you're servicing that target demographic? 

Vivianne: [00:02:57] So Fergal, for us, we kind of think of it as because we have this experience and this track record, we have a high degree of trust within our client base and with our partners such as our broker partners, because we have this understanding of the needs of our customers and the needs of our partners. So between the fact that we have all this history and all this understanding of our customer base and the fact that we have this strong partnership with our broker partners, we're able to provide a level of understanding, but also a level of safety and security in our products that is also very important to our customer base. So things from being able to make sure that we are doing things with the level of lending conservatism that's important, the education that we provide to our customer base and to our partners about our product and how it works. We have a no negative equity guarantee, which is important. We have an ILA process, an independent legal assessment process. All of these things are very important parts of the product that we have. And really it's because of the fact that we've been doing this for over 35 years that we understand just how important that is to both our customers and our partners. 

Fergal: [00:04:24] And the company obviously has a really strong reputation among Canada's mortgage broker community, and that's exemplified by the fact that this isn't the first time that home equity has appeared on this list. Does the company keep mortgage brokers in mind when crafting its products, or how important are they to actually putting those products together? 

Vivianne: [00:04:42] Absolutely, Fergal. Actually, we keep mortgage brokers in mind and also rely on their feedback to improve our products over time. We do a lot of research into our customer base. So between the fact that we do this research and the fact that we listen to our partners feedback, we're able to make a really, really strong team when it comes to servicing this customer base. In fact, one of our more recent product launches, our open product, was a direct result of feedback from the broker community. 

Fergal: [00:05:17] Okay. Great stuff. Has there been anything new or different about how the company has approached 2022 in particular? Obviously, it's a very changing market and conditions are altering quite a bit. But is there anything different that you're keeping top of mind? 

Vivianne: [00:05:31] Well, we know that the pandemic changed attitudes in the market quite a bit. And and in particular with Canadians age 55 and better, they really started to think about the implications of where to age and the fact that most people were already saying that they wanted to age in their own homes, but it never became a more pronounced need than after that pandemic. And so when we conducted research, for example, into into people's ability to finance, the ability to age in their own homes, we found that only 12% of those polled said that they had money in their budget for home health care that they might need in order to age in place. So what we've actually found is that more and more people were looking to us to help finance helping them age in their own homes. And so what we found was more and more people were looking at our income advantage product, which is a way to get proceeds from a reverse mortgage as over time. So it's almost provides an income stream over time. So absolutely, we we looked at this as part of and actually we decided to feature personal support workers as heroes in this in this new era of people wanting to stay in their homes because of the fact that they're such an important part of this overall equation. But again, this this research that we did just highlighted this need that is coming up more and more for people to want to have a way to finance home health care so that they can stay in their homes for as long as they would want to. 

Fergal: [00:07:22] You've touched on a couple of really interesting trends there, and obviously we're moving away from the environment that we saw in the past couple of years of the pandemic. We're looking towards the future and what is going to be in store there. Is there anything in particular that you're working on for the future that you'd like to spotlight or that you're really excited about? 

Vivianne: [00:07:40] Just thinking about it. Fergal, we're we know that we're headed into some pretty interesting times from an economic environment perspective, and we know how important our mortgage broker partners are as part of the equation of keeping the lines of communication open with our customers and making sure that they're feeling educated but also safe and secure. And during times of uncertainty, people tend to want more communication, not less. So what we're working on is we're strengthening our communication efforts with more training and more tools. So we've relaunched our launch pad recently to help our broker partners better communicate with their customer base and provide more of those education and more of that education and more of those tools that that people are looking for. And we've also recently brought on Pattie Lovett Reid as our chief financial commentator for Home Equity Bank, and she's going to help also provide some context around what is happening in the economic environment. She brings a wealth of expertise with her, and she's going to help us better guide Canadians through these next little while as people are looking for more information on how to best navigate these waters. 

Fergal: [00:08:58] And Vivianne, just before I let you go, where can brokers find out some more about home equity's products? 

Vivianne: [00:09:03] So brokers can always come and find us at chipadvisor.ca. So that's chipadvisor. Two words altogether. dot ca. I'm sure you'll have the URL down at the bottom of the screen for me, but that's a great resource for you to learn more about Home Equity Bank, about its products, and about our broker launch pad program. 

Fergal: [00:09:27] Okay, great stuff. Well, some big developments coming down the line there. I'm sure a lot of brokers will be keeping their eye open for those. So will we hear. We're going to leave it there for today, Vivianne, but I'd like to thank you again for joining us on today's show. Congratulations again to Home Equity Bank for once again being named a recipient of this award. And we really appreciate you coming on today and I'm sure we'll talk soon. 

Vivianne: [00:09:47] Thank you so much, Fergal. 

Fergal: [00:09:49] That's all we have time for. On today's episode of CMP TV our thanks again to Home Equity Bank. For joining us today. Thanks to you for watching as always. Stay tuned for more great content from CMP in the near future and we'll see you next time.