By Vanessa Chris, Special to CMT
Collin Bruce attributes his success in the mortgage brokering industry to one simple element: necessity. When he first started out—following a career in commercial lending, two failed Subway franchises and a stint in house-flipping—he was up to his eyeballs in debt. He needed to start making money…fast.
“I had a salaried job lined up at the bank, but there was something about mortgage brokering that appealed to me, even though it was a commissioned job,” he says. “The main issue stopping me was that I simply didn’t have the money to take the mortgage brokering course.”
The very day he was planning to accept the job at the bank, fate stepped in. Money from a microwave—which he’d returned a year before—was refunded to his credit card. The amount was just big enough to pay for his province’s mandatory mortgage broker licensing course.
Bruce took it as a sign, turned down the banking job and immediately enrolled in the course. As anyone in the industry can attest, however, a brokering licence on its own doesn’t pay the bills—and his struggles were far from over.
“Back then, in those early days, every deal counted. I really couldn’t fail—it wasn’t an option,” he says. “Even though we were broke, I treated every client well, regardless if I was going to make a lot of money off of them. And I still keep that mindset today.”
The strategy seems to be working. The Edmonton-based Dominion Lending Centres’ Collin Bruce Mortgage Team is thriving, having brought home CMP’s Broker of the Year award for the last three years, on top of ranking #1 on the magazine’s Top 75 brokers list.
Simple success secrets
Bruce says putting yourself in the client’s shoes is step one. That requires the obvious—things like answering their phone calls and emails promptly and taking the time to explain hiccups in the mortgage process, no matter how minor. On a less obvious note, it also means taking time for yourself and making sure you don’t burn out.
“I love what I do, but sometimes it can be a grind,” he admits. “If I find myself getting tired or comfortable in this job, I know it’s time to take a vacation, and I encourage my team to do the same.”
Bruce also works hard to preserve a semblance of work/life balance. While he answers emails and phone calls diligently during office hours, once he gets home all work communication goes on pause—at least while his kids are awake. Once they’re in bed, he and his wife—who is also a member of the Collin Bruce Mortgage Team—will take that time and respond to anything they missed throughout the evening.
“This isn’t a nine-to-five job. You need to make sure your clients feel taken care of and you have to take steps to remember where they’re coming from,” he says. “That means replying to all your emails and phone calls—even those late at night.”
When Bruce looks out at the horizon, he sees a bright future for the mortgage brokering industry—although he doesn’t envy new brokers coming in.
“It’s a hard business to start in. The toughest part is getting those clients,” he says. “My best advice is, don’t panic on slow days. When it’s busy, work in your business. When it’s not, work on it.”
Vanessa Chris has been a professional writer and B2B content specialist for 13 years. She began covering the Canadian mortgage market as a journalist in 2006. You can reach Vanessa at firstname.lastname@example.org.