A Virtual Support Team for Brokers

Outsource SMThe broker business is paperwork intensive, to put it mildly. You’ve got lender approvals, provincial disclosures, service agreements, client income documents, purchase agreements, and so on and so on.

Pushing all that paper can be tedious and time consuming. Anyone trying to scale their business has undoubtedly thought about how to streamline document processing and staff accordingly. That includes the founder of DocAssist, a new-ish broker service company that we came across recently.

CMT has looked at document outsourcing services (like Nexsys Financial) in the past but the price was never right. With DocAssist, it’s much righter.

DocAssist is essentially a virtual support team at the ready to assist small, medium and even top-producing brokerages. Its goal is to save brokers processing time so they can allocate more resources to marketing and mortgage planning.

“We work with brokers who see the value in expanding their operations, either to increase revenue and spend more time advising clients, or to improve their lifestyle and spend less time getting paper cuts,” says founder Jason Henneberry.

“Our partners believe, as we do, that they can be more effective at growing their businesses by outsourcing repeatable activities and processes that often keep them tied to their desk.”

Basic membership to DocAssist gives brokers access to a variety of on-demand document management services, including:

  • CRA Notice of Assessment retrieval;
  • Title and Corporate Registry searches;
  • Client document management (sorting and labelling all inbound documentation and delivery of receipt notifications to clients and referral sources);
  • Post-funding marketing support (personally signed thank-you cards, preparation and delivery of closing gifts, welcome packages, renewal letters and other custom client marketing).

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For document retrieval, brokers are charged about the same as what it would cost to get these documents directly. DocAssist makes its money on subscription and per-file fees. For example:

  • As low as $29 per month for 10 NOA retrievals.
  • $50 per file for client document management.
  • $100 per file for client document management plus preparation of closing packages (signature-ready lender forms, disclosures & closing documents) and uploading complete compliance documents to the brokerage.
  • Professional fulfillment services are also available starting at $249 per month and $250 per instance. This includes services such as initial file review, closing package preparation (cost of borrowing disclosures, lender forms, etc…), file completion and fulfillment (managing appraisals and working directly with lenders to satisfy conditions and complete the file for instruction), and even vacation coverage.

“There’s a common misconception in our industry that in order to provide the “best service,” a broker needs to be involved in the entire mortgage process,” Henneberry says. “This belief has so many of us justifying why we aren’t willing to let go and we try to do everything ourselves.”

Henneberry estimates that, on average, his 200+ clients save over five hours per file. “…This time can be re-allocated to more productive, business-generating activities,” he adds.

On the issue of security and confidentiality, Henneberry openly acknowledges that some have concerns about outsourcing sensitive information to a platform run by another brokerage. DocAssist operations are completely firewalled, he assures. The company carefully abides by all PIPEDA requirements and runs on a system separate from MortgagePal, the brokerage he also operates. After closing, all client information is stored with, and only accessible to, the brokerage that owns the client relationship.

At the end of the day, this type of service boils down to cost/benefit. The cost of a full-time documents fulfillment officer can range from $35,000 to $65,000 a year, and that cost is generally fixed. By contrast, DocAssist affords the benefits of variable pricing and outsourced HR headaches. For that reason, it’s probably worth a look for anyone (especially smaller shops) thinking of hiring an assistant.

Sidebar: Interested brokers can sign up for a 15-day free trial with unlimited NOA retrieval at docassist.ca.

  1. Jason’s service is becoming more and more important in today’s world of underwriting. Constant change in condition settlement requirements is the new normal in completing files, as is constant re-conditioning by lenders. It is hard to imagine a mortgage broker who wants to expand their practice having the time to keep up with this ever changing landscape. Here is a great way to turn over something most brokers hate to experts who deal with condition settlement so constantly it becomes second nature to them. Great idea for the broker who wants to take the next step in the growth of their practices..

  2. Hard to believe that this service would save 5 hours of admin per file. I can tell you that in my shop the average time spent per file is less than 90 minutes. This is from the initial client call all the way to sending a “thank you” email post funding. The key is to force the client to do most of the paperwork upfront and demand that it comes the way you requrie it. We do not work on a file until we have all the paperwork from the client upfront. The system works pretty good – myself and 2 “underwriters” easily fund 750 deals a year.

  3. I think the point is Jason’s service works well for those doing less than 100 mortgages a year looking to get to the next level. At 750 deals a year there is such a strong expertise in how all the main lenders work and an intimate understanding of guidelines based on massive repetition. Less than 100 deals a year with 5 or 6 lenders and Jason’s program has a lot of validity.

  4. Thanks for the comments gents!

    90 minutes per file is impressive by any measure Jim. There’s no doubt in my mind you have fine tuned the mortgage process to a level that is likely unmatched in the industry. However, I think most would side with Ron on this one…

    The number one complaint we get from brokers is that they just don’t have the time to get out there and drum up more business because they are strapped to their desks. Most feel conditioned (and re-conditioned) to death and find themselves spending a surprising amount of time managing documents, negotiating lender conditions or going back to clients to get “just one more thing”. 

    Bottom line is the administrative work load in our industry is a nightmare and it’s getting worse, not better. Our aim as a platform is to help brokers get out of the weeds and become more effective at growing their businesses. Who knows, we may even stand a chance at moving the needle on market share as an industry by freeing up more time for business development. A lofty goal, but I personally believe the admin is what is bogging most of us down. 


  5. Sorry but there is no way a mortgage broker can spend only 90 minutes on a file from start to finish and be compliant.

    Here are some of the steps required to close a file:

    – Initial and ongoing communication with client before submission
    – Interviewing the client and documenting client’s responses to satisfy FSCO’s suitability regulations
    – Answering product, rate and term questions, reviewing product options and making a proper recommendation
    – Underwriting the application
    – Entering deal notes
    – Following up to get documentation
    – Reviewing incoming paperwork for fraud and validity
    – Creating a signing package for the client
    – Answering the client’s questions on the signing package
    – Sending all docs to the lender in a lender acceptable form
    – Collating and uploading the documents to storage
    – Tracking lender conditions
    – Addressing lender concerns
    – Keeping clients up to date on file progress
    – Arranging and confirming receipt of the appraisal
    – Handling appraisal issues
    – Processing client changes after approval
    – Initial communication with lawyer
    – Confirming instructions received by lawyer
    – Handling any of 100s of glitches that can occur
    – Processing any rebates
    – Thanking the client
    – Entering the client into a CRM
    – Doing final file compliance

    How much time (in minutes) do you spend on each of these tasks, Jim?

    Are you including files that didn’t close for whatever reason?

    I can’t see any way possible that a broker can do all this in 90 minutes.

  6. Actually as a company processing a lot of applications in a year it is “possible” that “some” applications are only taking up 90 to 120 minutes start to funded and through compliance. But, and it is a very big BUT; that is not an average that is best outcome and it the minority of files. I am aware that Jim’s operation is extremely efficient and I am sure he hits the number on some files but perhaps not all.

  7. Jason, fair enough. I do see the value for the brokers who have not mastered a process or learned their lenders processes/rules/features. As you know, there are hunters (those looking for deals) VS. gatherers (those processing deals) in this business. Most people are only good at one of these activities. I can see your service being very helpful to the hunters out there.

    For 604 broker, I can tell you that we wholeheartedly follow all the points you mention below (and then some). There are a few things that make my business a bit different which allows us to be very efficient:

    – We do not do any private of B deals, both of which take a lot more time and effort – very efficient

    – All our clients are AAA clients, most of which are professions (relocating executives, doctors, engineers, teachers), all of which are straight forward deals both for us and our lenders – very efficient

    – Most of our clients are seasoned home owners. Less than 5% of our clients are first time buyers – our clients know what they want as they have been through the mortgage process before – very efficient

    – We only deal with lenders who have a very efficient process. We do not waste time with lenders who come back after their ‘audit’ process requiring more docs – very efficient

    – Of the lenders we deal with, we are typically the #1 or #2 broker with them, resulting in much more favorable turnaround time. I get about 95% of my deals back approved within 24 hours – very efficient

    – In terms of documentation, we get all docs upfront before we underwrite a deal and send the docs to the lender when we send the application. As a result, approvals typically come back ‘File Complete’ except for the signing of the docs (and 20% of the time requiring an appraisal) – very efficient

    – With respect to your other points (Client documentation to ensure Suitability, Reviewing incoming paperwork for fraud and validity, Creating a signing package for the client ,Answering the client’s questions on the signing package, Sending all docs to the lender in a lender acceptable form, Collating and uploading the documents to storage, Tracking lender conditions, file compliance, etc, etc, etc,), we have created a process that is pretty efficient in doing all of this and more. – very efficient

    I would be more than happy to share this process with you if you like.

    All the best!

  8. Ummm…that’s fine but how is DocAssist able to obtan taxpayer NOAs without a signed consent form? Organizations like Revenue Services of BC, the billing and collections arm of the BC government operated on long-term contracts by HP Enterprise Advanced Solutions, can obtain this information directly electronically from CRA but still require a consent form signed by the taxpayer. The only way I can see it is if DocAssist obtains consent directly from each consumer but that’s silly…why not just get consumers to email PDFs for free?

    1. Hi Doug,

      Great question. The answer is, we do obtain consent directly from the client via the T1013 ‘authorizing or cancelling a representative’ form. When designing our system, the goal was to reduce the work involved for both the broker and client.

      We’re offering an unlimited 15-day FREE trial on Notice of Assessment packages. Feel free to test it out and see if it’s a good fit for your business!

      Alan at DocAssist

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