There are fewer places left where Canadians can get holistic mortgage and financial advice from a familiar member of the local community. Thanks to mortgage broker Nick L’Ecuyer, Simcoe County is one of them.
As financial institutions become more virtual, his firm Mortgage Wellness has taken the opposite approach, establishing small retail locations in each of the communities it serves. There, customers are invited to bring their families or their dogs, enjoy a cup of coffee, and sit down with an expert who lives in their community to have an honest chat about their finances.
“It’s a really old school approach,” L’Ecuyer said. “A lot of mortgage brokers are going 100% virtual — they’re saying, ‘we don’t need an office,’ we’re saying, ‘would you like to come in for a latte?’ that’s us in a nutshell.”
L’Ecuyer adds that Mortgage Wellness doesn’t aspire to be the number one brokerage in Canada, or even Ontario, but is wholly focused on being a household name within Simcoe County.
You want to go where everybody knows your name
There is a perception that customers today, and especially young people, prefer to interact with their financial institutions over virtual platforms. But L’Ecuyer has found the opposite to be true. He says millennials may prefer to shop for concert tickets, groceries or cosmetics on their phones, they’re craving a personal relationship with a trusted advisor for major decisions.
“What we’re finding is my parents’ generation want to do everything by phone and text, but the younger generation—primarily first-time home buyers—they really, really value in-person, personal advice,” he said. “I think that has a lot to do with the fact that generation doesn’t have a relationship with a banker like our parents would.”
L’Ecuyer adds that Mortgage Wellness is seeking to fill that gap, offering holistic financial advice to clients who are unable to find it elsewhere.
“The reality is if someone is working at a bank branch and is really good, they’re going to get hired by somebody like me, or they’ll transition into the mortgage business, the investment business, that sort of thing,” he said.
Person to person, family to family
When families come to Mortgage Wellness, L’Ecuyer says he is proud to introduce them to his own.
His father is a partner, and even though his parents have been divorced for 25 years, his mother works there too, answering the phones and working as a client concierge.
L’Ecuyer’s wife is often involved in the business and makes a regular habit of bringing their kids to the office; his brother runs a separate company from an office down the hall; and even those colleagues who aren’t biologically related are treated like family.
In fact, Mortgage Wellness is one of the only brokerages in the country to establish an ownership share structure that gives some of the longest standing employees a stake in the business.
“We’re a family-owned company, we’re a small partnership group, we’re an employee-owned company, and we want to help other families in our community,” he said. “People say all the time, ‘we just love seeing your family there’ and half of them aren’t even related to us!”
A holistic approach requires a holistic product
L’Ecuyer says he and his staff spend a lot of time working with clients to improve their financial standing, which doesn’t necessarily lead to the sale of a mortgage, and that’s the point.
“I remember meeting with a client three weeks ago and I had this whole financial strategy for him for the next 10 years, and he’s like, ‘okay, but how do you make money?’ and I was like ‘we just do the mortgage,’” says L’Ecuyer. “I said, ‘hasn’t your bank done this for you?’ and we both just kind of chuckled. It really is holistic financial advice, and also, we do mortgages.”
As he seeks to help his community members get a better grasp on their finances, L’Ecuyer says those conversations often lead back to Manulife One, a unique, holistic solution that saves customers money by combining a range of financial services.
“It’s quite literally the only solution that we have as mortgage brokers to really wrap our arms around the client and say, ‘I can help with all facets of this—your bank account, your mortgage, your Visa—and it’s going to save you a ton of money,’” said L’Ecuyer. “I love Manulife for all of those reasons, and I’m a Manulife client myself; it quite literally changed my family’s financial situation, and I teach my clients how to do the same thing.”
Personally, L’Ecuyer says Manulife One helped streamline his family’s personal finances, ensuring he and his wife have the money they need when they need it without the stress that comes with managing multiple accounts. Professionally, he believes it’s the most effective solution for furthering his goal of becoming the go-to source for financial advice in his community.
“At the top of the Manulife statements it says my name and my phone number; they put me front and centre,” he says. “They are also a high trust, high integrity organization, and that’s why we align so well.”