As Senior Vice President, Residential Mortgages, Scott McKenzie is responsible for the origination and underwriting of all of First National’s residential mortgage business across Canada. In this interview, we ask him to share his unique perspectives on our company and the drivers of its success.
Let’s start with your background.
I’m proud to say that I was the fifth person that First National hired after its founding, so my entire career has been devoted to mortgage lending and most of it to First National. All told, I’ve worked in the industry for over 30 years.
So you’ve seen considerable change at First National.
Absolutely. Back then closing $100 million per year was an accomplishment. Today, between new originations and renewals, we close more than $16 billion annually from five offices across the country. We have gone from 4 or 5 employees in the Residential Department to over 400 now and about 950 employees in total. This is truly a growth story but the one constant we have always insisted on is service. It's a culture here at First National that we've never compromised in pursuit of growth.
Beyond sizable growth, how else has the workforce changed?
Today, a large part of our team is comprised of millennials. That word didn’t even register in our vocabulary 30 years ago. We have worked hard to understand the characteristics and workplace needs of this generation. They are well educated, smart and they are systems and technology savvy. What’s great about having millennials onboard is that they also make up a growing part of our customer base so by better understanding our workforce, we can better understand our customers. What hasn’t changed is our culture. We’re very consistent in putting people and service first.
How would you describe the residential team today?
Personable and caring. They want to create a great customer experience every time.
What’s the catalyst for First National’s growth?
Structurally, the development of securitization for mortgages was a driver, but just as significant is the rise of the professional mortgage broker. Mortgage brokers are the catalyst for competition among Canadian lenders and collectively have done a wonderful job of helping millions of people realize the value of home ownership and discover First National in the process.
What is your guiding philosophy as an employer and business leader?
Make it easy to do business with First National and rewarding to build a career here. In principle, it’s simple but it takes constant effort and great consistency to live that philosophy.
What would you like people to know about First National’s future?
This is a strong business and we are going to do everything we can to stay at the top of our game and at the top of our industry.