What does it really take to be your best? It depends on whom you ask. Brokers have their perspectives, which shape their expectations of their Account Managers. And Account Managers have their own ways of stepping up to be their best and be there for their brokers.
In the Be Your Best Profile series, we sat down with brokers and their Account Managers to get both perspectives on what it means to be your best.
Jared Dreyer, Broker/Founder, Dreyer Group Mortgage Brokers
Jared has been a licensed broker since 1992. He started Dreyer Group in 2005, which is part of the Verico network. He joined Verico at its inception and has been a member of the network for over 15 years.
Erica Ma, Account Manager, First National
Erica started at First National in 2005. She stepped away to pursue another opportunity in 2015 but was drawn back to First National’s culture and made a swift return in 2016. She services brokers in British Columbia’s lower mainland, including Surrey and Langley.
How long have you been working together?
JD: I have been working with First National since 1993. Erica and I have been working together since 2016, when she stepped into the Account Manager role. Since day one, it’s been fantastic working with Erica.
EM: I took over Jared’s portfolio five years ago. Jared is well respected in the industry and is a long-term, loyal client, so it was an easy transition. I made it my mission to wow him and prove my dedication to hard work and outstanding service.
How has Erica helped to educate you and your team about First National and the industry?
JD: Erica is always available, during and outside of regular business hours. She is an excellent communicator and updates the team weekly. Whenever we request her help or involvement, there is never any hesitation. When we used to have in-person events, Erica always attended enthusiastically. We recently did a Facebook live with Erica. She joined some our realtor partners to discuss the mortgage process. It was a really well-attended virtual event.
EM: Things are obviously different with COVID. We don’t have face-to-face meetings like we used to. Before COVID, I did a lot of presentations with referral partners on topics including products, industry trends, government change programs and government incentive programs. I also invited insurers to educate brokers and top referral partners. Now, we do a lot of virtual meetings. Any time there is a policy or industry change, I put together a comprehensive email package and follow up with individual phone calls to each team member.
How does Erica advocate for your business and clients?
JD: Erica has a strong relationship with the underwriting team that works on our deals. She checks in constantly and makes sure our deals flow seamlessly. Any time there is a change in policy or rates, she communicates instantly. We hear from her weekly, and she is in regular contact with the brokers on my team to provide any support or help.
EM: I strive to be an extension of Jared’s business. I try to make his business my business and put a face to the client who is trying to buy a home. Empathy is critical. Mortgages can be stressful, so I always try to understand the client’s perspective. If the file isn’t working for us, I offer restructuring suggestions, so the process is more seamless. I often coach brokers about documentation, so they can pass that information on to their clients. My goal is to simplify the process as much as possible.
Can you recount an experience where you had to work together to overcome an obstacle or solve a problem?
EM: The early days of the pandemic were incredibly stressful. And changes were happening so quickly. Brokers and clients were anxious, and we had to figure out ways to overcome all of these unexpected obstacles together. Communication was key. I was in touch with head office daily and communicated any new information right away, so brokers could set expectations with clients. We had a similar mindset. Instead of stressing over the problem, we focused on the positive outcome. When we reframed things as surmountable obstacles, we knew head office was going to provide solutions. It was important to be present, mindful and communicative.
What value does Erica bring to your business?
JD: Erica brings tremendous value because she’s always been there for us. She goes above and beyond to educate us, keep everyone informed and ensure a smooth relationship with the underwriting team. She is fully present with us and commits to strengthening the relationship and rapport for the long term.
EM: The industry is constantly changing, so my focus has always been education. When new policies come down or the government introduces new programs, I become the expert, so the team can rely on me to learn and understand. With any change, I put together an email with helpful tips and attachments brokers can forward to clients and referral partners. And they always know they can reach out to me to discuss anything – about First National or about the industry in general.
How does Erica step up to be her best for you, and how does she help you step up to be your best for your clients?
JD: Erica is fully present. She is available when we need her and keeps us informed. But she also does the extra things. She volunteers her own time to support our community events including our Easter Egg Hunt and drive in movie nights. Participating as part of our team really strengthens our relationship. In terms of service, Erica’s turnaround times are amazing. When she gets back to us quickly, we can get back to our clients or referral partners quickly. First National had the foresight to invest in technology more than 25 years ago and keeps evolving it. Today, technology and automation are more important than ever. Merlin helps us streamline documentation management, so we can simplify the process for our clients and help them achieve their goals.
EM: For me, it’s all about being the expert that educates. Jared’s team has a lot of top referral partners, so I always want to provide expertise on the brokers’ behalf. Whenever there is a hot topic realtors care about, I try to meet with them or create social media content that addresses it. By increasing my interaction and engagement with referral partners, I can deliver value and increase their profile.
2020 was obviously an exceptional year. How was Erica there for you and your clients?
JD: Nobody could have predicted what happened in 2020, especially with the surge in the market. First National implemented or enhanced processes and digitization to capitalize on this new ways of doing business. It’s a new world, but our transactions are still smooth, and we are delivering on our service commitments consistently. During the early days of the pandemic, everything was changing so quickly, so communication was critical. Erica arranged video calls and webinars. She kept us informed about policy changes and was available to anyone that needed help.
EM: 2020 was definitely an interesting year. With the market heating up, competition increased and clients became more rate savvy. Brokers were feeling the pressure from clients and realtors. So response times were critical. Any time there was a rate change or special, I communicated with brokers right away. I also helped them with unique file situations and documentation to avoid any back and forth with underwriting.
Looking ahead to 2021, how do you want Erica to step up and be there for you and your clients?
JD: We are laying out our best plans for 2021, but we have no control over what happens. Being flexible and fluid is really important. BC has had an interesting market so far. There isn’t a lot of inventory, so there are many showings for one listing and multiple offers. It’s important for us to understand what clients are going through. The competition in the marketplace is putting a lot of pressure on brokers. Having a productive lending partnership helps us turn deals around very quickly. We need seamless processes, so brokers can always deliver.
EM: The key to success right now is communication and being present and intentional. Investing time in my own expertise and committing to ongoing education allows me to facilitate seamless processes for brokers and their clients.
Any final thoughts?
JD: First National has been a great broker partner with great leadership from the top all the way down. We know we can always rely on First National for the right products, systems and processes to facilitate broker success. The company looks at things from the broker and client perspectives and integrates that insight into digital processes to enable fast, reliable service. It’s really a win win for everyone.
EM: Regardless of the obstacle, we will always adapt and be there for the team. Our service will remain consistent, and we will continue to invest in the relationship. No matter what happens, we will overcome it and get stronger together.