First National Financial LP

Be Your Best Profile: Nancy Canuel, Broker, Multi-Prêts and Caroline Bacha, Account Manager, First National

  • First National Financial LP

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.

Nancy Canuel, Broker, Multi-Prêts

Nancy started as a broker in 2000 and joined Multi-Prêts in 2001. In 2015, she became a manager and now manages a team of seven people that generates $75 million in mortgages. Nancy serves clients primarily in the Terrebonne area in north shore Quebec near Laval.

Caroline Bacha, Account Manager, First National

Caroline has been working at First National since 2015. She started in fulfillment, progressed to underwriter and then took on her current Account Manager role in 2017. She has been working in the mortgage industry since 2001.

How long have you been working together?

NC: Caroline has been my BDM since 2017. The previous Account Manager introduced us, and we hit it off right away. With some people, it just works. We have the same work ethic, positive attitude and team spirit. Personally, we both value generosity and compassion.

CB: Nancy’s previous Account Manager was away, and I had an opportunity to do a presentation for her. Our connection was immediate. We are both outgoing people, and we just clicked right away.

How has Caroline helped to educate you and your team about First National and the industry?

NC: My team really appreciates the ongoing communication. Caroline keeps us up to date about what’s happening and what’s coming. She presents often, and we trust her. That’s why I send 50% of my business to First National.

CB: Pre-pandemic, we met formally approximately three times a year. Our year-end meeting was always fun. I would give out baskets and awards. Since the pandemic, we meet virtually. To keep the team engaged and attentive, I decided to make our meetings more interactive than me just talking at them. I developed a game based on Bingo using common questions we get daily from brokers. I created 75 questions and designed a different Bingo sheet with the answers for each participating broker. By asking questions, I can better understand where brokers lack knowledge. I can then zero in on those areas specifically, instead of repeating what the brokers already know. I also added prizes, which inspire brokers to compete against each other and stay really engaged throughout the whole meeting.   

How does Caroline advocate for your business and clients?

NC: Caroline helps us accelerate the approval process. I have an underwriter dedicated to my team. If for any reason (which rarely happens) I can’t reach my underwriter, Caroline steps in and connects with our underwriter or escalates to the team manager. Typically, these matters are urgent (a rush file or removal of a condition), so the quick response is critical. I appreciate how much effort Caroline invests in helping us maintain a strong, productive relationship with our underwriter and team manager.

CB: Ever since I was an underwriter, I have always tried to put myself in the client’s shoes. I understand that Nancy has people who are pressuring her for answers or service. When she calls me, she needs me right away. And she needs quick, accurate answers.

Can you recount an experience where you had to work together to overcome an obstacle or solve a problem?

NC: At the start of 2020, there was a lot of fluctuation in rates. If the rates go down, I can email my underwriter to request that new rate. The underwriter makes the changes and sends a new commitment letter. In March, the rates increased before they went down. I was so busy with files that I forgot to email my underwriter about 10 files that could have qualified for lower rates. I called Caroline in a panic. She asked me to send her an email with all 10 deals. We switched a few to variable, and we applied the lower rate for the remainder.

CB: Great service is a team effort. As an Account Manager, I can’t do it alone. It is really important for me to have the right contacts and maintain good relationships with them. Working hand-in-hand with underwriters and team managers allows me to deliver timely service. Having relationships across all touch points contributes to efficient processes that appear seamless to clients. For example, Nancy’s underwriter was absent one day, and she needed a final in her file. I reached out to the team manager directly to accelerate the process. He sent the final as I was on the phone with him.

What value does Caroline bring to your business?

NC: We collaborate like colleagues. She is always there for my team and my clients. Caroline understands what the clients need and what First National can do. And she is always bridging the gap between those two realities.

CB: My job is to help Nancy deliver the service she promises to her clients. A lot of that comes down to providing the right answers as quickly as possible. If I’m not 100% sure of an answer, I will find out right away and respond quickly and accurately.

How does Caroline step up to be her best for you, and how does she help you step up to be your best for your clients?

NC: Caroline shares a lot of information and education. Her product knowledge is amazing. My team doesn’t have to waste time choosing products because Caroline has such a deep understanding of First National’s requirements and which products best suit specific situations. If I ever have problems with a file, Caroline is always available. Her response is fast and efficient. When I get quick, good answers, I can respond just as quickly to my clients and deliver on my service promise consistently.

CB: I set a personal responsiveness objective for myself – answer calls within no more than two hours and emails that day. I would want the answer right away, so that’s the service level I commit to. If team members need education, training or help I always make myself available. Empathy is important to me, so I take the time and invest the effort to help. First National is known as the first lender that goes to see new brokers when they start in the industry. We make that connection and help brokers build their foundation of knowledge and confidence.

2020 was obviously an exceptional year. How was Caroline there for you and your clients?

NC: Like everyone, we did a lot of virtual meetings and webinars. But beyond that, Caroline was in touch regularly. And not just with me. With my brokers too. She would check in often to see if I had questions, concerns or feedback from my team. But we also talked a lot personally about our experiences and what we were going through in our lives.

CB: First National upper management and marketing did a great job of communicating proactively, especially in March as lockdowns took effect, and we all transitioned to working from home. With that support and transparency, I was able to communicate with brokers quickly and educate them even before they had to ask the questions. In the beginning, our deferral department was swamped, and response was far slower than usual. I was able to step in and work directly with my customer service rep and manager. In situations where payment was going to be withdrawn but there was a possibility of insufficient funds, they contacted the client immediately instead of making them wait in the queue. We really stepped up as a team and tried to help every client.

Looking ahead to 2021, how do you want Caroline to step up and be there for you and your clients?

NC: Caroline has great team spirit. She’s positive and her energy is infectious. I want to continue those positive connections in 2021. We remained closely connected virtually during the pandemic, and I hope that we’ll be able to meet face-to-face again at some point in 2021.

CB: I am going to continue to think outside of the box. With virtual meetings, I have to be more creative in how I engage with Nancy’s team and all of the broker teams I work with. I intend to focus on being creative, resourceful, flexible and adaptable. It’s important to find opportunities to pivot, so my relationship with Nancy and her team continues to evolve in fresh and engaging ways.

Any final thoughts?

NC: Client satisfaction is the most important thing to me. Caroline, the extended First National team and I are on the same page about that. She wants to deliver a yes to my clients. Our underwriter cares about our clients. If my clients are happy, they stay with me. First National helps me keep my clients because we are always working toward the same goal.

CB: It’s easy for me to be my best for Nancy because she is so easy to work with. We have a strong relationship, so it doesn’t feel like work. Now, we are just finding ways to build on that foundation so we can continue to deliver great service to her clients.