First National Financial LP

Broker Stories: Bill Nugent, Mortgage Broker/Franchise Owner, Neighbourhood DLC

  • First National Financial LP

"Congratulations on a job well done, First National. Looking forward to working with you in the future."

Bill Nugent has been working in the mortgage industry for 25 years. He began brokering as a one-man operation and has since grown his Neighbourhood Dominion Lending Centres team to include 68 agents, funding approximately $950 million in annual volume.

In 2016, Bill and his business partner, Gary Meger, launched a mortgage investment corporation (MIC) called Bedrock Mortgage Investment Corporation. Through the MIC, agents can access private funds to provide solutions for a more diversified range of clients.

Bill shares his perspectives below on what he views as the most significant changes in the industry, what has contributed to First National's longevity and what he values most about his relationship with First National.

What are the most significant changes that you've seen in the industry during the course of your career?

BN: The industry and real estate markets are very cyclical. When you've been brokering long enough, you quickly realize how best to navigate each stage. Presently, the Government is getting involved in the industry in ways we've never seen. Several of the new regulations are presenting challenges for self­ employed individuals, making it more difficult for them to qualify for a mortgage.

I firmly believe that, in order to succeed, you have to accept these changes and approach them like we would any challenge. You evaluate them, find a way to deal with them, the market stutters a bit, you adapt and keep going. Everyone - consumers, brokers and lenders - have to adjust their expectations and move forward. Those who don't will disappear. We accept change as part of brokering and figure out ways to make the new reality work best for our agents and their clients.

During this time of market change, how has First National supported you and your clients?

BN: First National keeps us consistently informed about what's coming down the pipe. We get ongoing updates about what's coming at us so we can anticipate the changes. Every Tuesday, my entire company joins a conference call. We often invite specialists to speak as well. The goal is to keep our people informed, prepare them for what's to come and provide them with ongoing information so they can continually update, inform and educate their clients.

Being able to properly set expectations with clients is a distinct advantage. Rather than providing false hope, we are outlining reality. Doing that consistently positions us as more professional. And clients are happy because they aren't blindsided when things change.

First National is celebrating 30 years in 2018, which is a significant milestone. Why do you think that First National has been able to endure, grow and succeed?

BN: First National has consistently done several things really well. Technology innovation is definitely top of mind. The Merlin system that was developed 20 years ago is one of the best communication tools that we have in the industry. It is certainly a measuring stick for all other lenders, and a standard that everyone in the industry is trying to achieve. Using Merlin, I can be in constant communication with my underwriters and get near real-time updates, so I can see the status of a deal at any given moment in time.

Turnaround time is also industry leading. I can submit a file and, generally, have a response within four to five hours, and for sure by the following day. Whether it is good or bad news, I have a quick response to share with my clients who are anxiously waiting. If issues do arise, I receive an alert on Merlin or a phone call from my financing specialist.

I appreciate the service levels. If I have feedback or concerns, I can escalate those up the channel through my BDM. There is always an openness for discussion and a willingness to explain solid reasoning. I never encounter a situation where anyone at First National just says no and shuts the door. With that understanding, I can go back to my client and explain the situation clearly and provide reasons why the lender was reluctant to advance the funds.

In the past 30 years, how has First National supported and contributed to the growth of the mortgage broker channel?

BN: Education of brokers and consumers has always been a priority. Increasing our knowledge helps us grow our businesses and market share. First National provides many channels to access information - website, industry events, BDMs on the road, and leaders like Scott McKenzie, Doreen Walsh and Kathy Lillie. The people at First National understand how vital ongoing education and information is to what we do. They take the time to talk and explain what's happening in the industry, why things are changing and what we can expect.

When did you start working with First National and why did you continue to build the relationship?

BN: I have been working with First National throughout my career. Originally, I had a personal connection because my wife worked there. But when I made that first call, I got a response. From there, I just felt comfortable talking to the specialists. At the end of day, First National is consistent. I know what I'm going to get on a regular basis, which helps me provide the best service possible to my clients.

How has First National gone beyond service for you and your clients in the years that you've worked together?

BN: For me, it comes down to confidence and superb service. I know that if I have a reasonable but border line deal, I can call First National and know undoubtedly that it will be dealt with properly and promptly. The issue gets resolved fairly and the client walks away satisfied.

What do you value most about your relationship with First National?

BN: First National is a true partner that I can count on in both good times and bad. I look back to 2007/2008 when it was probably the toughest of times. We continued with our yearly conference as scheduled and First National attended. I was able to count on that partnership, regardless of what was happening in the marketplace. I depend on First National's reliability, loyalty and consistency for my ongoing success. I believe in their company and the people that I work with at First National believe in my business and me.