Broker Stories: Paul Bojakli, Mortgage Broker/Co-Founder, Quantus Mortgage Solutions
“Congratulations! Love your people and your culture.”
Paul Bojakli has been working in the mortgage industry in Calgary for the past 15 years. He began at Gecko Mortgage (which became Mortgage One), after transitioning out of venture capital financing. Looking for a new opportunity, Paul joined Mortgage Intelligence. He started a team and managed its growth to 55 people and top 10 status in the country. In 2009, he co-founded the brokerage Quantus Mortgage Solutions. His philosophy centers on exclusivity, investing in people and helping people grow their business.
Paul shares his perspectives 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?
PB: The new regulatory requirements have had the most impact on the industry. With the more stringent qualification guidelines, I have seen a lot of good people get penalized. It also takes longer to underwrite a file. The consumer has to show more paperwork and is scrutinized in ways that never existed before.
That being said, I have a “glass is half full” perspective on the industry. You have to be a better broker now -- digging deeper with clients because you have to provide more information when packaging a file and talking to a lender. It’s not only about mortgaging a client today; it’s important to have foresight about how to package that client down the road as well. You have to take into consideration where he or she may be in five years. We’re being forced to ask a lot more questions, engage even more actively with clients and understand their financial plans.
During this time of market change, how has First National supported you and your clients?
PB: First National has a strong willingness to understand each individual client. The company is comfortable working within the exceptions, as long as they are common sense. For example, I’ve had several clients purchasing properties with mortgages of more than $1 million. It’s traditionally hard to qualify for such a sizable sum, and most lenders shy away from those types of files. First National understands and appreciates them, is confident about the level of risk and will underwrite them if they make sense.
I appreciate knowing that I can always have a conversation. Someone on my First National team always listens, and it’s never usually a flat out no. For us, being able to simplify a complex deal drives loyalty. With complicated deals, the client has usually already had a difficult time. We can reverse the course of the deal and tell the client confidently that we will explore it and see what we can do. First National digs in, explains what paperwork is required, and collaboratively, we get the deal done. That client is then ours for life.
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?
PB: The obvious answer is leadership. But I would be remiss if I discounted the vital role of the people in the trenches. The underwriters, administrative and support staff are incredible. They are our first touch at First National, and that’s where we form our relationships.
I value being able to communicate, talk and have someone pick up the phone when I call. The process is unbelievable. And I trust the word of my team 100%. If I’m working to a tight timeline, and I’m about to cross the finish line with a client, I never doubt the word of my underwriter when she says that I’m good to go. Avoiding surprises in the 12th hour means a lot to my clients and I.
The consistency is also amazing. The process is efficient, but First National is always looking for ways to tweak and improve it, even in the smallest ways. Merlin is a perfect example. It was one of the best systems out there when First National launched it, and it’s only gotten better in helping me stay on top of deals and taking pressure off of my underwriter.
In the past 30 years, how has First National supported and contributed to the growth of the mortgage broker channel?
PB: Our industry is very resilient because companies like First National continue to educate and invest in its growth. With the recent regulatory changes, we had someone from First National come to walk us through everything one on one so we were aware and understood.
I also think being open to innovating in the face of change is vital. First National reintroduced its Excalibur solution at exactly the right time. Offering that option to clients helps us to continue to keep more clients within the First National family. So even if a client requires an alternative lending solution for whatever reason, he or she can still experience the First National value add. And in terms of experience, First National makes every client feel cared for and valued, whether they are considered A or B according to industry definitions.
When did you start working with First National and why did you continue to build the relationship?
PB: I started working with First National on Day 1. Another broker in the office referred me. Right from the first deal, the experience was incredible. My underwriter at the time made me look good. If the Condition of Financing date was a week, I was usually able to get it done in a day. Our clients value that level of service from us, and First National ensures that we can constantly deliver it. I also appreciate the accessibility. I can talk to anyone or escalate, at any point in time. There is just an innate understanding of what I need to provide the best service to my clients.
How has First National gone beyond service for you and your clients in the years that you’ve worked together?
PB: There is one recent example that jumps to mind – and it illustrates how First National goes above and beyond in ways that transcend business. Mark Jewells, our Business Development Manager, dropped by our new office to say hello. He had no idea that we were setting up. He was dressed in his work clothes but still spent more than an hour with us helping us put together the boardroom table. Those are the kinds of people that First National cultivates.
The kindness, thoughtfulness and caring is also evident in how First National conducts business. I’ve been in situations where clients have lost jobs or have had financial issues. I call First National, and they treat my clients so compassionately. It’s unique to have that type of patience and sensitivity in our industry.
What do you value most about your relationship with First National?
PB: I’ve said it several times already, but for me, it comes down to the people. My relationships at First National are not short sighted. We are all in it together for the long haul.