Natasha is an Account Manager working on the Excalibur team, servicing brokers in Ontario. She shares her experiences from the past few weeks, and how she has adapted in her role to help brokers redefine what it means to be relevant as they navigate through this crisis.
What have the past few weeks been like for you?
NA: These are challenging times because this is not something that we’ve ever experienced before. Usually, I am on the road, meeting brokers face-to-face. So I feel a bit disconnected from my broker community. It is tough to be alone and tough to have these conversations over the phone rather than in person. I’m trying to find ways to adapt – to being a voice on the phone rather than a presence in the room. Video conferencing is helping because it seems more interactive. I’m also checking in on brokers regularly. Some don’t necessarily just want information. They want someone to listen. In the first several weeks, brokers have had a lot of weight on their shoulders, and just being asked, “how can I be here for you?” or “what would you like to talk about?” can really alleviate stress. The feedback that I’m getting is that brokers find it helpful.
What are you hearing most from brokers? How are they feeling?
NA: Most of my brokers feel grateful that we are keeping their needs and borrowers’ needs as our top priorities. They appreciate that we are keeping them informed so they can provide accurate information to clients. They also find that having options to present (i.e. switching from bi-weekly to monthly payments), instead of a possible payment deferral is a big stress reliever. Of course brokers are stressed right now, and many are dealing with clients panicking about purchase files. But it is stress coupled with empathy. Brokers have a lot of responsibility right now. Clients are looking to them for information, and lenders are leaning on them as partners to deliver their messages. Emotionally, I would say it’s 50/50. Some brokers are really concerned. But others remain so positive, which I find refreshing. They see this as a needed reset in the market and an opportunity to connect with what is most important in life. The majority of my calls aren’t related to services or product at all. Most people just want to talk, get a sense of reassurance and feel validated about their feelings.
How have you been responding to brokers?
NA: I really stress that First National, as a whole, is there to support brokers. I’m sharing all updates and measures we are taking to support clients and brokers from a mortgage servicing perspective. And I’ve found that listening is the most important thing right now. We are all real people experiencing real hardships. I know that clarity and comfort is one of our marketing messages – but I am taking that to heart and turning it into a real conversation. Now, more than ever, it’s so important.
What are you doing personally, in your role, to help brokers stay relevant and resonate during this crisis?
NA: For me, it’s all about adaptability. I want to keep interactions effective by using different modes of communication. Webinar presentations have been really popular. I’ve had many attendees for each one I’ve done. I find it great to be able reach out to so many people at once from home. We are also doing a lot of “industry” video chats. Account Managers from multiple lenders come together to talk about solutions they’ve implemented for clients, so we can learn from each other. We also have a group of approximately 100 mortgage professionals doing a 90-day challenge focused on living intentionally despite what’s going on around us. It provides an opportunity to be introspective and take time for self care. It’s a great way for all of us to get to know each other as people and deepen our relationships, especially now when we all need to feel connected.
Any final thoughts?
NA: We are in this together, and First National will always adapt to help and support brokers. During such an unprecedented, uncertain time, we are adapting by the minute. Every person is a resource, and every resource you have is vital.