First National Financial LP

Personal Perspectives: Erica Ma

  • First National Financial LP

Erica is an Account Manager in Vancouver. She shares her experiences from the past few weeks, why staying calm was critical, how she’s supporting brokers in staying relevant during the crisis and what she’s looking forward to when it’s over.

What have the past few weeks been like for you?

EM: The first week was overwhelming. As soon as the government made the announcements about deferral payments and business shut downs, brokers got panicked calls from clients who were losing their jobs. So we fielded a lot of frustration from them. Each time the government made a new announcement, we had to respond quickly. For the most part, brokers were very understanding. They were dealing with a lot of frustration from clients, but they were reassuring them that they would receive a response and asking that they be patient.

What are you hearing most from brokers? How are they feeling?

EM: At the beginning, brokers were frustrated and overwhelmed. They have a large number of First National clients, so they were getting a lot of panicked calls. Now that things are in place, especially with the capabilities available on My Mortgage, we can set more realistic expectations about timing. Brokers are so used to our quick responses. So when the crisis hit, and we took a bit longer to get back to them, they reacted.

How have you been responding to brokers?

EM: I will never forget that first week. It was so important to stay calm. I’m not used to getting frustrated, panicky calls, but I didn’t take it personally. I knew brokers felt devastated by what their clients were experiencing. Every day, I woke up, took a deep breath and did what needed to be done. I really tried to empathize with brokers and their clients. They just needed someone to listen and help them talk it out. After our conversations, my brokers were definitely calmer and felt that they had what they needed to reassure clients and set realistic expectations around timeframes. In those first few weeks, the typical workday didn’t apply because brokers were dealing with clients around the clock. So I would work, take a break, make dinner and come back to respond to brokers. I knew their priority was providing quick answers to clients, regardless of the time of day.

What are you doing personally, in your role, to help brokers stay relevant and resonate during this crisis?

EM: I started a WhatsApp group for brokers to keep them updated. It’s been a great way for me to share information quickly to everyone and set expectations. I’ve posted updates regarding the communications that we received from head office and marketing, answers to questions and what we’re anticipating. At the start of this crisis, customer service was completely swamped. Certain clients had non-Covid related inquiries. I asked brokers to forward those questions to me and was definitely more hands on in finding the answers.

Any final thoughts?

EM: My brokers are my friends. I can’t wait to go their offices again, see them and give them big hugs when all of this is over. I’m really impressed with the way that we’ve all come together and have chosen to be patient with each other and work cooperatively through this crisis. I am so appreciative of my brokers. Talking to them is helping me get through each day.