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Be Your Best Profile: Chad Wilson, Broker, Ideal Mortgage Solutions and Richelle Morgan, Account Manager, First National

  • First National Financial LP

Be Your Best is a rallying cry for both brokers and Account Managers. But their interpretations of what it means and how it applies are unique to what they do and whom they serve.

In the Be Your Best Profile series, we sat down with brokers and their Account Managers to understand how they interpret Be Your Best and how it applies to what they do.

Chad Wilson, Broker, Ideal Mortgage Solutions

Chad has been a broker since 2003. He began his career at a mortgage investment firm before taking a leap of faith and joining the then small broker community in Winnipeg. Ideal Mortgage Solutions is part of the Axiom Mortgage Solutions team.

Richelle Morgan, Account Manager, First National

Richelle has been working at First National since 2014. She services brokers in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

How long have you been working together?

CW: Richelle started as an Account Manager in 2014. At that time, I was already a strong supporter of First National. I had been a wizard since 2005. When she started, she was new to the role and the monoline world, but she was really honest about that. She wanted to get to know my key partners and really understand my business. Richelle’s growth has been remarkable, and her commitment to my business has helped me grow my support for and relationship with First National.

RM: Chad was one of the first brokers I connected with when I started at First National. He is well connected in the industry and didn’t hesitate to introduce me to his network. Chad really took me under his wing and introduced me to the broker world. His support for First National is incredibly strong, and he is a committed cheerleader and partner.

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

CW: I have a defined vision for my business, and Richelle does a great job of understanding my goals, both as a broker and as a business owner. We are a focused boutique, high volume and high service level business -- and we want to remain boutique. Our team is all hands on deck, and we remain committed to providing high volumes to our key lending partners. Our goal is to fund every deal we send, which maintains our high funding ratios relative to the market. My strong relationship with Richelle and the underwriting team at First National is advantageous to my clients. When I place a mortgage with First National, I know that I am putting my client with a lender that will deliver a fantastic experience.

RM: Chad knows his stuff and keeps on top of things himself. Before the pandemic, we met at least once a quarter for lunch. The two of us, and a mutual friend, celebrate our birthdays together every March. Chad’s assistant Ellen is amazing. She is super organized, and she is always my first call when there are changes or promos.

How does Richelle advocate for your business and clients?

CW: There is just this It factor with First National. The company sets the standard across the industry. I am extremely confident knowing that I have Richelle’s support behind me. Our deals typically make sense, but she will not hesitate to advocate on our behalf with senior leadership if need be. For example, Winnipeg is a smaller city relative to the rest of the country. But there are a lot of smaller, bedroom communities outside of Winnipeg that we can service. Some lenders may not understand the make up, nature and demographics of those communities, so they choose not to lend there. Account Managers need to advocate for those areas and convince head office that lending there is a worthwhile risk. Richelle does an excellent job of that. She is from Winnipeg, so she implicitly understands those communities. Having a local presence that understands the nuances of our area is a huge benefit.

RM: If there is a broker you’re going to go to bat for, it’s Chad. He knows how to qualify quality clients, which is why his funding ratio is 96%. If there is a nuance in a file, I have no problem going to Lisa and Doug to fight for Chad and his client. I think accountability is also important. It doesn’t happen often, but we had one instance where there was a small hitch that created delay in the process. We recognized it, owned it and acknowledged it by giving gift cards to the client.

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

CW: Richelle’s visits always add value. When we could meet in person, Richelle would arrange to have insurer partners join her at our office. We don’t often get a lot of face time with these people. Being able to talk and gain insight into local markets and the lending landscape adds a lot of value and helps us service our clients better. Our office doesn’t often encounter blow up problems. We know what works and what doesn’t. If we decide to push on a point, Richelle is an amazing partner that’s willing to listen.

RM: We don’t run into problems often, but if anything does come up, I’m on it right away. Two years ago, there were some issues with customer service. Chad and his brokers follow up on every closed deal three days later to confirm payment date and frequency. But for some reason, there were longer than usual hold times with customer service, and it was taking longer to get that information. I worked with Ellen directly to resolve it. I made a lot of calls for them during that two to three week period, and then response times went back to normal.

What value does Richelle bring to your business?

CW: Richelle is a voice and a conduit to decision makers. If unique things come up in a file, she helps me process them. Most of our files are fairly straightforward, but sometimes some of the moving parts may not fit into the box. If the exception makes sense, Richelle will advocate for us, which ultimately keeps our clients happy and allows us to write more business.  

RM: I add value by being there for Chad and his team and staying consistent. Chad has a flawless reputation and sends in quality deals, so they are easy to underwrite.

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

CW: It goes back to being there. When I call, Richelle picks up the phone and is all ears. She’s a great listener and is always there for us. If there are new products or policies, my team is the first to know. Richelle does what it takes to bring them up to speed. She also really understands what’s involved in finding and keeping clients in a super competitive market. When I have to have conversations with clients, I can do so confidently knowing that I have someone there to back me up if I need it.

RM: I want to be there for Chad for anything he needs. He trusts us to do the right thing, so if I see even the slightest issue, I’ll reach out to Ellen before it becomes a problem. I watch my queue and track Chad’s deals to make sure they are progressing smoothly. I will go to bat for him on anything he needs.

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

CW: Lender relationships were never more important than they were in 2020. First National remained true to its brand. The experience of working with First National was consistent, even during a pandemic. The market was challenging. Volumes were high. And we had to coach a lot of clients through difficulties including job losses, financial issues and payment deferrals. It was more valuable than ever to have a partnership with an Account Manager and lender that remained consistent despite the circumstances.

RM: Chad and I celebrate our birthdays together in March. We went for lunch in March 2020, and the world shut down the next day. We maintained regular contact with calls and updates. And when restrictions eased a bit in the summer, we did get together for safe wine and cheese. We talked a little bit about business, but more about the relationship and our personal lives.

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

CW: I want Richelle to continue to be there for us when we need her. If there are changes to products, services or underwriting guidelines, I want to be informed right away. But right now, less is more. Volumes are at the highest levels I’ve seen in my career. So we don’t have time for the extra stuff. We call, and Richelle picks up the phone, with a smile on her face. We appreciate that more than anything else.

RM: A new broker just joined Chad’s team. I’m doing some one-on-one training with him, so he can get up to speed with First National. I’ve planned three one-hour sessions that cover income and down payments, credit and products. I’ll go over what fits our guidelines and the type of business that’s a fit. As he gains more experience, we will get in to the more complex stuff. I plan to maintain my regular calls with Chad and Ellen, as well as presenting monthly and quarterly stats. As soon as it’s safe, theirs will be the first office I visit in person.

Any final thoughts?

CW: I have a great relationship with Richelle. But I also have great relationships across the organization, from senior leadership to marketing to underwriting. First National does a great job of putting the right people in place, so I can do my job as effectively as possible.

RM: Our relationship works so well because it is built on mutual respect. We share a work ethic, both believing in the rewards of hard work and commitment. If Chad calls me in the evening, I pick up the phone. That’s why our relationship is as strong as it is. We are both there for each other no matter what.