Daniela is an Account Manager in the Toronto Office, assisting brokers in the Toronto region. 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?
DV: It has been pretty overwhelming. But it has also been incredible. There is no doubt that we are in challenging times. I worked longer days consecutively, focusing on getting answers to all the questions I was receiving from brokers. As much demand as we had for answers, we were able to get most issues resolved fairly quickly. I feel really proud of our team overall in how we have been able to respond.
What are you hearing most from brokers? How are they feeling?
DV: Mostly, I am hearing genuine concern for clients. At first, they wanted assurance on the basic things – are we shut down? Are we an essential service? How will First National employees work from home? They wanted to know that we would continue to be there for them. Once we got past the wave of initial industry/market changes and clarified all the technical questions, we are continuing to address ongoing concerns about servicing clients, the state of the industry and how to sustain business in uncertain times.
How have you been responding to brokers?
DV: At first, the situation was really fluid and changing every few hours. In those early days, I was asking for patience as I adapted and searched for answers. When I promised to get back to brokers, they trusted that I would as quickly as possible. I was constantly circling back with brokers, asking for patience and understanding and providing clarity as soon as I could. And brokers have been really understanding throughout these past several weeks. They know they can be honest and vulnerable with me about their stress and anxiety. We’ve built that trust and we have a strong relationship to get us through these tough times. I know that communicating is vital right now, so I’m reading every single thing that comes across my desk from executive leadership and marketing before I forward it to my brokers.
What are you doing personally, in your role, to help brokers stay relevant and resonate during this crisis?
DV: I have always done a What’s Up Wednesday, recapping what’s happened each week. And I plan to continue that because I think consistency is really important right now. I'm also having very honest conversations with my brokers. I want them to know that I am available to help in any way that I can. At this point, we have a lot of answers that we didn’t have in the beginning so we are at some stage of the new normal. I’m also trying to have different conversations with brokers around mortgage deferral, so they can better position themselves as advisors to their clients during a difficult, anxiety-ridden time. We’re talking about options: can the client wait another two weeks? What kinds of conversations can you have around cash flow to possibly avoid deferral? Deferral is not a mortgage vacation. There are implications. And as much as I’m trying to educate brokers, I am also learning from them, based on what they are seeing posted, information they are getting and what they are hearing from clients.
Any final thoughts?
DV: The past few weeks have been stressful. But I am impressed with how quickly we rallied together as a team. Things were changing by the hour, and we were getting up-to-the-minute communications so we could support brokers. Brokers have been worried, stressed and scared. I think we all, collectively, feel a bit more on top of things now. Based on how First National has responded overall and the collaboration and teamwork I’ve experienced both internally and with brokers – I know that we are going to all come out of this ok. I feel very comforted being a part of a team that really communicates well and genuinely cares.