Rule #1: The Clients Come First. Rule #2: Don’t Forget Rule #1.
I guess you can say that I was lucky. During my first job at Montreal Trust, we were trained that the phone should never ring more than three times before it is picked up. Sometimes it would be funny seeing staff members dive across desks to retrieve the phone. That was 1987 and it was quite a lesson as I worked in the RRSP department. We actually knew all of our clients by their first name. But that was then and this is now.
I was able to bring those service habits into the mortgage business for over twenty-five years. At Mortgage Architects in Hamilton Ontario, we have a very simple rule: never ever jeopardize the client’s best interest. One such employee lost their job by not following this simple rule. At Robert Floris’ office, we have seen almost everything. In today’s mortgage world, everyone wants cheap mortgage rates. But at what cost? Having a cheap mortgage rate is fantastic but not at the expense of having a heavy penalty. Did we do what was best for the client? I wonder this, even in our own mortgage industry.
Every once in a while, I have to get my blood tested at a local lab. Unfortunately, with my busy schedule, going for this service can be a great time-waster. Sometimes they also can get very busy. I decided to to call them in order to see what the waiting line was like. For the life of me I could not find the local lab’s phone number. I decided to go and try the 1-800 number. The good part is, they answered. The bad part is, I was put on hold. After thirty minutes, I could not wait any longer. So I sprinted to the lab and discussed my dilemma. Her response? “If we gave our number out we would get no work done”. Can you believe that?! Without clients she wouldn’t even have a job! (No I did not say that to the clerk).
Several years ago, the Federal Government made many changes to the mortgage market in order to 1) eliminate the speculation in the market and 2) be more vigilant against money laundering activities. I totally understand why the rules were put into place and I agree. But what has happened to common sense?
The following examples have occurred at our office in just these past three weeks:
A major bank questioned whether the business license for a client was legitimate and asked how we know she is the owner. The business license had her surname and her home address on the license. Thankfully the bank manager agreed with my argument.
A young man buying his first home was questioned about his credit. He had ten credit items on it and had an excellent score. The financial institution looked at one item that went sideway for a few months and they completely ignored the other excellent nine items.
A client is buying a home for $328,000. She is putting $263,000 towards her down payment. She sold her home and we provided the funds for the $245,000. The bank is harassing us for the proof of the last $17,000. This client is approximately 50 years old, is a medical professional and has an amazing credit score.
It seems to me that the banks all think that clients are on the “Soprano’s” or are terrorists. We are catering to the 1%. The vast, overwhelming majority of clients are good Canadians who want to have a good experience when buying their first home. They are treated with mistrust, and the paperwork required today is tyrannical and stressful. The information is simply never enough. Being in the mortgage business for these past twenty-five years in the Hamilton area has been a blessing. But never have I had so many clients genuinely mad at me for asking them for more information. Quite frankly the clients are correct. It has gone overboard in terms of financial institutions’ requests. More importantly, it is causing frustration and stress that is not genuinely required. The pendulum has certainly swayed since my early days at Montreal Trust. The banks just do not care about the client’s experience. They better be careful: My generation was extremely loyal to their local bank. Not today’s kids. They will not forget their poor experiences. In fact, they are the generation to be on social media to share their experience. I hope when the pendulum swings back that it leads to a lasting memory on how NOT to treat your valuable clients. In business, the number one rule should always be that the client comes first. Rule #2? Don’t forget rule #1.
Robert Floris is an independent mortgage broker at Mortgage Architects in Hamilton, Ontario.