IN IT FOR THE LONG RUN
As of October 2019 I have been self employed as a mortgage broker for thirty-two years. Here’s how it happened.
I have a Masters degree in History which is one of those degrees that doesn’t prepare you for the work world. I was lucky to find good employment in government jobs that unfortunately didn’t interest me and I felt I was just putting in time to collect a paycheck. In 1987 I moved to Toronto and decided to find self-employed work. The real estate market was hot and I responded to an ad for mortgage broker trainees. At that time mortgage brokers had the reputation of being shysters offering high priced mortgages to people who didn’t qualify at the banks. In the mid 1980s some of the smaller mortgage lenders began offering finder’s fees to mortgage brokers selling their products, often at rates slightly below those offered by the banks. Real estate agents quickly realized the advantages of dealing with mortgage professionals who would meet with clients outside normal banking hours (which in those days were Monday to Friday from 10 to 4) and provide good rates. After a few weeks of intensive mortgage training I started ‘pounding the pavement’ and thanks to the hot market I was busy in no time. Over the years, the business has evolved with mortgage brokers now representing most banks, lending institutions and private investors.
What has kept me going over the years? I loved working for myself and I enjoyed helping people find the right mortgage. I liked the realtors, lenders, lawyers and other professionals I associated with. I enjoyed the challenge of selling and the income that could come with it. The ability to set my own work schedule made it possible to continue working full time when my children were young.
But as in any long term relationship there were tough times when I thought I needed a change. The real estate market has had its ups and downs and the banks have learned how to compete with lower rates. Technology has enabled us to do most of our work on line so the social contact I enjoyed so much started to diminish.
I’d take a look at other job opportunities but couldn’t handle the thought of working for someone else and committing myself to ‘nine-to-five’. I’d put many years into developing my referrals sources and client base and many of them had become friends. In this business it’s a great feeling to get referrals from previous clients and it would be hard to give that up.
I’ve had to learn to pat myself on my back for what I’ve accomplished professionally over the years. I’ve learned the importance of associating with confident, ethical professionals, to look for mentors among my peers and take advantage of business networking opportunities. I’ve participated in networking groups over the years and about 7 years ago I joined CAWEE. It was refreshing to meet many like-minded women and networking with them has been a key factor in helping me overcome the isolation of working alone and learning how to remain motivated. Generally women aren’t as competitive as men and are more compassionate which often makes them better business partners. One-on-one meetings with hundreds of women have taught me many valuable business skills. It’s also a great asset to my business to be able to refer my clients to many competent professional. And yes, CAWEE has helped me grow my business with many high quality referrals over the years.
Keep up the good work, CAWEE! I’d like to thank the members who have devoted many volunteer hours to the board and committees, to Patty for keeping us organized and to all of you for making our events so successful over many years.