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  • Writer's pictureScott Peckford

Oct 2023 - Journey to $1 Billion




Welcome to Oct 2023

 

Brokerage Stats


Production Since August 1, 2023

Total Volume: $920,138,781

Total Units: 2,108


September Production

Volume: $83,806,781

Files funded: 203


September Agent Stats

Rookies: 126

Pros: 95

Total: 221


Our agent growth has stalled in the past couple of months. This was partly intentional—when I brought Denise Laframboise on as COO, she identified several operational challenges that needed to be solved if we were going to continue to scale.


As a sales guy, I believe the mantra, “Sales solves all problems.” However, it turns out that it doesn’t solve operational problems.


Thankfully, Denise made me realize that our best course of action was to temporarily slow down and improve our systems, so we could in fact go much, much faster.


Now that Denise has solved, or is in the process of solving these, I have to admit that she was 100% right.


Part of my delay in writing this blog was because I was playing operational whack-a-mole, not having solved the underlying issues.


Having a COO who is good at problem solving and creating systems has freed me up to work on other parts of the business (like this blog).


 

Production Year to Date

Month

Files

Volume

August

281

$121,020,616

September

203

$83,806,781

Total

484

$204,827,397

August was a record month for us, and it was exciting to finally break the $100 million month mark.


Also, in the last two months alone, we funded 484 files, for a combined total of $204,827,781. This is amazing, considering that we only funded 441 files, for $208,362,228, in our first full year!


The overall market is down, but our numbers have been going up, which is a result of the amazing agents who have been joining us.


 

Live Underwriting Room Stats


Since its inception, the purpose of having live UW support (Link to Year 1 explanation) was to help our agents fund more mortgages.


I believe this is a program that has worked.


It is not perfect, and we are always making improvements, but I feel that the team has really upped the entire UW Room experience in the past couple of months. They have also significantly enhanced our underwriting training material (more on that below).


We have been tracking UW Room visits to help us plan for staffing, and even to help forecast future volume.


Underwriting Room Visits

When I lay out the numbers like this, it makes me realize just how much our underwriting team does every day for our agents.


We have run several experiments over the past two years on how we run the live UW Room, and I feel that we are starting to really hit our stride.


I have always felt that our underwriting training has been a weakness. I believe we have been able to get away with it because of our amazing UW coaching team.


However, I don’t feel it should be either great support or great training. I personally want both, which is why we have added significantly more UW training to our program in the last few months.


Also, one of the cool ideas Denise, our COO, introduced was what the team calls, “When-You-Need-It Coaching.”


Adding more training material is great, but the problem is being able to find the specific training when you actually need it.


Now, throughout the mortgage process, when our UW coaches perform specific actions, that triggers emails to our agents with links to the training for those actions.


Instead of an email that says, “Order an Appraisal,” they now get an email with a link to the training on HOW to order the appraisal.


This has been a huge help, and I believe will contribute to a reduction in the number and length of UW Room visits, because this new strategy provides coaching exactly when it is required.


You can see a few samples of our When-You-Need-It Coaching emails below:


It’s Time to Order Your Appraisal – *Mortgage Client Name*

Check In With Lawyer – *Mortgage Client Name*

 

Why Does No One Talk About Volume Bonus? (Pt. 1 of 2)


When I started in the mortgage industry in 2006, Volume Bonus (VB) felt a lot like Fight Club, as in, “The first rule of VB Club is you don’t talk about VB Club!”



Talking about VB was a taboo topic, only discussed by broker owners and their top producers in clandestine meetings over caviar and $200 bottles of wine.


Sadly, I was never invited to such meetings.


The average broker, myself included, had no clue what it was, how it was earned, or how much money was actually paid.


Unfortunately, not a lot has changed. Even today, this aspect of compensation is not well understood, and some broker owners intentionally mislead agents on how this all works.


I think this practice will eventually have to change, given how much easier it is for people to share information.


I believe we need more transparency in our industry. I have no problem with a broker owner keeping some, or even all, of this extra compensation; however, the information should not be hidden from their brokers.


Pro Tip: If you can’t ask your BDM about all forms of compensation, that is generally a red flag.


In the coming months, I am going to break down all the nitty gritty details of lender compensation, including VB, and explain how it works and where all the money goes.


I will also share with you exactly what BRX is earning from each lender.

The first thing to be aware of is that there are four different kinds of compensation that lenders may pay.


Also, lenders don’t all use the same formulas or terms for their compensation, and some don’t offer all four kinds of compensation.


To simplify this, I have broken the compensation down into four categories:

  1. Finder’s Fee – Compensation paid in Basis Points (BPS) for funding a mortgage with a lender. The amount varies depending upon the term length. (For simplicity, I will use a 5-year term for all of the examples below.)

  2. Volume Bonus – Compensation paid in BPS, earned based on the total volume submitted by one individual over a specific period of time. The period is usually one calendar year or the lender’s fiscal year.

  3. Efficiency Bonus – Compensation paid in BPS, earned based on maintaining a specific funding ratio over a specific time period. Lenders use various names for this, but the premise is that you can earn additional BPS by maintaining high funding ratios.

  4. Points or Perks Program – Compensation that is not generally paid in BPS and is earned based on Funding Ratios or VB, or both. This compensation is not paid out with your regular commission or VB, and must instead be “spent” on qualifying items.


 

Why Do Lenders Have Different Types of Compensation


You have to look at it from a lender’s perspective. They want to motivate specific behavior from brokers.


If a lender had a love language, it would be Volume and Efficiency.



If you can provide those to your lender, they will generally pay you more. What follows is a breakdown of TD Bank’s and First National’s compensation structures.



 

TD Bank Compensation


BRX’s current compensation, available to ALL our agents is:

75 BPS FF + 35 BPS VB = 110 BPS Total Compensation



TD calculates their VB by looking back on a 12-month rolling average. The higher the total volume, the higher the VB, to a maximum of 35 BPS.


Volume Bonus Thresholds


TD pays their VB retroactively, meaning that every time you cross a new threshold, the brokerage is paid on all previous TD files at the increased BPS.


Example:

If you are over $15 million and cross the $35 million mark, the brokerage will earn 4 basis points on all your previous TD files in that rolling 12-month period.


When we launched BRX as an independent brokerage, we had to start over at $0 million, even though we had funded $96 million with TD under a previous brokerage.


Thankfully, it didn’t take us long to reach $35 million. (Currently, BRX’s rolling average with TD is at $164,083,504.)


Every time we hit a new threshold, it creates a lot of work for our payroll team, because we have to pay all of our agents on all the past files.


Now that we are well past $35 million, all of our agents earn 35 basis points at their current split (including our Rookie agents).


 
First National (FN) Compensation

BRX’s current compensation, available to ALL our agents is:

80 BPS FF + 25 BPS VB + 10 BPS EB (Wizard Commission) = 115 BPS Total Compensation

In addition to Volume Bonus, FN pays out an Efficiency Bonus based on annual volume and funding ratio, called Wizard Commission.


Wizard Commission (Efficiency Bonus)

Example:


In the first six months of 2023, BRX funded $42 million with FN, at a 77% funding ratio, which means that our agents earn the following:


80 BPS FF + 25 BPS VB + 10 EB (Wizard Commission) = 115 BPS Total Commission

The third and final part of compensation from FN is their Perks Program, which they call their Wizard Spending Account.


Additional income can be earned in a spending account based on volume and funding ratios.


This money is not paid out with regular commission or VB, but instead accumulates in an account that can be spent on specific allowable expenses.


Wizard Spending Account

Example:

BRX funded $42 million in the first six months of 2023, at a 77% funding ratio with First National. This means that our agents earned 3 BPS in a Wizard Spending Account on top of the (already maxed out) 115 BPS from above.


We are at $98 million and 82% funding ratio in the second half of the year. If we maintain this funding ratio, our agents will earn 4 BPS on volume for the spending account.


Currently, we allow our agents to use the funds they earn in the Wizard Spending Account toward qualifying items.


Not all brokerages share this revenue, and some don’t even disclose it. Due to our rapid growth and the varying nature of the compensation, we are working on a way to simplify this for our payroll team and agents.


Next month, I will break down Scotia, MCAP, and RMG for your review.



 

The Benefits of an Executive Assistant

Many of you have met Chelsea, my Executive Assistant. Chelsea joined BRX Mortgage Inc. in April of this year. (We love Chelsea.)


Until then, I had only hired assistants to complete task-specific projects, which worked for quite some time.


With the brokerage growing at a rapid rate, more team members needing my attention, and emails flooding in daily (not to mention being a dad to three amazing kids and trying to have a life outside of work), I realized that I was heading straight toward decision fatigue and burnout.


When I started to see the difference that hiring Chelsea made in my work and personal life, I realized I probably should have hired her at least six months earlier.


I truly had no way of foreseeing what a difference it could make to have someone whose full-time role is to keep me on track, protect my time and energy, and solve problems that I didn’t know existed.


Here are my Top 3 Tips for maximizing the game-changing benefits of hiring an EA:


1. Operate from a Shared Inbox

My inbox has been one of my biggest pain points and stressors for YEARS. I used to spend countless hours sorting, responding to, forwarding—and mostly avoiding—emails. Within the first two months, we reduced the time I spend on my inbox to just one hour a week.


Chelsea is now the gatekeeper. She responds to, and deals with, the majority of what comes in, keeps track of priority items and important deadlines, and flags important emails that require my attention and input.


As a result, I have a faster response rate, reduced back-and-forth (she scans for, and includes, details that I miss), and a more organized workflow.


2. Delegate all Scheduling and Calendar Management

When Chelsea started, one of the first things she asked me was, “How can I exceed expectations?” My honest answer was, “My best-case scenario is that I just have to go where I’m told, and show up prepared.”


I don’t like to sit in the details. Ask anyone—I get super antsy. When I managed my own calendar, I’d chronically double-book myself, show up late for meetings, or arrive underprepared. That sucked for everyone involved, and was a massive waste of time and resources.


Chelsea oversees my “9 to 5” to protect my time and focus, and to keep me in my most productive and creative headspace.


3. Slow Down and Provide Context

When I come up with an idea I believe in, I tend to execute it quickly. One of my business philosophies is what I like to call, “Launch and Learn.”


I prefer to get the idea in motion and then make appropriate adjustments in real time. However, I have sometimes moved so quickly that my team felt they might get whiplash.


One of the adjustments I have made since working closely with my EA is slowing down in order to provide context. My conversations with Chelsea have allowed her to know more clearly why we need to do something, which allows her to make more decisions without having to come back multiple times for clarification.


At first, I found this process annoying, but I have since learned that you sometimes need to go a little slower in order to arrive at a faster pace.


I have even started to adopt this with my kids, and it has been incredibly helpful.


Final Thoughts

If you are a mortgage agent with an assistant, I encourage you to gradually have them manage more and more of your email and your calendar.


It will be a game changer for you, and is one of the fastest ways to improve your productivity.


Just don’t forget to provide context. :)


Up Next:


TBA ;)

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