When the going gets tough

Industry veteran Enza Venuto of InTouch Mortgage Solutions tells CMP how she’s navigating today’s challenging mortgage market

When the going gets tough

CMP: How did you get into mortgage brokering?
Enza Venuto:
In 2005, my career as an independent broker began. Before that, I worked with one of the Big Five banks, and I was one of the top 10 in Canada in mortgage financing. That success just created even more passion for the industry and made me want to continue working in the mortgage space. I got the golden handshake from the bank in 2005, which turned out to be a blessing, because

it opened the door for me to become an entrepreneur in the mortgage industry.

CMP: How would you describe your time in the industry?
EV: There have been ups and downs. Right now, everyone is saying it’s not a good time to get into the mortgage industry, but I think it’s always the right time. If you understand what you’re doing and how you’re doing it, you will definitely be very successful in this industry.

CMP: How do you navigate tough market conditions?
EV: As a mortgage broker or agent, you need to wear different hats in order to get through the tough times. We need to be in regular contact with clients and educate ourselves so that we can follow the new guidelines and understand how each client fits into those guidelines. You need to understand where you want to be in these challenging times and focus on branding yourself in different areas.

I brand myself in alternative lending and in real estate financing. I went down that path because I am a firm believer in being a financial advisor and not an order-taker. To do that, you need to be able to help position the client correctly by strategizing with them. If you become an order-taker, the client will tell you where to go and what to do. When you tell the client what they need to work on, that’s how you help them find the best solution.

CMP: How have you been able to keep growing your business?
EV: By building on relationships – not just referral relationships, but client relationships, too. I am in constant contact with clients, and that’s why I called my company InTouch Mortgage Solutions. We try to simplify our clients’ financing needs and remove the stress from the whole process.

CMP: Have you noticed more clients being forced into the alternative space recently?
: Yes, although the alternative space has also become more limited. These alternative channels need to fit the client, because if they don’t, we have to take clients outside of the space. Sometimes the banks’ models are very restrictive, so we need to work with alternative lenders. They look at files differently because they don’t have a contractual rate and are not restricted in the same way.

CMP: What markets do you focus on, and how has business been so far this year?
EV: We operate in Toronto, the GTA, Hamilton, Grimsby, Bradford, Brampton – we work with clients all over the place, although I don’t work outside Ontario. I say that I need to be able feel and touch where I am lending.

I can’t complain about how business has been. We are a boutique-type brokerage, and we work with 10 agents. Across the board, the industry is feeling it, and we are not booming like we were last year around this time, but things aren’t bad. This year is going to be a very different year. This year we are working with more alternative lenders, and although volume will be lower, revenue will be higher.

CMP: What do you get up to in your spare time?
EV: I love to watch movies and cook. I also like going for walks with my husband and my dog, and my husband and I enjoy travelling. I sometimes try to stay away from the industry and stop thinking about it, but when you have so much passion for something, it can be hard.