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Bank or Mortgage Broker?

March 09, 2015 | Posted by Nathan Zacharias | Tagged in


This is an age-old question that has been debated by many but in recent years the statistics seem to be clear in their illustration that more and more people in Canada, and in Alberta, have been turning to mortgage brokers for their financing needs. Of course, we feel there is a definite advantage to utilizing the services of mortgage brokers but lets have a look and compare!

The comparison should really be posed as: Banker versus Broker instead of bank versus broker. Why? Brokers have access to mortgages offered by banks, which can be very good products and ultimately a mortgage offered by a bank may just be where your search ends, but the decision making process, the guidance you receive and the choices you are awarded will really boil down to who you have helping you – a banker or a broker.


Decision Girl Bank or Broker


Product Selection

A banker or banking officer is an employee of the bank and, as such, he or she is only able to promote and place the mortgage products offered by their employer. This is for many reasons but in general they must support their brand and company products, but also because banking officers are not licensed as brokers and by law may only sell products for the company for which they are employed by. To trade in mortgages in Alberta, for instance, you must have a license with the Real Estate Council of Alberta as a Mortgage Associate or Mortgage Broker.

So product selection is a hot topic in this debate. While a banking officer may be able to offer you an RRSP loan, a savings account, units in a mutual fund etc. when it comes to their mortgage products they are quite simply limited to their own product which may not necessarily meet your needs. This is where a mortgage broker that works with multiple lenders can offer a serious advantage.

Many brokers advertise that they work with 50+ lenders which may be true, but the reality is they likely have 7 to 10 lenders that they choose to work with closely based on the lenders guidelines, policy, service level and interest rate offering. The ability to place your mortgage with multiple lenders allows a broker to match specifically your mortgage needs with a lender that offers a suitable product. If one lender does not work, they are able to choose from many others to get you what you desire. A bank employee does not have these options. In short, a banker has a smaller mortgage product offering in comparison to what most mortgage brokers are able to offer.


Knowledge and Experience


The personal banking role is a stepping-stone for individuals navigating their way up the retail banking hierarchy. Wages and compensation often leave a lot to be desired but the role itself offers a lot of young individuals the opportunity to learn about financial products and services. One huge issue here is the constant turnover at this level as these young go-getters peruse new roles within their organization. A happy transition for the employee comes with a revolving door that spins rookies into the forefront of your mortgage origination which is not a good thing to have happen considering your mortgage is normally the largest and most important loan of a person’s life.

Even when bankers stick around for a while their time is spent on many products and services as discussed above, so although the breadth of knowledge they can apply across their product line is good, their know how does not run as deep as industry members like mortgage brokers that focus on just one product and service –placing mortgages.

The educational requirements for mortgage brokers are rigorous and focus specifically on all things about mortgages, real property (security for your loan) and consumer protection. It is thorough to the point of studying various legislation and case law that impacts the industry. Ongoing educational requirements keep brokers sharp and in tune with industry changes that can affect both industry members and the consumer.

Education is only one part of the equation. Experience and knowledge are gained through serving time in your industry, specialization, and with the creation of successful relationships. This is where the mortgage broker is able to offer something to consumers that bankers can’t. Though it would be hard to find a personal banker at your neighborhood branch with more than a couple years in their role, you don’t have to search that hard to find seasoned brokers with decades of experience to put to work for you.


Availability and Hours


Now it may be hard to compare bank to bank, broker to broker, or even bank to broker in terms of hours and availability, but if we generalize a little and isolate a few variables it quickly seems obvious which individual will be quicker to help:

  • Most bankers work on salary VERSUS most brokers work on commission
    Bankers make appointments for everything from chequing accounts to line of credits to RRSP loans VERSUS brokers see clients about only mortgages
  • Bankers work set hours dictated by their employer VERSUS brokers are more flexible in their schedule and motivated to accommodate due to compensation structure and self-employment mentality
  • Bankers meet you in their office only during business hours VERSUS many brokers do off-site meetings



The debate will no doubt go on and be swayed by the experiences each industry member creates for their clients, however, for us it is obvious that a mortgage broker offering products from both bank and non-bank lenders is the way to go. Should this broker have years of experience, come recommended, and be available at times that fit your schedule, then, rest assured, you’ll know you have the right person behind your mortgage: A Mortgage broker!!!