A discussion with Brendan McKay, President of Broker Advocacy at AIME & Owner of McKay Mortgage
Getting Into the Growing Wholesale Mortgage Market
Marc Summers: Really excited about the conversation we’re going to have. We’re going to talk about the wholesale mortgage community, which is my most favorite thing when it comes to the mortgage industry.
So today I’m going to be interviewing the broker-owner of McKay Mortgage Company and another president for AIME, the President of Broker Advocacy, which I couldn’t be more excited about. Brendan, give us your background, tell us how you became an independent mortgage broker and why? What was it like before we had this broker community?
Brendan McKay: So my background in the wholesale mortgage industry goes back pretty far because I originally got started in this in wholesale operations. I worked at American Brokers Conduit, a wholesale lender. A lot of people might have heard of them back in the day and I was super involved, brokers were my clients at that point. And then, the crash happened. I did my thing, did financial planning for a couple of years, went back into wholesale operations, opened up a retail channel of that shop, and then opened up McKay Mortgage about four and a half years ago.
So I’ve always been tied in. And even before that, many of you know, my mom is my business partner, Tina McKay, and she’s a former president of the Maryland Broker Association. So I was going to broker events when I was a kid. I would go to the annual Christmas party when I was 10 to 12 years old. So it’s always been a big part of my life.
And I can tell you prior to AIME and prior to Brokers Are Better, the wholesale community, largely existed in isolation. There were some state associations and a little activity, but that was honestly prior to 2008, there were really active communities within that, after 2008 when it took a big hit, and it’s now really climbing out of on a strong level. Broker shops existed within a vacuum within themselves.
They could be down the street from each other and they didn’t really ever interact with each other. And certainly, brokers around the country were not interacting with each other until BRAWL and then Brokers Are Better and AIME came along. And it’s been incredible how much it’s tied us together and power in numbers is going to be a repeated theme throughout what we talk about today. And it just didn’t exist prior to our broker shop for about a year before. And if I had a problem with the lender or there was something they were doing I didn’t like, too bad. They didn’t care. We were decent producers, but they didn’t care. We were a speck and that was it. And AIME truly changed all of that. It’s incredible.
Marc Summers: I love that terminology. I got to the wholesale mortgage industry in 2001, and if you were a broker down the street from me, I hated you. You were my enemy. It’s just the way it was.
Brendan McKay: Well, and it was that too. If you did know the mortgage broker down the street, you looked at them as competition. There’s so much business out there. I receive other broker’s figures from time to time when a borrower shops me. And that doesn’t just extend to the brokers, but also local lenders, local boots on the ground, not knocking on doors. Loan officers, they’re just not our competition.
You might call on the same realtors and stuff like that, it’s made very clear that we’re not a competition and we get so much more from each other by sharing and being friends with each other and sharing best practices because we all know who our real competition is, it’s these big, big national lenders that are trying to get as much exposure as possible. And when you Google mortgage broker, you can look at who’s buying all those keywords. And now you see who your competition is, it’s not the person next door. We can help each other so much. And AIME opened up all that.
Marc Summers: When we started AIME, we were 12% of the market brokers and we made great strides in this. And we’re still 20%. There’s 80% out there now.
Brendan McKay: I’m thinking that the idea of just fighting with each other over that 20% is ludicrous. There’s so much more out there for us to get. It not just brought everyone together but opened our eyes up to what the markets really like and what our true competition is.
And it’s not the person next door. I network regularly not only with brokers across the country, but wholesale mortgage brokers and wholesale loan officers within my community. We’re just so much stronger together.
Community Engagement and Mortgage Broker Conferences: How They Benefit Independent Mortgage Originators and Loan Officers
Marc Summers: So I know one of the big things we’re going to talk about today is just the broker network itself, the wholesale community, which is near and dear to my heart. I know you engage quite a bit, and I absolutely love it every time you get on the Brokers Are Better group or anything, I’m always watching. So tell me why it’s so important to engage with this community.
Brendan McKay: It’s important to me for a lot of different reasons. I mean when I first came across AIME and Brokers Are Better, I was like, oh my God, this is what I’ve always been looking for. All I want to do is learn from other people within my community and all the stuff that I share.
When I first started my business and decided I just want to be involved in the community and get out there, and that’s how I’m going to get business. I know it’s going to take a while, but that’s how I’m going to go about it. And I started initially with a shotgun approach where it’s just, I’m going to be involved in as much stuff as possible, and I’m excited for this and that event. And it obviously stretched me thin where I was involved in ten groups. Let’s call it whether it’s a chamber or a networking event or AIME or whatever, and I could only go to one out of five events.
So now I’m going to a couple of those mortgage broker events a year or involved in this or that. And I realize that’s not the way to go because I could be involved in this one group and go to three or four mortgage broker conferences a year. And then if somebody else is involved in it, I might only see them once or twice a year. And that’s not good enough yet to get real deep relationships.
The more you’re out there, the more you’re talking to people, the more it’s going to work out for you. And if whether it’s a chamber that I’m involved in, the more I’m therein, the more top of mind I am, you know, and somebody who wants to buy a house or refinance is going to think of me. And it’s similar.
Frankly, I do get a lot of referrals from other brokers within this community. That’s not why I’m doing it, but I know that’s going to work out at the end of the day. And the more involved I am, the better it is for everybody. And hopefully, more people can get stuff out of it, you know, from everything I’m sharing. So that’s kind of my attitude. I’m also super involved with my local Chamber of Commerce.
Learning from Scotsman Guide Top Mortgage Brokers
Brendan McKay: A first mortgage broker event I attended had a panel of four different originators. They’re all top mortgage producers, you can go to the first page of the Scotsman Guide List and see all four of them, and all of them did things completely differently. And it’s beautiful, right?
One of the beautiful things about loan origination, specifically the broker channel, whatever way you want to go about getting business, there’s a path for you, if you want to do consumer direct, if you want to do real business, you want to do financial planners or referrals or whatever local within your community. And so you can find somebody that does it the way you want to do it. So literally on that panel, one of the speakers, Shashank Shekhar, resonated with me and he was like, I don’t want to deal with realtors or do this or that, and I just want to get referrals. And I was like, that’s what I want to do. And I cornered him for an hour and a half of the happy hour afterward and just picked his brain constantly. I learned so much from him.
But there are a ton of brokers, you know, Ramon Walker is one of them, he’s out there and you can learn a ton from him and he’s mastered that stuff and you can go listen to his Broker To Broker podcast and all the different stuff that he does in and within our community.
There’s somebody that’s doing business the way that every other broker wants to do or another broker wants to, they can learn from. So just put it out there and it’s OK if it doesn’t resonate with everyone. If you touch one person, you help one person, that’s incredibly powerful, and that’s what it’s all about.
Helping Borrowers Get Out-of-State Mortgages through Referrals from the Broker Community
Marc Summers: Yeah, because you were on my panel at AIME Fuse in 2020, the virtual one was about our engagement and we were all on the same page, you do this because you’re engaged with your community because it’s the right thing to do. You don’t do it because you’re going to get something out of it. But guess what? You’re probably going to get something out of it.
Brendan McKay: You get something out of it. People, specifically in this community, right? It’s kind of great because we’re not all national lenders and we’re not licensed in all 50 states and we’re going to have referrals. We’re going to have borrowers move out of state or have family members out of state. And they love me. I hope that I give more than I get.
And on a weekly basis, I have borrowers coming to me and being like, hey, can you help me? You know, I have a friend in California. Can you help them? No, I can’t. But here’s who can. And I put them on an email with them, and that kind of stuff happens. And you know, I try to spread the referrals out as much as possible, but I think they go to the people that are involved, not just because they’re involved.
Yes, but by their involvement, I can see a glimpse into their professionalism, their personality, how they operate in the business. And if I have direct interaction with them, great, all the more I know about them.
Brendan McKay: I’m going to refer to people I’m comfortable with and the people that I know are going to do a good job because when I’m giving out a referral, that is a big reach in trust, right? And before AIME and Brokers Are Better existed, I didn’t have people in all these states.
I would have friends from college or whatever in Pennsylvania be like, hey, I’m buying a house, can you refer me to someone, that I literally said no to because I wasn’t comfortable just referring to whoever I knew there, and say no, but send me the figures, I’ll look at them now, literally in all 50 states. I know somebody, I know they’re killer. They’re going to get you the best terms, and they’re going to do a great job and that’s powerful for me. AIME is a huge resource for me in that capacity because I want everyone coming to me even if it’s a state I can’t help with.
Marc Summers: No, you’re right. You’re going right into it. And that’s exactly what we want, right? I mean, that’s why it’s so important to be engaged in this community, not just even for referral purposes, but as you said, we’ll learn from each other. I mean, I never spoke to people from Texas, California, New Hampshire, you over in the D.C. area.
I would never have spoken to anyone. And as you got to go into this community and I’m a big believer in this because the community is my most favorite thing about him. You got to go into this, you know, with no expectations. Don’t be afraid to get criticized a little bit because it’s just going to make you better. And that’s why we put this material out there.
Brendan McKay: This podcast is a great example. I try to listen to every episode. I don’t quite get to them anymore, but I did in the beginning. And Jeremy Harridath with Peace Home Lending was the very first Broker To Broker interview. And he’s actually near me in the D.C. metropolitan area, and he did it. I was so impressed. I loved it. And I reached out to him. We have lunch two weeks later and Jeremy’s a friend, I refer him, he’s licensed in all the states I am. I refer business to him all the time that I just don’t do.
Peter Galvez was one of the first brokers, and so much of what he said resonated with me. His attitude and how he approaches being a true independent mortgage loan advisor and the things he talks to people about. And I reached out to him and I emailed him, and a couple of days later, we were on the phone for a half-hour and it was incredible. I was like, this is one of the top mortgage brokers in the fricking country, and he’s willing to take a half-hour of his time to talk to me.
And I was like, oh my God, can you imagine how many other industries or networks are out there that anybody can reach out to a top producer that they can relate to and get through a half-hour of that person’s time? I was so grateful and I learned so much from it. I’m eternally grateful to Peter in the mortgage broker community because of it.
Getting Started in the Broker Community as a New Independent Mortgage Broker
Marc Summers: How would you suggest to our community, our members listening? What’s the best way to get connected as an independent mortgage broker?
Brendan McKay: Just jump in, post, respond to stuff on the Facebook pages, show up to the mortgage broker events like AIME Fuse. If anyone is listening to this and they have not signed up for Fuse yet, absolutely get your ticket, get your flight, get your hotel. Do it right now, pause the podcast, go book it and then listen to the rest of it.
AIME Fuse is like nowhere else. Are you going to find 3,000 other complete maniacs in the same place at the same time that everybody is just like you? And mortgage brokers are a rare breed, and there’s nowhere else that you know other than social media that you’re going to find all of this together in one place, in whatever place you’re at. Whether you’re thinking about becoming an independent mortgage broker, opening up your own broker shop, you’re new to the broker world or you’ve been in it for a while, there is a large number of people that are going to be there that are either just where you are right now or were in your shoes previously that you can learn from. And it’s incredible. So go to every event you can go to. Post on the Brokers Are Better Facebook Group. Don’t be shy.
Jamie Cavanaugh with Amerifund Home Loans does an awesome post every Wednesday where it’s like, we’re here for you Wednesday, and if you have questions, post it there and you’re going to get great feedback. But just jump in, get involved. If we can hive mind together and start masterminding best practices on how to answer this stuff, that is the most valuable stuff that you can share with other people, and it’s going to come back to you in spades.
Leveraging the Broker Community While Keeping Organized: Best Practices for Mortgage Brokers
Brendan McKay: You might think you have the secret sauce. Even if you do share it, you’re not going to lose any business by sharing it. Frankly, you’re probably going to get business by sharing it or get advice on how to fine-tune it, which you’re going to be better off for.
So I would encourage people, if there’s something cool that you do and you get a lot of business from it or, or your borrowers respond well to it, share it, put it out there. I highly encourage everyone to do that.
I’m a very schedule-driven person. I use a calendar for everything. 90 percent of the conversations I have been scheduled. If a reporter is calling me about a preapproval letter or they need to get an offering quickly or a borrower has something on the closing table, yeah, I’m going to pick up the phone or get right back to them, but otherwise, literally, everything else is scheduled and it’s going to continue to be that way to a large degree where you know, all the conversations I may be having with brokers or lenders or this or that it’s going to be scheduled.
I think way too many brokers and originators are out there running around by the seat of their pants and I can see it when I try to schedule stuff with them. It’ll make you look busier than you are. Clients want to work with busy people. My clients are busy. They appreciate the fact that I’m scheduling all these conversations with them because they’re busy too. And so I don’t know, just regiment your calendar as much as possible.
And then when I have free time, you can see if you’re watching on YouTube, I’m in my basement right now and in-between stuff I pop up and I hang out with my family and that’s what I do. And I encourage everybody to have as much of a balance with that stuff as possible and always keep your priorities straight, you know?
Getting Involved in AIME Committees, Mortgage Mentoring, and Mortgage Training Programs
Marc Summers: The more that we can get more people engaged, that’s all I care about.
Brendan McKay: Well, absolutely. The more mortgage originators that are involved in AIME and on the forefront and out there speaking, the better. It’s not like you don’t just have to post on Facebook to be involved. There are other ways to be involved. AIME has a mentorship program called AIME Spark and there’s a training program called AIME Ignite. AIME also has several committees.
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