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Today we hear from Susanna Penning, a mortgage broker in Ottawa, Ontario. Susanna was working at Scotiabank and had planned to quit to get into mortgage brokering. However, she was devastated when she arrived home to find her daughter sick – her child passed away later that day. After taking three months of grievance, she quit her job and pursued mortgage brokering. Now, she is on pace to close around $50,000,000 worth of deals per year. She tells us about her business processes, the “platinum rule”, current expansion happenings, and more.

Timestamped Show Notes

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[1:09] Tell me a little bit about how you got into the mortgage business.

  • I started at working Scotiabank when I was 16.
  • My goal was to join a brokerage that a friend of mine started.
  • I came home from the bank and my daughter was ill and she passed away later that day.

[2:49] You were doing some soul searching, but there must have been some fear.

  • I decided that I was going to make this move. I took a huge line of credit on my house.
  • I still had another daughter to take care of.
  • In the first year, I tripled my bank income.

[4:54] How did you manage your time? How did you build relationships?

  • I was very involved in the community.
  • I reached out to family and friends.
  • Connections are really important in the beginning.
  • Hard work will pay off.

[7:42] When you first started out and you had this goal in mind to replace your income, what were the activities that you had committed to?

  • A certain amount of cold calls and asking realtors.

[8:42] Tell me about when you hit the plateau and what you did to get through it.

  • My broker owner came to me and said to me “if you don’t get an assistant, I’m going to fire you.”

[10:39] What was it like when you finally found the right person?

  • I did have a lot of false starts.
  • There was a gal at a law office that I worked with who struck me as somebody who was very efficient.

[12:37] What was your volume when you took on that assistant and what was it after?

  • Around $38,000,000 per year.
  • This year we’re tracking somewhere between $50,000,000 and $55,000,000.

[14:28] How did you successfully run your business doing 170 files per year and not be in the same city as your assistant?

  • I finally found the right assistant and she wanted to quit because her boyfriend got transferred.
  • I either had to train somebody from scratch or let her work remotely.

[16:02] How long did she work with you in the same office before this remote situation came up?

  • Before, it was kind of a loose arrangement where she would work from the main office, but I would be at home.
  • We have a good system in place.

[17:34] Process-wise, who does what?

  • I still do the application intake.
  • We share an inbox.
  • I tell every single client to send me an email and my Client Care Manager will respond.
  • Everything is cloud-based.

[21:33] When does your Client Care Manager enter the process?

  • When I’m done with the application, she pretty much takes it from there.
  • Everything is a process. Everything is a template.

[24:04] Do you meet with clients very often?

  • I have a policy where if it’s the first time I’ve ever had interaction with this client, I do try to meet them at least once.
  • Clients don’t even want to meet anymore.

[25:28] Tell me about your “platinum rule”.

  • Treat others how they want to be treated.
  • Know what type of client you’re dealing with.
  • I have a client who likes to swear a lot.

[28:55] You’re hiring a second assistant. What is this person going to do to bring you to the next level?

  • Me and my first assistant determined what we each do in a day.
  • I had to give up control of renewals.
  • We’re giving the bottom third of the first assistant’s work to the second assistant.

[32:44] Where would you like to see yourself next year in terms of volume and files?

  • It wasn’t really my goal to build more. I just wanted a better quality of life.
  • I’m not sure what my ceiling is, but I do want a little more quality of life.

[34:19] Is there anything else that I should have asked you that you think would be useful for our listeners?

  • It costs so much more money to go out and find a client than to mine your database.
  • The client needs to know that you’re taking care of them.
  • Rocket Mortgages is coming to Canada.

[37:40] If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself to have a more successful mortgage business?

  • Hire an assistant earlier.
  • Get out and be part of the community.
  • Be genuine and authentic.
  • A lot of people are so focused on running a business that they forget that there are other things out there.