This is one of my favorite times of the year. I’m about to take part in what has become a marker of history for MERIX. Every year since inception we gather as group to reflect on the past twelve months but more importantly focusing on the future. It’s the one time of year where we gather to share ideas, to council, motivate and enjoy each other’s company. We’ve taken our gathering across our country, and last year we converged on the city of San Francisco. This year? We gather in our nation’s capital. When I asked the organizers of the event why Ottawa? The answer was simple, not everyone on the team has been to Ottawa. So Ottawa it is.
I’ll be with the MERIX team for the remainder of the week, which is code for I’ll get back to regular blog posts next week. For the next few days I get to spend time with an inspiring group of people from across our country.
Until next time,
Cheers.Read More Add a Comment
“People left good paying jobs to be a part of this company when it was nothing more than a concept… Investors took a gamble on our business plan but more importantly the people behind the business plan.”
There’s not much happening on my end. Of course I say that with tongue firmly planted in cheek. By now I assume you’ve heard that controlling interest in both MERIX Financial, and Paradigm Quest, changed hands last week. It took a couple of days for it to actually sink in that the sale process was really over. The process had been going on for a better part of a year. It was all consuming, and all distracting. But now it’s finally done and we can all refocuses our energy on growing both MERIX Financial and Paradigm Quest.
Before moving forward I wanted to share some thoughts with you, and to acknowledge some people who played a role in the success of both MERIX Financial and Paradigm Quest. First and foremost, Kathy Gregory. The creation of MERIX and Paradigm was first formulated on the back of napkins, over a few libations. This was long before these entities were called MERIX and Paradigm. Back then we referred to these companies as Sales Co. and Process Co. From a napkin to a fully baked business plan was the next step. At that point Kathy made one of the most important hires for both companies, our CFO, Donald Zuill. Kathy, Donald and I believed to our very core that this plan would work but now all we had to do was convince some folks with money, real money. Kathy and Donald did just that. A group of individuals came together to create an entity which is known today as FFP, Five Fathom Partners. FFP took a gamble on a business plan but more importantly the people behind the business plan. To FFP, particularly John Donald, thank you for you belief in the plan, and us. We will always wear the shareholder value we created like a badge of honour. We said we would not fail you, and we take great pride in holding up our end of the bargain.
From a MERIX perspective, I want to thank a few individuals for their faith in our vision, and to put it quite humbly, your faith in me. You left good paying jobs to be a part of this company when it was nothing more than a concept. To Andy Kuyper, Lori Smith, Jill Paish and Lloyd Pritchard, it was my pleasure to have shared this part of the journey with all of you. To all of our loyal supporters, and particularly those who were early adopters to the trailer fee model, I thank you for your faith, and for demonstrating to the industry that the trailer fee model is sustainable. You helped to change the industry. Many lenders in the industry now pay on renewals. That didn’t happen because lenders wanted to be more generous. It happened because you helped to legitimize the trailer fee model. Now it’s time to move forward. To those who still wish to debate the safety of trailer fees, clearly there’s nothing I can say or do to change your mind. So I won’t bother trying. After all these years what more can we say or do demonstrate trailer fees are safe. So we’re going to focus on the segment of the market place that does get it. Oh, and one more thing – to our competitors who tried to create uncertainty in the market by suggesting that brokers trailer fees were at risk with MERIX because of the impending sale, all is fair in love and war. And I would like to thank you for stoking our internal fire. We’re coming!
Until next time,
CheersRead More Add a Comment
“The greatest gift we can give our supporters is an opportunity to learn.”
I’m always on the lookout for way to bring value to our customers, beyond the standard products and services; not an easy task, especially if you’re looking for originality. What’s original today? See, it’s not easy. In our industry it’s become common place to equate corporate customer appreciation with socializing events and off-site adventures. I understand why organizations do this. Saying thank you to your customers by taking them too far off destinations, mingling and bonding, has its merits. But how do you come up with something just a little bit different? My view on customers appreciation trips may be a little jaded but it’s my way of thinking and I just can’t shake it. It goes something like this – MERIX pays our customers a lot of money in trailer fess. My hope is that our customers earn obscene sums of money, and they can use some of that money to travel anywhere they want in the world, with people they actually like. With that in mind how can we put our twist on a customer appreciation event? Best place to start for me was to think of my own personal experiences, and what event or trip stood out for me; I kept coming back to one.
For a number of years Genworth Financial would invite a number of their customers to attend the “World Business Forum” in New York. It was a trip I looked forward to every year. I felt privileged to be asked to attend. The invited guests were business heads representing the lending industry. To be in their company was a privilege, but to be able to attend an event such as the World Business Forum was also a great educational opportunity for me. It was an opportunity that I always relished, and is demonstrated by the fact that I continued to attended, along with the MERIX Senior Leadership Team, long after Genworth stopped making it an annual event. The value I derived had nothing to do with the fact that the the dime was on someone else. The experience is well worth the money, my own money. Combine the fact that educational experience is held in one of the greatest cities in the world, New York, woohoo!
So if this trip had such an effect on me, why beat myself over the head to come up with something totally original? For years I wanted to do this, and this is the year. We’re announcing that we’re going to be taking a number of our supports, who reached status with MERIX Financial, to the World Business Forum in New York this October. The greatest gift we can give our supporters is an opportunity to learn; to open their minds to other ways of doing things. The speakers at the World Business Forum are not motivational speakers. The speakers at the World Business Forum are the champions of industries. They don’t just teach, they do. Presidents, CEOs, activists, authors, leadership of all stripes speak at this event. They share their stories, their success’ and their concerns. The best part of attending for me is the humbling experience I go through. If I start to believe my own press clipping, well, being surrounded by that much success and brain power makes me realize I’m a guppy in the grand scheme of things. At the conclusion of the World Business Forum I reminded that I have to up my game, and MERIX wants to help our supports up their game as well. Oh yeah, and have a blast in New York. To our loyal supporters, hope to see you in New York.
Until next time,
Cheers.Read More Add a Comment
“We would never sacrifice our efforts to win the hearts and minds of our customers just to end up being average, from a market share perspective. Volumes alone does not create business depth.“
Plenty of ‘how-to’ books have been written on building a sound business. Plenty more will be written in the future given the old economy is being replaced by the new economy, the digital revolution. A common principal, profitability, is obviously critical to any organizations success. If profit is the key principal in building an organizations culture, that organization will not create any depth. Furthermore, customers will see through it and they may come to the conclusion that your business is not authentic. The mindset of the consumer is different today. Consumers today want to do business with companies they view as being authentic; customers do not want to be simply viewed as means to an end.
The challenge for every business today is to make the enterprise economically relevant, while at the same time focusing on the visceral aspects of the customer experience. If you can build a business where customers want to do business with you because they of the belief they come first, you’re building a business with depth. With that in mind everyone at MERIX Financial is extremely proud of the fact that we were voted the number one lender in the most recent CMP Broker on Lender Survey. Eight medals in total, four of which were gold, speaks to our authenticity. MERIX Financial wears its heart on its sleeve. The underlying principal of MERIX Financial is to create future wealth for its customers, the mortgage broker. We passionately believe in the trailer fee model because of the benefit it brings to our customers. Some may dismiss the value of our model but I don’t think anyone can question our commitment and sincere belief in the trailer fee model; that is what resonates with our supporters. What is also appreciated is our candor and honesty. If it’s our bad we admit it and try to fix it. We received a silver medal approval/turnaround time, a gold medal in underwriter support, a gold medal in overall service levels. In a utopian world it would always be like this but we do business in the real world. We had to face our shortcomings, listen to feedback from our customers and dedicate ourselves to improvement. Our partners at Paradigm Quest have done a remarkable job to support our efforts and our customers made note of our improvements and acknowledged our efforts by making us number one.
For those who know me (and have actually spoken to me) know that if asked a question, I will provide an honest answer; as I believe the worst thing you can do is insult your customers intelligence by being disingenuous. Diplomacy counts but honesty denotes authenticity. So if you’re wondering if I would trade all eight medals for another $2 billion in funding? The answer is no. Why should volumes and authenticity be mutually exclusive? If we could magically fund another $2 billion our goal would not change – being rated the number one lender. The reality is that another $2 billion in funding would put us in the middle of the pack. We would never sacrifice our efforts to win the hearts and minds of our customers just to end up being average from a market share perspective. Volumes alone does not create business depth.
To all of our supporters who took the time to acknowledge our efforts by casting a vote for MERIX, thank you so very much. There may be a time in the future when we may not meet your expectations. That’s the human nature of business but as we’ve demonstrated since inception we will not rest until we fix whatever problem may exist. We may not always get it right but that will never stop us from trying.
Until next time,
Cheers.Read More Add a Comment
“My goal since day one was to create a company whose employees would be recognized as being the best in the industry.”
In some ways I find it difficult to believe that we’ve hit the six month mark already. Yet, on the other hand it feels like a year’s worth activities have taken place in the first six months of 2012. As an industry we have had to deal with the constant media attacks. Personally, as CAAMP Chair, regulatory issues and media distortions have been at the forefront for me day in and day out. Just when you think there might be a reprieve, or at the very least seventy two hours of tranquility, BAM! Something happens. It’s been that kind of year.
A sure sign for me that the first six months of the year is now visible in my review mirror is the mid-year Merix Sales Conference. We just completed our seventh annual conference, and if truth be told I think I get as much out of the conference that our employees do. I was a tad concerned that fatigue might get in the way of providing the right level of energy for our employees. Since mid-May I’ve traveled to Australia, Poland and now San Francisco for the Merix Sales Conference. All wonderful experiences but getting there (wherever there might be) and back is a little draining. So, I inhaled a little extra high octane coffee and got on with it, and after the first day no artificial stimulants were required to manufacture energy levels. The Merix employees provided that for me with their level of engagement and appreciation during the sales conference. I always marvel at how prepared our employees are when they come to the conference. All pre-work is completed and there are no wallflowers. They want to learn, they want to improve their skill sets and they want to enjoy the experience. A big thank you to Genworth for participating, and for the educational content they provided.
My goal since day one was to create a company whose employees would be recognized as being the best in the industry. Setting aside my rose coloured glasses for a moment, bar none the Merix sales team and support staff is a cut above. I take great pride in their results but even greater pride in the way they conduct themselves professionally. They will never do anything to embarrass the company. They treat their customers, be it borrowers or brokers, with professional courtesy and respect. A way for an organization to ingrain that principal is simple; you treat your employees that way. If you treat your employees with respect, dignity and courtesy, the odds are good they will do the same for their customers. The purpose of our sales conference is to educate, refocus and get prepared for the second half of the year, and to remember a moment in time. For the team it was remembering the sessions during the day, the excursion to Alcatraz, taking in the Giants versus Dodgers ball game, visiting wineries in Sonoma, and officially ending the conference with a team dinner in the most exquisite surroundings. After dinner I walked out of the cave, dinner was actually served in a man-made cave at the winery, to enjoy a cigar. I stood there by myself and took great pleasure at the sound of laughter coming from the cave. These people truly like each other, and they all want each other to succeed. From where I sit that’s an organizational badge of honour.
On behalf of all of us at Merix, enjoy the summer.
Until next time
CheersRead More Add a Comment