Welcome to the 18th episode of the #AskAPrivateLender Podcast brought to you by Mortgage Automator. In this episode, our guest is Chris Baker, President and CEO of Mortgage Magnates—a revolutionary new online learning platform for mortgage professionals and industry partners.
We talked about how lifelong learning can give a significant boost to your business, how mortgage professionals can leverage social media to market themselves, and the things you can learn on the MM University platform.
Listen, watch, or read the interview below. And stay tuned for more episodes coming up!
Lawrence: We usually have the typical lender on. And you’re a little bit different, so I think it’ll be interesting. Mortgage Magnates, it’s an educational learning platform. How would you describe the company? What is your main focus?
Chris: We’re kind of a little mix of tech and education. We aren’t a brokerage and we don’t have our brokerage license because we don’t do any of the teaching. So I’ll explain that in a second, but essentially we’re brokers helping brokers. So all the teaching is done by actual mortgage professionals who are brokers or agents, both from Canada and the United States. But we act as an online learning platform. So if you think more like Netflix and Prime, those types of things, it’s more of a streaming platform. We decided not to do the traditional learning management systems style platform that nobody really has time for. I mean, the reality is we are, in this industry, business for self. And so we can’t take too much time away from our clients. We can’t take too much time away from finding clients and from selling.
So we had to develop a platform that we thought somebody could quickly use in the morning, maybe 10 minutes, 15 minutes or so every single day, get some of the best knowledge they can get out of other brokers and agents, and mortgage professionals across North America. And then once they do that, be out there using it right away so they can actually implement it into their practice and take themselves to the next level. So what we did was we developed a platform at Mortgage Magnates that we call MM University. We do it with, what we also call, burst training. So for anybody who is familiar with learning and learning platforms, micro-learning is actually the formal term for what burst training really is, which essentially is every video that’s on there, and they’re all videos of mortgage professionals, are less than 30 minutes in length.
And it’s always on a specific topic. So that way you can go and let’s say, it’s overcoming objections. I can go in, learn how to overcome objections just before I meet a tough client and I’m out there using it right away. And that’s the key behind burst training is to be able to not only take that learning and absorb it, but then be out using it because you’re going to absorb it best when you use it right away. So that’s what we are. Works the same way as Netflix or Prime. You’re swiping through videos, you’re watching them, hitting play. There’s nothing complicated about it. It’s all content that you can consume instantly and then implement all of those tips and tricks in your mortgage practice or lending too.
Lawrence: And you guys are focused on the mortgage sector as a whole. What can people expect when signing up or logging in and seeing the content?
Chris: It’s actually the whole gamut. It’s for every mortgage professional that’s out there. Obviously, the bulk of the content is directed toward the sales side of things, but again, there are things on compliance, lending, government regulations. And we often have podcasts with people like yourselves on them. We have podcasts with private lenders on them. We just did Lender Days last year, which was just featuring entirely lenders. Lenders are our partners as well as the reason our platform is free this year is because of all the support from them. So it really runs the gamut between the sales side of things, the client-facing side of things, and even the backside of things as well in the industry.
Lawrence: How did you get into it? How long has it been around? Tell me a little bit about your background.
Chris: I’m an old radio and television broadcasting graduate. So this is kind of my niche. This is what I love to do with the filming and podcasts and all that sort of thing and editing and all that. But also, that was a long time ago. That was the education side of things, but I’ve been in the mortgage industry for quite a while. I’ve also been in the financial services industry for quite a while. I was with a company everybody would know, Wells Fargo, but they left Canada in the early part of the 2000s.
Joseph: In ’08, ’09 when the market crashed.
Chris: Yeah, that’s right. And so when they left, I saw the writing on the wall and I went into the financial services business, so financial advisory. And I was with Canada Life at that time, London Life, and working with Freedom 55 Financial. And I actually ran their entire education platform for the entire country of Canada for a number of years, in fact, reinvented it. They had typical books and things like that that you’d read, and lengthy. I and my team had to redevelop that into a digital platform and into, I would say, more of like a sort of in-person learning as well. So it was kind of a mix, but because it was across the country, you had to really factor in some digital stuff. And so I got my feet wet in that over many years.
When they changed over to Canada Life, or actually before they did, but the writing was on the wall there too, that our department was going to be phased out in Freedom 55 Financial, I moved back into the mortgage space with Street Capital Bank of Canada. And that was great because I was a BDM for them, and I got a chance to go around from brokerage to brokerage talking to a lot of agents, new and veteran in the industry. And one of the things that came up so often was the lack of support and education for the best practices here. How am I going to build my business? It’s one thing to get the license and all of that education is great. It’s another thing to really learn from everybody across the industry. And I thought, “I wonder if I could utilize some of my experience from the London Life days to sort of bring everyone together?” And it kind of got put on the shelf a little bit.
Obviously, I was committed to Street Capital. But when RFA bought them, I was laid off as part of that. And at that time I thought, “You know what, I’m going to take a risk.” This was 2019. I’m going to jump into this, and I’m going to create this platform that I knew the industry needed. And so myself and Dave Tanner, who’s our COO as well, jumped all in. And we’ve been running around the country filming people until COVID started, and then we had to switch to Zoom. But basically, our big mantra here is brokers helping brokers. And even though we say brokers helping brokers, it’s really everybody helping everybody, whether it’s lenders, other platforms like yourselves, Mortgage Automator.
As long as it’s people within the industry, helping other people, then we are winning. And that’s our whole premise, and it’s actually taken off pretty well. Obviously, you have Facebook groups and other ways to get information, but it’s really nice to be able to see your peers on camera saying, “Hey, listen, I’m doing this and it’s working really, really well. Here’s what I’m doing. Go ahead and try it out.” And people are doing that. So it’s a really great start despite the fact that we are starting a startup during a pandemic, but it’s gone well.
Joseph: The proof is in the pudding though, because you guys have 4,000 subscribers to your company, to the platform. So clearly people are finding value in what you’re able to provide from an informational perspective, educational perspective. We commend you for that. I think that’s awesome. And I love that it’s not a part of any specific organization. All you guys are kind of out there on your own doing this.
Chris: Yeah, that was huge for us. We initially partnered with MPC to give their members a discount. When we first opened up, one of the things that they loved about us was that they wanted to be brand-agnostic because they’re obviously the major organization in the country. And we said, “Well, absolutely.” I mean, we are too, there are no investors from any of the brokerage houses or anything, any brands or anything like that. And this is all on us and we’ve made it a mission to keep it that way, because that way, even when you watch the videos, when you log in to MM University and you watch say a James Loughen or somebody else from the industry, they’re not really talking about who they’re with. We try to avoid that. So I mean, obviously if you’re with a brand like Mortgage Automator, it’s different, but as a broker, he’s not saying, “I’m Axiom Mortgage Solutions.”
We’ve made the commitment that there’s no recruiting on our site. This is sharing best practices only. And it’s been really, really well received in both Canada and the United States.
Joseph: I do like that there’s no additional motive, whether it’s brand recognition, brand promotion. It’s strictly just about helping the community, giving people an opportunity to learn more about the industry as a whole. And then again, become a better broker in the industry as well.
Chris: Yeah, absolutely. And I think we shocked people when we went free this year because people were skeptical and even continue to this day to be skeptical that there’s this ‘brokers helping brokers’ motto. We still get that. They go, “Okay, there’s got to be another motive here,” and there really isn’t. And I think that’s why people were taken aback when we used the money that we got from industry partners like yourselves across the country to put that back into the platform and say, “Listen, get on here for free this year.”
Chris: And even when we go back to fees next year, it’s $1.99 a month because of our partners. And so, this is a chance for you to learn at a really, really low cost. And that’s going to be important because you know what, we’re not always going to be as busy as it’s been, and you’re going to have to find ways to grow your business when things slow down as well. Guess what? We’ve got hundreds of videos on here that can tell you how to do that exactly. So it’s a chance for people to get in and learn from their peers without having an exorbitant cost to it. No 3-day $900, $1,200 seminar courses. This is literally free this year, it’s $1.99 next year. And you’re learning as much as you would, if not way more on this platform.
Joseph: You’ve mentioned James Loughen and you brought him onto your podcast, and obviously he’s a very successful broker, he’s done phenomenally well in the industry. I’ve been on a trip with him once, part of one of the organizations. I didn’t have a chance to really get to know the guy, but a lot of people speak very highly of him. And I wanted to ask you, just using him as the example because you brought him up, has he been adapting over time to improve his technology stack, being able to provide a better service to his clientele? What do you think differentiates him that makes him so successful from guys that are falling off the face of the earth, or who’ve just literally lost business because they’re not marketing in the right places anymore or who have not bothered adapting?
Chris: I’ll give you a baseline of James, and I’m sure there are lots of people that do the same thing. It’s about sharpening your axe. He actually says that in one of the videos that he has on our platform, if you’re not sharpening your axe, you’re not going to be able to cut down the tree. And eventually, you might cut down that first tree. But as that axe dulls out, if you’re not always sharpening it, less and less trees are going to be cut down and someone else is going to come in and cut down that tree, get all that lumber. He’s been in this industry for a long time. He could very easily say I’m successful, so whatever, but he’s not. And he is very adamant in that you’re going to take on as much technology and as much knowledge as you can take on.
And he’s not the only one, a lot of the people that we’ve had on the platform are exactly the same way. They’re saying, “I’m constantly learning. I don’t want to be the smartest person in the room.” If you’re the smartest person in the room, change rooms, because you’re not growing, you’re not changing. And so for those who are industry veterans, and we have a surprising amount of industry veterans on the platform for this very reason. When we started this up, we thought, “Okay, this is just going to all be newbies that sign up, just try to learn the industry and move on.” And it’s completely the opposite. It’s basically half and half of veterans and new agents. And part of the reason for that is that they know they need to grow. They know that you need to change. There’s some out there that don’t, of course, there are, but those aren’t the ones that use the platform and that’s fine.
The ones who do are the ones who are willing to grow and change with the industry. Because as you say, everything is going to change. I remember when I was with Wells Fargo, there was 110% loan to value and 104 amortizations, and things like that. It’s gone. Those things are gone, but there are all new things that you can do that you have to learn. But it’s also the same with technology and it’s the same with everything. How am I going to market myself in the future? We had Scott Betley from Baltimore. He’s on TikTok, he’s got 500,000 followers. He’s a mortgage professional. He’s done only mortgage professional videos on TikTok. None of the dancing, none of all that other stuff you see on TikTok, just mortgage advice. And he has 10x’ed his business in one year, one single year just by adapting TikTok.
Now I’m not saying the 20-year veterans are going to jump on TikTok and start doing TikTok videos. But if they want to, they can. And that video is there for them to learn it if they want to. And it’s that growth, it’s a commitment to change because everything’s going to change with you. Everything you did in the past is gone. It’s over, it’s done. That’s not you today. That’s not you tomorrow. You’re creating today and tomorrow right now. So you have to be able to move with that. And so I think that’s what’s really important about the fact that we also do that. We add 5-10 new videos every month, just like say Netflix or Amazon would, not because we’re trying to copy them, but because we need to do that.
Things change so fast that we know we need to continue to have that content up to date. What is happening today that’s working the best? What’s going to happen tomorrow and that’s working the best? So we try to make sure we have that happening all the time. And we’ve had some great experiences with that. James is just one of the people willing to share. Will that hurt somebody’s business to share my best practices? No, it won’t. Because most likely the person down the street isn’t the one watching that video. It’s somebody in Alberta or Detroit or somewhere that you’re not even competing with them anyway. So it’s been great that way. And that’s, I think, where the great feedback comes from too.
Chris, earlier you brought up microlearning, and I think you were calling it burst training. Explain that. What is microlearning?
Chris: One of the things that I learned when I was with London Life was one of the biggest complaints of financial advisors. It was, “Listen, I have to be out getting clients. I have to. I can’t be spending all my time watching animated training videos that maybe were made by somebody at head office who never sold an insurance or investment product in their lives, and now I have to spend an hour watching this. I can’t.” So we created a lot of microlearning, which we call at Mortgage Magnates, burst training, which is essentially, how can we take all that learning you didn’t really want to do and make it because it covered too much at once and you didn’t have the time. Same thing you would have at a 3-day course, for example, where you maybe get two things they actually implement because the rest of it was just overwhelming.
So microlearning and burst training takes one topic specifically and puts it into a shell of videos. And what that does, especially for the salesperson, we’re not taking you away from clients for more than 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes at the tops. So because of that, your commitment to learning, pour yourself a coffee, spend 10 minutes watching how to use TikTok, for example. And then once you’ve done that, get out and actually do it, actually help your business with that information. Don’t spend more time watching hours and hours. We don’t want you to do that either. What we want you to do is be able to jump on the platform or on the app, do that training video and be out using it minutes later.
Lawrence: It’s probably great for a commute.
Chris: Absolutely. We’ve had stories from the road. People saying they used our app or they’re watching the video in a client’s driveway. There was a guy that was watching a video. I mentioned overcoming objections earlier. This is one of my favorite stories. I tell it all the time because it’s just perfect because it was like one of these clients that’s always talking to his brother or his dad about all this mortgage advice that really you shouldn’t take from your parents or a relative, and just constantly objecting to things. They were watching on how to overcome objections, one of the videos that we have on the platform, in the client’s driveway before the appointment, knowing that the video was only about 10 minutes, it didn’t take long.
So it was the ability to watch that. And then, as he said, he was in there using that information right away, got the next appointment or the sale, and that is what we want. Those are the stories that we live for as part of the brokers helping brokers movement, is to say that the platform was able to give you this. You were able to go out, use it, and now you’re succeeding where you maybe wouldn’t have before without that video. And that’s really what burst training is, is get that microlearning in there. Get that really quick burst of training, use it, and then come back tomorrow and do another one.
Lawrence: What I would say in terms of objections and being in a particular industry, I would say that you’re always going to get the same types of objections. You’re always going to have the same issues that you need to overcome. And whether you’re in Ontario, whether you’re in BC, it’s probably typically the same. And I think, yeah, you definitely need to recognize what you’re seeing over and over again, and then find a video where they address that. Because once you address the things that you’re seeing over and over again, well now you’ve overcome it. It’s not like it’s such a complex industry where you’re hearing different things every time you go into a house. It’s pretty much typically the same thing over and over again.
Chris: How many times have people rewatched The Office on Netflix? You miss something every time. At least when you have a streaming platform versus say a 3-day course, you can’t rewind the instructor in a three-day course. You can’t go back to that 3-day course. You just got to hope you got what you needed in your notes. Whereas in a platform like this, you have the ability to go back and rewatch and rewatch and rewatch if you need to, until you get it. And it’s not going to take you long to do, because again, it’s only 10-15 minutes. Keep watching it until you get it. It’s that repetitive thing, make it a habit, creating new habits. You’re going to be able to do that from these videos because you can come back anytime and watch them as many times as you want.
Lawrence: How many videos are on the platform right now?
Chris: So we’re up just over a hundred videos, and then our podcasts are also on there as well. And we have a ton of filming booked, mostly through Zoom still now. But hopefully, when we open up, we’ll get the 4k cameras back out there and all the equipment and get everybody on film. But luckily during the pandemic, thanks to Zoom, we haven’t had to stop making the content. We obviously would rather it be on an actual camera. But again, we knew we couldn’t stop producing the content. So that’s been good, but we’re really excited to get back out there.
Lawrence: I mean, do you go after brokerages as a whole, and then they bring your program down to all of their people? Or do you go after individual agents? Can any agent just call you up, “Hey, I want to get on the platform.”
Chris: Yeah. They can go to mortgagemagnates.com and jump on the platform themselves. I mean, obviously, it doesn’t cost anything in 2021. So you just jump on and start consuming the content. It’s really that simple. We market a lot through social media, targeted obviously. We also have some amazing partners that have promoted us, like you guys, MPC. We’ve got NAMB in the States, the National Association of Mortgage Brokers. There’s just been a ton of people that kind of are out there shouting to the rafters about us too, which is great and that’s what we want. And also the people that are in the videos are recommending it, which is great too. So it’s helped to spread the word sort of just by networking, but also through social media and other things too. And the podcast, I mean, I’m sure you guys have noticed with your podcasts that it really does help people familiarize themselves with you and familiarize themselves with what you’re doing. And we do that too with the Brokers Helping Brokers Podcast.
One of the things we face in this busy time is just that, that the people have said, “Oh, I’m too busy to learn.” Well, that is one of the worst attitudes, one of the worst approaches you can ever bring to a self-employed business. I mean, that is not going to last. And when it doesn’t do this anymore, and you’re not swamped with 98 files and all of a sudden you’ve got nine, and the other person who chose to keep learning, keep doing their growth and keep lifelong learning is still with 99 files, that’s where the difference is going to be. We had Ray Reyes, out of the States, come on. And he talked about market proofing his business. And that’s a great video. If you are on our platform, watch it.
It is all about how he does not believe anything that’s happening as far as busy times because he knows it’s going to change. And so he’s always market-proofing his business, always learning, always adopting new things to keep. Even when he was slower in 2008 and beyond, he was able to keep his business really high and really high-performing because of that. There’s tons of lifelong learning out there. And so we’re not even saying it has to be just us. There’s lots to do, but you gotta do it. You’ve got to commit to it. You’ve got to get out there and grow your business. And I mean, the busy times don’t last forever. Even during the busy times, you can still try to grow.
Lawrence: What kind of feedback have you heard from the people currently on it?
Chris: We’ve had lots of success stories. Obviously, the one guy that was doing the objections. We’ve had lots of success stories coming from the Lender Days as well. People not knowing how to improve their efficiencies and things like that, that now they have an idea with each lender on how to do that. We’ve had tons of success stories on podcasts and video. Alec Hanson out of the States is great on video. And what’s lovely about this is that a lot of this carries over across the borders. People are using the information that Andrew Young gives us on giving back to his community from the States, and people are using Alec Hanson’s video from the States to get on and do their own video podcasts and personal branding.
And so we’ve had a mortgage agent that was new, that started a podcast. She’s doing so well with it. And so many more success stories out there. Obviously now we’ve had a recent partnership with MPC too, to be a CE credit provider for them as well, just as part of your membership. That’s going to help you succeed, especially with their AMP and AMPC designation, working on the same stuff for the state. So there are just so many cool things that you can do and so many great stories in the early going that we were very, very proud of.
Lawrence: Let me ask you a quick question, run a scenario by you, okay? I sign up for MM university. Okay. I look through the videos and I’m working at the same time. And as I’m watching the videos and I’m working, I see that something is happening in my business over and over again that I just don’t know how to fix it. I don’t know how to get past it. Do you have some sort of a community or is there a way that people that are on the platform can reach out and say, “Chris, this is my issue.” And you guys will internally take that and say, “I got a few guys that know all about that, and we’re going to record a video and address that.” Is there any kind of collaboration like that?
Chris: No, that’s the basis for how we create our content. So there’s a couple of things that you can do there. On the platform itself, there is a social network component to it. So you can message other members. You can join study groups, then talk about the different videos or different categories of videos if you want to broaden it bigger than that. So lots of opportunities to be social on the platform and even message our featured players. So anybody that’s in the videos have memberships on Mortgage Magnates, they have the ability to talk to you about some of the things that they said. But the other thing that we do is take the suggestions of people. We had Shubha Dasgupta come in to talk about starting a mortgage brokerage. Now, that came directly because an agent from one of the brands out there was saying, “How do I start my own brokerage? My big goal is to start my own brokerage.” We’re going, “That’s a great topic.” So we went around to find somebody really good at that and Shuba is one of the best at that.
Joseph: Shubha was a perfect example of that, for sure.
Chris: Yeah, exactly. So we needed to get him on and he was gracious enough to jump on and say, “Yeah, absolutely. I’ll teach that.” And so that’s where this comes from. It’s really truly brokers helping brokers. If you’re skeptical out there, it’s really, that’s how it operates. And so if you’re on the platform too, and you’re watching this and you think, “Oh, geez, I didn’t realize I could make suggestions.” Please do. That’s what we want. That is exactly what we want. We’ll go find the broker. You don’t have to do the work. We’ll go find the people for that topic, but we want to know what you want to know. And that’s the biggest thing about Brokers Helping Brokers.
Joseph: Yeah. I’m glad we connected when we did, and we’re really excited to see where our relationship will sort of progress with you guys as well. How we can help continue promoting content and working with you guys. I think what you guys are doing is phenomenal. It’s something the industry needed for a long time.
Lawrence: What do the next three, five, 10 years look like for you guys?
Chris: We got a few things up our sleeves. We’ll keep it on the down low right now. We’re working on a major, major project that’s going to make it even easier to access this content, along with a lot of other things in the industry as well, which is going to be great. So yeah, we always want to evolve. That is the feedback we get. The apps are great. Is there an easier solution to access these videos? We think there is, I think we have a pretty good idea of what we’re going to do with that. But yeah, the next three to five years, obviously our goal is 500 videos by three years in. And so we’re well on our way to that.
But also the goal is just to keep maintaining. I mean, we’re not going to stop at 500 videos. We want to keep going. Because a video that we did in 2019 isn’t going to matter in 2023, as much as it did when it was first produced. So we gotta keep doing that. So that’s our goal for five years. Grow, make the platform bigger and easier to use, and just keep with the brokers helping brokers model.
Lawrence: And what about the quality control of… I mean, obviously, as you scale, there’s a lot of videos that are going to be published. Do you guys watch each video before they get published? Is there some sort of a council that views them and agrees with the content that gets produced? How does that work?
Chris: Absolutely, there is. Yeah. And we’ve had, recently we just cut a video that we don’t like and won’t make the platform. It’s important that that happens. And, yes. You might look at that and go, “Well, that was a waste of money and time filming somebody like that.” I mean, it’s not always cheap to produce these things, but sometimes the cost effectiveness is in the not producing it. And we watch things and we all watch all the Facebook groups and things like that in case there’s somebody who does something that appeared on the platform that we don’t agree with. We would remove that video, that type of thing. So it is constantly watched. We don’t just leave it sitting there.
And again, too, if we go out, somebody said, “This person’s great at this.” We go out, we watch what we got in content from them and go, “I’m not sure that’s actually the top person to talk about that topic,” we’ll throw it away. And so it is very heavily quality controlled. We want to be sort of an elite provider of mortgage professional training and lifelong learning. So in order to do that, we have to be very picky about the content.
Lawrence: That’s great. How do people sign up? Where do they go? Who do they contact? What’s the process?
Chris: You can sign up by going to mortgagemagnates.com. But it may be easier even to just download the app on Apple or Android. As I said, it’s free for all of 2021. And actually when you join this year, you get entered into our $5,000 Back to the Beach Contest, which is going to be one member is going to earn a $5,000 travel voucher to travel anywhere in the world when it’s safe to do so. You’re automatically entered just by signing up, so there’s nothing extra to do there.
Lawrence: Really, it’s a no-brainer. It’s free right now. Maybe you’ll learn a thing or two. I’m thinking you’re going to learn a lot more than a thing or two. And maybe they can get you back to the beach. Appreciate you taking the time to stop by, Chris.
Chris: Thank you guys so much. We really appreciate the time.