One of the most exciting moments in a person’s life is turning their dream into a reality. The transition from dreaming to executing is a significant milestone; one that an innovative mortgage and financing firm in Halifax, N.S., has been helping people achieve through their unique approach.
My Business Magazine recently sat down with Blake Wilson, founder of The Blake Wilson Group (BWG). BWG offers residential and commercial mortgage solutions to those with a diverse set of financing needs. They work with first-time buyers, repeat buyers, new-to-Canada/non-resident buyers, small business owners, self-employed individuals and investment property owners.
As the federal government took on measures to tighten the financial market, Blake saw a growing need for mortgage and financing brokers. Individuals that were previously easily obtaining mortgage approvals were beginning to face barriers. "As I continued to observe the changes facing mortgage lending, and who was impacted, it reaffirmed my focus and values. Firstly, mortgage brokers must be absolute experts at what we do because easy mortgage approvals are becoming a thing of the past. Secondly, there’s a growing segment of individuals that our industry can really help."
"The Atlantic region is a small business economy," said Blake, a native of Fredericton, NB and later Halifax. He has seen firsthand over the years that entrepreneurs in Atlantic Canada are all too often underserved by the local banks, limited by their options and circumstances.
Under one roof, BWG helps self-employed and real estate investor clients with their personal and business financing needs. Blake firmly believes personal and business financing needs must be assessed holistically. If not, future financing can be jeopardized ― a reality he has witnessed many times. "Our expertise in both residential and commercial financing allows us to offer our clients better overall solutions. They can make strategic, informed decisions based on what is available to them in the entire Canadian marketplace rather than just through their bank," he said.
The company also works with other major contributors to the local economy, immigrants and those who are new-to-Canada. The firm is well positioned to help this growing demographic with their residential mortgages and commercial financing needs. They also work with many first-time buyers, citing an influx in Millennials returning to the region to lay roots and join the property ladder.
To lead the charge, Blake has built a team of seasoned, diverse professionals. Business partners David and Susan Skinner have worked in the mortgage industry for decades. Their long-time colleague Joan Cote now oversees residential mortgage operations and remembers clients by name, regardless of how many years have passed since their mortgage approval. Two members of the team are fluent in Mandarin Chinese, and one recently passed the Chartered Financial Analyst level two exam. The team employs a collaborative service model. For clients, this means they have a primary point of contact yet multiple professionals providing input behind the scenes on their file.
Furthermore, BWG is part of TMG The Mortgage Group a Canadian mortgage brokerage with a closeknit network of mortgage professionals. BWG leverages their expertise on a regular basis.
BWG’s team-based approach gives them the time to understand their clients’ needs from the very beginning. A key element of their process is an up-front needs analysis, where the team assesses their clients’ five to ten-year financing objectives and taps into their financing history. This is what Blake refers to as getting to know a client’s story.
As a result of their approach, expertise and ability to tap into over 50 lenders (banks, private and monoline), BWG finds the right solution for their clients, at the best rates available to them.
“The entire process also tends to go much faster than usual," Blake said. That's because BWG leverages the expertise of their team behind the scenes.
Take the example of a client who had recently immigrated and was looking to buy a home. Though the individual ran a successful business in China, which he continued to operate virtually from Halifax, he knew that his recent arrival and untraditional work situation wouldn't make it easy to get a loan. BWG, however, spent the time to fully understand the client's business, financial situation, and long-term goals. He then found lenders open to working with such a client and within 48 hours, the client was approved for a $600,000 loan.
Why are BWG's methods so successful? "We start off with a 'Blue Sky Session.' We ask our clients to describe their ideal situation, free of the barriers they may have put up due to their past experiences," he explained. "We then come up with a plan to help them reach their financing goals – both in the short term, and the longer term. It all comes down to guiding with options and solutions, not barriers."
Wilson has been a broker for 17 years, previously in the insurance and risk management industry. In 2014, he began focusing solely on mortgages and financing. This was due to the high demand, particularly among self-employed individuals seeking mortgages. With a talent for finding great solutions for his clients, he eventually founded The Blake Wilson Group, whose slogan is "You Dream It. We Finance It."
Fortunately, development in the region has gained speed in recent years. "It’s a very exciting time to be an Atlantic Canadian," Blake says. More and more people are in need of financing options as the region experiences a development boom, particularly in the Halifax Regional Municipality.
"We want people to get behind the energy of our region and come to us no matter what their dreams are," he said. "It all starts with a conversation."
After working with hundreds of clients, it's no surprise, then, that the Blake Wilson Group has earned significant recognition. In 2018, they were named Atlantic Canada's Innovator of the Year by The Mortgage Group.
When asked about the future, Blake says he hopes to keep expanding the team and making more dreams come true. "Our mission is to finance dreams and grow the local economy. This is a mission our team is extremely passionate about."
Michelle Grossman has spent over a decade in field of news and media, covering everything from business to energy to pop culture and more. Her passion for writing comes from asking the big questions that get to the heart of every story.
2102 Oxford St,