In 2012, First Foundation started offering general insurance brokerage, which covers home, auto and commercial insurance. A financial division came next, in 2014, to offer clients financial planning and group benefits as well as life, disability and critical illness insurance. “First Foundation is very unique in the sense that we’ve combined three separate types of brokerage,” says Gordon. “Usually, you’ll find a company that does one of those things. We’re one of the few in Canada that does all three, and that gives us a real strategic advantage and a way to better provide services for our clients.”
First Foundation is also unique because of their service model. While many brokerage firms use the same model as realtor businesses - one where a company hires dozens of employees, all responsible for finding clients and working on commission - First Foundation hires salaried employees who also receive some commission. “It’s a different service model that puts the emphasis on service instead of finding clients,” explains Gordon.
The mortgage and insurance brokers also don’t charge clients any fees. Instead, they receive compensation from the lender or insurance company. “The great thing is that they really have access to our independence and our advice for nothing,” says Gordon. “Our decision on how to choose a mortgage lender or an insurance company really comes down to what the best fit is for the client – what they need, what’s important to them, what the terms and conditions look like." Gordon adds that if the rates are the same, First Foundation will usually choose the company with the best reputation for customer service.
Despite the company’s small size, First Foundation has been nominated for countless awards, including Mortgage Brokerage of the Year, Mortgage Broker of the Year and Top Internet Presence. Two staff members have been finalists for the FDS Broker Services Award for Best Newcomer, Individual Agent/Broker at the Canadian Mortgage Awards, with one taking home the prize in 2014. The company has won awards for CMP Magazine Award for Best Branding, FirstLine Mortgages Award for Best Internet Presence and Diversifier of the Year. Gordon has been honoured with the Accredited Mortgage Professional of the Year award.
Gordon says it is the customer service awards that mean the most to him. “We’ve been a two-time finalist for Top Customer Service in the country at the Canadian Mortgage Awards, and that’s my favourite one, for sure,” says Gordon. “Even though we haven’t won it, we’ve been a runner-up twice, so that keeps us motivated to continue to improve. That’s a huge honour because there are a lot of mortgage brokers out there, so we’re very proud of that one.”" >