Lender in the Spotlight: RFA

As a broker, you're the link between your clients and lenders. You know that choosing the right lender is important, and it's not just about the rates offered. Prior to working with a lender, you may want to get a good sense of how they do business. Welcome to “Lender in the Spotlight series” where you can learn a bit more in-depth about the lenders and what they value as a company. To start off this series, we have RFA.

RFA began as a private real estate investment and asset management firm in 1996. Today, they operate a number of businesses involving Canadian real estate, including residential mortgages.

Recently, Marina Bournas, President & CEO of RFA Mortgage Corporation and Robert Morton, President & CEO of RFA Bank of Canada sat down with Fergal McAlinden of Canadian Mortgage Professional to discuss their growth plans. Here are some highlights from the interview.

With a solid foundation and strong capitalization, RFA is well-positioned to establish itself as a leader in the mortgage industry. According to Marina Bournas, RFA still views itself in the early stages of building for long-term success despite its progress in recent years. Service culture and a credit-diverse product offering are central to its growth plans and future vision. 

Diversifying its mortgage funding has been a key component of the company's growth, giving brokers access to prime and alternative product suites through RFA Mortgage Corporation and RFA Bank, respectively. RFA Bank now accesses funding liquidity through over 25 deposit boards, with further enhancements expected throughout the coming year, says Rob Morton.

This focus on developing the right foundation has helped provide RFA with "more than sufficient capital" to fund its growth goals. When it comes to the broker channel, Bournas made it very clear, the lender is here to stay. “We have capital strength and patience to look beyond any potential downturns to enable us to think in terms of years – not quarters,” she explained. The lenders’ success in recent years is underpinned by the support of patient backers with a long-term horizon.

Rightsizing has been prominent in the industry, with many companies looking to downsize as the market cools. However, that’s not the case for RFA, which was intentionally structured for current and near-term needs. “We are continuously building and refining their operating capacity to be a leader in broker service and encourage anyone who's considering applying to do so,” says Bournas. “It’s a great opportunity to join a progressive and growing organization that’s trying to make a difference,” she says.

It is evident that people and culture are very important to RFA. Inclusivity, community, wellness, quality underwriting, and building RFA into a ‘destination employer’ is at the core of the company's values, says Morton. This has helped the lender develop a reputation for its corporate culture and employer brand in attracting and retaining top talent.

RFA is also driven by a desire to make a difference in the wider community through charity work and other philanthropic efforts. They believe a major part of running a successful company is making a positive impact on the communities served outside the scope of business, Bournas said. It’s one of the main reasons they launched their #DealsforChange program and have donated nearly $500,000 to charitable causes since 2020. 

RFA’s outlook is “cautiously optimistic” for the spring market ahead, according to Bournas. While 2022 was a quieter year than those that preceded it, that should be taken in the context of 2020/21 being an “aberration fuelled by low rates and excess market liquidity,” she said. 

“We are pragmatically hoping for the market to return to 2018/19 activity levels. A combination of a small housing price correction and slightly lower than today five-year fixed rates could be a strong catalyst for any pent-up market activity that could be out there,” says Bournas.

Despite the current market, the lender continues to push toward its long-term vision. They’ve made a lot of progress over the last two years in evolving their offer, service levels, and approach to working with the broker community. If you’re a broker or agent who has not recently experienced RFA, give them a shot. They want to show you what quality lending is all about!

Surprise bonus: They currently have a campaign in which they'll send top-performing brokers to France in September 2023. Want to be the lucky one? Check out the video below and visit their website!

RFA is a lender on Lender Spotlight. Check out their rates and products!

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