Power & Responsibility in Business

Reconnecting with our purpose in the face of a global pandemic

By Stephen Thomas

“All of my life experiences havce combined to put me in this place at this time. I’ve realized I have a chance to go for the biggest prize to leverage my success for the greater good” – Stephen Thomas

When it comes to leaders you have the good, the bad and the neutral.

I always thought I’d be neutral. Since I was young, I aspired to a career in banking and finance, eventually establishing myself as a successful entrepreneur in commercial real estate. I always envisioned that once I achieved success, I’d just sort of sail into the sunset . . . doing my own thing until retirement.

But now that I’m at the pinnacle of my career, it’s a different story.

All of my life experiences have combined to put me in this place at this time. I’ve realized I have a chance to go for the biggest prize – to be the very best commercial mortgage broker of all time and, at the same time, to leverage my success for the greater good. I’ve come to recognize the truth of that old saying: With great power comes great responsibility.

The Covid-19 pandemic prompted many people to re-evaluate their life’s path. In these uncertain times, I’m positive that my own success – and that of my commercial mortgage consulting company, HALO Advisory – comes from a willingness to do things differently. During the pandemic, especially during its onset in 2020, there was no way to fake it as a commercial broker. Risk appetites were on max and for a period, the world, simply, was not lending commercial mortgages.

So, what did we do at HALO? We looked within and reconnected to the values we hold dear. In remembering who we are and what got us here, our course became evident. We had to help people and the business owners that were highly impacted. We had to lead.

As many people said, we were all in this together. And when you do what’s right, for better or worse, something special happens.

HALO | TMG Black Capital Team

The HALO Advisory team pivoted to become trusted advisers to our commercial lending clients, many of whom had no idea how to respond to pandemic-induced market volatility. Since our team couldn’t be everywhere at once, we created a blog featuring helpful articles to empower our clients with knowledge. The way we looked at it, frontline workers weren’t taking a break during the pandemic, so why should we? A lot of lenders closed their doors and some brokers cherry-picked only the best deals, but we chose to put good karma back into the world.

And, in doing so, our phone began to ring. It rang and rang and rang. In September 2020, Google reported that we had received 7,561 calls – most of them generated by a helpful article we had published about the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) for business owners. There were days when I couldn’t even work because I spent all my time dispensing advice to callers from all walks of life.

Switching to an advisory role helped people get through the earliest months of the pandemic. We figured that if we helped them, they’d come back to us in 2021. So we rallied the commercial village to stay the course and follow our expert advice. At some point, we started closing deals on highly affected assets like fitness facilities and hotels while many of these borrowers faced receiverships due to the limited finance market. Indeed, much of 2021 was spent closing mortgages that we started in 2020. When our offering became more human, our business took off.

I’ve come to realize that we’re now experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: The playing field is even during the pandemic. I’m convinced that HALO has pioneered the blueprint for commercial lending success and we’ve proven the concept. Now, we will foster this growth and share our knowledge with anyone looking for a rewarding and lucrative career. There’s room for all of us!

To start, we’ll educate industry with a commercial mortgage broker training program so there will be more qualified commercial brokers in the field. On the client-side, HALO Advisory will continue to develop its role as a trusted adviser to Canadian consumers. Before they walk into a bank and ask for three-five million dollars, HALO will help them structure their deal for success.

Today, more than ever, commercial lending needs the straight goods combined with experience and the process. At HALO Advisory, we have 85-plus years of combined banking experience. We know how to package deals for the banks and we know how to get deals done.

Over my career, I’ve been fortunate to work with some great leaders. Now, as a prominent member of the commercial lending industry, it’s my turn to mentor and inspire others as we collectively navigate this pandemic.

Right now, the world needs a “can do” commitment. By reconnecting to our values, we can all find tremendous success.

STEPHEN THOMAS

Founder & CEO

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