Camp Jasper… Collaboration: It works!

camper pic

Wow!  Just WOW!  That about sums up this weeks joint conference in Jasper with Mortgage Professionals Canada (formerly CAAMP) and the Alberta Mortgage Brokers Association.  These two associations came together and pulled off what was one of the best conferences I have ever attended.  Now I might be just a little bit biased.  You see I was one of the co MC’s for the event.  The theme this year was Camp Jasper, simulating a summer camp type environment complete with s’mors, canoes and camp type activities intermingled throughout three days of education, networking and music.

Our campers were greeted on arrival at the south side of Beauvert Lake where they were boarded into vast voyager canoes, some ten at a time, and paddled across the lake to Jasper Park Lodge.  Once across the water our campers were welcomed by AMBA and Mortgage Professionals Canada staff with champagne and chocolate covered strawberries.  Slightly better than any camp experience I remember as a kid!

Once our campers were all checked in, registered, and settled the shuttle service to Street Capitals Spark at Treefoil began.  An evening of barbeque and indigenous entertainment on the shores of the Treefoil lakes.  The weather was about as good as we could have hoped for and it was an incredible way to kick off the conference in a relaxed environment, and have an opportunity to bond with all your fellow ‘campers’.

Day 2: Monday

Monday kicked off with trade show and breakfast starting at 9am.  We opened the day introducing the Rocky Mountaineer contest where one lucky camper would have the opportunity to win a voyage on the Rocky Mountaineer, a train trip from Jasper to Vancouver.  We then introduced AMBA’s Executive director Amanda Roy and Mortgage Professionals Canada CEO to talk about the historic nature of the collaboration and what this ultimately means to all of us as an industry.  The energy was electric.  I think everyone, supplier, sponsor and attendee grasped the magnitude of what was unfolding this day.

At 10:00am Genworth sponsored a presentation by Economist, Mark Parsons.  Mark gave us an update on the state of the current economic situation.  Unfortunately in my preparation for my next role I did not have a great opportunity to take notes on many of the presentations but while we have had a fair amount of economic turmoil the news was not all doom and gloom.  Once Mark was finished we kept the trade show going for another 45 minutes or so and headed downstairs for the breakout sessions:

  1. Mortgage Broker Representation Relationships Explained (Charles Stevenson & Gary Siegle)
  2. Who Moved My Files? (Eric Poblete)
  3. Connecting Trustees and Mortgage Brokers (Zaki Alam & Sandra Landry)
  4. Due Diligence Tools For Brokers (Gay Andrews, Jesse Bobrowski & Sherwin Dziwenka)
  5. Mortgage Funding: A Securitization Perspective (Ian Witherspoon)

Participants had a chance grab a box lunch and choose two of the breakout sessions prior to heading back upstairs for a keynote presentation from Jessie Brown on Disruptive journalism.  He spoke about digital media and the impact it is having on business.

After Jesse Brown we took a short refreshment break then headed outside to the lawn in front of the JPL on Beauvert Lake.  There the JPL staff had setup good old fashioned camp activities ranging from tug-of-war to your traditional three legged race.  Campers competed in activities to get stamps for their log book which could be turned for a chance to win the trip on the Rocky Mountaineer.  The camp Counselors (myself and Gord Ross) were out in full on cheesy camp counselor garb complete with knee high socks, sandals, a bull horn and nose zinc.  I think everyone would agree that it was a great deal of fun and a fabulous way to bond with your fellow mortgage brokers.

Monday night was the AMBA awards under the stars.  What was earlier in the day the trade floor, underwent an incredible metamorphosis and became a stunning gala environment worthy of any celebrity event you could imagine.  Awards ceremonies are always a treat.  It is so humbling to be able to recognize the best of the best in the industry and be able to acknowledge the immense contributions of all the award winners.  This years awards and recipients are listed below:

  • The Volunteer Award – Erica Fikkert
  • The Partner Award – Nadeem Jiwa
  • The Ambassador Award – Bob Hutton
  • The Leadership Awartd – Gord Appel
  • The Bill Patton Memorial Award – Brian Gentles

This year a new award for outstanding service was created to recognize the endeavor between Mortgage Professionals Canada and AMBA.  This inaugural award was given jointly to Mortgage Professionals Canada current and past chairs, Jared Dreyer and Dan Putnam as well as current and past presidents of AMBA, Dave Trithart and Adil Mawji.

We also created one last surprise award.  The WIMI innovation award to recognize those who inspire others to do something great.  This award was presented to the founders of WIMI (Women in the Mortgage Industry) Suzanne Fleur de lys-Aujla, Suzanne Bebbington and Hali Noble.  It gave me great pride to be able to present this award.  These three women have become good friends over the last few years and it has been amazing to watch the success of this group empowering women in our industry.

The evening culminated with the Red Piano taking the stage.  These two dueling piano’s were absolutely amazing.  They kept the crowd engaged and by all reports this duo kept our die hard brokers dancing until the wee hours of the morning.  I think I went to bed at about 1am though there were many that stayed much later than that.

Day 3: Tuesday

I was down for the kick off of day three bright and early and have to tell you that I was very pleasantly surprised with the amount of individuals that made it down for breakfast and our morning sessions.  I shot a video of the morning which you can see here.

We opened with a discussion on fraud with Mike Wolfe from Equitable Bank and Chris Hayduk from the Edmonton Police Service.  From there we opened up the breakout sessions for the third opportunity to take in one of the five sessions.

We wrapped up the conference with a lunch buffet and our keynote speaker Graham Sherman.  Graham was extremely inspiring and entertaining.  He talked about the power of story and authenticity, a subject near and dear to my heart.  Once Graham finished we auctioned off a Tool Shed brewing package where you would have the opportunity to sample, then brew your own beer.  Ultimately leading up to a party with 200 of your closest friends to drink that beer at the brewery.  Yes, I was one of the successful bidders.  I ended up splitting it with Joe Jacobs donating $10,000 to Community Key our chosen charity for the event.  All in all, we ended up raising close to $20,000 for the charity throughout the conference.

Our final formal activity of the conference was to award the winner of the Rocky Mountaineer.  The prize this year went to Stella Tsang.  Congratulations Stella!

I could write volumes on all of the activities and sessions that your AMBA/Mortgage Professionals Canada team put together for you but what I really wanted to do was give you a taste of the experience and show you what can happen with a collaborative mindset.  This was a perfect example of two organizations that put personal egos aside and created something truly wonderful for the broker channel.  It was so incredibly gratifying to see all of the hard work of some great people over the last 4 or more years finally come together and manifest itself in this form.  One of my favorite moments was when one of our regulators stopped me and commented on the success of the collaboration.  He said, “I was at your first Mortgage Revolution event 4 years ago.  I realize that this is the work of many individuals but this has to be satisfying for you”.

I could not have summed it up better.  This should serve as a beacon, a road map and a confirmation of just what spectacular things can happen when we all work together for the greater good of the broker channel.  I want to challenge all of our associations to continue to move in this direction and to our suppliers, who have been asking for this for some time, to continue to encourage the collaboration all around.



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