A Relentless Pursuit to the Top
We recently spoke to Yvan Repka, Director of Mortgage Origination for Canada ICI Capital Corporation in the Calgary office. Yvan has been working in the field of finance for 15 years, initially as a commercial lender for one of Canada’s largest banks, and in more recent years, as one of the highest-performing brokers at Canada ICI.
As someone who has shown consistency as a high-performing individual, we asked Yvan for his perspective on what it takes to get to the top, and how to stay there.
Putting in the Time
Initially, Yvan established himself on the brokerage side of the commercial real estate industry. “I knew that it was going to be a lot of work,” he begins. “I did a lot of relationship building when going into the industry. When starting out you’re going to be working during the day and at night, building relationships. Both lenders and borrowers need to get to know and trust you. They need to see that you are capable and have earned the opportunity to be their trusted advisor.”
Especially when you’re starting out, you have to put in the time. You have to work long hours. You need to approach it with the mindset that you’re going to put in the work with the expectation that you might not see the immediate rewards.
Yvan stresses the importance of working hard, being consistent, and maintaining patience. He says, “You need to trust in the process. Put in the time, learn the business, and eventually it will start to pay off. I was probably two years in before I really started to see the results of what I had been doing. Then you have to keep at it. I think a large part of being successful in this business is consistency. You have to keep doing the same things; there’s no point where the work stops.”
A client’s confidence in their broker is correlated to their professionalism and ability to deliver. Successful advisors need to constantly self-educate so they can be fluid enough to create dynamic solutions. On that theme, Yvan outlines what he feels young brokers should focus on when starting out. “You need to be prepared to put a lot of time into learning the different aspects of commercial real estate, and to become an expert in your craft. It takes a lot of time to learn it to a level where you can comfortably discuss it with clients. You need to grasp a strong understanding of the industry so when you’re having conversations with clients you can clearly see where they’re coming from and also lead them in terms of knowing what’s best in your market.”
Competitiveness and Being Detail Oriented
If you interview top-tier performers, you find that they often come from a competitive background or have a competitive spirit. It’s less about competing with colleagues, and more about competing with yourself.
“You’ll find one of the most common characteristics in high-performing individuals is that they have a bit of a competitive personality. When you start working in this field you realize that the trait for success is a relentless focus and drive, and a strong desire to win and to lead.”
I am incredibly competitive. That’s a driving factor. I have a strong desire to win at anything I do, whether that’s a deal, a career, or a lifestyle. I want to be the best I can at whatever I do.
How to Get Started
According to Yvan, “The best way to build a successful career as a commercial real estate broker is to start as an underwriter for a period of time.”
“Underwriters are not in the spotlight but they’re totally integral. We sit down and work through a deal together. They help us build out the budget to get to the core of the deal. It’s great exposure to commercial real estate and you get paid to learn. You’ll see a lot of different types of deals, working with a whole bunch of brokers with different styles.”
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