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Bryan Jaskolka, founder and CEO, CMI Financial Group.SUPPLIED

To call CMI Financial Group’s success untraditional is an understatement. From its founding by chief executive officer Bryan Jaskolka as a university undergrad, to its commitment to serve Canadians with unmet financial needs, the company has achieved remarkable growth by filling the void left by the industry’s status quo.

Mr. Jaskolka started his first business at 16, running a technology company that provided web hosting, design and operations. He conceived CMI when he was laid up by an accident in 2004.

He’d always been interested in real estate and finance and saw the brick-and-mortar mortgage industry as “ripe for disruption.”

With the goal of modernizing lending and making private financing more accessible and transparent, CMI began operating in 2005 as an online mortgage brokerage blending Mr. Jaskolka’s tech and marketing background. He developed proprietary software to simplify the approval and funding process.

Anticipating the need for high-quality financing alternatives after the 2008 financial crisis, he repositioned CMI as a lender to meet the needs of mortgage brokers, and borrowers unable to secure financing from traditional lenders.

“I felt I could add more value as a lender and become a larger organization over time,” he recalls. “We’ve been on a growth tear ever since.”

In 2011, CMI established an investment division to serve a growing need for competitive fixed-income yields. By forging deeper relationships with investors, success was built progressively, structuring mortgages tailored for borrowers while providing strong risk-adjusted returns for investors.

This early lending success allowed CMI to diversify and digitize its funding sources, launching three mortgage investment corporation (MIC) funds.

CMI now includes four interrelated companies: CMI Canadian Mortgages Inc., CMI Mortgage Investments, CMI MIC Funds and CMI Mortgage Servicing, that originate, underwrite, fund and service private mortgages for brokers and investors.

The company has experienced year-over-year growth of more than 50 per cent over the last five years, coinciding with its ranking on the Globe and Mail’s Top Growing Companies list consecutively for the past three years.

“Brokers and investors like to work with us because we take a very honest and ethical approach, and that reputation has been a key contributor to our growth,” says Mr. Jaskolka.

The Toronto-based company has 130 staff nationally and no physical offices, given its strong technology platform, plus a work-from-home model that pre-dated the pandemic.

“When COVID arrived, we were well-positioned,” he says, adding that CMI’s work model keeps overhead low.

CMI has been consistently recognized as a top industry employer and was named 2022 Private Lender of the Year by Mortgage Awards of Excellence. The company has funded more than $1.5-billion in mortgages since inception, and currently manages a mortgage book of about $750-million.

Mr. Jaskolka has won numerous personal awards and was named to the 2021 Mortgage Global 100 by Canadian Mortgage Professional.

He isn’t concerned about today’s real-estate volatility, noting that demand for financing remains stable despite the economy. From an investor perspective, demand is similarly stable, as mortgage investments are typically defensive, like other fixed income type investments.

“There’s always some curveball, whether it’s a new regulation or a market event,” he says. “You have to anticipate change and be nimble enough to adjust. It’s a continuous cycle; we anticipate, we innovate, we adapt.”

Mr. Jaskolka’s vision over the next five years is for CMI to become a “total-package” company, servicing borrowers from all market segments. CMI is also working to increase its funding supply to support $1-billion to $2-billion a year in annual mortgage originations, which would place them among the country’s largest non-bank alternative lenders.

“We’re constantly looking to attract more investors to fund the opportunities we get presented through our mortgage broker partners. The challenge is scaling funding to match demand, allowing us to offer a broader range of lending products.”

Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio with CMI. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

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