FSRA# 13047 Valko Financial Ltd.

TRACY VALKO: A PARADIGM OF ‘WOMEN OF INFLUENCE’ IN THE CANADIAN FINANCIAL REALM

The Canadian mortgage industry continues to face potent challenges in managing mortgage volumes due to the ongoing pandemic, but the performance of its women leaders and entrepreneurs has been extraordinary. The “new world” imposed on mortgage professionals has forced them to adapt to digital communication with clients and peers while grappling with the complexities of higher house prices, tighter credit limits, and higher qualifying rates. Despite the intricacies, there are women identified as “influential leaders,” setting a fine example for their peers by succeeding in such a competitive environment while ensuring the well-being of their teams and communities. Tracy Valko is an award-winning mortgage industry leader with such biblical attributes. Her prowess, built on 25 years of dedicated service to the mortgage industry, focusing on empowering people. Valko Financial, her brokerage, has been crowned ‘Best New Brokerage (2020)’ by the Mortgage Awards of Excellence.

Her ideals of leadership were built during her upbringing. As a child, she watched her mother create and refine positions for women in the banking industry. While her mother was one of the first female branch managers in a well-known Canadian bank, she faced many harsh and unkind realities back then. While the situation was disturbing, Tracy saw it as a godsend. It was sad that women had to work so hard to be noticed, but it made her well-aware of the hurdles ahead and how she would conquer them. Standing upon this learning, Tracy has built a firm foundation for her business. She has been a dedicated and hard-working leader who expects the best of her team. 

She has made it her life’s work to help as many people as she can by providing them with more choice, more education, support, and ongoing relationships with her clients. Valko Financial is not a transaction-focused business; it is relationship-driven and community-focused.

A PREFACE OF THE FIRM 

Valko Financial, based in Kitchener, Ontario, places a premium on client relationships, ensuring that they leave in better shape than when they arrived. Its offerings include home purchases, first-time home buying incentives, refinance, renewal, reverse mortgage, debt consolidation, mortgage insurance, commercial mortgages, leasing, as well as video credit coaching, and financial master classes. In doing so, the firm goes beyond just mortgages and focuses on the journey of the client. It also supports community-based initiatives to keep the team engaged where help is needed. “We believe that mental wellness is as important as physical wellness and financial wellness,” says Tracy. By focusing on financial well-being and goals, Tracy and her team have made a sound impact on the region. Their commitment to delivering value to clients and teams through educational programs and initiatives reflects their dedication. 

Tracy’s upbringing has also aided in the development of her skill set. The struggles her mother had to face and the limitations in financial offerings helped her provide people with authentic and transparent choices that are beneficial. Valko Financial is not tied to one lender or one financial institution and is deeply focused on the long-term interests of its clients.

BALANCED BETWEEN SUCCESS AND PRIORITIES

With a heart for clients and communities, Valko Financial is mushrooming in all aspects. But it does so with a balanced approach. “While we grow and expand, we must hold on dearly to the things that are most important to us,” says Tracy. Her firm is built on the principles of honesty, integrity, commitment, and professionalism, which allow it to be meticulous and grow with a focus on quality rather than quantity. A key component of their success is their disciplined routine. They plan, structure, write things down, and schedule specific times for specific things, including rest. This benefits both the firm and the team. “We encourage our teams to stay in their lane—tune out the surrounding noise and just keep going,” Tracy says. They endure hurdles and distractions as they work in a changing landscape, but it’s their focus on the end goal and pure determination to achieve it that counts. Valko Financial comprises attentive and passionate professionals who aim to drive change in their clients’ lives. It is because of this positive attitude they stay committed to long-term relationships, as well as the financial well-being of their stakeholders.

CARVING A NICHE IN FINANCIAL EDUCATION

Tracy and her firm’s ‘people-first’ philosophy have helped them build an incredible credit coaching forum for clients and others looking to improve their financial fortitude. At the outset of her entrepreneurship, Tracy saw the need for financial education in the professional realm. This initiative focuses on developing sound financial practices on credit counseling, bankruptcy, and credit repair. In this way, the firm is helping clients who seek to save money, manage budgets, or improve financial literacy. “By helping our clients to help themselves, we empower them to achieve more in the long run than they once thought possible,” asserts Tracy. The firm also has incredibly high standards in education opportunities dedicated to its brokers and agents. 

TRACY VALKO – A DEDICATED CHANGE BRINGER

Tracy is one of the notable financial pioneers to see seismic shifts in the industry. She has spent over 2 decades serving clients across Canada while cultivating relationships in her region. She is an accredited mortgage professional (AMP) member of the Mortgage Professionals Canada (MPC). She served on the MPC board for 3 years as executive secretary and is a champion member and advocate for fair mortgage policies across the country. In addition, her efforts have shaped many characteristic changes, making mortgages a lot more collaborative and kinder. Parallelly, she also complements many changes that benefit leadership and organizational culture. For instance, self-care is duly emphasized to ensure a caring attitude towards everyone, including clients. Also, there is an augmenting playing field for professionals. Tracy affirms, “There are nearly as many women in business as there are men, and women are climbing the corporate ladders faster, for they aren’t afraid to work hard or easily intimidated.” 

Tracy is a pillar of inspiration, having spent the better part of her life fighting the odds and setting fine examples. Her heart-centered leadership has encouraged people to be more than they are and is the catalyst for her firm’s excellent service. While there is still work to be done, she feels proud to be a part of an ecosystem where powerful individuals are creating a difference.

SPEARHEADING UNANNOUNCED CHALLENGES 

‘Being prepared’ has been one of the notable aspects of Tracy’s leadership. It has helped her surmount many challenges throughout her stint, even COVID-19. The pandemic had a dramatic impact on their business model and priorities. They switched to remote work, rearranged their priorities, and now begin each day by “checking in” with themselves, their teammates, and their clients. “We genuinely take the time to ask, “How are you doing?” before we discuss any business,” says Tracy. As they strengthened client relationships to a whole new level of personalized services, they stayed true to their heart-centered approach. Because of the pandemic, they became more scalable and results-oriented, but Tracy believes that their actions outside of business are the real feathers in their cap.  

THE VALKO CULTURE

“We’ve been calling it #ValkoCulture for some time – a term that was birthed at the beginning of the pandemic,” shares Tracy. Switching gears and shifting to a more flexible model, Tracy and her team have become more focused on each other. The team embraces individual differences and enjoys an environment where everyone can be themselves. It gives them a sense of freedom and allows them to be innovative in dealing with clients. Tracy herself is very passionate about engagements, be it with her team or clients. She is a skilled listener to her team’s requirements and meets them. The metrics of the founder and her team create a vibrant culture within the firm, powered by people with a larger vision.

Creativity is another forte of this firm. Change is the only constant in Valko Financial, and everyone is driven by innovation. They are always on the lookout for fresh ideas and opportunities that can help them improve or scale. The firm also maintains an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach towards decision making. Every team member is involved in critical decisions so that they feel responsible for the company’s success. They openly talk about things that need to be solved within the brokerage (business-related and otherwise) because everyone has different strengths at the table, and ideal solutions often present themselves simply through collaborative discussions, which boosts team morale. The firm is creating an ecosystem based on kindness and acceptance to sail through highs and lows.

DEDICATED TO GREATER GOOD

Tracy and her team at Valko Financial have won many awards and epithets through the years, but they look at achievements differently. They ponder how many people they’ve helped get their first homes and how many others they’ve coached to improve their financial situation, as well as the number of entrepreneurs they’ve promoted to launch their innovative business ideas. The team has also hosted and participated in staple social events to bring their community together. They contemplate the fund raised for the KW Humane Society, contributions to the food bank, and child and family services. Tracy also includes, “To be named as the Best New Brokerage of 2021 by the Mortgage Professionals of Canada is amazing… but so is giving a kitchen makeover to a single mom whose cupboards are falling off the hinges, or having Santa do an exclusive book reading for our friends at Waterloo Wellington Down Syndrome Society!”

Valko Financial has expanded beyond borders, building a strong team of 50 agents, including people, intending to do good for the people and communities. Its moral milestone paves the way for its prospects. The pandemic has been a catalyst for the firm, which helped them uncover opportunities for their clients and teams. “Our focus is on community service and excellence,” affirms Tracy. They will continue to grow as a team and help clients achieve their financial goals while staying true to their relationships and community-focused corporate objectives.

AN INSPIRING NOTE FROM TRACY VALKO

“Trust your gut! Listen to your intuition! Don’t listen to anything that doesn’t serve you well. Love yourself and those around you. And don’t wait for future opportunities to do great things. ”

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