How to Recruit and Retain the Best OriginatorsDaryl Wizelmanrecruitment, retention, loan originators As with many other businesses today, the key to the success of any mortgage lender stems from the quality of employees that are hired. This especially holds true with loan originatorsthose on the front line, working directly with customers. But these days, how do you build and maintain the best team possible for company growth? With the evolution of technology in the mortgage industry, it's easy to lose sight of the importance of high-quality loan originators and employees. Granted, technology does make office matters more efficient, but it will only support your originator's effortsnot replace what a top-notch loan originator can offer. Effective Recruiting Strategies Keep in mind, fierce competition among lenders is making it more difficult to recruit and retain high-quality loan originators. When a reputable loan originator looks to make a job change in the industry, there are plenty of suitors knocking at their door. However, anyone can (and will) throw money at them to bring them aboard. Below, we'll explore some other strategies to put your company on top of the candidate's list. Sell Your Company Experienced loan originators look for a high degree of support from lenders, so emphasize what you have to offer. Some of these services include loan opening, processing, underwriting, secondary marketing, loan document preparation or funding, and many of these services can be found in each branch office. Decentralizing the loan process is a big key to attracting and retaining loan originators. It can be difficult to convey every positive attribute of your company in one interview, so it is beneficial to invite any potential candidates back to meet and interview other loan originators, staff members and managers. This will allow them access to first-hand experience and insight into how your company is managed. Highlight the Products You Offer Whether conventional or sub-prime markets, present in detail what products your company has to offer, and explain how new recruits are educated and encouraged to excel. Reputation, Reputation, Reputation For the most part, recruiting is based upon the quality and quantity of the current staff, and the product and pricing provided. But don't overlook reputation. Assess the reputation your company has in the broker communitya large portion of it hinges on your current loan originator's and employees job satisfaction. But in the end, it also comes down to likeability, or the age-old question, "Does the candidate like me?" If so, you are that much closer to bringing them on board. Retaining the Superstars Once you've recruited your candidate of choice, you must follow through on your original promises and build trust in order to retain them. In my experience, these are the most critical ingredients in loan officer retention: 1. Honesty, Integrity and Loyalty At United Pacific Mortgage, we expect our loan originator's to be responsive, knowledgeable and caring when it comes to dealing with clients. Thus senior management must also exhibit these attributes towards every employee. Particularly, loan originators perform at their best after they've built strong relationships, whether with customers, real estate agents, loan processing staff or managers. 2. Accessibility to Management and Resources Managers and executives must be approachable and accessible, both physically and personally. Schedule regular staff meetings and make certain that all lines of communication are open, in order to encourage trust and an ongoing exchange of ideas. A well-maintained Web site, e-mail channels and Intranet with online forms, flyers and other valuable information, provide convenience and assure loan originators that they are "in the loop," and can quickly find what they need, when they need it. 3. Team Environment Make sure that you clearly communicate your mission statement and vision for the future. This is important for recruitment and retention efforts. Any quality loan originator will want and need to know how they are expected to support these company objectives. Individuals work harder and more efficiently as a team when everyone understands and accepts the company's mission. 4. Training Keep updated with the ever-changing mortgage industry by providing ongoing training and coaching for loan originators. Maintain an open dialogue to ensure you're meeting their training needs. 5. Recognition Once again, recognition is extremely important. It requires more than an annual banquet or an occasional memo. If you don't already have one, create a comprehensive recognition plan and carry it out consistentlyperhaps you can offer a vacation to reward top-producing loan originators each year, or maybe can institute a benefits program for those who reach certain goals. Whatever the end result, make sure you don't overlook the day-to-day recognition that's so important for retaining and encouraging top-notch staff. Take that extra step to acknowledge outstanding performance when you see it, whether it's a simple phone call, quick e-mail or verbal recognition. You can automate the loan process as much as possible, but without a solid team of loan originators, you cannot expect to see your company grow and flourish. Employing the strategies I mentioned above will help put you on the road to recruiting and retaining high-quality loan originators. Daryl Wizelman is president of United Pacific Mortgage. He may be reached by phone at (800) 400-7166, ext 226, or e-mail [email protected].