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The compliance controversy part two: What does "Safe Harbor" mean for your company?

Aug 25, 2005

Service with a smileAnthony O. Kellumcustomer service, automated systems In a land far, far away, human beings once answered telephones. Journey back with me to the glorious antiquity of "Hello ... How may I help you?" I can remember not long ago when pleasant, living voices were willing and able to help me. But to my dismay, service with a smile has gone the way of the 8-track, and service via automated systems more adequately describes the current state of affairs. From automotive industry robotics and automated underwriting, to the if-you'd-like-to-speak-with-an-operator-please-press-9 command that we all know so well, I lament the loss of our responsibility as professionals to serve and invest in one another. In the business community, I believe that we are in every sense our brother's keeper. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are all inexorably entwined in the cycle of giving and receiving service. As we oscillate from business owner to consumer, that which we sow into the lives of others, we will inevitably reap. As joints neatly fitted together presiding chairman and parcel deliverer; broker/owners and patrons we form a unified body. Our collective well-being remains in peril, due to a growing negligence, and taking goodness and business for granted. The United States has rested in the comfort of undisputed global dominance for far too long. As products of our environment, we have adopted a culture of arrogance founded upon self-gratification. Today, each of us bears the scars of corrupt corporate leadership, which robbed from within to serve personal gain. Idle employees without purpose or vision abhor pride in their performance, and unless we shake ourselves from this slumber, we are in danger of losing the soul of that which made America great. The evidence is mounting: from sub-standard manufactured products to service providers that care more about their wallets than their clients, too often our haughtiness becomes the root of our own demise. Maximizing our potential for greatness means never taking success for granted. As we categorize people and tasks as important, unimportant, noteworthy or irrelevant, we must acknowledge that everyone who walks through our door is a valuable opportunity. And every business task we undertake is a broadcast statement of who we are. As mortgage professionals, we have enjoyed a refinancing boom, new heights for homebuyers, and record-low interest rates. In spite of changing trends, rumors of war and industry reform, we must remember to rage against the mediocrity of the light. I embody a simultaneous existence as business owner and consumer. In both parallel realities, I perpetually wage war against the cancer of apathy from within and without. I fight against the subtle disregard of the entitled employee who lives by the creed of "Sorry, that's not my job." Daily, I confront apathy in public service, which is better described as sub-par service. Complacency is a luxury that we never could afford. We must live in the reality that it's always our job to reach beyond the minimum. It's always our job to strive beyond the expectations of our customers and the tasks assigned by employers. As we struggle to survive industry reform, success is only promised when we wholeheartedly strive to achieve the extraordinary. That which we do not properly use, we are destined to abuse and subsequently lose from the death of our corporate integrity, to the loss of our employees and our livelihood. On our winding road to success, never forget whatsoever your hands find to do ... do it with your might. As we continually export the treasure of "Made in America, as mortgage brokers, we are still entrusted with the treasure of human contact. In the bygone days of contracts bound by handshake and your word as your bond, there was a profound simplicity in honor. As we face tomorrow and the new borrowers it brings, let us fight to not squander our credibility. With the privilege of being mortgage professionals, it is never too late for us to cherish the last remnants of the human touch. "How may I help you?" is a question that we can answer in living color and work to live up to. Anthony O. Kellum is Chair of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers Affordable Housing Committee and Immediate Past President of the Michigan Mortgage Brokers Association. He may be reached by phone at (888) 4-KELLUM, or e-mail [email protected].
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Aug 25, 2005
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