The evolving mortgage broker: Dissolution, revolution or evolution ... you choose!Kellene Bishopevolution of the mortgage industry Where do you see yourself in five years? That's the question I heard the employment recruiter ask during a radio program the other day. Isn't that the question many of us have been asked during a job interview? Most analytic financial brains like ours might roll our eyes at such a philosophical question about where our personal and professional lives might evolve to in the next five years, but it is indeed a valid train of thought. More importantly though, my question for you to ponder would be: With the recent downturn in the residential mortgage industry, will you soon be the one sitting across from a new potential employer's desk, praying you give the right answers as you're being asked, "Where do you see yourself in five years?" Or will you be one of the go-getters who refuses to let the rise and fall of the economy dictate the rise and fall of your career, and instead seek to capitalize on the impending boom in the commercial lending industry? Did that train of thought hurt your brain? Because frankly, the idea of tackling a new set of rules, a new market and educating myself on the dos and don'ts of what is seemingly a new career field seemed a daunting task to me at one time as well. But I am here to tell you folks that it's not daunting, nor is it an unrealistic stretch to educate yourself within the evolving lending market and get a grasp on just what the changes mean to your career. To sit and think that we can simply sit by in any career field and believe that it will not change as our economy and our culture changes is naïve, to say the least. Without forethought of projected economic indicators and analyzing the current market, dissolution, rather than evolution, of your career and business could likely happen. Yikes, dissolution? Yep - just take a look around at how many residential mortgage brokers who are seeking other jobs or changing careers. Will that be you? It doesn't have to be, because you can indeed make choices and positive changes that will place you in an even better position as a broker than you ever imagined. Let's look at the reality of today's residential mortgage business. If you're planning on staying in business and hoping to make anywhere near your current annual salary, then you have to get real about the residential mortgage industry as it stands today. With the extreme drop in applications, approval and purchasing in the residential world, continuing to base your income solely on this niche will not allow you to bring in the salary you are likely used to, nor will you continue to look like a quality, credible source in the lending community by consistently having to refer the new customers who come to you to someone who is handling commercial loans. Like most professionals in the lending world, your choices as a broker and lending professional in the past few years have likely been dictated by the market. Most brokers have thusly been forced to focus purely on rates and specialty products in order to keep business going. Unless we expect some massive political and financial changes to suddenly thrust the industry into a revolution, causing a mad dash boom again, we must allow our careers to evolve beyond the parameters of the basic residential market. Not only can we allow them to evolve, but we can enjoy the challenge and excitement of delving into a whole new area of our career. If you want to make a wise forward-thinking decision about your professional future, you basically have a few options. - Option #1: Due to current market conditions, you can choose to do what many brokers are doing now and focus purely on reverse mortgages and sub-prime loans as your niche. - Option #2: You could choose to make your specialty revolve around foreclosure bailouts and bankruptcy conversions; or - Option #3 (hint, hint - the wiser choice): Position yourself as a commercial lender in the midst of the pending commercial loan boom that inevitably happens following a residential boom such as we have recently seen in our country. Let me caution you as you plan to forge ahead, because in order to become a credible, desired source for commercial lending, I must state that you will need quality training in order to do so. Yes, you are already a lending professional - smart, savvy, saturated by your market - and what you will be training yourself to do is not that big of a stretch for some of you, but it will be a challenge. As someone evolves in any career, they need to keep up with current information, regulations and products. I mean, lets face it folks - we don't want someone to stick a shingle out their front door claiming they're a dentist when the only thing they have ever done is pull out their own teeth! You want them to know about cavities, fillings and bridgework, right? You surely want them to know about anesthesia! And if you want to be the one who commercial clients long to come to, you've got to be the one who does more than stick a shingle out stating that's what you plan to do. After all, you don't want a client to come to you and have an experience that makes them wish they had been under anesthesia the entire time. If you're a residential mortgage broker, you're almost ready to roll, but you can't just label yourself a commercial lending professional without some knowledge and education. Again, speaking of the dentist - you wouldn't go to a dentist to get a massage because that's not his or her specialty (OK, let's assume everyone reading this wouldn't go to the dentist for such a thing but, I have been all over this world and seen lots of things, so cancel that assumption). So, where do you see yourself in five years? I don't have a crystal ball but I can see many of you ready to be educated in the commercial lending industry within the next five weeks or perhaps the next five months. I believe some of you will be on your way to becoming tops in the field within the next five years. Me? Thank you for asking...In five years I see myself surrounded with my children and husband, not worrying about my career because I will have the comfort and knowledge of knowing that whatever choices I have made, I always make the very best effort to stay educated and professional while doing so. I will have the peace of mind in knowing that I didnt just pull my own tooth and declare myself a dentist. I plan to evolve and grow personally and professionally over the next five years. Did you know that according to American Heritage Dictionary, the term "evolution" is simply defined as "a gradual process in which something changes"? You have a choice to stay as you are or, as the market evolves, choose to allow your career to evolve as well. No matter how long you've been in the residential arena, you can still educate and reposition yourself successfully in the commercial lending field. There are numerous products and types of loans to be had wherein you can then find your niche and specialize. With the vast increases in locally owned businesses and small-business tax credits, the possibilities for lending in the commercial arena go far beyond that of equipment and specialty leasing, land development, multi-family dwellings and restaurants. With so many options and so many products out there, you can easily find a place to hang your shingle. But as an intelligent professional, you still do have a choice ... dissolution, fictitious revolution or evolution. Kellene Bishop serves as president of Beehive Commercial Lending, as well as director of training for Commercial Career, which specializes in training residential loan officers in all aspects of commercial lending with an additional emphasis on successful marketing tactics. She can be contacted via e-mail at [email protected].
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