Deciding your success: Look withinDale Vermillionknowledgeable, responsible, ultimate goal, integrity
To be successful, you must decide what success truly
Every one of us has been affected, and probably embarrassed, by
the slew of bad press regarding the mortgage industry as of late.
Recently, Money Magazine published an article titled
"Mortgage Brokers: The salesman factor: The right mortgage broker
is golden—a pro who can put you in the ideal loan at the
right rate. The wrong one can hang you out to dry." Clearly, the
title alone suggests that there is a question in the public eye as
to the ethics of mortgage professionals. It seems that everyone is
pointing at everyone else as to the cause of the problem. I once
read a statement where a very wise man said, "I have determined the
problem with the world—it is me!" The fact is that each of
us, as mortgage professionals, is responsible for the reputation of
our industry, as well as our own reputation. Our actions and not
our words ultimately determine this. So, here's my question for you
today: Are you one of the "golden" mortgage professionals referred
to in the article? As mortgage professionals, we can take proactive
measures to ensure that we are classified in the "golden" class.
I'd like to share some of my thoughts with you on this subject.
Let me begin by saying that just being knowledgeable about your
products and your lending laws is not nearly enough. Although
essential to being a successful and responsible mortgage
professional, these are not the end-all answer. The real key is to
apply some good old-fashioned introspection. At the end of the day,
we all have to ask ourselves these questions:
•What is my ultimate goal as a mortgage professional? Am I
putting my customers or my commissions first?
•Did my actions today support my goals? Did I display
integrity in everything I did?
•Am I developing meaningful, honest relationships with my
•Am I offering the right products to my customers for both
their short- and long-term needs? Did I make a positive and
long-term difference in the life of my borrowers today?
Let's take these questions one at a time.
What is my ultimate goal as a mortgage professional? Am
I putting my customers or my commissions first?
If you are like the hundreds of thousands I have met whose primary
goal it is to make money, I would encourage you to immediately
change your goal! With that as your goal, you are destined to fail.
Although making money in and of itself is not a bad thing, making
money your primary goal is. It leads to a slew of problems. First,
it may lead you to compromise your integrity. When money is the
primary goal, people do things they wouldn't normally do to
succeed. Rationalization and justification become our modus
operandi. Penn State coach Joe Paterno put it this way: "Success
without honor is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger,
but it won't taste good." By putting money before your customers,
they will sense it. They will know that you are not looking out for
their best interests, but your own, and usually go with someone
else. And even if they do close, they surely won't give you any
Your goal should be to make a difference in the lives of your
customers, first and foremost. If you change their lives in a
positive way, they will change your life by not only buying from
you, but also referring everyone they know. Think of yourself as a
consultant and confidant, rather than an originator. Position
yourself as someone who offers excellent and life-changing
financial products and advice.
My friend and colleague Dr. Ron Jenson put it best in his book,
"Achieving Authentic Success," when he said, "If someone has a
sense of purpose, then he can endure all the problems he faces in
getting to his goal." By making your number one goal to help
others, you will be putting your customers first. They will sense
that and want to do business with you.
Did my actions today support this goal? Did I display
integrity in everything I did?
There have been far too many people in our industry who talk the
talk but don't walk the walk. They want to believe they are helping
people; however, they are selling products that do not. Their
actions do not reflect their desired character. This includes
products that may help in the short term, but actually hurt the
borrower in the long term. This also includes products with
inflated, frivolous fees that ultimately do a disservice to the
borrower and only benefit the loan officer. Remember, personality
is what we are in public, and character is what we are in private.
Integrity is when they are both the same. As the old saying goes,
actions speak louder than words. Forget for a moment that you are a
mortgage professional. In your last couple of deals, did you truly
help your borrowers? If you support and uphold your right goals
with appropriate right actions, your character will project
accordingly to everyone around you—especially your
Am I developing meaningful, honest relationships with my
Most people claim to be great relationship builders, but then
spend only a few minutes with their borrowers. It is simply not
possible to build relationships without investing quality time into
your customers. So, how are your relationships? Do you really know
your customers? Have you taken the time to know both their personal
and financial needs? As you build relationships with your
customers, you'll begin to learn what they want, as opposed to what
they need. Plus, you'll learn about their plans for themselves,
their families, their children, their homes and their lives. The
best relationship you can have with your borrowers is one in which
you aren't simply an originator, where you transcend to a friend
and trusted advisor. We don't sell mortgages; we sell opportunity.
This includes not just providing competitive and life-changing
mortgage products, but also solutions to financial goals, like
education, retirement, debt reduction, investment, family needs,
etc. If you truly take the time to talk with your customers and
listen to what they need based on where they are in life, you can
match up products that will make their lives better. Not only is
this a proactive means of ensuring that you are practicing
responsible lending, it is a way of doing business that will have
your customers thanking you and recommending you to their friends
Am I offering the right products to my customers for
both their short- and long-term needs? Did I make a positive and
long-term difference in the life of my borrowers
One of the biggest mistakes I see consistently in our industry is
the focus on short-term solutions. This is evident in the constant
focus on rate and payment reduction. Don't just look at the short
term, but also the long term. This is one of the biggest financial
decisions your customer will make in his lifetime. Help your
customers by offering them products that will truly help their
situations in the long term; don't just entice them with short-term
incentives. Determine what products best suit their future plans
and current financial situations. As a consultant, your job is to
help them understand the difference between needs and desires, and
advise them as to what products they need to achieve their
long-term goals. For example, if you have a customer who is 45
years old and wants to retire by the age of 65, set him up with a
20-year mortgage, rather than a 30- or 40-year one. If he says he
wants to start saving for his children's education, set him up with
a loan with a lower monthly payment to free up cash to put into
savings. Keeping your customers' best interests in mind is not only
a responsible lending practice, but also vital to developing
trusting consultant relationships with your customers that will
last years down the road.
If you take the time out of each day to ask yourself these
questions, you will not only ensure that you are a responsible
mortgage professional that people can turn to, but you will also be
the professional that people trust and want to do business with.
More importantly, you will be true to yourself. Your integrity will
never be in question, your ethics will never be challenged, and
your reputation will be outstanding! You will make a difference in
the lives of others and, in turn, have the personal satisfaction of
knowing you are life-changer.
Dale Vermillion is an industry speaker, and founder and CEO
of Grayslake, Ill.-based Vermillion Consulting Inc. He
may be reached at (888) 824-3343 or through his Web site, www.dalevermillion.com.