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Economic growth package temporarily increases FHA loan limits

National Mortgage Professional
May 27, 2008

The third optionPaul Wyliemortgage originators, independent originator, branch office One of my favorite training exercises as a coach and manager of mortgage originators was to offer my clients a choice between a $5 bill and a $20 bill. In an overly humble gesture, a few people chose the $5 bill, but most chose the Jackson. A rare few, only about one percent of my mortgage originator clients, indicated that they would like to have both the $5 and $20 bills. It is these originators—the ones who created an option that had not been offered—that I ask everyone else to emulate. The moral of the lesson is that when presented with an either/or option, an originator can instead create a situation in which the best of both worlds can be obtained. It is this third option that I encourage all originators to consider when determining which is better—working independently from home or working in a branch setting. The pros and cons of the either/or solutions are obvious—an independent originator has total autonomy. A highly resourceful and disciplined originator who excels at generating referrals, researching and implementing best practices, developing marketing strategies, and producing results will benefit in-full from the fruits of their labor. On the other hand, this independence requires a high level of skill in not only the technical side of the industry, but also in operations, administration, marketing and research. Factor in the time and resources necessary to address all these components, and most originators are simply not positioned to successfully promote themselves to their full potential. This is particularly true during a receding market. More than anything, loan officers need to generate referrals, which is hard to do while spending time answering phones and fixing printer issues. A branch offers administrative support and a platform from which an originator can piggyback for lead generation and fulfillment, but this usually means surrendering some amount of autonomy. The third option creates a hybrid in which an originator works at a branch—the right branch, the branch of the originator's choosing and the branch that works for the originator, not the other way around. To create this option, let us consider the positive traits of both sides of the coin, and then determine how we can extract these traits while minimizing the cons to develop this hybrid situation. Karen Crosby, a consistent top producer who has averaged $100 million-plus annually in closings for the past decade and well over $1 billion in career closings, specified the following as benefits of the right branch setting: Interaction with top producers, increased energy levels, increased efficiencies, better access to experts in industry niches, better feedback and accountability. "Even though I have a high level of self-discipline, I know that I am always being watched," said Crosby. "It's like I am center court, and I want to play the best game I have." The branch experience is largely relationship-driven. An affiliated loan officer has the benefit of the collective knowledge of all their colleagues. Simply by virtue of being in the vicinity of others working in the same industry, a loan officer will absorb the positive traits and best practices of other lenders. By watching seasoned veterans, an affiliated officer is able to refine their client generation techniques, adopt practices that strengthen client conversion and solidify client retention. In addition, the office banter that goes hand-in-hand with the branch experience allows an affiliated officer to uncover invaluable insider information about current trends and niche industry information, much of which is unpublished and experience-based. And, as Crosby points out, the branch experience creates a platform in which an officer becomes a member of a team whose production is being watched. This fosters healthy competition, which usually accompanies a friendly camaraderie. It also acts as a support system that propels people to perform at a higher level, which, in turn, leads to more productivity. At a bare minimum, it creates contagious energy that encourages an officer to keep advancing forward. My most important observation as a manager in a branch setting is that top loan originators are generally fiercely independent and, at the same time, hungry for interaction, support and appreciation. Like a teenager who strives for independence but seeks understanding, affection and support from those around him, a top originator essentially embraces the following motto: I do not need you, but I want to know you are there for me. A top producer can certainly perform independently, but forming groups and connecting to enhance experiences is part of human nature, and no amount of technology or virtual-offices will replace the non-verbal and non-textual communication that is only present in a physical setting. So what does an originator who desperately wants both independence and relationships do? My advice is that the originator interviews branches as aggressively as if the branch is to be the originator's employee; consider that the branch works for the originator, not the other way around. In this way, the originator will search for the right branch, creating proactive criteria that a branch must fulfill if the originator is going to join its team. Start by making a simple list of your interests and needs as related to a branch setting, ranking the top five. Your top-five list might look something like the following: 1. The team. Who is, or who will be in the branch? Who will your peers be? Who are the fellow originators? You might want to be the poorest kid on the block, surrounded by mentors whose behavior and level of success will serve as positive and inspiring models. 2. Values. What are the branch's core values? You must know what day-to-day activities take place inside the branch in terms of ethics, compliance, humility, integrity and camaraderie. Are these values aligned with your own values? If not, the branch will work against you instead of for you, and your independence and autonomy will be sacrificed. 3. Branch management/leadership. How does leadership facilitate an environment of emotional intelligence? Is leadership inspiring, respectful and energizing? Do they offer innovative strategies for problem solving? 4. Tools. What loan products, technology, service levels, niches and business development tools does the branch offer? You might want to find a company that provides affiliated business arrangements, marketing services agreements, comprehensive lead-conversion business systems and client retention tools. 5. Money. Though money might be the top factor, it does not belong on the top of a list. Remember that this process is about finding a branch that works for you. This is not to say that you will be at the top of the pecking order, but rather, that the branch supports who you are, what you need and what values you possess. If you sacrifice these evaluators simply because a branch appears to offer a greater earnings potential through higher advertised commission splits, I can guarantee two things. First, you will not feel independent. Instead of aligning with your values, your branch will work against you if you do not specifically choose one that supports your overall goals. Second, you will not make more money in the long run. Although the question of money cannot and should not be ignored, remember that money is driven by inspiration, work, motivation and the positioning of values. The overall experience a branch offers extends to include much more than just money. In conclusion, mortgage originators should reject the either/or proposition of working for a branch or going solo. By aligning interests and needs, an originator and branch can create a great relationship in which the originator still maintains autonomy and control, while benefiting from the relationships, tools and resources of a branch office. Paul Wylie is the founder and former CEO of Metrocities Mortgage. He can be reached at (818) 878-9581 or e-mail [email protected]
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