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Continuing Education: From Mandatory to Meaningful ... Learning is a Choice

Nov 04, 2011

The most successful originators, those who are outstanding, devote time to training, education and self-improvement. You may view education as a burden or something to overcome, or, you may view it as an opportunity to improve your skills and knowledge. This is a clear choice. Do you remember when learning was fun? If asked, could you name the best teacher you ever had? Do you remember your favorite class in high school? Think about your favorite teacher who may have touched your life, opened your mind and helped you see the world in a different light. Out of the blue, this teacher was lightning in a bottle, where everything seemed new and possible. Do you remember how that felt? You were required to attend grade school; you had to go to high school; you were forced to take all of those tests and final exams. School was mandated and much of it was less than memorable. If it weren’t for that special teacher who believed in you; if it weren’t for the course that caused you to re-think your point of view, you may never have been pushed outside of your comfort zone. Education helped shape who you are today, and you remember those educational experiences because they were meaningful. Mandatory to meaningful This year, you will be joining more than 100,000 licensed mortgage loan originators (MLOs) in satisfying the mandated continuing education (CE) requirement. For the first time in the history of the industry, every licensed MLO must complete a minimum of eight hours of CE for license renewal before Dec. 31. With the tougher new Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System (NMLS) protocols, you will sit for an entire eight hours, and in most cases, you will take an exit exam to obtain your CE credits. This is all mandated, but the question you must ask yourself is: “Will it be meaningful?” You can indeed make your CE meaningful. To do so, you will need to raise your expectations and view your CE requirements as an opportunity to enhance your knowledge. You will need to expect more from your education provider by choosing a course that will challenge you, that provides you current and meaningful content that will make you a better originator. Choose the right mode The NMLS sets the CE standards and has defined four distinct modalities from which you can choose. Choose wisely as there are pros and cons to each. ►Live classroom: A live classroom setting means being at a class in-person attending a live training event in front of a live instructor. Pros: When taught by a knowledgeable, thought-provoking instructor where you can participate in an open discussion, have your questions answered, and network with other professionals, this mode delivers the most impact. The live classroom experience has the power to transform your practice, and there is no required exit testing. Cons: Tends to be more expensive, as you must travel to an off-site location, adjust your schedule to the course availability and live classroom events are not offered in many remote areas of the country. ►Live equivalent: The live equivalent setting is a live class in real-time, yet you participate at a distance, via your home or office computer. The better versions of a live equivalent class go beyond a Webinar to include live streaming video and live instructor interaction. Pros: The best live equivalent offerings give you the power of a live class with the convenience of distant learning. It is virtually available everywhere, with many offerings, no travel expenses and no required course exit exam in order to pass. Cons: Because the teacher is live, it tends to be slightly more expensive than other online formats. ►Instructor-led online: This format is very similar to a correspondence course with a strictly defined start and end times in which the class participants read the content independently and an instructor leads the class. Pros: The student can do the reading, quizzing and exercises 24/7 on their own schedule with minimal interaction with the instructor or other students. This type of class tends to be less expensive, and in most cases, does not have a strict timer. Cons: All the reading and comprehension is up to the student with limited interaction with a knowledgeable instructor. These courses can often take longer to complete than the eight required hours, and there is a required exit exam you must pass in order to get your credits. ►Self-paced online: This is a timed solo course experience for those who want no instructor interaction. The content is often text-based, some offer audio and video where the student reads through the content, answers interactive quizzes and completes an exit exam. Pros: Tends to be the least expensive format, allows 24/7 access with no defined time schedule with virtually no instructor interaction. Cons: If the content is bad or boring, you’ll be stuck with it for eight full hours because it is timed, there are frequent quizzes throughout and you must pass the final exam to get your credits. Getting the right stuff To make CE meaningful, consider your learning style and choose accordingly. If you are a visual learner, be sure the course includes video. If you love social interaction, you may want to choose a live class or live equivalent setting so you can interact in real-time with other professionals. If you are a big reader and want to get your CE in small pieces over a longer period of time, you may want to choose an online class. Learning is irretraceable. You cannot unlearn or extract knowledge once it enters your brain. When you apply new learning to your daily work, knowledge can change your behavior and make you a better professional. This year, take the opportunity to choose a CE course that will propel you forward. It is, after all, your future and your career is at stake. Components or comprehensive The Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act (SAFE Act) mandates a minimum of eight required CE credits as follows: ►Three hours of federal law ►Two hours of non-traditional lending ►Two hours of ethics, fraud, fair lending and consumer protection ►Plus, one hour of elective or state-specific law Note that 19 states require some amount of state-specific law each year. Go to and check whether your state has an annual CE requirement and how many hours are required. You can take several short course components from different education providers, or you can take a “Comprehensive Course” that includes all of the mandated components in one seven-hour or eight hour course. Buyer beware … read each course description carefully or call the course provider to make sure you know what you are buying. Learning is profitable Mortgage lending is profitable and fulfilling when you see yourself as a professional. As in any career, you must pay a price to ascend to the upper levels of income and reputation. What differentiates a professional originator from a mortgage clerk is knowledge, expertise and your ability to translate these factors into meaningful solutions for your borrowers. A mortgage professional offers guidance and sells advice, while the drone takes orders and sells rate. In today’s business, your prospects see your rates, products and fees as the same as your competition. To them, there is little or no difference in service, and good service is what is expected. The true difference between you and everyone else is the knowledge and expertise you bring to the transaction. Every successful professional knows you are either learning or you are dying. Learning is profitable and its part of the job. You have a choice Remember back in school when you were choosing your electives. That was exciting right? You chose all of your courses, and then you couldn’t wait to compare your classes with your friends. Learning can still be fun. Learning is progressive and continuous learning will make you a better professional. This year, before you make your CE choices, pause for a moment and ask yourself, will this CE sharpen my skills and improve my career? If you choose a great course and commit to learning, you might catch that lightning in the bottle, where everything is new and possible once again. Paul Donohue is the founder of Abacus Mortgage Training and Education. He may be reached by phone at (336) 254-3027 or e-mail [email protected].
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