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Coffee, Tea or Bank?

Dave Hershman
Jul 20, 2012

There are many choices for a prospective loan officer (LO) in this industry. First, they can choose whether to work for a bank, independent mortgage company, net branch or broker. Then, they can choose whether to be a “street LO,” work on “inbound” leads with a company that advertises, or work inside a real estate office, a builder site or a bank branch. Even when they arrive at their designated locale, they will have plenty of choices as to how they will go about their business, such as purchasing leads or becoming a referral-based LO. As a manager, chances are you are recruiting within one of these types of environments. The question is—how does recruiting differ from locale-to-locale? I will attempt to answer this question from two perspectives. The first perspective is the perspective of the company and the will be the perspective of the LO. Managers are competing with many other companies when it comes to recruiting. It is imperative that the manager understand what benefits are provided by that company. These benefits are not just the traditional benefits of health insurance and retirement plans. The definition of benefits is much wider in this regard, and include, but are not limited to: ►They do include traditional benefits such as insurance and more. These benefit vary greatly from organization to organization. ►Some benefits are important, but not as measurable as insurance. For example, a larger bank is more likely to have name recognition. When a loan officer is talking to a prospect, familiarity with the company can be a major advantage. ►We could not talk about benefits without talking about compensation plans. After all, that is foremost in the mind of LOs searching for a home. There may be an inverse relationship between how many benefits are provided by the company and the level of compensation and the flexibility of the compensation plan as well. The more the company must spend to support an LO, the less it can pay. An LO who works for a small broker may get a larger cut of every loan, but they may not get the extra deals that comes from name recognition or in-house leads. ►Speaking of leads, obviously the provision of leads is a major benefit. Again, these may come from telemarketing or other activity or the leads may be customers of the organization. ►Loan officer support … which may include a wide range of benefits, from technology to marketing support to training. For example, some companies may provide individual Web sites for each loan officer or may be flexible in allowing the LO to put up their own Web site. Larger companies may not provide these sites and may be more likely to restrict any individual marketing that does not support branding of the company. ►Service levels. Does your company process, underwrite and close their own loans? This does not mean your service levels are better than that of a broker, but it does give you more control over the process. It is important to understand that every category gives a theoretical benefit, but not necessarily a benefit based in reality. For example, name recognition is a great benefit, as long as the reputation is good. More importantly, loan officers perceive companies that can control processes can provide better service―especially if those services are local. Have you ever been asked if you have “local processing?” ►You. This is a benefit we often miss and can be the most important element of attracting and retaining candidates. They are coming to work for “you.” What is your background, experience and skill level? How have you helped the careers of others in the past? What type of manager and leader are you? This is one area that makes you completely different from everyone else. It is important for every manager to completely understand the benefits they have and the benefits they lack. This gives them the opportunity to improve their benefit packages where possible and to come up with what will call the “Unique selling proposition” of the company. The goal is not to have every benefit, but to understand why your package is different from others and how that makes you unique. If you are the same as your competition, then the recruitment task becomes much more difficult. If you feel your benefit package is lacking, feel free to e-mail me at [email protected] with a description, and I will be happy to make some suggestions. Again, some of these benefits are tied to the type of organization you work for and others are completely independent. The other part of the equation is the loan officer. In determining what type of person to “recruit,” your benefit package will give you a great idea of the characteristics of the loan officer that will thrive in the organization. Again, this is not just bank versus broker, but is a function of support and environment. For example, is yours a suit and tie company with regular sales meetings and sales reports required? Or, do the loan officers work out of the home and are pretty independent? Again, we tend to think of one as a bank and another as a smaller mortgage company or broker—but there are exceptions. You can see what type of individual might fit one environment and what type might fit the other environment. Another example might be a street loan officer versus one that services a real estate office from the inside. One can be much more independent, while the other is tied to and part of an office. One can do business with any one they would like while the other must service the real estate agents of that office. One is not a better job than the other. There are advantages of either situation. But success in these environments require different skill sets and preferences. Here is the most important point: No matter what the environment or benefits―a big bank, an independent net branch or a small broker―what a loan officer needs to do in order to succeed will not change. They must work hard and be a team player. Dave Hershman is a top author in the mortgage industry with seven books published, as well as hundreds of articles. Dave has delivered hundreds of keynote speeches, seminars and schools for the industry as well. He may be reached by e-mail at [email protected] or visit
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