I recently attended a funeral for a colleague who passed away in his early 40s. Mark was an appraiser who I had worked with many times. In recent years, I hadn’t had the chance to meet with him in person very often, thanks to appraisal independence, but I considered him and his brother Shawn who is also an appraiser, friends; and was incredibly sad that his life had been cut so short. I wasn’t alone.
At the funeral, there was an overflow of attendees coming to pay their respects. It dawned on me that no matter what position we hold in the real estate financing business, we impact countless others through our work. As mortgage professionals, of course, we are in a business of service. Our entire job is based upon the foundation of helping others. We help others to save money, to realize the American dream of homeownership, and in some cases, help them to utilize their investments in their homes to live a little more comfortably in their retirement years.
This all got me thinking about the legacies that we will leave behind. Will we be remembered as leaders who tried to help others? Will we be remembered by our colleagues for our accuracy in our work? For our kind and helpful bedside manner? For our professionalism? In talking with others at the funeral, it was clear that from real estate agents, to mortgage professionals, to homeowners, Mark left a legacy that will continue.
When it comes to accuracy, how do we measure up? Is our work such that we deliver an accurate product? Inaccuracies in home financing cause stress to not only ourselves but also all those that we’re working with. From real estate agents to strategic partners to borrowers, does our commitment to excellence in accuracy show through? Or, are we causing others undue stress because of hastiness or cutting corners? Mark clearly understood the importance of delivering accurate home appraisals and his pursuit of excellence is already defining his legacy.
Mark’s bedside manner was also one of the reasons that so many people loved him and loved working with him. He was approachable, thorough and addressed all requests with an attitude and demeanor of helpfulness. Mark was thorough, easy to speak with and gave his full attention to whomever he was dealing with. In other words, Mark made everyone feel like their needs, concerns and questions were the most important items on his to-do list. He wasn’t busily planning for the next appointment. You always had his full attention. It was clear that his people-first philosophy earned him a great deal of admiration from colleagues and peers, who all benefitted from his kind and helpful bedside manner.
Indeed, it was clear in talking with others that Mark’s accuracy and manners culminated in how others regarded him as a true professional in all he did. From effective communication to talent in his field, to a positive, supporting attitude in working with others, he exuded professionalism. He made countless lives better as a result of his work and his integrity. He delivered thorough, quality products with a smile. Mark made the lives of those who were blessed to know him that much easier and that much brighter. He made it a point to work towards reducing or preventing undue stress upon others. There’s no other way to say it. He was a consummate professional who everyone in the home financing business could learn from.
As mortgage professionals, we can especially learn from the example set by leaders like Mark and others who we come into contact with. We also have the opportunity to leave a similar legacy, as long as we remain committed to the same fundamentals. By providing accurate, quality products to our partners, to first-time homebuyers, to our refinancing clients and to our clients in their retirement years, we are uniquely positioned to make huge differences in the lives of so many people. Through our pleasant and helpful bedside manner, we have the opportunity to allow our clients and our partners to feel comfortable picking up the phone to call us with a question on a seemingly small detail. We have the opportunity to make others feel good about being thoroughly educated about their own large investment. We have the chance to make everyone we come in contact with feel like they really matter and they really are important to us.
Following in Mark’s footsteps, we all get the chance to become true professionals in our work. I don’t know about you, but that is certainly a legacy I would like to leave.
Fred Arnold, CMC is past president of the California Association of Mortgage Professionals , current Treasurer of NAMB—The Association of Mortgage Professionals, and a mortgage professional at American Family Funding, a division of American Pacific Mortgage. Fred hosts the radio show SCV Chamber and Business Spotlight on AM 1220 KHTS, as well as the televised program “Out of The Rough” on SCVTV.com, channel 20. He may be reached by phone at (661) 284-1150, ext. 109 or e-mail [email protected]