“Partnership” is defined as, “An arrangement where parties agree to work together for mutual advantage.” In the residential brokered loan business, partnerships are essential since the work involved in producing the mutual product (a mortgage loan) is inherently split between brokering firms which originate, and lenders which process and underwrite. What distinguishes the best partnerships and how can those firms which broker loans find those qualities in prospective lender partners?
There are six essential components of an effective partnership:
1. Sharing of values, entrepreneurial spirit and vision
Partners must share core values, drive and expectations. When values such as honesty, integrity, professionalism and timeliness are not shared between partners, it is a strong indication that the relationship will not be successful. In the mortgage industry, the key value that must be shared is a common sense of customer service. The broker’s customer is the borrower and the lender’s client is the broker. If the lender fails to provide service that enhances the broker’s status with the borrower, then they have failed to provide their essential contribution to the relationship.
2. Complimentary skills and experience
Partners cannot do the same jobs in a partnership or no advantage of working together would be gained. Complimentary skills and experiences make the best partners. In the mortgage industry, the division of labor between brokers and lenders necessitates that each party have differing yet complimentary skills. For example, a broker must have the ability to achieve and maintain the trust of customers, while lenders must deliver on that trust through efficient use of technology and processes to produce timely loan decisions and solid availability.
3. Deliver resources
As a broker, your banker partners need to offer resources such as unique technology, marketing assistance and competitive, well-priced products.
4. Practice ethical behavior
Without exception, partners must share a commitment to ethical behavior. This means the same thing in all types of partnerships, whether in the mortgage industry or elsewhere. Each partner is responsible for “policing” themselves by establishing a culture in which unethical behavior is not tolerated and is eliminated without delay.
5. Financially stable
Nothing distracts from delivering good performance more than financial difficulties. Brokers and lenders must each be assured that their partners are financially stable and focused on the tasks at hand. We’ve all observed how our partners can behave under financial duress.
Frankly, all successful and effective partnerships are built on mutual respect. The sign that a party has respect for their partner in any business—the mortgage business included—is that they put their partner’s needs and interests first. Does the broker put together complete loan files on a consistent basis? Does the lender respond to all requests and questions from the broker within a few hours at most?
True partnership is what will dictate a successful relationship. We must remain dedicated to accepting only the best from our partners and providing the best to our partners.
Sharon Bitz is the national head of wholesale lending for WCS Lending, one of the largest privately-held mortgage banks in the U.S. that has been recognized as an Inc. 5000 honoree for the fourth consecutive year. WCS, which is licensed in 49 states, has offices in Florida, New York, California, Michigan, Maryland, Delaware, Ohio and Hawaii and generates $2 billion-plus in loans annually. She may be reached by phone at (916) 996-1620.