I want to tell a little story that I believe most of you can relate with that are in the mortgage industry. It’s a personal story about when things changed in our industry and what I chose to do about it. The purpose of this story is to uncover the importance in being part of a trade association and the all too often question asked, “Why?” We are facing historic times in our industry and understanding how association membership improves your business and the consumer experience is very important.
It was the tail end of 2009, and we were just getting through the largest financial meltdown many of us are all too familiar with, and will likely never again witness in our lifetime. The level of economic impact and regulatory response, as a result, was inevitable. It was clear that things were going to change and change had already begun. While at this time, I felt that I was somewhat well-informed and had a successful business, I really started to pay closer attention.
The primary thought in my mind was if the aftermath of regulatory changes would be created by factual data and occurrences or just general blanket assumptions. Equally important was the face of our industry to the general public. Where do our regulators, legislators and consumers get their information from? We now have an opportunity to improve the future of our industry and correct the clear issues that could not continue, but how do we influence the decision-makers and keep abreast on the most recent proposals and changes we face? Small or large, every change will impact the operations and future for all mortgage professionals.
One day, the light went on in my head when I was sitting at my desk. It was me. I am one that needs my voice heard. I am the one who must do my part to step up and get involved. After all, this is my career and shouldn’t I treat it as such? Our industry is finally cutting the fat and this is a huge opportunity to be part of shaping our future. While I had been a member of our state association for some time, I had never really put much thought into it or really paid attention until now. This is our industry and our association. This is not an association for the few, and we must shape this together.
In early 2010, I began diving into our state trade association. I went to meetings and got involved. Shortly thereafter, my passion led me to a leadership position as president of my state association in Oregon. A lot of invested time, meetings, travel, and a few years later, I can tell you this was the best decision I have ever made for my career and I am now on the 2013 board of directors with NAMB—The Association of Mortgage Professionals. Even with some of the expenses and lost time on production, the outcome and experience is unmatched in revenue. Being in the direct line of everything we face and networking with educated and experienced colleagues from around the nation is priceless.
Key points and benefits on joining our trade association:
►As of 2009, there are more than 7,800 associations, professional societies, and labor unions.
►The mortgage industry conducts one of the most important financial transactions in a consumer’s life, but has one of the lowest rates of membership as it pertains to the number of licensed professionals.
►One of the biggest advantages of association membership is networking and camaraderie.
►Some estimates claim approximately 85 percent of all business failures occur in firms that are not members of their trade association.
►A trade association not only lets you know what is going on in the industry, but shows you how you can be part of it and make a difference.
►Opportunities to preside in leadership roles within associations; subscriptions to newsletters and magazines; access to seminars, conferences and association events; and access to members-only offers, among many others.
►Education and experience to more accurately communicate with business partners and the consumers you serve, building more credentials and respect.
►Associations also extend various educational, training, licensure and certification opportunities to its members.
►Membership in trade associations not only benefits employees of your company, but it also projects a positive image of your firm to your customers. Membership in associations shows a business’ initiative, its engagement in a particular trade and its commitment to staying abreast of current developments in the market.
►To influence Congressional leaders and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to improve the Dodd-Frank Act and avoid unintended consequences.
►To reap the benefits of membership, you must also make an investment of time and effort in association activities and become involved.
►You simply get out what you put in.
From one colleague to another, I ask you to join or renew in your trade association. I ask you without any financial or special interests that most experience when it comes to a “pitch.” I ask you because it improves our industry by having a larger voice and footprint and it’s our responsibility together. If you feel this is your career, than join. If this is just a job, than don’t. If you are an originator, manager or owner, join your state trade association. If you are part of a multi-state licensed or larger firm, consider joining as a corporate member or directly with NAMB—The Association of Mortgage Professionals.
I understand that there are other trade associations out there. I am even a member of some of them also. I have personally seen what NAMB has done in recent years and the grassroots efforts made to improve the future of this industry. I also understand that they represent delegates from all states and carry extremely affordable dues. Very few seem to understand why they should already be thankful and realize that although they were not supporting their industry in recent years, their industry trade group was supporting them.
So instead of asking “Why,” ask “How?” Instead of making assumptions or invalid complaints from the past, pay attention and get involved. Invest in your career. Our future depends on realizing we are responsible for it. Having a strong trade association requires greater numbers and I cannot think of a more important industry in the Unites States where this would apply.
Andy W. Harris, CRMS is president and owner of Lake Oswego, Ore.-based Vantage Mortgage Group Inc. and 2010-2011 president of the Oregon Association of Mortgage Professionals. He may be reached by phone at (877) 496-0431 or e-mail [email protected]
or visit VantageMortgageGroup.com.