Jeff Van Note is a leading financial expert in the New York area, with a decade-plus of experience in the mortgage industry. He prides himself on getting to the closing table within 30 days, as well as driving new business opportunities via innovative services. Van Note is also a recognized leader in the realm of customer service.
Covering a variety of topics, Van Note was keen to shed some light on common issues that could affect businesses, as well ways to drive business in a difficult economy. Despite his youth, Van Note’s experience has been varied and has made him a top-earner for a good portion of his career in the mortgage industry. We chatted a bit about operations in this final entry in our “Navigating the Origination Obstacle Course” series.
Jeff wants to hear what obstacles you have overcome or are facing. Contact Jeff at (914) 486-0212 or e-mail [email protected]
Do you have an assistant?
No. I don’t believe in having an assistant. I believe in having a strong processor. If you have a strong processor, it should make you 100 percent more efficient. Why add another piece of the puzzle? Keep it the originator, the processor and the underwriter. Remove the assistant from the equation. If you’re doing 100 deals a month, you might need an assistant. If my dad could process 400 deals a month back in the 1980s without e-mail or an assistant, you can do it today. People have become lazy, that’s why they hire an assistant. You shouldn’t need an assistant unless you’re doing 100 deals a month.
People use an assistant for marketing and scheduling, too.
In a perfect system, you have someone who handles your marketing, sure. They date and follow things up. But, it’s not a perfect system. If you’re good at what you do, you can handle that stuff on your own. Some originators are fake, they cannot originate or process, and they don’t know the guidelines, so that person might need an assistant to offset their lack of knowledge. Everyone has weaknesses. I have weaknesses. It’s all about handling weaknesses. Just because you are not an expert in something doesn’t mean you cannot or should not do it.
Do you think that people should be working on turning weaknesses into strengths?
I believe people should focus on their strengths. I’m not great with paperwork or calling clients. Those two aspects are just not my strengths. In fact, they slow me down. A processor can do that, though. That’s their job. They get their percentage for it. Properly package the file and pass it to the processor. Focus on your strengths.
There’s only so much you can do on a daily basis. If you originate 100 deals, you are going to close 60. I’m more valuable as an originator than anything else. Some people don’t have that mentality.
Talk about support staff and hiring.
You need someone who is passionate about their work … someone willing to stay past quitting time because they want to. You need someone who is not confrontational and does not have an ego. You need someone who is active with the pipeline.
How can you apply systems to the mortgage banking process to make deals flow better?
I think technology allows for that. I can tell you everything about the pipeline I mentioned before. Every single file … I know where everything is. Systems are put into place for a reason. You cannot teach an old dog new tricks, but you can teach a new dog old tricks. You have to learn your systems and maximize what works best for you.
Every deal is different. Ideally, have a deal done within 30 days. You can only move so fast with so many people involved. There are only so many moving parts. I can close a deal in 10 days if I needed to. Every deal is unique. I used to close deals in four days when I started out. Take a deal on a Thursday, close it on Tuesday.
Talk a bit about operational aspects.
I think communication is key. Don’t be afraid of delivering bad news. If you cannot do something, tell your superior you cannot do it so that you can inevitably learn to. Don’t put it off and then, at the last minute, leave a surprise. No one likes surprises. The longer you let bad news sit, the more emotions get involved. It shouldn’t be an issue.
The key is to find a resolution and figure out how to fix it. This industry lacks a lot of “what’s the solution,” but it’s keen to highlight the problem.
Robert Ottone is senior editor at National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by phone at (516) 409-5555, ext. 314 or e-mail [email protected]