"Account executives must not be afraid. They must be experts in their company offering and in communicating expectations. Account executives must find creative ways to set themselves apart."
While I was executive vice president at American Brokers Conduit (ABC), I wrote a piece for our account executives called "Where We Win." The intention was to show them all the facets of ABC that made it competitive. It was generally focused on products and their unique selling points. In today's market, it seems like we all need a "Where We Win" piece. This includes lenders, in defining and communicating how they do business; account executives, in what value they bring to the process; and loan officers.
Can anyone believe that we are still talking about lost faxes in 2008? When I first entered the wholesale side of the business in 1993, lost faxes were one of those problems that we all seemed to spend hours on. We thought of everythinghaving them faxed to a central number, or to each individual, or hiring someone to just collect them. Unbelievably, I hear the same issues and the same old broker complaint today; although today, faxes are actually being sent electronically.
Where do we win?
With the major banks being at the forefront of originations, we need to take valuable lessons from the big mortgage bankers that dominated our industry over the last few years. Take a look at their platforms of valuing technology and bringing ease of use to the originator. They actually increased their own productivity and profitability by improving their customers' experience through technology. The pull through, loans per employee and customer satisfaction were all improved dramatically, not to mention the ability to provide reporting used to measure success as well as communicate and manage teams to exceed expectations.
The account executives certainly have their own set of challenges. From the ever-changing product set, to the performance standards that are critical to the future, to the feeling of being unsuccessful relative to the heydays of the last few years, life is much more demanding.
Where do we win?
Account executives must not be afraid. They must be experts in their company offering and in communicating expectations. Account executives must find creative ways to set themselves apart. They must ask themselves if they know how to help their brokers market their past clients and how to bring value to their day by motivating them to get educated. They must learn to provide their expertise in a tangible way, while still getting deals that are right for their program. Account executives must understand that these skills make them more relevant and will contribute to their success throughout any market cycle. The key to success is simple: it is within the account executive himself!
If we think about those in our industry, it's the loan officer that has the best chance of surviving. Homeownership is part of the American foundation. It is inherent in our way of thinking and a dream for many people. As our children graduate college and begin down their own paths, they probably have the goals of starting a family and owning a home. In my own family of five daughters, each of them recognizes that paying rent is wasted finances. Our children may not all grow up and start a family right away, but they recognize that investing in their future is critical to their financial success.
Where do we win?
Loan officers must learn how to take a complete application. Its a lost art in today's world. They must learn how to qualify borrowers properly by talking with them about their short- and long-term goals. Understand and be the expert of your products and those tools that make presenting your programs the most professional. Loan officers should partner with those that can provide education, networking opportunities and tools that will make them better at what they do. They should expect communication from their lenders and work together to build their professionalism. Loan officers are the key to making our industry respected again. Let's show them the true value we bring to our clients and to one of our country's most important privileges, homeownership.
As you can see, we all have a "Where We Win" proposition to focus on. Whether it is education to enhance our professionalism, technology tools to make our world more cost efficient, or pride to take our industry back to the respected place it deserves, we all have a stake in winning.
Lisa Schreiber is currently a mortgage consultant and speaker at LSK Consultants. She was formerly executive vice president at American Brokers Conduit and regional vice president at Bank of America. She can be reached at (540) 822-9710 or e-mail [email protected].