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As 2015 arrives, many of us will be thinking about the key areas in which we can grow our business. One of the obvious ways to grow a mortgage business is by hiring talented, motivated originators. The difficult part is knowing how to attract the particularly motivated, successful personalities; those who will drive our vision forward with energy. We know what we want, but do we know what they want and do those two worlds align?
Companies who intend to hire have an important set of criteria to which they refer throughout the recruitment and interview process. Beyond that, however, is an important step that can be the make or break quotient in the hiring formula and unfortunately, it’s often overlooked.
A company must first look inward to develop a strategy around their hiring process.
First, leadership needs to invest in an honest evaluation of their operational processes, technological systems, and company culture and really define who they are, what their strengths are, and what they have to offer. With that knowledge, define the type of originator who would best fit and then begin doing some very targeted head-hunting.
Next, a system for developing a potential originator’s trust is key. What is your message? What happens after the initial contact? What material can be sent to bolster your position and demonstrate your strengths? How often will follow up calls be made and who will be responsible to make them? How do you know if a new applicant is a good fit for your company? Is your hiring and onboarding process designed to be a seamless and pleasant transition for a new originator?
Systems and processes are just as important when it comes to hiring as they are in conducting your day to day business. For those companies with the resources, I would highly recommend partnering with an established recruitment company who can help you design and implement your system for maximum results.
On the other side, a loan officer must spend the time to really figure out who he or she is as an originator. Many times, the initial question an originator will approach a company with is, “What are your turn times?” or “What niche product would I have to sell?”, or “How are you priced?” While these are appropriate questions, there are several others that are vital to maturely and carefully making the decision to start with a new company: What type of company culture brings out the best in me? What’s my target audience and does this potential employer provide the necessary tools, resources, and product offerings I’ll need to foster growth in my area of strength? Does the leadership over-manage or under-manage? How does the support staff and marketing technology facilitate my ability to meet my production goals?
Drew Waterhouse and Eric Levin of Hammerhouse Strategic Growth Partners, provide us with some valuable insight with an annual survey conducted expressly for the purpose of … “understanding originator opinions on critical issues facing the mortgage industry and impacting their production and job performance …”
There are six core components evaluated through this survey:
3. Business Model
The conclusions arrived at with the 2014 survey indicate that we are now in an environment where lenders must convince proven producers, both existing and potential originators, that they offer the combination of benefits that will best serve them in the current environment of comprehensive compliance and regulatory restraints.
Key Retention and Recruiting Factors in 2014 were:
►Platform to build the originator’s brand in the marketplace
►Robust business development systems
►Competitive pricing model and product growth strategy
►Jumbo lending as a focus
►Infrastructure to protect originators from compliance traps that can impact licensing
As this article is being written, 2015’s survey is being compiled for release in February. Last year’s survey demonstrated that the general feeling in the industry was that we were entering a healthier market; originators were feeling more secure about lending in general and were focusing on the need for strong leadership, sound compliance processes, and successful marketing platforms.
The year 2015 promises to continue that trend and the expectation is that the results will focus further towards companies and systems that support strong relationship building with referral partners.
As a professional who provides marketing software and services to individual loan officers and to larger corporate entities, I can tell you that there is a marked difference in the level of success experienced by those with a comprehensive strategy for addressing originator concerns and those who meander through their business and marketing plans with the attitude that “as long as I’m checking the basic boxes, we’re going to be successful”.
More than ever, loan officers need the security of a company which invests in process and technology to protect them from the compliance pitfalls that now exist. Furthermore, these systems simply must facilitate marketing a strong brand and message through compliant print, email, video, and social media advertisement.
With the qualified mortgage (QM) rule implemented a year ago, volume becomes key to an originators success. A loan officer has to bring in more business to make the same living. Marketing departments all over the United States are taking on more and more of the actionable marketing load in order to leave their originators free to do what they do best—create and maintain relationships and bring in business. Part of the challenge marketing departments face is consistently deploying marketing material that is focused, interesting, compliant, and most of all, effective.
The only thing that can make this possible on a large scale is a system built specifically to execute marketing tasks on behalf of the originator. Automated, set-it-and-forget-it campaigns are vital to the consistent flow of valuable content. If an originator can rest in the fact that their marketing is being done and is working, they can really focus their energy on building relationships with referral partners and the overall client experience.
Additionally, think of the value that automatic campaigns could be to your recruitment process. It’s a perfect way to introduce your marketing platform and the quality and variety of your products. Design an entire line of marketing material focused on recruitment and strengthen your hiring position by delivering real results.
Selling can be a very “rinse and repeat” venture and has the danger of becoming boring or redundant to both your sales force and your clients. If you do not have a plan in place to keep your product offerings fresh and current, your message will stagnate as will interest from your potential client base. As a company, make sure that you provide new financing opportunities to give both your originators and clients something to get excited about. If you don’t remain open to the corporate discomfort of adding new products to your portfolio, you might be missing out on a valuable market segment. Your potential hires will want to know that this is as important to you as it is to them.
While I’ve touched on several specific things that you can do to increase your chances of attracting top talent, I want to emphasize the importance of knowing how to identify the right originator for your company. You may have a brilliant recruitment system that is in place and working well for you, but if you’re not approaching each individual with the intention of discovering who they are in a holistic way and then requiring that there be alignment with what you can deliver as an employer, you may hire a qualified individual who is actually so far out of synch with your company culture and process that ultimately, you both end up frustrated, unfulfilled, and unsuccessful. If you’d like to learn more about the model-matching process, please visit www.teamhammerhouse.com.
May 2015 be a year of resounding success for you and your team!
Brent Emler is director of sales and marketing at Velma.com, a customizable marketing software provider exclusive to the mortgage industry. He may be reached by e-mail at [email protected].
This article originally appeared in the January 2015 print edition of National Mortgage Professional Magazine.