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Dear Eric: I read your article in National Mortgage Professional Magazine, and I’m a 23-year-old loan originator who has been in the business for about a year now. I had been working to get my license and working in operations to observe what is going on in the operations side of the business. Now, I’m doing full-time sales and was wondering if you had any advice for a young person like myself getting into the business?
—Sean T. Bogue, Ronkonkoma, N.Y.
You are on the right track. My number one piece of advice is to learn, learn and learn some more. Be like a sponge and absorb all of the knowledge you can, from wherever you can. There are two major aspects to being a successful loan officer and a third when you are ready to open your own company. The first is sales and the other is technical knowledge of your product. Later, you will need to learn how to manage and operate and a business.
I credit my own sales ability to Zig Ziglar's Secrets of Closing the Sale. This was my sales Bible. Read it, learn it, memorize it and sleep with a copy of it under your pillow. In fact, I highly recommend all of his books. More than anything, this book transformed me from a meek accounting nerd to a top producing salesman. Spoiler alert: The secret is to just be a good person.
The second thing you will need is an encyclopedic knowledge of your product, which is mortgages. Befriend other LOs in the office and share war stories on tough loans. Talk to account reps about weird scenarios you get and the ones they have gotten. Read their product Web site and learn every ratio, LTV and guideline on ever type of loan. Read every word of every disclosure. This is called “paying tuition.” Believe me, it is better than the other type of “paying tuition” which is where you screw up a deal and lose a commission. It is much cheaper to hear about how another LO screwed up and lost his commission than losing your own. Learn to process, lock and do every job in the office. Try to not delegate things, but do them yourself. That is how you learn. You can delegate only after you know everything there is to know about that job.
Soon you will have arrived at the top of your field, and ask yourself, “What is next?” That is the time when you will start thinking about opening your own shop. It doesn’t have to be big or glamorous, but you will proudly be able to say it is your own. Many people are happy to achieve this and remain a one man shop, but if you have the drive and ability, the next step is to start hiring new LOs.
If you were smart and did what I told you, you should have also “absorbed” the way your previous mortgage shop was run. You will have identified the things that were right and the things you thought just didn’t make sense. Now that you own the place, you can do it your way. Hopefully, that is a better way.
My background was in accounting and business, so that was the easy part for me. Not everyone has that type of experience. My advice is the play to strengths and staff your weaknesses. You might need to hire in the beginning a bookkeeper/office manager/assistant/everything-else-you-don’t-know how-to-do. You will make less money this way, but that is your own fault for not having learned it.
Here is the deal. I will send you The Mortgage Press article I wrote in July 2011, “This Is My Story and I am Sticking With It.” In it, you will find the exact formula on how to become rich and successful in the mortgage industry. Basically, exactly what I did. In addition, I will mentor you, respond to your calls and e-mails and help you on your way. For this, I will require two things from you. Firstly, you will let me publish your questions and my answers so that EVERYONE can benefit from your education as time goes on. Secondly, and most important, you promise, that when you are rich and successful, you will be willing to take the time and make the effort to help the next 23-year-old new LO just starting out in the business. In this way, we continue the chain of helpfulness and compassion to make the world a better place.
If you want the abbreviated version, here it is … Just be a good person and the wealth and happiness will flow to you. If you don’t agree, I am going to use your question and my answer anyway next month for my article, but I will just change your name. It is hard coming up with new ideas to write about every month. You will see.
Eric Weinstein worked in banking, on the commercial real estate side until 1991, when he fell in love with residential lending. In 1995, he started a small mortgage company in his basement called Carteret Mortgage Corporation, which in 2003, grew to one of the largest mortgage broker companies in the United States. Eric is semi-retired, doing mortgages by referral only. He may be reached by phone at (703) 505-8692 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared in the October 2015 print edition of National Mortgage Professional Magazine.