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In recent years, it has become painfully clear that the mortgage industry is in the midst of a “Recruiting War.” While some managers are targeting loan officers that have already found success, a new trend has begun to take root. Many managers have gone away from hiring loan officers who already have their own way of doing business, to hiring fresh new talent. They are hiring new loan officers they can build to become their future Top Producers.
At my company, XINNIX, we have noticed this trend and have committed ourselves to helping managers do this very thing–hire and train successful new loan officers. But where do you start? Where are the best places to find a new loan officer and how do you know they are right for the job? After that, how do you train them to be the most successful they can be? In this article, I will address these questions to provide you insights on best practices from our industry.
To start, you have to find ideal candidates. A great place to begin your search is to ask your sphere of influence. Consider your past customers, business associates and current employees. Send an email to your entire database announcing you are hiring new loan officers and will be providing training for qualified candidates. This is important because in my experience, when you explain you are hiring and training, you receive much higher quality referrals.
Another avenue to take when you are looking for candidates is to consider targeting specific professions. Our company conducted an extensive study to confirm the professions that have proven to transition quite successfully into the mortgage industry as loan officers. Just two of the many discovered are stockbrokers and real estate agents.
Stockbrokers are highly trained sales professionals and are financially astute. Their industry most often provides extensive, structured sales training including relational selling skills, contact management and database mining. Look for candidates with already well-developed client databases, which can be leveraged to jumpstart their career as a loan officer.
Real estate agents are also great candidates because they understand the other side of the mortgage transaction. Successful agents are used to working the number of hours necessary and understand the need to invest in their business. High quality candidates have little call reluctance and are skilled at networking. Most importantly, they understand the most coveted referral source, as they have been one.
Once you have found a few candidates, screening them is essential to not wasting time. Use their resume and social media, especially LinkedIn, to do your initial screening. You should be looking for criteria such as employment history and stability, earnings history, sales background, size of database, business success and personal drive. Some of this criteria is going to have to be answered on the initial phone interview.
When conducting an initial phone interview, it should take no more than 30 minutes. Have them answer questions so you can assess their skill level and motivation. Open-ended questions such as, “What do you truly excel at doing?” and “What motivates you?” can be very telling. These questions can also help you to determine if they are a good cultural fit for your organization. In addition, their phone voice is a great indicator for how they will sound speaking to your customers.
After they have passed the phone interview, the in-person interview is where you will be able to go deeper into questions and assess their sales abilities and drive for success.
Two assessments I have used throughout my career are the DriveTest and Sales Call Reluctance Assessment. The DriveTest helps determine whether candidates have the most critical personality trait for success in sales: drive. In order to do this, it tests three elements: need for achievement, competitiveness, and optimism. After these are tested, the assessment combines them into a total Drive score.
The Sales Call Reluctance Assessment reflects the barrier to prospecting, if any. With this assessment, managers don’t have to worry about spending money on salespeople who eventually decide a sales position is not for them.
Now that you have sourced, assessed and hired your new loan officer, training is your next step.
With the complexity of the mortgage industry, all potential risk must be minimized by professionally training new loan officers beyond the minimum requirements of licensing. Highly professional training instills core fundamentals, creates predictable success, and protects a company’s brand.
Training should begin in which new loan officers are assigned a qualified mentor within your company. A good mentor is vital in setting a proper example of what you expect from your loan officers. Mentors should possess attributes such as a positive attitude, strong technical skills and excellent communication skills.
Professional training in mortgage knowledge, guidelines and sales is essential for a new loan officer’s success. A successful training program should also prepare Loan Officers to expertly recommend solutions to their clients and effectively make database calls. He or she must learn how to take thoroughly complete loan applications, successfully prospect for business from referral sources, attend networking events, and operate with a completed business plan that includes clear and measurable goals.
Along with professional training, a new loan officer must go through your company training to be familiar with your LOS, products, pricing, guideline overlays, etc.
Of course, licensing is a necessary part of training new loan officers. The professional training we have been sharing should be a strong foundation for successfully passing the NMLS test.
Now that your new loan officer is trained and ready to go, you must continue to assimilate him or her into the real world. For at least the first 90 days, set expectations, continue to teach sales strategies, help with comprehensive business planning, establish accountability and review quality.
Proper assimilation will determine the ultimate success of your new loan officer. All of your sourcing, screening, interviewing, training and licensing will be completely irrelevant if your new loan officer does not get properly assimilated into the marketplace. Once these phases are complete, your new loan officer is ready to begin producing and being successful!
As trends have proven, the mortgage industry will continue to be built with new talent, however they must be carefully selected, properly trained and effectively assimilated into the workplace for the best chance of success.
Casey Cunningham is CEO of XINNIX, having co-founded the company in 2002. She has more than 26 years of diverse retail mortgage sales and leadership experience, beginning her career as a loan officer and quickly became a top producer with an annualized production of $60 million and 500 closed loans.
This article originally appeared in the May 2016 print edition of National Mortgage Professional Magazine.