Let’s be honest … how many of us crammed in our busy holiday and end-of-year schedules time to complete a couple, a few, or all of our required continuing education (CE) hours in December? (FYI: The SAFE Act mandates that state-licensed mortgage loan originators complete eight hours of NMLS-approved education each year by Dec. 31 to keep their license current and, thus, be able to continue originating loans.)
After fulfilling what some believe to be boring and repetitive CE drudgery, how many of us then found ourselves thirsting for more knowledge, a different perspective, a new approach—particularly at the end of the year when we tend to reflect on the state of our careers and where we want to take them in the New Year.
That’s where a strong personal and professional development program comes in. Mortgage employers across the United States have become more focused than ever on cultivating a culture that encourages personal growth as well as professional growth.
How can you grow personally?
Personal growth can take many forms, whether building a new skill, pursuing a passion, improving physical and mental well-being, allocating more time for volunteer service, or making some sort of change in day-to-day behaviors. Personal development is not one-size-fits-all; it must be driven by you and your interests.
Creating a personal growth plan is a great place to start. To facilitate this process, utilize any analytical and assessment tools your company may offer to help define your purpose and passion, identify your strengths, establish a solid personal vision, and set goals with concrete action plans. Two resources that Academy Mortgage uses with team members are the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
and CliftonStrengths Assessment
, both of which lead to the self-discovery of natural characteristics, strengths, and talents essential to achieving our potential.
A driving force in personal growth is when a manager or mentor takes the time to really get to know an employee’s capabilities and goals and then works with them one-on-one to make their dreams a reality. This growth process also involves setting realistic milestones to hit along the way. Real growth doesn’t happen overnight, but real growth does happen when a person makes a genuine investment in helping another person grow. Of course, it’s a two-way street; for growth to be sustainable, we must commit to investing in ourselves.
How can you grow professionally?
Occupational behavior study after study shows that if you are happier in and living your personal life with greater purpose, inevitably you will be more engaged and passionate about advancing your career.
Professional development initiatives often come in the form of training. Make no mistake … there is a definite need for formal training covering a range of topics in the workforce. But a strong professional development program goes deeper than a one-hour session that only scratches the surface.
Make a plan to achieve your professional goals that complements your personal growth plan. As you’ve heard time and time again, we are much more likely to reach our goals if we write them down to begin with. There are numerous job aids available, either from your employer or online, to assist you with time-blocking and setting daily/weekly/monthly production milestones, not to mention playbooks on how to effectively use the CRM, technology, and marketing tools at your disposal to build your pipeline.
Take advantage of any incentives your employer may offers, especially opportunities to attend industry courses, workshops, or conventions. If your company has a training program geared specifically toward increasing your business, join it.
For some, registering for a new course or development program is outside their comfort zone. It’s true that participating in a solid program designed to advance your career may be time-consuming, require travel, have homework, etc., but it’s all worth it in the end. The case-based learning modules, forums, field workshops, and experiential team projects included in the curriculum plant and nurture the seeds for significant professional and personal growth.
Academy Mortgage offers a program to develop the mortgage leaders of tomorrow. The Leadership Academy requires a firm 12-month commitment, but the lessons learned and experience gained last a lifetime. Three classes of strong future leaders have participated in the program, which is designed to help improve how they personally and professionally influence and effectively lead people and teams. Many graduates move on to assume advisory and mentoring roles in the company.
Don’t underestimate the power of mentoring. Connect with the leaders and top producers in your company. With all of the technology at our fingertips today, you don’t even need to schedule a time to meet face to face! Ask your questions and get advice over social media or via text. You can also turn to the suggestions and recommendations of experts and thought leaders outside of the mortgage industry, representing a variety of backgrounds and disciplines.
More importantly, recruit an accountability partner to hold you to your goals, personal and professional. This could be your spouse, friend, colleague, or manager. Don’t hesitate to ask your manager to step into this role. A good manager knows the benefits that come—for all—from supporting, coaching, motivating, and inspiring you to achieve both your personal and professional goals.
Whether you are a rookie loan officer or a 12-time “President’s Club” pro, there is always room to grow both personally and professionally.
Patrick Welberg is a senior vice president on the sales leadership team at Academy Mortgage, one of the top independent purchase lenders in the United States as ranked by CoreLogic. The sales leadership team oversees all sales, recruiting, market expansion, and business development. Patrick is an industry veteran, with more than 23 years of experience in the mortgage business. Patrick may be reached by e-mail at [email protected], or visit Join.AcademyMortgage.com for more information.
This sponsored editorial originally appeared in the January 2020 print edition of National Mortgage Professional Magazine.