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Know Your Worth … Is the Grass Greener?

Shachar Rand
Mar 10, 2020
Photo credit: Getty Images/leolintang

Mortgage companies are growing these days. From brick-and-mortar to digital lenders, there are numerous places a mortgage professional can work at. In fact, the mortgage sector is the largest part of the lending industry in the United States, valued at approximately $9.2 trillion. Recruiters are upping their game, with strong pitches and constant bombardment. The question is still “is the grass greener on the other side?”
 
Shachar Rand is chief business development officer for Jet Direct MortgageThe sheer presence of a large pool of companies doesn’t mean you should work for absolutely anyone. Each person has their own unique requirement, and only a handful of companies will be able to meet your needs.
 
So, how do you find the right mortgage company to work for? In this article, we’ll look at some of the factors you need to consider before you switch companies in mortgage industry.
 
A big brand name that has a solid history and always receives hundreds of applicants. You would get to associate with a huge brand, work in a very corporate environment, service customers who generally have great FICO scores. These companies have very structured daily and weekly schedules. The compensation tends to be less with these companies; however, they may offer more attractive benefits.
 
The mid-sized mortgage company offers mortgage originators a wider job scope and greater entrepreneurial opportunity. These companies have some name recognition and have a larger pool of products to service more clients. Mid-sized lenders differentiate themselves by having user-friendly marketing departments and accessible underwriting. They usually pay more, and you tend to have greater flexibility to make strategic decisions related to your business and make a difference to the company’s future.
 
In addition to compensation, you also need to consider the benefits. Factors like leave policy, sick leave, health savings account contributions, insurance, tuition reimbursement, pension, 401(K), profit sharing, company car/cellphone, and so on are a few important perks you can check out.
 
Banks, mortgage lenders and even mortgage brokers for the most part all have very similar products, systems and pricing. The differences from company to company vary depending on size and extras. The main thing that’s really different in all companies is how much does upper management value you! Even more important does that equal the true self-evaluation you give yourself.
 
As a professional in the mortgage industry, you’ll have a particular idea about the career path you wish to forge in the industry. A key factor here is true self-evaluation … it is the hardest thing for most people to really figure out. Once you figure that out, that’s when you need to match it up to the right company for you. Remember, every company will view your value differently.
 
Be brutally honest with yourself! List all the good things about yourself, and then list all of your shortcomings. The key is finding a company that can improve your shortcomings, while allowing you to show off your skills. Also, remember if you only handle jumbo loans, a mortgage banker will view your value much different than a bank that has a wealth management division. If most of your business is FHA, VA or conventional loans, a mortgage banker might value you at higher worth. Similarly, a smaller company might put higher value on you if you do one to two loans per month, where a larger firm might not know your name unless you do five or more loans. Try to spend time getting to know the key players you will be working with. It shouldn’t be all about business. Meet over a meal, spend time understanding how upper management thinks. These things will help you understand how they value their employees.
 
In terms of attrition rate … while attrition of 10 percent is acceptable in a mortgage company, anything higher can be alarming. A high attrition rate could be indicative of a toxic company. It could also indicate:
 
►Poor hiring processes which lead to “zero fit” between the candidate and the job.
►Limited operational resources and employee support.
►Very low growth opportunities.
►Poor leadership and team mismanagement.
►Lack of transparency.
►Zero employee engagement.
 
This is why it’s very important for applicants to also consider the attrition and retention rate of the company. You don’t want to join a company which you may be forced to leave in just a few months. It may affect your future job prospects. How a mortgage company treats its employees indicates whether it will give you the dignity, respect and opportunities that commiserate with your role and experience. Does the company encourage out-of-the-box thinkers? Is the company rife with toxic politics? Do managers resort to coercion, unjustified pay cuts and other wrong practices to discipline employees? What type of leadership style do they have–autocratic, democratic or transformational? Have there been any cases of sexual or mental harassment in the company? These are some questions you can ask.
 
A mortgage company may offer all the benefits, facilities and perks you could possibly want. Yet, if you personally don’t feel a “cultural fit” with it, you may resent your time at that company. Some of the criteria you need to consider for a culture fit are:
 
►Degree of freedom versus centralization in decision-making at the company.
►Level of formality between juniors and seniors–open-door vs. closed-door policy.
►Language and style of communication (explicit or implicit).
►Daily work scheduling and common office practices.
►Level of cooperation and competition in the company.
►Company’s treatment of its stakeholders.
►The morality of the company–what is the company’s stance on honesty and transparency.
►Stories and legends … how the company has dealt with issues in the past and whether it matches your perceptions or not.
 
Apart from a cultural fit, you also need to consider the strategic fit with the company. What this means is, you should ask yourself whether you both have the same professional goals or not.
 
►Does the company have the same/similar dream as you?
►Does the leadership think the way you do?
►Are you mutually compatible, and can you benefit each other?
►Will you be able to align with the company’s future plans and strategies?
►Will you be able to make a difference to the future of the mortgage company?
 
Every mortgage job applicant joins a company with the intention of growing in it. Before taking the step to switch jobs, check if the company you’re considering can offer you a good career path or not. Does the company have a massive hierarchy with numerous roles? Is there scope for mobility within the company? Will the company offer you adequate training and opportunities to reach new roles? How frequent is the performance appraisal cycle? What are your prospects if you move out of this company in the future? Seeking answers to these questions will help you make an informed decision.
 
One of the most important things to ask in deciding “is the grass greener,” is “What’s my worth and do they know my value?” Understanding upper management at the company is vital to determine if the value you bring will be heard.
Don’t rush to judgment. Recruiters are supposed to get you excited about a company. They often don’t really know what the company is about. Ask the recruiter if they have spent time with upper management. Do they really know the culture of the company or just using talking points?
 
Whatever you use to make your decision, remember that most people stay longer at a company that values them. If you are valued where you are it might be better to solve some of the issues that are causing you to look, then to make a switch.

Shachar Rand is chief business development officer for Jet Direct Mortgage. He may be reached by e-mail at [email protected].

This article originally appeared in the January 2020 print edition of National Mortgage Professional Magazine.

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