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Educating Next Gen Operations

The industry has a responsibility to recruit, train and promote

Headshot of Laura Brandao
Laura Brandao
In a lineup of businesspeople, a young woman is highlighted in the front.
As employers, we need to do a better job of providing opportunities to be exposed to the industry as a whole, and the many directions a mortgage career could take.

The mortgage industry is evolving, including the growth of the largest market share for independent brokers the industry has seen since the financial crisis. There has been an exponential increase in the mortgage broker business, with the market share more than doubling in the last two years.

But what about the operations segment of the business supporting the growth? One of the side effects of the pandemic was the noticeable need for experienced, educated processors and underwriters and other operations team members to handle the epic swell in business driven by the historic low rate environment. Unsolicited recruiting also saw a swell, as lenders mobilized to process the volume. Not a new phenomenon for operations professionals, in fact, according to Stratmor’s Compensation Connection annual study, more than 90% of lenders pay incentives to processors. Although bank/credit union lenders are less likely to have processor incentives, more than 75% of them offer incentive plans.

The average age of mortgage professionals is currently 54-59. As these professionals move closer to retirement, an enormous gap will be left when they leave the workforce. Compounding this problem is the lack of younger people interested in pursuing a career in the mortgage industry. But with a large number of operations staff reaching retirement age by 2030, who is going to process all the loans being generated?

Fortunately, some leaders in the industry are already working to address the need for operational education.

The National Association of Minority Mortgage Bankers of America is doing its part in trying to inject youth and diversity into an aging industry through its Mission 2025 campaign. Through Mission 2025, NAMMBA aims to connect 50,000 students to careers in the mortgage industry by the year 2025.

“We are launching a hyper-intensive version of Mission 2025 called the Student Challenge this month, because four million college students graduated in May and over two million of those do not have a job given the current economic environment,” explained J. Tony Thompson, CMB, NAMMBA founder and CEO, in a recent Mortgage Leadership Outlook interview with Andrew Berman. “We want to let them know that there are entry-level careers in servicing right now."

The Mortgage Collaborative provides TMCConnect to its members, an educational networking platform centered around the content and topics of the most real-time relevance to lenders.

And then there is Jackie Dunlap, of Next Generation HomeLoans. As if being a broker/owner during the current low-rate market did not keep her busy enough, Jackie seized the quarantine opportunity to start posting a “Processor Training” series on her own YouTube channel to generate interest in the profession. She answers basic questions like “What is it?” and “Can I do it from home?” and dives in to start explaining in detail what mortgage processing entails and why it may present a viable career opportunity. Straddling the line between education and entertaining with her signature “Maybe Swearing Will Help” sign, she may be on to something.

We all have a responsibility to recruit, train and promote more mortgage processors. This is not a 2020 problem, but the spotlight is shining brighter because of the increased volume straining staff and igniting hiring frenzies.

Fortunately, every year after the subprime crash provides a step in a more positive direction. Students graduating college now didn’t have their own mortgages in 2008, and don’t have any negativity associated with the industry.

Just as there are many different levels of client-facing positions, the same is true behind the scenes. As employers, we need to do a better job of providing opportunities to be exposed to the industry as a whole, and the many directions a mortgage career could take, so the youngest in our workforce can determine where they will succeed, in the best position for them. We do a fantastic job selling loans, but we don’t sell our industry well enough to attract top talent. We need to show new graduates this is a valued industry, with life-long career opportunities. And we need to train them well enough to help them progress in their careers.

Millennials comprise roughly 40% of the employment force. Taking the time to recruit, attract, train, and nurture this resource should be a priority. Many millennials looking for employment may lack “real world” work experience but are willing to learn. An effective paid training program paired with coaching and mentoring will not only help develop new hires into reliable and educated employees, it will also help greatly in employee retention.

Every industry needs a next gen, to challenge the status quo, bring fresh ideas and perspectives from which an aging industry can listen, learn and grow. It is the responsibility of every owner, lender and leader to recruit and train, beyond the loan originator path. Collectively, we need to do more to educate the next gen of operations professionals to strengthen the future of our industry, and support the families relying on us.

Close more loans, be more efficient, stay out of trouble.

Find more at Pro School
This article was originally published in the NMP Magazine August 2020 issue.
Headshot of Laura Brandao
Laura Brandao

Laura Brandao is president at American Financial Resources, Inc.

Published on
Aug 20, 2020
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