High Heels In High Places

Trailblazer Linda McCoy educates and takes care of her community in innovative ways

Headshot of Laura Brandao
Laura Brandao
Linda McCoy

So you decided to remain a broker for all these years instead of moving up levels in the business? Tell us about that decision.

LM: I have a passion for helping people with their home financing options. It really comes down to that. When I can stay on the ground, in the neighborhood, and interact with the clients who come to us for assistance, it is exactly where I want to be. I think everyone deserves a home if they are willing to work for it, and I love helping them get there. I am always searching for more ways to help everyone who walks through my door. I mostly broker but I have a small warehouse line for certain products. I own Mortgage Team 1, Inc. in Mobile, and I get great satisfaction knowing that many families are happy homeowners because I took the extra time to help them get there.

Linda McCoy award
Linda McCoy receives her NAMB Mortgage Professional of the Year award.

I am the president of NAMB, the National Association of Mortgage Brokers in the U.S. this year. It is a great honor to be a part of an association that has been around for almost 50 years helping me to stay in business. I guess in a way, I have moved on up in my profession. I have also been president of the Alabama Mortgage Professional Association, received the Rising Star Award from the Women’s Business Center here in Mobile, and I have been a president of BNI, Business Network Incorporated, and received many Industry Awards. My most coveted awards were NAMB’s Mortgage Professional of the Year Award in 2018/2019 and the President’s Award in 2020/2021. I searched and found an association that had the education that I needed to best help my clients. I studied and got certifications offered by NAMB so that I could set myself apart from other originators by offering professional advice to my clients.

That direct connection with people is vitally important to me and gives me the satisfaction of knowing I am making a difference in people’s lives on a personal level. Now, today I am honored to be one of the ladies selected for the 2021 Women With Vision Award. I cannot think of an award that could make me feel as fulfilled as this one, to stand with so many women leaders who have such strong visions for our women’s future.

Can you tell us about what High Heels in High Places is and where the idea to start the group came from?

LM: As strange as it may seem, the idea came to me when I was watching a movie over 30 years ago. A woman was a corporate success and had made it to the top, but along the way, she lost the opportunity to connect with people and help them. Through the years, I have had dreams about starting a group and calling it High Heels in High Places. Then I met with you, Laura Brandao and Ginger Bell in California at Summer CAMP and the idea came flooding back to me. I told you guys my idea about mentoring women to get to the top and you loved it. Within minutes, it was formed and became a reality.

I wanted to help mentor women in the industry and help them to succeed and climb as high as they want to go. When I attend events in our business, I am always finding ladies who want leadership, guidance, and support as they further their careers.

Linda McCoy at NAMB Gatsby Party
Linda McCoy attends the NAMB Gatsby Party.

We started by having a woman’s panel at NAMB National with five ladies who I call my founding members. These ladies have already made it to the top and we are now having monthly meetings mentoring women. We are working to ignite their passion for this industry and help them to keep moving forward into rewarding and successful careers. We ask guest speakers to attend and offer all the insight and information we can find that will help our members keep working their way up the ladder. We now have over 100 members.

What advice would you give to young women coming into our industry today?

LM: I want them to know that this is an industry about helping people. If that is what they are passionate about, this is the business they should be in. I remember, early on, there were not that many women working in high places in the mortgage Industry.

I would go to the conferences and there might be one in 10 people who were women. I think that is changing now. With the encouragement of groups like High Heels in High Places, we are letting women know that they have the same opportunities as men if they want to reach out and take them.

I think the most important thing I would like them to know is that you need to keep yourself grounded and your mindset on the fact that this business is about helping clients reach their financial dreams and if that is something you find rewarding and fulfilling, then this is the industry for you and the sky is the limit.

Please tell us a bit about your leadership and management approach?

LM: I am always going to lead like a woman. By that, I mean, I lead with a more nurturing style, or a soft touch, if you like.

Women are all about communication and making those around them feel appreciated and even loved. I want employees to feel cared for and valued for who they are and what they do every day.

I want the people who work for me to feel that this is more than just a job. They should feel that it is a beneficial and important part of their life and who they are and that they are an important part of what we do every day. I want people to put their heart and soul into their role and the way to get that from employees is to value them and let them know you do.

Can you give us your view on the importance of sharing your voice with others in business and in life?

LM: Speaking up is so important, especially for women in the business world. We need to be heard and the only way to do that is to step forward and let the room know that you are there and tell them what you think.

Linda McCoy presentation

The people you are communicating with need to listen and understand that at least half of their clientele are likely women. That makes a woman’s point of view extremely important to the success of the organization. Ignoring women at the table or refusing to listen is ultimately going to be detrimental to the bottom line.

Also, be true to the fact that you are a woman and speak in your own voice. There may be a gentler tone to a woman’s voice but it in no way lessens the value of what she has to say. Trying to yell louder to compete with male voices won’t make what you have to say any more compelling, but it may just lessen the impact for women coming along behind you in the business.

What is your view on how our industry and the market are shifting today? How do you see us being able to help new home buyers coming into this market?

LM: The market is constantly changing, and today’s market is extremely challenging for home buyers and for our industry in kind. I am of the belief that educating people about home buying through programs and courses will be a key component of our industry going forward.

There is a large group of people who want to be homebuyers but are underserved in the current structure. I want that to change so we are participating in committees and panels to discuss these issues and find solutions for them.

There are so many lower and medium-income earners who are being left out of this market because of the lower supply and high demand. I want to help even that playing field a bit and help those who are being shut out by bidding wars and skyrocketing property prices.

One of the ways I want to help is through education. We can teach people to spot value, bid wisely, and work the system in such a way that they can succeed in reaching that dream of homeownership. Preparing young people before they get into the buying market is important too. If they are ready and have learned the basics, they will be more likely to navigate the market more successfully.

I believe women are uniquely qualified to work in this industry. We have a natural desire to help people and that is one of the keys to a successful career in mortgages. With great training, support, and encouragement, I see us just getting better and better as the years go on.

Changing the topic, what do you like to do outside of work?

Linda McCoy's garden
Linda McCoy's garden.

LM: I love gardening and growing flowers, but we have four grandchildren. They keep us very busy in our off hours. Cooper and Walker are into baseball, basketball, football, and archery. Riley Cate plays basketball, volleyball and is a fishing tournament winner. Jackson plays tennis on the varsity team even though he is in junior high, and he is a very talented young artist. Naturally, they are all the smartest kids I know.

We also do a family Survivor night where we get together for supper and then watch Survivor together as a family. It is a lot of fun. Our daughter, Jamie works with me, so I see her every day, but we still love our private family time outside of the office.

Can you please give our readers some advice on how to balance work and family life when you have family working with you? What have you learned in your career on this subject?

LM: You must be able to separate family and business life for this to work successfully. There will always be times when work will intrude but they need to be kept to a minimum. When we walk into my daughter’s house on family night, it is family night, and we try not to talk shop.

Work is important and getting our job done for our clients is something we all want. But sometimes making the family business balance work means putting down the phones and just connecting as a family, without the layer of daily work included.

We are lucky to see each other every day because we work together but it must be balanced, and it must be separated sometimes so the family connection doesn’t suffer, and we have our private time as well.

My husband, Tiffany and I just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary and we went on a small vacation to Key West. I made a point of not picking up my phone to check on the office because I can trust the people there to handle whatever arises and my husband was my priority that week.

Linda, you and your husband have worked together for many years. How do you make that a successful relationship in work and in life? What advice would you give couples in a similar situation?

LM: It sounds trite but it is very true — never go to bed mad. There was one night I remember we had to stay up until 6 a.m. talking and by the time we got done, I couldn’t even remember what I was mad about in the first place.

You must give and receive in a relationship like this. We work and play together and have a common goal which is so important. We work at our business and at our relationship and it is hard work but pays off.

Every night when we get home, we play dominos or another game and just let the day slide off. It is our time together and it lets us unwind and enjoy each other’s company and some friendly competition.

We also have lunch together every day. It’s a little bit of time to connect in the middle of a busy day and check-in with each other. It’s those bits of time that are important and I miss them if they don’t occur. That will happen occasionally. Life and work sometimes get in the way. But making the effort to do these things consistently makes the difference.

The best piece of advice I can give is to make time for each other and never take those moments for granted.

Linda McCoy and husband Tiffany
Linda McCoy and husband Tiffany at Derby Day.

What do you think our industry and our clients’ needs will look like in 2030?

LM: The only thing that is ever constant is change. That said, we are always going to need brokers and no matter how much technology changes the way we do business, there will never be a time when people are not an important part of our industry.

We will always have clients coming to us, needing help with navigating the system and asking us to guide them through the process to achieve their dream. No matter how efficient technology becomes, the human touch and connection part of our business will not ever completely disappear.

I believe this is because people innately need other people. A completely technical process with something so life-changing and important, cannot be done solely by tapping a keyboard.

Our procedures will alter as technology advances, but the smile and the handshake will never go out of style.

Headshot of Laura Brandao
Laura Brandao

Laura Brandao is president at American Financial Resources, Inc.

This article was originally published in the Mortgage Women Magazine July 2022 issue.
Published on
Jul 06, 2022
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