How To Attract Wealthy Clients

As the rich get richer, so do their originators

Katie Jensen
Katie Jensen
How To Attract Wealthy Clients

The catch, though, is that it can be difficult to earn their business. Luckily, there are experts who can provide some advice on earning their trust and insight on what it’s like working with these clients.

The Privilege To Not Worry

In the past two years, Jeffrey Feldman, vice president and producing sales manager for Rhode Island-based Citizens Bank, said he has closed $420 million in residential volume with 330 units, bringing his average loan amount to just under $1.3 million. The majority of clients are self-employed and have at least $1 million in liquid assets.

“I believe that they do have an advantage on multiple levels,” said Feldman. “They have the ability to waive their mortgage contingency and feel comfortable in order to compete against other mortgage contingent offers.”

Feldman, as well as Mark Dodson, founder of Dodson Capital LLC and Mortgage Capital Advisors, and Cindy Tansin, senior mortgage advisor of HouseAmerica Financial, built a network of wealthy clients by working at a bank. Feldman transitioned from a mortgage broker to a mortgage banker in 2010 and took a position at Chase, working out of the Chrysler building in New York City. That’s when he got his first taste of working with high net-worth individuals.

Jeffrey Feldman, vice president, Citizens Bank

Another factor is that they do not have qualification issues with the higher rates where the majority of middle-class families can no longer qualify for the home they were looking at last year based on the new interest rates and income ratios.”

Experts in this niche agree that working with high net-worth borrowers can make the process easier in most cases, and it brings in greater commissions. However, earning their business in the first place may be the most challenging part.

Winning The Client

Wealthy borrowers usually have a higher degree of financial literacy than the typical homebuyers, which is important for originators to keep in mind when they’re communicating with their clients. Originators should convey confidence and expertise in order to earn their trust.

“They know about P&Ls, tax returns, and bank statement loans,” Dodson said. “So they’re just on top of it … a lot more than some people.”

“The most important piece for them is that they are comfortable with the competency of the people they are working with,” Feldman added. “If they feel that you are not on top of your game, they will ghost you like it’s Halloween.”

Dodson said it’s also essential for originators to have experience working with self-employed borrowers. Non-QM products are popular among this demographic, such as bank statement loans, interest-only loans, and DSCR loans. Independent originators and brokers are especially valuable to wealthy borrowers because of their ability to offer a wide array of products to better suit their needs.

Cindy Tansin, senior mortgage advisor of HouseAmerica Financial

“Most of them are self-employed,” Dodson said. “They know sometimes I’m their last option. A lot of times when I get them, they’ve been turned down by the banks.”

Because these borrowers have a better understanding of the market cycle, they’re not too worried about interest rates. Although mortgage rates are high now, they know that there will be an opportunity to refinance in the next couple of years.

“Their expectations are more realistic,” Feldman said. “It is also easier to have high-level conversations regarding rate and product since a lot of my clients have a finance background.”

Taking From Banks

Depository banks, such as Wells Fargo and Chase, oftentimes attract high net-worth borrowers with their jumbo products, providing great practice for originators who want to get into this niche. That’s how Dodson, Feldman, and Tansin were able to grow their customer base before transitioning to the independent originator side.

“The last job I had before I left the bank was being the mortgage manager for Santa Monica and Beverly Hills,” Tansin said. “I had no customers whatsoever, but I had a huge network base. I had so many business bankers, financial analysts, financial advisors, personal bankers, branch managers, CPAs, and attorneys. So, that’s who I talked to first.”

Tansin began by reaching out to the people she knew and told them she was originating loans now. Because of Tansin’s well-built reputation and experience at her other job, these professionals already trusted her. It was important for Tansin to do a good job for these clients to avoid embarrassing the attorney or financial advisor who referred them to her.

The Right Referral Sources

Bringing over past banking clients is a great way to get started in this niche, but it’s a necessary part of the job to keep that referral network expanding. Nowadays, it’s quite easy to find and reach out to attorneys, financial advisors, and other referral partners on the internet. But in 1998, when Dodson was just starting up his company, The Private Capital Group, he didn’t have that convenience. Instead, he put his ads in magazines, such as the Atlanta Business Chronicle, that attracted older, wealthier readers.

Putting ads in these local magazines that have targeted audiences is a great way to capture the attention of a specific demographic. “That got me a lot of attention,” Dodson said. “One of the senior partners at Harry Norman, a big real estate company, told me to put my picture on everything. I was so hesitant to do that. But man, he was right. I ran a lot of ads in my early career (and) I did a lot of presentations with attorneys, accountants, and financial planners.”

Mark Dodson, founder of Mortgage Capital Advisors

Like Dodson, other originators may be too modest to put their pictures in ads. But Dodson swears by this strategy, saying his face has won him quite a few deals.

“I’ll never forget, I was walking to my car and a guy passed me. He said, ‘Hey, you’re that mortgage broker I saw in the Business Chronicle.’ I ended up doing a million-dollar loan for him just (because he) recognized me,” Dodson said.

Nowadays, Dodson has switched to digital advertising, and the most cost-effective way to do that is through social media, he said. His team primarily utilizes Instagram and LinkedIn, which have brought in more business than Facebook in their experience.

When it comes to winning over referral sources in conversation, professionalism and confidence are key. Many successful originators get their business through word of mouth, meaning reputations can make or break a business. As Feldman said, good news travels fast, but bad news travels even faster. To make a good impression on clients and other professionals, convey intelligence and confidence.

“You should definitely be comfortable talking to professionals and talking to people who do have a lot of money without feeling intimidated,” Tansin said. “The [next thing] is you need to learn stuff. Plan on doing a lot of research on your own to learn things. The more you know, the more you will have an opportunity to speak knowledgeably and confidently and get business.”

Katie Jensen
Katie Jensen,
Staff Writer
This article was originally published in the NMP Magazine September 2023 issue.
Published on
Aug 29, 2023
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