You’re More Than Your Production

Practical advice for LOs looking to change employers — even in a down market

Sarah Wolak
Sarah Wolak
More than your production

And Bernbaum reiterated that standing out is crucial in a sluggish market. And it can involve LOs taking themselves out of their comfort zones. “Branching out in a down market is key. I’ve seen LOs learn new loan products that more closely align with their focus areas, such as DSCR. Some LOs have gone into the insurance game on the side,” he said. “[And even] upping their social media presence. There are so many ways to go when the market is down, and you find yourself with more idle time to accomplish that.”

Selling Yourself

Since Bernbaum is both a loan officer and recruiter, he understands what recruiters are looking for and just how loan officers can execute that vision. “If I can add anything to what I’ve already said, it would be [for LOs] to keep at it and treat this business with care and professionalism. I think any recruiter’s biggest fear is that the person they bring on is someone who isn’t going to reflect well on them,” he said. “You don’t want to see the person you brought on board alienate half the company’s target market on their Facebook profile, while [your company’s] logo is prominently displayed.” 

For others who have been in the business for decades, it’s a no-brainer as to how to market themselves. For Jonny Fowler, he’s taken his knowledge of knowing what makes an LO marketable and applied it to his own coaching company, Jonny Fowler Media. Fowler has worked as a corporate development manager for NRL Mortgage and as a senior vice president for Hancock Mortgage Partners in the past, among several other positions in his 29 years in the mortgage industry. He’s even done recruiting. So Fowler understands that at the end of the day, production is important — but it’s certainly not the end-all of being a loan officer. 

Jonny Fowler, founder, Jonny Fowler Media

“People who have an understanding of markets recognize that after 2022, your production had little to do with you and more about the market,” Fowler said. “LOs come and go, but the ones that come in when refinances are good and purchases are good don’t know how to pivot when the market changes. People who don’t let the down market get to them will always succeed.” 

Fowler says that as a coach, the biggest issue that he deals with is getting clients out of their own heads and having a negative mindset. “I can’t handle when a client is constantly negative about the marketplace,” he said. “To those clients, I challenge them to figure out what they like, what they don’t like, and their attributes. Turnover and attrition are horrible for any business, and an LO has the responsibility to determine what they want to do and what being a loan officer means to them.”

Fowler says that finding meaning in the career is the first step to ousting negativity. “If it were me just starting out in the industry, the first thing I would do is find mentors. I know that sounds difficult and asinine, but there are so many people who are out there,” he said. “You don’t need to have Barry Habib’s phone number in order for him to be your mentor, but you can follow him and listen to him. Even business owners can be mentors.”

Jordan Bernbaum, senior loan officer and recruiter, NEXA Mortgage


Of course, an LO finding meaning in a job beyond production numbers is in an inverse relationship with the company, too. Fowler says that companies are often irresponsible when it comes to taking care of their loan officers. “Many clients of mine experience the island effect where it feels like they were stranded to learn everything on their own,” Fowler explained. “In my 29 years, I know that if you make it easy on a LO to bring in business, they have the ability and potential to bring in as much business as you can handle. If you make it difficult, they will only bring in as much business as they can bear the pain. And in order to make it easy, it’s a collaborative effort. LOAs and processors need to do their job, and underwriting and closing need to be manageable and organized.” 

And Fowler says that TLC from companies doesn’t stop at organization and ease. It’s also helping to manage LOs during down times. “They need to take care of top performers and also reach out to those who haven’t closed loans in 60-90 days. Those LOs have guilt and are depressed about not having loans. It should be the responsibility of companies to reach out to their employees and see if they can save them.”

Michael Hammond, president and founder, NexLevel Advisors

And what makes an employee worth saving, Fowler says, is a positive attitude and a willingness to be better. “If someone truly wants to help themselves they will make time,” he said.

Being Valuable

Michael Hammond, president and founder of NexLevel Advisors, is a fellow coach and marketer in the industry. Hammond, like Fowler, is active in coaching LOs who want to market themselves as more than a number. “The number one mistake that a lot of LOs make as the market is shifting, whether they’re new or old [to the business], is focusing too much on their reviews and being all about themselves,” Hammond said. “They need to focus on what value they can bring to borrowers. And how they can do that is by telling anecdotes about how they helped people and showing that they’re relatable.”

Hammond also says that value needs to be tenfold when it comes to creating and maintaining a network of followers and referral partners. “It’s a purchase-heavy market, so LOs need to build relationships with real estate agents, and they need to do that by providing something of informational value,” he said. “I recommend sending realtors texts about tips about what’s happening in the market, how to help borrowers bid, etc. And they need to do it consistently so they know that you are reliable for them.” 

Another way that reliability and value can be created is through social media, Hammond says. He advises LOs to select and focus on only one platform. “Pick one that is tailored to your target audience, whether that’s LinkedIn or Instagram or even TikTok,” he said. “Do video. A lot of internet traffic is video content. Talk about the questions that lenders and real estate agents are typically asking you. That establishes yourself as a thought leader, which hiring managers want to see. And it harnesses your referral relationships, too.”

Sarah Wolak
Sarah Wolak,
Staff Writer
This article was originally published in the NMP Magazine October 2023 issue.
Published on
Sep 27, 2023
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