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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   December 2012

Stepping Up and Stepping Forward

A recent survey may help managers prepare their businesses for the future

The mortgage industry has come a long way in the past five years. From an industry of hundreds of thousands of workers — many of whom were inexperienced, poorly trained and poorly supervised — the industry now is defined by a reduced but ultimately more experienced workforce. Although these professionals’ perseverance is sometimes overlooked, they remain excellent sources of insight and guidance for the rest of the industry.

To harness that insight, Hammer-house LLC recently conducted a survey that sought originators’ opinions about the lenders for whom they work. The survey’s results could be particularly helpful for those who manage their own companies, as the survey’s findings may point to the script that will define the mortgage industry’s next chapter.

First and foremost, the survey’s key takeaway is that experience matters. Whether it’s in regards to loan officers, operational personnel or other employees, effectiveness and efficiency are the products of wisdom that come from experience. The mortgage industry always has depended on capable people executing sound business strategies, and the refining power of our past affliction has left the industry in mostly capable hands.

The survey’s results can be broken into two primary categories: Those who denote the current strength of the industry, and those who suggest areas where some organizations still have work to be done. Consider a few of the survey’s most compelling findings below.

Regarding the industry’s positive aspects, the following three statistics are of note:

  • 91 percent of loan officers believe they were “born to do” or “love” their jobs;
  • 89 percent of loan officers rated their employers highly on compensation, meeting service standards and pricing; and,
  • 85 percent of loan officers rated their employers’ reputation as “excellent” or “good.”

These three findings speak volumes about the originators in the industry and the brokerages for which they work. Moreover, many of today’s lenders have absorbed huge challenges and earned the respect of their employees and communities. In brief, this survey tells us that good people at good companies are doing business the right way.

As any good manager or executive within the mortgage industry knows, being familiar with your organization’s shortcomings can be just as helpful as knowing your organization’s strengths. With that in mind, consider the following findings from the survey:

  • 32 percent of surveyed loan officers believe that their companies’ technology “needs an upgrade,” is “inadequate,” or “hurts my business”;
  • 28 percent of loan officers rated their companies’ communication as being poor;
  • 26 percent of loan officers were critical of their companies’ professional development efforts; and
  • 24 percent of loan officers believed that their leaders’ vision and acceptance of officer input were areas of weakness.

All of the core business component areas cited by originators as having room to improve are internal concerns. This seems significant for two reasons. First, if originators are not bemoaning pricing competitiveness and closing times — that in itself is a sign of progress. Second, internally oriented business components likely will prove vital in the next chapter of the mortgage industry.

When rates increase and refinance volume drops, the industry will see another round of “refinement.” Going forward, the ability to execute on business fundamentals while simultaneously leveraging new technology is what will separate the best origination companies from the also-rans.


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