As published in Scotsman Guide's Residential Edition, April 2005.
What is the No. 1 characteristic a person looks for when selecting a loan officer? I have spent years in this industry interacting with salespeople, customers and industry professionals. I’ve observed how these individuals operate and how their co-workers, managers and customers perceive them. And the answer to the above question not only is simple but also speaks of a characteristic all of us can master — honesty.
Surveys are a popular way to measure our success in this industry. In my opinion, surveys are only as good as the information that goes into them. I don’t usually rely on them for accurate data unless I understand how the data were collected. For example, if you are in politics, your candidate always is ahead in the poll you trust. But stop and look at the degree of error; the margin of error can be so large that the candidate can end up behind in the actual voting. And if you look at five different polls, you’re bound to get five different sets of results.
This article will not address politics, but it will point out down-to-earth facts. We will address what I like to call “meat and potatoes.” To find the answer to my question, I have used a survey to which I refer from time to time. It is a simple and logical one-question survey that you can ask in any market at any time. The results will provide more valuable information than most formal polls.
In large and small settings across the country, I have asked the question, “What is the No. 1 characteristic you look for in a loan officer?” The results are remarkable and point to an alarming fact that our industry must address: Honesty can be the answer to our success.
A few years ago, I polled a group of real-estate agents, borrowers and related industry professionals in the Southwest, and I asked them about the top loan-officer characteristic. Here are the results, which I grouped into five categories:
82 percent: Honesty and ethics
8 percent: Dependability
5 percent: Product knowledge
3 percent: Experience in the industry
2 percent: Cost of the product offered
Over and over, the results have been the same. People choose to do business with a loan officer if they think the officer is honest. These results lead me to believe that most of the people with whom I have spoken have had an unpleasant experience that makes them question the integrity of their loan officers.
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