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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   January 2016

How to Pick Your Next Employer

Loan officers should explore nine key elements in their future companies

How to Pick Your Next Employer

On any given day, there are likely thousands of loan officers (LOs) and branch managers who are dissatisfied with their jobs and looking to make a switch. If you are considering such a change, pick your lender wisely.

Lenders spend significant amounts of time trying to find the right LOs for their companies. The same also should be true in reverse, however. Top producers are highly sought-after and many likely have their choice of companies for which to work. These LOs should do their own recruiting and their own homework to ensure their next career move is the right one.

Think beyond important basics such as great compensation, compliance and technology. Yes, they are incredibly important and should be high on your list of expectations. Compliance, for example, is a must these days. If a lender was not ready in time for the new Truth in Lending Act and Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act Integrated Disclosure rule, better known as TRID, run away, and run fast.

When weighing your next prospective employer, paying attention to the following nine factors can make a difference to your quality of life.

1. Management that listens

Loan originators and branch managers want to work for a company where the owners and management team fully understand the challenges they face — and give their employees the tools to succeed.

There is often a big divide at a lot of banks and mortgage companies between senior executives and their sales forces. Too often, management implements policies that affect those on the front line without taking the time to find out how it will affect them.

A good management team is just that — a team. It is always willing to listen to those employees who will be most affected by any changes. Good managers also get input from those employees to help make the necessary changes that will make their employees’ jobs easier and the organization run more efficiently. Management and ownership should always be open to suggestions and implementing those that make sense.

2. Marketing support

Among the most important things management must provide to each and every LO are the sales tools necessary to ensure their success. That includes state-of-the-art marketing and technology support.

At a minimum, LOs should be set up with their own individual websites to promote not only the company’s brand but also the LO’s own identity. Complementary marketing materials, such as advertising, brochures, postcards, e-mails and social media postings, should also be branded for each individual.

Moreover, these materials should be provided and produced by the company, not the individual originator. That ensures the messages going out to consumers are not only compliant with all state and federal regulations, but also with company policies. It also ensures that LOs are spending their time where it should be spent: originating mortgages, not writing marketing materials.

3. Operations support

Just as important, if not more so, is operational support throughout the organization. LOs should be spending their time originating new loans, not worrying about and chasing after the progress of loans in the pipeline. They can’t serve as their own back-office and closing team.

Mortgage companies are only as good as the team at the back end — underwriting, processing, closing services and compliance. That’s where things can go awry. Without that support, even the best LO will fail.

To ensure that loans close when you need them to, everyone involved in the loan process needs to have the same sales-driven mentality and focus as the LO who took the initial application. Closing loans should be important to every team member, not just the LO. That comes with companies treating each customer as if they are their only customer, which is all part of providing top-notch customer service.

It also comes from companies staying on top of the latest technology, systems and regulations. The company must have processes in place to ensure that loans close properly and on time. A good back office gives LOs the confidence they need to service their customers and referral sources.

4. A great track record

Like professional athletes, talented originators want to play for a winning team. In the mortgage industry, winning teams are comprised of top producers. Industry leaders have the best talent because they recruit the best-available people and give them the tools to succeed. These companies don’t have to look hard to find the winners, with lists of top producers readily available.

In the office, the working atmosphere should feel like a family and act as a team.

But big doesn’t necessarily mean best. The company you choose doesn’t have to be the biggest one for it to compete one-on-one with the big guys. By providing the best service and garnering a great reputation, LOs can compete with — and consistently beat — banks and brokerages that are bigger and better-known.

5. Exceptional customer service

Besides honesty and integrity, having good products also is a must. And although a lender may not always have the lowest rates, there’s no excuse for not providing the best service.

The most important aspect of service is doing what you say and always performing up to, if not beyond, the customers’ expectations. If you say you are going to close on time so customers can buy the house they want to buy, then you must always be able to do that. You must be able to close on time, every time.

A lender also must be able to make the loan application and approval processes as stress-free as possible. That means offering not just competitive rates and fees, but removing as many obstacles to the approval process as possible, such as requiring no or minimum credit overlays.

6. A sterling reputation

Talented LOs value and protect the reputation they have earned. They expect that the reputation of the company they work for is at least as good as or even better than their own.

The best LOs are great individuals who are respected in their local community and in their industry. They are trustworthy. They always do things the right way. They never cut corners. They would rather lose a deal than try to do something dishonest or underhanded. They do what’s best for the customer, not for themselves. So they expect their company to do the same.

7. That local feeling

No matter how big the company, most LOs like to work for a community-based lender. Even if a lender’s operations are spread out over all 50 states, each branch office should be grounded in its local community. After all, that’s where the bulk of your customers are going to come from.

Part of that comes from using local service providers, such as appraisers and closing agents. But it also means becoming an important part of your community outside the office. Companies can sponsor and participate in many community activities, such as charitable walks, runs or golf tournaments. Oftentimes, employees are free to bring their families, and referral sources also are welcome.

Loan originators can benefit greatly from being involved in their community. Not only is it fun and the right thing to do, it helps them promote their business at the same time.

8. Fun

For work to be its best, it has to be fun. It creates a more enjoyable environment for employees. People should be enthusiastic about coming to work and doing their jobs well. That comes from creating a sense of camaraderie in the organization.

In the office, the working atmosphere should feel like family and act as a team. You must truly care about the people you work with. That comes from having a common purpose — such as closing loans on time.

Activities outside the office also can cement that team bond. Events like cook-offs and annual trips foster a culture where employees work hard and play hard.

9. Family

Although this section comes last, it really should be first on the list.

Employees shouldn’t be afraid to leave work if they have to take care of family matters or a loved one. Ownership and management must be sensitive to that. There has to be a proper balance between family and work, but family should always come first.

And that will mean something to your customers. When they see you taking care of your family, they feel like they can trust you, which is key when it comes to finding someone to handle a mortgage. It sounds a little corny, but it works. 


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