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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   August 2016

Effective Recruiting Is Smart Business

Finding and training young loan originators require strategic thinking and follow-through

Effective Recruiting Is Smart BusinessWith the average age of a loan originator now exceeding 50 years old, a hot topic in the mortgage profession today is the lack of young professionals entering the industry.

Mortgage companies across the country are looking for ways to attract talent in a business world where constant innovation is demanded and where technology is all the rage. They are exploring strategies to pique young people’s interest in the mortgage business — a career that can provide them with the opportunity to run their own business and achieve economic prosperity while also maintaining a healthy work/lifestyle balance.

One of the biggest challenges mortgage companies face is competing for the attention of young job prospects. There’s so much noise in the air regarding the next new technology or the next initial public offering that most college students and recent graduates looking to embark on a new career simply may not be aware of the tremendous advantages that the mortgage industry has to offer. If they are aware, they often don’t know what needs to be done to launch a career as a mortgage originator.

The challenge of attracting young recruits inevitably leads to unique corporate initiatives — such as creating employee-referral bonus programs, personal and professional development teams, and career-development programs. All of these solutions are designed to get young recruits in the door and off to a strong career start.

Recruiting and training talent

There is a lot of value in hiring and training individuals who are right out of college. The primary benefit is that a mortgage company is able to handpick employees who demonstrate the desire and talent to succeed in the business. This is important because a considerable amount of company time and resources will have to be invested in training new recruits.

Mortgage companies must build support systems for mentors who will take on the task of coaching rookie loan originators.

College career fairs and university-sponsored job-listing sites are great places to start to find bright and eager graduates from top universities. If mortgage companies limit their efforts to these programs, however, they won’t make great progress.

Emerging sales professionals also are another great pool to tap when prospecting for junior loan originators. Some of the most successful rookie originators in the mortgage industry come from other industries where they developed their ability to sell effectively. For these sales professionals, the opportunity to leverage the sales skills they already have developed — combined with the mortgage industry’s stronger compensation potential, repeat-business opportunities and support from the back-office team — is quite alluring.

The biggest benefit of targeting young sales professionals is that they have experience handling the challenges that come with a sales job. They likely already have a strong foundation on which to build the skills necessary to be successful in a commission-based atmosphere such as the loan-origination field. In addition, they are naturally inclined and attracted to building relationships — the key to long-term success in the mortgage business.

After you get young recruits on board, training them well is the next challenge. There are two key skills they will need to develop to be successful in a loan-origination career.

  • Systemic thinking and process orientation: Effective loan originators have a bias for details and technical “know how” when it comes to originating a clean loan file. The ability to be proactive, establish effective processes and solve problems when it comes to file preparation and analysis is critical to the job. Loan originators who are unwilling to invest time into learning and mastering the science and art of creating clean loan-processing files will fail, and they will fail the organization.
  • Developing sustainable relationships: Effective loan originators understand how to efficiently and effectively nurture the right relationships, versus spending time on those that don’t yield fruit. Considering that the average real estate agent is 57 years old, according to the National Association of Realtors, building a network of agents may require junior loan originators in their 20s to think outside their current paradigms. Loan originators who understand who their customers are, what value the customers are looking for, and how to communicate and execute in a way unique to the specific customer will find a path to success in the mortgage industry. 

Mentoring follow-up

Even the best training program in the world, however, cannot guarantee a recruit’s success. That is why a development plan following initial training is crucial. This is when the support of a mentor in the field becomes essential.

This support, however, can’t come from just anyone; in fact, it likely should not come from the people that may seem the natural picks for the role — such as top producers or branch managers. They don’t always make the best mentors. Branch managers are often no longer producing and may have been out of the prospecting and originating game for too long to provide many useful tips in today’s market. The best mentoring occurs as part of a symbiotic relationship, where each party gains something, and top producers likely have little need for a rookie’s help.

The ideal mentor for a rookie loan originator is a middle-of-the-pack producer, someone who needs an extra pair of hands to help increase production. Such a producer will happily allow a rookie loan originator to assist with files and processing, which allows that producer to focus on prospecting, building relationships and being more productive in general.

Other benefits for the mentor include having the opportunity to sharpen their leadership skills and enjoying the satisfaction that comes with helping shape a rookie’s future. In turn, the rookie loan originator gains invaluable hands-on experience on how to market products, develop business partners and grow a client base — all while sharing in the producer’s increased production income. Rookies are then better positioned to transition to full-time loan originators and, better yet, are groomed to become top performers.

• • •

Beyond recruiting young talent, finding good mentors and putting in place a solid career-development program, mortgage companies also should continually look for ways to support the development of young loan originators, both personally and professionally. In addition, companies must build support systems for mentors who will take on the task of coaching rookie loan originators.

Mortgage companies need to foster a sustainable corporate culture throughout the organization — from the home office to every branch office — that supports the advancement and success of each employee, particularly loan originators just starting out in their careers. Every system and process should be designed to help loan originators achieve their goals. It is a two-way street, however. Junior loan originators also must be committed to their own success.


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