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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   September 2017

Your Career Is a Choice, so Choose

The right training can help you advance and find happiness

Life is about choices. Happiness is a choice. Many of us start off in a direction where we think we would like to see our careers go, only to find — sometimes by design and sometimes by default — that another direction or other options materialize.

Consider all of the jobs you have had to this point in your life. Chances are one or more of those jobs made you completely miserable. You had no sense of fulfillment or accomplishment and you knew that job was not for you.

What happened next that facilitated your change to something else? Did you leave voluntarily or involuntarily? Were you motivated to get more education or did you earn a new degree or license? Did you visit a job-placement company to take an aptitude test and get offered a position in a business you had never previously considered? Whatever the circumstances, did you make a choice that made you happy?

Plan for happiness

The mortgage industry fosters growth and advancement opportunities for people with varied goals and skillsets. It is a truly unique job culture. Success stories abound for those who take advantage of their opportunities, especially employees who follow career-advancement and goal-setting best practices. When looking at career choices, just as with most worthwhile events in life, be sure to envision and define your goals. Write them down, review them often, and commit to them.

Own your life. Be a decisionmaker. Make good choices.

Perhaps your current job is simply a means to an end. You go to work. You go home. You interact with your family. You then eat, sleep and wake up to start all over. On weekends you do the things you didn’t get done during the week. You may or may not actually plan your life or plan for your future, but you should.

Choosing to advance in your career — thereby creating a life you love — takes thoughtful planning, intentional focus and purposeful execution, along with a desire to win and a yearning to succeed. A competitive spirit and a genuine desire to learn and earn can go a long way toward achieving your ideal life. Live your life by your own design, not by default.

A common denominator shared by many mortgage- industry personnel who love their careers is a desire to improve their lives and provide the best possible options and advantages for their families. On the flip side, those companies that show consistent success in employee satisfaction and retention rely heavily on effective training of their human resources.

What does this mean to you in your mortgage career? It means you must seek out companies that demonstrate the value they place on their human assets. Focused and effective training, coaching and accountability all can provide a measurable impact on career opportunities and advancement.

Start on the right foot

Statistically speaking, the average loan originator is 54 years old. In addition to investing in training existing originators to maximize their effectiveness and happiness, leaders in the mortgage industry recognize the need to invite, welcome, educate and prepare a new generation of originators. In fact, it is vital that the industry bring in new blood, and have a plan to recruit and train the next generation.

Empower producers by rewarding good behaviors and identifying areas that need improvement. 

Does your current or potential employer take a proactive approach by offering training programs for those interested in learning about the mortgage business? Do they take a welcoming position for those seeking to embark upon a mortgage-related career?

A next-generation training regimen may include a multiweek program that offers students an abbreviated yet comprehensive 360-degree overview of career life as a mortgage loan originator. This program should teach:

  • Software. Online access to the company’s intranet may not be granted prior to licensing and employment, but at least share what to expect with the origination or loan-processing software your company uses.
  • Loan programs and guidelines. Provide an overview of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae guidelines as well as Federal Housing Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and U.S. Department of Agriculture loan programs.
  • Qualifying and pricing. Demonstrate to new originators how to prequalify potential borrowers and price loans, and explain the role of the secondary market.
  • Best practices and policies. Show what a perfect loan file looks like, and how to find resources and follow company policies.
  • Loan language. Discuss mortgage lingo and its layman interpretations.
  • File flow. Discuss how processors, appraisers, underwriters and title and escrow companies fit into the picture. Outline your company’s proven system to most efficiently get loans from application to funding.
  • Disclosures and compliance. Explain the rules that must be followed at federal, state and corporate levels, and how originators should conduct themselves when engaging with these parties.
  • Marketing and business-building techniques. Providing originators with tools to succeed and not making them reinvent the wheel is always a good idea. Provide them with shortcuts for their relationship-building efforts.

The entry-level “buy-in” program described here can provide participants with valuable preparatory tools that will complement the education received through their requisite licensing courses.

Learn good habits

By nature of the position, newly minted loan originators can find themselves with a lot of time on their hands. When not used wisely, this most valuable of commodities can be wasted. By providing a regimen and framework of guardrails to work within, companies can teach these new originators the discipline needed to use their time wisely and measure the impact of those efforts. It is important, however, to still promote good old- fashioned “outside-the-box” thinking.

Most, if not all, originators can benefit from this type of effective mentoring or coaching. In fact, proactive employers will even offer separate programs to help those originators who are already licensed and on board to create new habits that can provide a direct and positive impact on their careers. Investing in originators by offering a coaching and accountability program for those eager to create new work-related habits also can empower them to become more effective and productive in what they do.

A comprehensive accountability and coaching program might begin with an annual projections template that shows expected production volume in both units and dollar amounts. This can be supported with a list of existing and future business sources. Design and build learning modules so each participant has access to an internal, online training environment they can utilize at any time. Then provide a list of required and optional business-building activities to complete within specific time frames, while allowing flexibility to customize the activities.

Accountability and coaching calls should be scheduled weekly to ensure consistent feedback and monitoring of completed activities. This helps make sure people are on track with their goals and, if not, allows them to adjust accordingly.

Empower producers by rewarding good behaviors and identifying areas that need improvement. Offer weekly or monthly contests to promote a healthy, competitive, yet supportive environment. Follow-up action plans can be reviewed and discussed after each coaching call, and follow-up feedback provided to participating originators and their managers.

Move forward

Through meaningful communication and time-tested training activities, you can build good habits, and become a more effective, valued resource and an asset to your business partners and borrowers. Whether you lead an entire organization, a branch, a small team, or even just yourself, it is critical to keep reaching, because complacency and mediocrity should never be acceptable.

You never want to stop learning, growing, developing and achieving, especially in an industry that is always changing. Embrace problem-solving, especially the challenges that your borrowers and business partners present to you. In their eyes, your value will be measured in how you help them to overcome and succeed.

So, create a vision of who you would like to be, accept nothing less, and become that person. Work until you become your only rival, and surround yourself with those who pull you up and support your vision. Unwritten goals are merely dreams, so identify what you want and go get it. Life is a participant sport. Play it with passion. Choose your career wisely. Be well and find the joy in your life.


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