Survey: Staff retention tops list of 2021 lender concerns

New data from The Mortgage Collaborative (TMC) revealed that personnel retention tops the concerns of mortgage lenders in 2021.

According to the organization’s inaugural “The Pulse of the Mortgage Industry” survey, retention of current staff was the industry’s top-ranked concern, with 48.7% of respondents flagging the issue as being of “critical importance” and 39.5% classifying it as “very important.”

No other issue among the 40 included in the survey received a “critical importance” share of over 41%.

“After a lender hiring frenzy to manage last year’s historic volumes, we fully expected staffing to be one of the top concerns this year, but to have it rank as lenders’ No. 1 concern was truly a surprise,” said Rich Swerbinsky, chief operating officer and president of TMC.

“As much as the ‘hire-and-fire cycle’ has come to define how lenders typically manage the peaks and valleys of origination volume, there is also a real concern among lenders about the human impact of this strategy, as well as the operational and financial effects, and lenders seem to be ready to embrace alternative means to better manage volume fluctuations. This aligns neatly with the overall theme we observed in the list of lenders’ top concerns of modernizing the generally inefficient mortgage loan manufacturing process.”

Second among lender concerns was enhancing customer experience at the point of sale, with 40.1% of respondents labeling it of “critical importance” share and another 46.1% at “very important.” Following were three issues related to personnel and process efficiency, led by scaling and modernizing to better insulate against volume fluctuations (third-highest at 36.2% “critical importance” and “48.7” very important”). Measuring operations and employee productivity was fourth (35.5% “critical”/48.7% “very important”), followed by implementing and integrating new technology (31.6% “critical”/53.9% “very important”).

In sixth was fair lending compliance (40.8% “critical”/36.2% “very important”), which Swerbinsky noted as one of the few top concerns among lenders to fall outside the process modernization umbrella.

“With the Biden Administration and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau telegraphing their collective intent to make housing equity a top regulatory priority, as well as the reinstatement of the disparate impact standard, our lender members are understandably focused on ensuring their policies and procedures are up to scratch to ensure compliance with existing fair lending laws,” Swerbinsky said.

Survey data is based on 598 executive responses from the co-op’s 234 member lenders. Fifty-four percent of survey respondents work for an independent mortgage lender, while 46% work for a depository lender.


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