Debbie Foley trained the recent batch of new college graduates hired as mortgage originators at Columbus, Ohio’s CFBank. These grads were lucky enough to get into the market while rates are at historic lows and demand is sky-high.
“They’re killing it right now,” Foley said. “They’re making a lot of money. They’re lucky. Good timing.”
They also were lucky to have access to one of the nation’s top originators. Foley worked with each of the new hires for two to three months and walked them through how she approaches her work.
“It’s funny: I’ll walk down the hall and I will hear them talking to a client, and they are saying the exact same sentence I say,” Foley said. “It works.”
Foley consistently ranks among the best in the country in Scotsman Guide’s annual Top Originators rankings, including the No. 1 spot for Top Refinance Volume in 2015. Last year, Foley closed 533 loans for $183.9 million in volume. She ranked No. 9 among Top Women Originators, No. 35 for Top Refinance Volume, No. 66 for Most Loans Closed and No. 71 for Top Dollar Volume.
Foley credits her own mentor and current boss, John Fearon, who showed her how mortgage originators should conduct their business. “I could not be Debbie Foley without John Fearon,” Foley said.
She’s always consistent and always growing. She can take a problem and find a solution without it wrecking her day.
Fearon said that Foley has been one of his top originators ever since he hired her 15 years ago. He praised her work ethic and professionalism.
“A lot of originators have up-and-down days, and up-and-down months,” said Fearon, CFBank’s residential mortgage division president. “She’s always consistent and always growing. She can take a problem and find a solution without it wrecking her day.”
Foley, 61, came to the mortgage business later in life. She started her career as an accountant and Fearon hired her in 2005 to set up accounting software QuickBooks at his former company, Fearon Financial, which later rebranded to Smarter Mortgages.
“I was looking around going, ‘Huh? This is interesting,’” Foley said. “So, I went in and said, ‘I think I’ll try this for a while.’ The big joke is you can’t fire me because I hired myself.”
Fearon sold his company in 2015 and took a hiatus from the business. He joined CFBank in early 2018 and Foley followed him. She was attracted to becoming a mortgage originator, partially due to the earnings potential and in part because of the challenge. She also enjoys working with clients to help them achieve their financial goals.
The hours are long — a 12-hour day is a cakewalk, she said — but she likes the work. She can see the results when she structures a deal and improves someone else’s life by helping them lower their payment or land a home.
“We used to drop people’s [monthly] payments by 50 bucks,” Foley said. “I thought that was pretty good. Now we’re dropping it by $400, because these rates have gotten so low. That is very rewarding.”
Foley has built her reputation over the years. Repeat clients make up one-third of her business, one-third are referrals and the rest are new clients walking in the door. When she was training the graduates, they all wanted to know how she made it in the business.
“They always just want to know the secret,” Foley said. “I guess the secret is just liking the job. You have to really like the job and you have to like to talk to people.” ●