Here’s a story you don’t hear every day: Hank Metzger of American Financing Corp. went from Hollywood to home loans. Metzger initially moved to Los Angeles after college, becoming an agent and manager in the entertainment business.
“I ended up working for (former talent agent and Walt Disney Co. president) Michael Ovitz, who was, at the time, one of the most powerful guys in Hollywood,” Metzger recounted. “And it was fun. It was good. But it wasn’t fulfilling, you know? I just didn’t have a passion for it. It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be.”
In his search for a different career path, he found his way into the mortgage business through a friend in Southern California. “I actually had a buddy that was selling well and he was making all this money,” Metzger said with a laugh. “I was living in Orange County and that was sort of a hub back in 2003. There were about 2,000 (mortgage) brokers.
“And I thought, ‘Well, I could give that a try.’ I went to this little broker house with just two guys that ran it. One of them looked at my résumé, and he says, ‘You can sell, obviously. I’m going to teach you the game. You just follow directions and I’ll teach you the rest.’ It just came really natural to me.”
Fast forward to today and Metzger’s natural nose for the business placed him 11th among the nation’s originators with more than $249.6 million in refinance volume in 2019. Impressively, Metzger’s entire closed-loan volume last year came from refinances, putting him 24th on Scotsman Guide’s Top Dollar Volume rankings.
In a way, Metzger said, mortgage origination turned out to be a better version of what he originally went to Hollywood to pursue.
“I love the high-octane, high-volume (nature of the industry),” he said. “I have a high level of drive. I’ve got the ambition. I’m always asking for the business and I’m competitive. I like the game and I like to play to win. I’m taking 50 inbound calls a day. I’m doing internal calls. I’m always looking to see what I can do better so I can get the results for the next time. I’m just one guy — I don’t have a big team under me or anything — but we’re keeping up and, in a lot of cases, doing better than some people who do (have a big team). And I’m really proud of that.
I have a high level of drive. I’ve got the ambition. I’m always asking for the business and I’m competitive. I like the game and I like to play to win.
“But the thing is, with mortgages, I actually feel like I’m helping people,” Metzger added. “I’m being of service and it’s very rewarding. It’s so important. A person’s home is like the single largest financial decision of their life, right? You’re being a part of something that affects somebody’s life positively and profoundly. Being able to help them with that, and when they say to me, ‘That was a great experience,’ that’s what means the most to me.”
That’s why he takes great care to be a transparent, disciplined resource for his clients throughout every step of the refinance process, Metzger said.
“People only refinance maybe a couple of times in their lifetime,” he said. “And it can be a complicated experience. You have guys who are Ph.D.s who are going to ask you questions. That’s not a position a lot of people find themselves in.”
Metzger said that he takes the time to truly hear his clients’ questions before answering. Much of the time, he noted, that involves asking them questions to understand what they’re trying to accomplish. He uses their answers to come up with a list of options. Prospective refinance borrowers are typically in a situation where they’re looking to save money to make their lives better and easier, so Metzger views himself as being in a position to make that possible.
“But to do that, I have to hear,” Metzger said. “I have to listen. I have to be there for them, so that’s my focus. And if I do my job right, I can be a great big help to people, and I just love that.” ●