Residential Magazine

Look Inward to Answer, ‘What’s Next?’

Commit to a plan of self-improvement at a mercurial time in the industry

By Bryan Lovell

For many in the mortgage job market, it has been a challenging time. The industry has faced cutbacks, layoffs, declining production, shrinking incomes and uncertainty about what’s next. You may have changed companies — either out of your own choosing or not.

“Take your online relationships offline and your offline relationships online.”

You also may be among the many who are soon faced with the prospect of having to uncover what’s next for your mortgage career. Real estate finance stands as an ever-evolving industry that is continuously influenced by market fluctuations, economic shifts and the dynamic nature of lending practices.

So, what do you do when you’re faced with a layoff or forced to make a change one way or another? Here are a few things to consider — regardless of whether you’re a mortgage originator or occupy another role in the industry — as you answer the question, “What’s next?”

Professional network

First, there’s nothing more important than expanding one’s professional network. In a world where connections are crucial, don’t underscore the fact that fruitful relationships can be cultivated outside the confines of one’s current workplace.

A common mistake is for mortgage professionals to believe they can’t have a relationship with a peer if they don’t work for the same company. Just because you aren’t on the same team doesn’t mean you can’t be friends. Team members sometimes leave and move on to other opportunities. How well you maintain these relationships is important to your future. You never know the bridges you may have to cross one day. With that in mind, don’t overlook opportunities to meet new people, expand your network and make connections just because you work with different companies.

You can achieve growth and thrive within the mortgage business by surrounding yourself with individuals who can challenge and elevate your skills. Those who are in your network may be able to hire you or know someone in a position to hire you.

Mortgage companies can often look very similar. They all tend to have great products, rates, tech stacks and culture, and they close loans on time. Don’t forget that people matter. It’s easier to align with people who are in your network because you’ll know whether or not you can trust them.

Be proactive and reach out to people with whom you haven’t previously crossed paths. Take your online relationships offline and your offline relationships online. Dispel the notion that professional relationships are confined solely to the workplace. Take the opportunity to learn from a broader array of industry experts, thereby expanding your knowledge base and perspectives.

Personal growth

The second step is the necessity of continuous learning. This business is about serving people. It doesn’t matter if you are in sales or operations. Everyone has a customer — it just may not be the end customer, the borrower. To be able to serve people at the highest levels, you need to continue to grow your skill set.

You can’t give people what you don’t have. It’s imperative to continually enhance your own skills to serve others effectively. Lending professionals, regardless of role, need to embrace various learning avenues such as reading books, articles and blogs, listening to podcasts and participating in educational events to remain at the forefront of the field. It’s important not just to be experienced but to be well rounded. The deeper you go in making a commitment to personal growth, the more versatile you’ll be in your specific role.

“In an industry as dynamic as the mortgage business, complacency is not an option. Your commitment to self-improvement illustrates that even seasoned professionals must continually sharpen their skills.”

Just like you create a business plan, you should also have a plan for growth. Identify areas of your personal and professional life that you want to improve, then generate a plan to help you grow in these specific areas. Make a commitment to read the books that will grow the skills you want. Decide which mortgage conferences you should attend and block off the time on your calendar now. Find other vehicles to help you learn the skills you want.

In an industry as dynamic as the mortgage business, complacency is not an option. Your commitment to self-improvement illustrates that even seasoned professionals must continually sharpen their skills.

Remain curious

Staying curious is the third and final element of this strategy. This approach involves questioning the status quo, being open-minded, considering alternative methods and challenging existing practices.

If you stay within the confines of one way of learning, you can confine yourself to a self-imposed box. Years of experience don’t always make you well rounded in that experience. Allow yourself to explore new possibilities and ways of doing things. You might be surprised to learn that you don’t know what you don’t know.

Just because you’ve done it one way for years doesn’t mean there may not be a better, faster or easier way that you’ve never considered. Expand your horizons, be willing to listen and be open to the idea that iron sharpens iron. Your peers have likely seen a thing or two in their experiences that could help you with an area of your business.

Put plainly, mortgage professionals should not shy away from exploring better ways of doing things. By maintaining curiosity, you can enhance your own practices while also contributing to the growth and innovation of your company and the industry. The mortgage business is not merely about adhering to established procedures; it’s about embracing change and being agile.

New horizons

Last year’s market conditions were as challenging as many have faced in their careers. There is a strong likelihood that it stays this way through the first quarter of 2024. The landscape will continue to change and you’ll continue to experience change across all echelons of the business.

No one will be exempt. Whether your role is mortgage originator, branch manager, underwriter, processor, sales support, marketing or leadership, these principles are universally applicable. The three pillars of this strategy — expanding one’s network, investing in continuous learning and staying curious — provide a clear road map for navigating the challenges of the mortgage business in 2024 and beyond. As the industry continues to evolve, it’s evident that adaptability and personal growth stand as the keys to success.

You should remind yourself that success in the mortgage business is not about competition against others; it’s a commitment to self-improvement and a willingness to explore new horizons. In this ever-evolving world, these qualities undoubtedly pave the path to success. ●


  • Bryan Lovell

    Bryan Lovell serves as vice president at Highland Mortgage. Lovell joined Highland after 16 years in the industry and believes in the vision to create a company for loan originators, built by loan originators. He is a John Maxwell Leadership Team-certified speaker, coach and trainer. He is driven by serving others to discover their unique strengths, facilitating personal and professional growth, and creating environments where people thrive and contribute their best. Reach Lovell at (813) 727-1867.

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