Building Bridges

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Early in my career as a loan officer, I had a very important realization regarding business processes that led me to understand not just my job better, but also the tasks and requirements of my colleagues. I was lucky enough to work with outstanding team players who, unbeknownst to me, were completing my work. They were doing things I could have easily done but I simply was not aware that I needed to at the time. Not only was my lack of knowledge inconveniencing those working around me, it ultimately created a less than optimal customer experience as well. My loan processor would have to contact the customer for additional information, which inconvenienced the borrower and extended the loan closing cycle time. The result was decreased efficiency across the board. Despite the fact I was a high producer, I had yet to detangle myself from siloed work habits. Once I better understood the nature of the broader loan process and could see the effects of decisions on the people around me, it enabled me to become a much better and stronger employee who was a better colleague and could now provide better service to customers.

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Understanding the Ripple Effect

What got me to that point of understanding in my career was a simple conversation with my processor. She explained what she had been doing “behind the scenes” for me. In essence, what we were doing was breaking down the barriers of communication and expectation. This level of communications between sales and operations, for example, gives employees more context which in turn translates to a better understanding of how important it is for them to do their job well and how it affects the rest of the process.

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The mortgage industry has traditionally had an uninspiring reputation for proper training. However, with intentionality and focus this can change. There are some companies making great strides toward implementing job training programs combined with a strong focus on creating a collaborative culture within their organizations. It is this training and collaboration component that is going to remove obstacles between internal business efficiency and customer-facing experiences. What has been missing is training across job specialties.

Training across job “borders” will open the opportunity for everyone in a company to learn how their role fits into the process as well as the role of their colleagues. This does not mean that everyone will be trained to do everyone else’s job. Instead, they will gain a deeper level of appreciation and a better understanding of the total process, which we believe creates empathy.

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This level of training goes beyond having a better quality process and better quality loans; it actually improves the culture of the organization. With it, companies can remove the wedge between people in different roles and departments and create an environment where employees understand the ripple effect of decisions throughout the organization to ultimately work better together.

So, consider mortgage LAB training where it is not an experiment, but is a culture of collaboration where everyone learns across borders. This additional training gives us as an industry the opportunity to learn from different perspectives. Generally, people want to do a great job but simply don’t know what they don’t know. This level of collaborative learning across boarders creates a deeper understanding of the process and empathy between roles, which ultimately results in not only a great consumer experience, but a great corporate culture of collaboration that breeds high performance and long-term employee loyalty. This will not happen by accident, though. It takes an organized effort from the top down to ensure the mortgage LAB is a priority and specific initiative.

About The Author

Daniel Jacobs
Daniel Jacobs is the EVP and managing director of national retail lending for MiMutual Mortgage. With nearly 20 years of experience in the mortgage industry, he has previously had senior positions at American Financial Network, Residential Finance Corporation and Freedom Mortgage Corporation. Jacobs can be reached at djacobs@mimutual.com.