Christine Beckwith, a veteran who rose from the trenches to become a respected and well-known Executive Mortgage Industry Leader celebrated her 30thyear in the industry this past July. To her own surprise, she jumped into her 5-year business plan early by launching a national coaching and consulting company: 20/20 Vision for Success Coaching.
When we asked her about this big move from senior executive sales position at AnnieMac Home Mortgage to become Master Coach and Founder of her own entrepreneurial business, her answer was authentic and classically Buffy (as she is known to her peers). Here’s how she describes her new business and the state of mortgage lending:
Q: Christine, you have had quite the year; been in the spotlight, visible in many publications, received awards and lots of attention. To what do you credit the year you are having?
CHRISTINE BECKWITH: “It has been quite a year indeed. Well, I published my two books in the start of 2018. ‘Wise Eyes- See Your Way to Success’, is my life’s work written in personal stories and successful top tips that I believe can change a sales person’s life. I open up about my humble beginning and get real with professionals about what it took for me and what it will take for them to have a winning career in sales.
I also wrote, ‘Clear Boundaries- Every Business Woman’s Essential Safety Guide’. This book was co-authored with Jessica Peterson and became a Best Seller overnight. It has taken on a life of its own, for which we are both grateful and astounded. It was written to help women stay safe in any situation from a truly state-of-the-art perspective. The book is focused on helping women position themselves for safety and on how men can help their loved ones stay safe. We hope—no, we already know—it saves lives.
Clear Boundaries was dedicated to a murdered co-worker who lost her life in a domestic situation on December 30th, 2017. She was the compliance manager at AnnieMac Home Mortgage, so the dedication has an emotional connotation for me. The MBA and Marcia Davies, COO specifically has endorsed Clear Boundaries and the women who attended MBA Annual mPower Empowerment session received a donated copy. We are proud of that.
I feel blessed this year to have been listed amongst elite men and women in several award publications; especially since these are nominated industry publications. It is gratifying to realize that my colleagues and employees put me there. I have also had the pleasure of writing this year as a feature writer now in many magazines. I give credit to the acclaim I’ve received this year to writing and copiously sharing what I write. I love writing, obviously. Words are powerful, and I believe they change lives.”
Q: Tell us what you have seen change most over 30 years?
CHRISTINE BECKWITH:“Every year presents new changes, obstacles, and hurdles to mount and conquer. I’ve enjoyed no breaks in my career since 1988, so I have seen this industry in all phases of growth and recession. Good and bad, some ugly years. That said, I think what has most changed is technology. When I started, we were scrolling carbon copied legal size notes in a typewriter. Today we are digitally uploading documents on an iPhone as the consumer is seated before us.
Q: What has been the most rewarding thing about working in the Mortgage Industry?
CHRISTINE BECKWITH:“I think teaching others how to manage, how to survive, and more over thrive. How to handle fires in a productive manner, to stay in the pocket of prospecting, and ride their sales highs. How to work a business plan. How to compete. All of it. I am an athlete and competitor. I went to school for sports medicine and nutrition, and I will kill myself to win a contest. That competitive mindset is what I applied my whole career and it has led to substantial wins.
In the past five years many have seen me as a senior sales leader a few times removed from the trenches. And while true, the reality is that I kept my head in the trenches by keeping up my competitive edge by holding master mind sessions at the Mortgage Loan Originator seat. This kept me fresh and let me see what the originators were seeing.
And of course, there are plenty of guys in the industry who knew me for two decades when I was directly competing. I won contests where I was up against 200 guys at the top level. I ran districts to the top of national company level—from the bottom. As you might expect, I withstood a lot of bullying verbally and proved repeatedly that I could dish it back out. What I liked best was to beat them with results instead of words. I earned my seat at the table.
Q: Ok, let’s go in a different direction. What has been the hardest thing in the past 30 years?
CHRISTINE BECKWITH:“What a great question! I will stay true to my authentic self and own this. The honest answer is fighting for respect and judgement based on accomplishments. It was especially challenging to not be diminished because I am a woman playing on a male-dominated field. It was an uphill battle and one I believe is still angled sharply today for women. I am not sure we can completely solve the problem, but I will continue to help women and men do so.
Assumptions are made when you become a minority senior executive sales leader. People automatically assume I am a feminist, trying to prove something. I’ve never understood why. Why does my accomplishment need a label? I had many men assume I was voting for Hillary Clinton when the Presidential Election was happening. That in and of itself was insulting. Assumptive, inaccurate, but also not surprising. All my career I have had to explain what I did. Two decades ago I showed up in a Chicago district to speak to 125 employees. I stood in the back of the room having let myself in quietly.
A guy also leaning against the wall next to me asked, “Oh, are you that company trainer coming from corporate?”
I said, “Yeah, something like that.” You would think that when I was introduced as the Senior Vice President of Sales and went to the podium to speak, he might have understood that I was much more than a corporate trainer. I do not believe he even knew that, partnered with another SVP, I ran the company at the senior level, responsible for all of retain sales.
Repeatedly in my career I have had to defend that I actually was in charge. And sad to say, if I didn’t watch out, there was always some guy I worked with who would rise up, attempt to push me over, or want to diminish my role. To not become jaded, defensive, and bitter is an art in and of itself. It’s been trying and made success even sweeter. The roles I’ve chosen and risen into are not for the thinned skin. When people see me fly my flag high and proud, understand that it’s on purpose, to say proudly, “Yes, I may be a unicorn, but I am what I am.”
Q: Describe what you’ve been doing the past 5 years?
CHRISTINE BECKWITH:“I’ve been forecasting sales, building sales business plans, teaching sales techniques, coaching, holding management meetings, fronting our real estate and realtor facing platform, speaking within the industry, making contributions to the women’s movement in our industry, writing in industry magazines, and building my coaching company that is about to launch. I’ve been raising a son who is now a teenager, keeping a home, exercising, and striving to be a good sister. Daughter, and girlfriend. Most of all I have been feeling like I want to engrave my name in this field and leave a legacy for others. I’ve worked hard to be a shining example for all people, female or male. It is my intent to encourage others to take leaps into their next best selves through carefully made plans and daily focus on drivers that lead to results.
Q: What has been your advice to loan originators about this past year economy?
CHRISTINE BECKWITH:“Another great question. I wrote an article on this subject that was published in Mortgage Women Magazine and shared by mPower in the MBA News. The article title was “How to Stay in a Solid Sales Seat in 2018—The Game of Musical Mortgage Chairs.” (find on Linkedin) In the article I gave the advice to stay seated unless you were sitting in a sinking boat. The cliff notes version is this: Markets like this make people nervous.
When things slow, management gets pressure from above. Since I’ve been in their seats, early on this year I, with the other senior sales leaders on our team, knew enough to batten down the hatches and to discuss what the ugly parts of this years’ market would look like. Experience predicted that compressed margins would make people, especially managers. We advised our people against making a jump when other companies wave guarantee monies. That’s most often a short-sighted mistake. We still had casualty, less than most. We did pick up all the swimmers (the good ones) who were bailing out of their sinking ships.
This market is rough as it has multi-faceted issues, like rising rates, inventory pressures, and compressed margins. We have to widen and deepen the sales funnels. I said it hundreds of times this year, markets like this are a fifth-grade math problem. Johnny sells 10 apples a day for $1. How many apples does he need to sell to make the same money if apples are only worth 50 cents now? Answer: Johnny needs to sell more apples which means work harder for less.
That is math no one wants to face or hear but it’s true. Sales people need to adjust, ebb and flow to match efforts with the market state. Show me a rigid sales guy and I will show you a guy who will not bounce when he hits the wall, it will crumble him to pieces.
This market is a sign of a slowly strengthening economy. It has problems that can’t be solved overnight and won’t be. We will prevail, but we need to row steady, stay in the boat, and bail any water we are taking on. We need to stick together as a team. We need to keep our eye on the bottom line of our P & L’s and stay lean and mean. And most of all, we need to be willing to make difficult decisions to benefit the whole of the team.
Q:Where do you think technology is taking the Mortgage Industry?
CHRISTINE BECKWITH:“I think it’s going to take us everywhere. LOL! Mobile, Block Chain (long term), the lead flow arena–all will strengthen when equity begins to return combined with a desire for activity or more volume. MLO’s need to get active to fill the void. We are figuring out the algorithms of this market and as we do, we will see technology help us get where the business is going.
We talked about this on the Progressive Lending FinTech panel during MBA Annual. Mortgage companies investing in technology need to make a 2-year commitment because sales people adapt slowly. The average age of the MLO is 52. That will change. We are seeing younger originators enter the space again. There was a big lull for a while when the first reactive rigid regulation of licensure for MLO’s came out in 08’, but with the letting out of the belts combined with signs of past years stronger economy, younger originators are emerging. With their thirst for technology they will drive us to greater usage. My mom still doesn’t text, it kills me. I would do anything to send her a text. If I can get my mother to text, I can teach anyone anything on earth. I have made this my greatest goal in life.
Q:If you could say anything to the mortgage industry for the past 30-year career and to up and coming professionals what would that be?
CHRISTINE BECKWITH:“You ask excellent and topical questions. My best advice? Assume nothing. I would tell them to stay pliable and be prepared to adjust. I would remind them they are an extension of Wall Street, that they sell on a moving platform and as such, what they are selling, how, and to whom, will all change tomorrow.
Being successful is far less about “selling” than it is about networking and being trusted. Find your tribe of referral partners and offer them value.
Show up when you say you will, be professional, work hard, don’t take anything less than excellence from leadership, and if you want to have career succession be authentic. People will follow you if you are real. They know the difference.
Don’t succumb to the wolves. There are many; keep your head down and walk by them. Have Faith that you are making a difference. Believe in you. Be Strong at all times.
Compete like your life depended on it. Be the game changer, the bar raiser and don’t let words hurt you, especially if directed by lesser individuals who are trying to shake you. You chose a career of survival, be a survivor. Don’t see yourself as a victim, play harder, out smart your competition, just be better.
Be the best…your best, the highest and best version of yourself you can be. Remember people are watching. If what you are doing can’t be printed on the front of the NYTimes, don’t do it. Finally, remember you are building your legacy every day you’re alive. Build a great one, one your grandchildren will gather their grandchildren around to repeat; the story of their ancestry. We need more of that. Be that.
CHRISTINE BECKWITH:Long after we are gone the homes we close on will be occupied by folks who are sitting around a fireplace or table with a family who is kept, warm, safe, and healthy. Those roofs will weather storms, will create memories from holidays, and raise generations of people to come who will one day be figuring out the economy of a future we can’t even imagine. Let’s take the baton, do whatever we can with it to push the ball forward and hand it off, in great shape with the spirit of entrepreneurs, heart and soul for the next guy in line.
Christine Beckwith thinks:
1.) Even with the global economy slowing moderately as we head into 2019, we continue to say goodbye to the effects of the financial crisis & the worst recession since the Great Depression of 1929, the best advice for mortgage professionals is “stay relentlessly focused” on their own personal business and financial wellness. Hone Sales Skills, Refine Business Plans at a laser focus and build your savings, reduce debt and be focused on business growth.
2.) Ignore volatility in stocks, bonds and commodities because these are things you simply cannot control. What you can control are you actions and attitude, which brings me full circle back to staying relentlessly focused.
3.) Inflation might increase a bit but this should be offset by a more rapidly slowing Asian and European economy, which in essence allows us to import disinflation. So despite a modest slowdown in economic growth the US housing market will remain strong due to a persistent supply and demand imbalance.
Christine Beckwith became a 30-year mortgage industry veteran in 2018. Over 3 decades she has consistently won in mortgage sales originations at all ranks, from the Loan Officer seat and up the ranks all the way to her Regional sales management roles at the top 5% consistently. For the past 18 years she has run mortgage companies at a senior and executive level. During that time, she has continued to win public awards for breaking several glass ceilings. She would become a sought after public speaker on the mortgage circuit and in January will be speaking on Gary Vaynerchuk bill at his Agent2021 tour, in Miami at the Miami Gardens Stadium. Christine will also co-host the National Association of Minority Mortgage Bankers Convention in April. This past year Christine won numerous awards including “Most Elite Women in Mortgage” by MPA, a 3X recipient of this public nominated & culled award. She also was named “Most Connected Mortgage Professional” by National Mortgage Publications and “Most Powerful women in Banking” by NMP as well. She was the feature story and cover of Mortgage Womens Magazine for the March/April edition and now is a monthly columnist for that publication. She has written and released two bestselling books in early 2018 and won the American BookFest award for her Sales book ‘Wise Eyes’ while receiving the “Best Selling” label for ‘Clear Boundaries’ her safety book by ‘Hot New Releases’ & ‘Womens Business’ Book ratings. On November 1st, Christine fully launched her Coaching company 20/20 Vision for Success Coaching & Consulting into the Mortgage finance and Real Estate world.