Develop A Team, Not A Shop

As the mortgage industry continues to evolve and lenders look to target new homebuyer markets, training and developing a healthy, diverse team of mortgage professionals has become all the more important. 

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Why is this though? Simply put, borrowers want to work with lenders who understand their individual needs and are focused on providing a high level of service, and not simply trying to make a sale. For example, when we recruit VA loan specialists, we look to hire veterans or like-minded individuals because they understand the unique needs of veteran borrowers and what specific traits they should look for in their mortgage. 

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Even more important however, is for lenders to instill the heart of a teacher in their employees. This means coaching staff on how to delicately guide borrowers through one of the most important events of their lives: purchasing a home.  It’s here where the memory, knowledge and experience of seasoned employees can play a significant role for those entering the industry and in need of that institutional wisdom. We often find that people don’t just want to know what they “can” do, but rather what they “should” do. This means focusing on advice and guidance, not just orders or commands.

Building a Better Path

But there’s a problem. Quite frankly, there is no traditional path into this business from the university system. As a result, most loan officers end up in the mortgage business by accident. My vision is to build a firm instead of a shop by borrowing the apprentice system used in the financial planning industry and other professions.

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I’ve always been surprised that the mortgage industry lacks a structured mentorship program with high levels of accountability, training and guidance.  Mortgage shops are notorious for having a sink-or-swim mentality, saying “Here’s your compensation plan. Now, go find clients and do loans!” Too often, new originators are tossed into the deep end after receiving little more than half-baked training programs.

My business partner Rick Mount and I are beginning to develop some entry-level professionals on the California team at Churchill. This program is currently in its beta-test phase, but I can already tell that these new employees will be future leaders in the mortgage business. To find these future leaders, I look for five things — or the Five C’s: 

  1. Character (first and foremost)
  2. Competence 
  3. Care Factor 
  4. Consistency 
  5. Coachable 

This is my litmus test, which not only helps us find strong candidates, but with those five aspects firmly in place throughout the team, build a good, healthy staff of mortgage professionals. After finding the right recruits, we provide guidance personally and professionally, and also pair them with mentors — home-loan specialists who have done things very well for a long time. This way, our new, inexperienced recruits can learn mortgage best practices under the wing of a veteran pro before we launch them into their own position with their own client base.

Instilling Healthy Boundaries

That’s not the end of the process, however. One of my personal missions is to help my people find and put into place healthy boundaries that will protect them from themselves in the long term. Too often, I have seen bright-minded mortgage professionals come into the business with a passion for helping people become homeowners, only to have the business slowly take them over, like a tide, and push them to a place where they become slaves to the business.

To combat that unhealthy trend, we teach our people the importance of maintaining a healthy mindset by taking the time to plan out each week. We try to instill a mantra of 10 percent planning, 80 percent massive execution and 10 percent course correction, adjustment and wise counsel. This way, our people can attack each week with intention instead of spinning their wheels every day.We encourage and model daily discipline physically, mentally and with healthy family relationships in addition to building a successful mortgage business.

Establishing boundaries between work and life helps create healthier, happier mortgage professionals. Look, in this business, we often work with people who are experiencing one of the top-five emotional moments in their life. Buying a new home is right up there with getting married and landing that first job. It is a high-impact moment.

As mortgage professionals, one of the best gifts we can offer our clients is the space to be able to enjoy and fully experience the magic of that moment. But if we, as a group, are not at a healthy point in our own lives, both personally and professionally, we can miss the window of opportunity into that high-impact moment.

The path to creating a firm of healthy professionals instead of just leading a shop of drones who churn out loans is to ensure that everyone on the team is at the top of their game and are mentally, physically and spiritually healthy. My goal is always to be healthier on the inside than I am on the outside — and to make sure that this attitude permeates throughout the team as well.

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