After 30 years in the mortgage business, I’ve spoken to countless managers about their philosophies for hiring and recruiting sales professionals into their teams. For the most part, almost all managers have the same philosophy and train of thought. They highly prefer experienced loan officers who can immediately produce with a predictable pipeline. Brand new originators, they fear, will require too much handholding and too much time to get up to speed, and there is uncertainty they will even make it.
These lenders are unfortunately missing out on a huge opportunity. How do I know? I have personally been a part of successfully onboarding hundreds of new loan officers into the marketplace. Our industry is at a pivotal point as today’s average loan officer reaches their 50s. In the next decade, approximately 200,000 of these professionals will enter retirement, leaving a massive hole in the market if the next generation does not start stepping into their shoes. As mortgage professionals, we must collectively prioritize finding brand new originators if we want our industry to prosper over the years to come.
New talent is as important for business today as it is for the future. Consider, when loan officers feel comfortable or complacent, production stagnates. Results really come to those who are hungry. Nothing can bring excitement back to an office like new blood. Rookies enter the industry energetic and enthusiastic. They don’t know the limitations more seasoned lenders often put on themselves. They aren’t deterred by market conditions because they don’t have the experience of a good or bad market. Rookies come without a jaded attitude or bad habits.
They only know what they are taught, so managers have the chance to mold them with positive practices and enthusiasm. With the right training and support, every new loan officer is a potential top producer. Investing in the success of the next generation does not have to be an all or nothing strategy! Imagine the impact if each lender new loan officers at only 5-10% of their sales force.
THE PERFECT CANDIDATE
Looking for new talent can seem like quite the daunting task. My passion is to make the search easier for our industry as my experience of what works and what doesn’t will minimize mis-hires. Managers can begin by seeking out people who already possess the qualities of a great originator.
The ideal candidate will have a track record of success and a demonstrable, stable work history in whatever career they’ve chosen up to this point. Also, someone with direct sales experience is already geared to be much more successful when entering the industry. We have surveyed our industry and found that 84% of top loan officers have a background in sales. The product may be different, but good salesmanship speaks for itself.
Ideal candidates will also have a pre-existing referral database. Managers should look for professionals who have connections and influence in their communities. These previous connections can become immediate new business. Successful loan officers build long-term relationships with customers and referral sources, so if someone has proven they are loyal, communicative and charismatic enough to form these connections, they are already headed in the right direction.
New talent needs to possess certain other personal qualities that uniquely qualify them for this industry. Patience may be a virtue, but it is not one rewarded in the mortgage business. Good loan officers want things done yesterday. Any lender knows this ambition paired with the demands of the job can lead to some long and stressful days, so the best candidates will be people who thrive when dealing with high stress or adversarial situations. Essentially, these are people who perform well under pressure.
After establishing the traits of an ideal candidate, the next step is to know where to look for them. The first place lenders should go is their current database. Who do they know that would make a good loan officer? Lenders can easily seek out former customers and business associates who possess the right qualities. But every prospective loan officer does not have to come from the lender’s database.
Loan officers within the lender will have business and personal relationships with individuals who fit the bill as well. Remember that the majority of us got into the industry because of someone we knew. With a whole team working toward the same recruiting goal, finding the right new talent is almost a certainty.
Don’t be afraid to target great employees from other career fields! My experience has shown that some of the best professionals to seek out include stock brokers, financial planners, insurance agents and real estate agents. These positions require a high degree of organization, a commitment to customer service, and the ability to market oneself. These skills are vital for loan officers, and they give people successful in these fields excellent experience for the mortgage industry.
Other professions that produce great originators include auto dealer finance managers and salespeople, IT sales professionals, school teachers and restaurant managers.
RECRUITING NEW TALENT
How do you recruit from these other career fields when the individual is already successful? Prepare the right messaging for a value proposition that is compelling. The best candidates will likely be skeptical about a change in career. Thankfully, our industry has much to offer the next generation.
Millennials are looking for different factors in a career than their parents or grandparents. Lenders should stress flexible work hours, a collaborative and active work environment, and the ability to make a positive difference in the community as benefits that make the mortgage industry the right choice for the next generation of professionals. Of course, the opportunity to earn a great living is a bonus but is not always the driving force for every recruit. Remember to ask a lot of questions to determine what is important to the candidate as I am confident our industry will fulfill their needs.
TRAINING NEW TALENT
New loan officers should not be a burden to their team. They should be a catalyst for enthusiasm and growth. However, when someone is uneducated in the skills, knowledge and practices of successful loan officers, they have the potential to seriously slow down business. Training must be intentional to include key knowledge, deal structuring, scripting and sales skills. This intentional training will produce a predictable and successful new loan officer with significantly less burden to the manager.
At XINNIX, we have seen the positive impact of a newly trained loan officer on a team’s production. The combination of the right rookie with proper training produces powerful results. Graduates from our ORIGINATOR training program, designed specifically for new loan officers, average 3.1 loan applications in their first month. They are active, producing team members.
We don’t have to shy away from new talent anymore. Managers from across the country are proving that with the proper sourcing, recruiting, and training, these new loan officers can energize their teams and launch their business to the next level.
Are you ready to see what new talent can do for your production?