COVID-19 has changed the way businesses function over the past several weeks, but due to the cyclical nature of mortgage lending, lenders are conditioned to deal with change, according to Envoy Mortgage Chief Operating Officer Kim Hoffman.
“I’ve often said if you don’t like change, the mortgage industry might be the wrong career,” Hoffman said.
HousingWire sat down with Hoffman to talk about lenders as they manage the shift to working from home and other changes required by the coronavirus pandemic. This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
HousingWire: Many companies have had to shift their operations in recent weeks – what advice do you have for companies dealing with all these changes at once?
Kim Hoffman: The mortgage industry teaches us to be fast on our feet, think long term with a laser focus on today and always be prepared for the unforeseen. Just think, in one week, our entire industry pivoted to work from home; some of us did this with teams on and offshore and still originated hundreds of million dollars of loans. Not many other industries could accomplish this while keeping capital flowing to consumers. I’m beyond proud of our industry; we are strong beyond words.
My advice to others is to leverage your networks. Early in March, I began calling my friends and peers in the industry and sharing my concerns and listening to theirs; we started having group calls discussing problems and potential solutions. Our industry is highly collaborative, yes, in ways we are competitive, but we’re all focused on serving the housing needs of consumers. We are open and honest with one another, and this helps the greater good of the industry.
My other advice is to stay close to your teams. Working from home is new to many and can be isolating. I have three touch points a day with my leadership team, morning, lunch and sundown. We talk watercooler topics, important industry updates, tactical issues and resolutions. The idea is to maintain our sense of team and community. Also, one day a week, we change from phone calls to video chats to tighten our sense of relationship. I got this idea from our CEO, Ron Millard; I winced at the thought of hair and makeup prep, but as usual, he was right!
HW: How can technology better help lenders be successful through various lending environments?
KH: You’re either using people to move your business and technology to assist, or you’re using technology to move your business and people to assist – I prefer the latter. You can’t be nimble and scaleable in our industry if you’re heavily reliant on scaling people up and down. When the market changes, it affects the entire industry, and we’re all recruiting the same resources at the same time and paying premiums only to reduce later. Technology is the only cost-effective and efficient way to ensure you can meet the ever-changing mortgage landscape without extreme cost and pain to your people.
This would include point-of-sale technology where the borrower can self-serve as much as they’re comfortable and engage with their loan officer on their terms. Implement the GSE tools such as D1C and AIM for the customer experience, decision certainty, speed and friction-free fulfillment, not to mention the rep. and warrant relief, which is more critical today than perhaps any other time. Complement this with a modern LOS that combines intuitive workflow, automation, built-in QC supported by your core team, and you’ve done well to create a best-in-industry delivery system.
HW: What advice are you giving women during this time to advance their career while helping the industry move forward?
Keep focused, don’t let the distractions of the media and other sources consume you. Tough times shake out those who stay on their game and those who don’t.
Yes it’s hard, but if it were easy, everyone would do it, this sets us apart. Don’t let up on the throttle!
HW: HousingWire recognized you as one of our 2019 Women of Influence. What is your secret to success?
KH: I’m not sure I have a secret. I’m a lifelong learner and enjoy sharing my knowledge and elevating others. I love nothing more than to see my employees flourish and hope I’ve imparted some nugget of wisdom that’s helped them along their journey. And never lose sight that you’re in the role to create tangible, measurable results.
HousingWire’s nominations are now open for our 2020 Women of Influence. But they won’t stay open long – nominations close on April 24, 2020. So nominate your Woman of Influence today, we want to get to know them!