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The key to attracting and retaining mortgage talent in turbulent times

There have been multiple reports lately of layoffs within the mortgage industry, but some companies, like American Pacific Mortgage, continue to grow during this difficult time. HousingWire recently spoke with American Pacific Mortgage President Ned Payant about how to build a culture that attracts and retains mortgage talent.

HousingWire: How do you retain mortgage talent once it’s in-house?

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Ned Payant: That’s what we are all striving for — to find and retain good people. At APM, it starts with our strategic plan. Each year we set goals in the areas of production, people and process. Embedded in those goals are strategies and intentions, specifically around our people. Being intentional in this area contributes to our high retention.

Culture is what retains good people. We know that our culture is unmatched in the industry. We also know who we serve — our originators — and we treat them like customers. Our mission is to be 100% focused on making our originators look good. That’s it: just knowing who we show up to work to serve every day.

We operate the company with three core values — respectful, transparent and scrappy. Our team members know they’re part of something more than just a company; they’re part of our APM Family. We keep this top of mind in all our dealings and decision-making.

HW: What are the keys to attracting mortgage talent in the current environment?

NP: To offset the challenges of today’s market, loan officers need competitive products to capture more opportunities, combined with good technology and platforms to help streamline their business, create a better customer experience and reduce expenses. I think everyone would agree on that.

What we’ve found at APM is that in addition to those important assets — all of which we provide — branch managers and loan officers also want flexibility in how they run their business and dependability in the company they partner with. They don’t want to wake up every day wondering what their company is doing or if they might have to adapt their business due to a merger or acquisition.

One of the most significant things we’ve done as a company was to transition to an employee-owned company (ESOP) back in early 2021. While many companies went the M&A route on the heels of 2020, our owners felt compelled to stay true to our core values and the vision that APM was founded on. This decision has absolutely been the right one for us, leading to higher employee retention and aiding in our exponential company growth over the past 12 months.

HW: American Pacific Mortgage has continued to grow its footprint in 2022. Why did APM make the decision to expand amid so much discussion of downsizing?

NP: The answer to this is pretty simple: It’s what we do best. There are always opportunities in a down market. Our leadership team made the conscious (and unanimous) decision to expand our company footprint despite the forecasts. It’s in our DNA, constantly looking at opportunities and being intentional about where we put time and resources. Growth was a high priority for us.

Our growth mindset cascades through our organization, from our founders and leadership team to managers, branches and loan officers. At APM, we aren’t looking at the negatives of the market; we’re looking for opportunities where we can grow market share on a local and national level.

For our originators, this means providing them industry-leading products, cutting-edge technology and the flexibility they need to win every deal they touch. For our branches, it’s about being entrepreneurial-minded and providing business models that are flexible, create ease in the way they do business, and help them to expand and grow the way they want.

2022 will end up being the best expansion year for APM — halfway through the year, we’ve added 50 branches through organic recruiting, as well as several acquisitions and partnerships that are underway. It’s been rewarding to bring new people into the APM Family and enter into markets where we had little to no presence.

HW: What are some actionable steps lenders can take to foster a healthy company culture?

NP: Building a strong company culture really starts at the top. Leadership has to live and breathe the core values of the company, and that has to cascade down through every department and team member in the organization. Every person should know the mission of the company, our purpose and vision, and the acceptable practices to promote and preserve the culture.

It’s important to put your people first and to invest in their success. The ESOP has been a great example of this for us. Equally important are our coaching and mentorship, our live events and our generous tools and resources. Additionally, we offer our employees a number of employment benefits and assist them in times of need through our nonprofit, APMCares.

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