The workplace environment for Bank of America’s loan officers is famously toxic.
It’s been discussed among my friends with their operations here in the DFW area, and it’s touched upon in my interview with Casey Crawford, the CEO of Movement Mortgage — published in the next issue of HousingWire magazine.
It all appeared to come into sharper focus yesterday as the extent of the bank's blasé attitude toward mortgages showed in their seemingly collapsing mortgage lending and servicing platforms.
In short, they rolled the mortgage operation’s bottom line into one, single category… as if to say: “Loan officers are important to us, but not important enough to keep their divisions separate.” The disdain was later echoed by the CEO himself.
In a call with investors, Marty Mosby, director of bank and equity strategies at Vining Sparks, questioned the move: “… just thinking strategically from where you come from and not being a business segment and now is actually limited in the sense of what you’re looking at from a line item on the fee income statement. So just strategically, kind of think about that shift and what that means going forward?”
To which CEO Brian Moynihan replied:
“What it doesn’t mean is that we’re not delivering mortgage loans for our customers and home equity loans. We did $9-plus billion this quarter mortgage, $3 billion-plus in home equity loans and we’ll continue to do that. The issue is when you put them on your balance sheet, there’s no sale, gain on sale. When the mortgage servicing portfolio is running down to be a core business, the amount of fees there’s not as high. The MSR is down to few billion dollars and running off. And so it’s just immaterial, Marty, that’s the problem.”
So BofA is still doing mortgages, just the way in which they’re now categorized is “immaterial”?
Such language comes as no surprise to loan officers. It didn’t take me long to find one that has a problem with Bank of America. In a message on LinkedIn, the LO tells me that, as a loan officer who has been on both sides — wholesale and retail — she’s never had a good experience with Bank of America.
Never? Well, why not?
“[I’ve] only worked directly with them when I was a mortgage broker and haven't accepted job offers when they had approach me,” she said. “I firmly believe 'big' depository banks maintain a mortgage division because it helps them with other parts of the business - like CRA requirements - but if it was up to them they wouldn't be on the mortgage business.”
As BofA continues to move into the digital mortgage space, it should quickly take care and remind itself that mortgages are a people business. And working for the consumer, while not caring about the disposition of the loan officer, is going to continue to tarnish the end-user experience in a way that tech can't fix.
Until the big bank can figure that out, it will continue to have a problem with loan officers and vice versa.