It goes without saying the market for mortgage Loan Officers is a challenging one today.

How do Loan Officers set themselves apart and earn a share of today’s smaller business pie? We asked Julius Washington, executive licensed lending officer at Foothill Ranch, California-based loanDepot. As one of loanDepot's top-performing LOs, Washington shared his perspective on what drives his personal success. 

Q: What's the biggest challenge for loan officers in today's market? 

JW: The market is always the biggest obstacle. It is extremely volatile, and is always changing. We are in an environment of rising rates now. As a loan officer, you must communicate to your clients where the market is. You need to help them understand why they aren’t getting those low rates of the past. The interest rates might not be great today, but we can still put people in a better financial position through a refinance.

Q: How are you factoring rising rates into the way you do business?

JW: That is the tough part today. In today’s market, communication is the biggest tool you have. You have to show people how a refinance can help them even if they won’t qualify for those historically low rates. You must show people how a refinance can help them pay off higher-interest-rate debt or provide them with cash to improve the value of their home. Most of the people we work with more than likely refinanced in the last five to six years. But if you find a situation in which you can help them consolidate debt, there is still a way you can help them improve their financial situations. You just have to communicate that to them.

Q: How do you set yourself apart from your competitors in the lending space?

JW: You should be transparent during the lending process. You should outline for them the best- and worst-case scenarios. People are less likely to be afraid of the process if you are clear with them. They are also more likely to continue doing business with you. It is important to make them feel comfortable. This is often the biggest financial transaction they will make.

Loandepot's Julius Washington

Q: What is your favorite technological advancement in the lending space?

JW: Everything we do is online. I rely a lot on text-to-email or email-to-text apps. Everyone has their cellphones on them today. The easier you can make it to communicate with consumers, the better it is.

Q: How do you help applicants feel comfortable choosing loanDepot?   

JW: The foundation of our company is that we are on the cutting edge of innovation and technology. I use that to make people feel comfortable trusting us with their business. I use my CEO’s name daily because he knows so much about the mortgage business. I use our sales numbers to prove that we are busy. Those numbers give consumers a higher level of comfort that we are not a fly-by-night shop. We have been in business and helping consumers for quite some time now. I always communicate that.

Q: Have you relied on any mentors throughout your career?

JW: I started my mortgage career about six years ago with loanDepot. The company has a start-up system for people who come to it without mortgage lending experience. For me, the mentorship here starts with our CEO, Anthony Hsieh, and then trickles down. I’ve learned so much from multiple individuals. It’s not just one person, but many who have helped me continue to progress in this career.

Q: What's the one piece of advice you'd give loan officers who are struggling to compete?

JW: It’s like life in general, hard work will net you the best results possible. The time spent building your business matters. The number of people you talk with to help hone your craft matters. You must figure out how you can improve people’s financial situations, and then you must communicate this to your clients.