Mar. 17: LO survey results; notes of advice for women, minorities, and rookies in the biz

Welcome to St. Patrick’s Day – don’t forget to wear some green. Pretty simple. Residential mortgage banking? Not so simple. Take an industry with a couple hundred thousand people, many of whom are very competitive, throw in some declining volumes, a desire to grab market share, vague and changing regulations, a thirst for profits, simmer in the crock pot, and see how things turn out.

Andrew Hong writes, “In talking to LOs we hear a lot of anxiety around some of the problems and challenges that they face in their jobs. A few weeks ago, we issued a comprehensive survey to LOs and gathered some interesting insights on challenges that LOs face, as well as the content they find useful to address those challenges. There were a few insights that probably aren’t a surprise to most: LOs prioritize building referral partnerships, have the most anxiety at the underwriting stage of the loan production process, and really want to learn how to generate their own leads.

“But there were also several insights that might be surprising to some including their thoughts on digital marketing tools and marketing automation, improving their branding online and finding ways to connect with the millennial demographic. In a time where we continue to see news of Lenders and LOs pointing the finger at each other regarding important topics like compensation, perhaps we should all look at some the challenges LOs face and understand how to address these challenges together; especially when it comes to marketing and lead generation. Sure, lenders don’t need to solve these problems entirely, but one thing is clear: LOs need help in navigating the digital marketing and branding landscape to find new sources of leads.” (You can access the results of the full survey here and if you have any thoughts about digital marketing and branding as it relates to LOs, please reach out to Andrew Hong at Tobe Agency.)

Advice for women, minorities, and new folks in our biz

I am fortunate to receive many emails from tenured industry vets with advice, and, when I can, put them in my daily commentary.

For example, from Louisiana came a note from Lindsay Anders, Servicing Manager at Assurance Financial. “I enjoy seeing you seeking responses from women in the industry. As I attend more events, I notice so many more female faces.

“As I quickly approach my 10-year anniversary with Assurance Financial, I cannot help but think about the journey. My journey started as a recent college graduate who applied for a job at the very company who had originated the loan on her 1st home that month. As time evolved I continued to move up the ladder and now, ten years later, I am the Servicing Manager for an extremely successful, growing mortgage company. The biggest piece of advice I can give women entering this industry is to be confident in yourself. Know your worth. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions! My boss once told me, ‘You’ll never know unless you ask.’ Throughout my entire career, I have continued to ask questions. I am confident that those questions have helped me get where I am today.”

I received this note from South Carolina’s Rhonda Marcum (retired from being Executive Director of the Mortgage Bankers Association of the Carolinas, Inc., she is now tackling her “to do” list). “In my opinion the best advice for a woman entering the mortgage lending profession is to know herself and know her motivation. Being honest about strengths is equally important to knowing one’s weaknesses. Both the strengths and the weaknesses triggered me to grow and to explore and to develop. Also important is being capable of setting priorities, and allowing the priorities to change as long-term goals are realized. That helps to keep the industry exciting and challenging. I was attracted to mortgage lending in 1970 when I was told mortgage lending provided a way to make a relatively good living, experience a lifelong learning opportunity and provide a tangible service to people. I was assured I would never become bored. I am retiring at the end of this calendar year and I have never been bored. My journey began in 1971.

“I knew I wanted to focus on something that would satisfy an appetite to continue to learn and would challenge me as I learned to explore the curiosities that each new piece of knowledge triggered. I knew I liked finding solutions and quickly recognized that each potential mortgagor was unique in his needs. That was very exciting to me. I could serve each client if I listened and if I were knowledgeable. A person new to our industry can embrace mentors all along the way. Those who have successful careers generally want to share their passion, their understanding, their wisdom that comes from experience. Listen, consider and if appropriate embrace graciously. Self-made is a fantasy. We all receive support along the way. It never occurred to me as I entered mortgage lending that my relationships with other lenders and with associates of our industry would cement the deepest and closest friendships imaginable to me. Competitors in one scenario were extended family in another.

“Something that I wish I had understood early on relates to timing. Timing is critical to the success of any individual in our industry today. Introducing a product, a concept, a tool of any type is impacted by timing. It is the one thing that remains cloaked in mystery for most of us. It took me many years to grasp that before I could promote something I had to completely embrace it. It needed to be second nature to me for me to wear it well. To embrace it I needed to put it under a magnifying glass and understand every aspect of it. Once understood, its benefits could be communicated. And with timing, we need to identify when it is time to give back. Mortgage lending is a satisfying and rewarding choice for many. When the time comes to contribute rather than to take, celebrate having the privilege to give back to the industry that has served you well. That opportunity came for me ten years ago, and truly serving our members has been even more satisfying than serving mortgage clients.”

David Pearson, the COO of Kansas’ United Mortgage, observed, “Rob, I am appreciative of the pieces you are including in your daily message that give women the opportunity to answer the questions you pose. I would like to respond from another angle if you don’t mind.

“I am a 25-year veteran of this industry that I absolutely love. I often say that it is a love hate business. If you love it you are here forever, if you hate it, better get out in hurry. Middle of the road would be a jacket that buckles in the back and a padded room. I am a white male but also started at somewhat of a disadvantage as I did not have my degree. I was serving in the Navy and the first Gulf War got in the way. Obviously not even close, in comparison, to what people of color and women in our industry face but that is not what I am writing about. I had a very strong influence on me both personally and professionally, that is what I am writing about.

“The person was one of the first females in an all men’s club. Senior level management in this industry. She helped found the APMW in the area we lived in at the time. I watched this woman grow in her career personally but also the effect she had on others. Some of the people who are leaders in this business today were probably influenced by this person as well. I was fortunate enough to get a front row seat to this development and her growing influence on the industry. I was so inspired by what she did and who she was that I joined this business and vowed to do my part to help the industry through education, thinking out of the box and teaching the next generation. This person was my mother.

“She is long retired now but is still someone I go to advice for. There were several other women that I have known or worked for that had an amazing impact on me, the person I have become, and my career. Now I’m not some famous person in our industry. I am not the leader of the largest company in the world. I’m just an operations executive who has hopefully done some positive things for our industry through association involvement, teaching classes here and there, and hopefully preparing the next generation of mortgage lenders to take care of this amazing business when I finally decide to hang it up and head to the beach.

“Look around and get your motivation and find your mentor wherever you have the opportunity. I just wanted to thank all these amazing women who have been such positive role models for me as well as all the women I have worked with. I feel like they have been an amazing part of our industry and to not encourage and feed their success is not only embarrassing for our community but tragic, as many of them hold the key to success. Thanks for allowing me to voice my opinion.”

Doug Miller, President of Mortgage Services at Tennessee’s Evolve Bank & Trust, sent, “I appreciate your efforts devoted to getting success stories from females and minorities. I can’t help but believe what stimulated your decision to devote time and space to this issue is the fact that, in our industry, like many others, there most likely have been passive or active discrimination towards people other than white males. I would like to comment on this from an old, white male manager’s perspective.

“Many years ago, I consciously searched for female school teachers to recruit as retail production managers.  I did this because I thought they had the skills, discipline, etc. to do a great job if I could just teach them the mortgage business.  I was fortunate that I was generally a winner when I made these hires. Later in my career I was fortunate to manage several large correspondent programs. One of my first good moves was to promote a young, female, African American from an assistant’s position to a regional sales position covering the southeastern states primarily.  This was in a time when there was obvious discrimination in the south.  That young lady did a fantastic job and subsequently went on to other positions in our industry and performed superbly as well.

I currently have a female responsible for production at my bank.  She is probably the hardest working person I have ever worked with and does a great job.  I have been extremely fortunate over the years to have many female employees who performed fantastically and have been very successful in our industry.

When I look back at these success stories all these ladies and minorities had two things in common. They all worked very hard and smart. I want to believe that my goal in hiring or promoting these persons was pure and simple, hire the best person for the job.  What made them the best persons for their various jobs goes back to how they performed on the job before they made the next move up the ladder.

If, after 47 years’ service in our industry, I can provide some advice to females and minorities, it is again pretty simple. I believe if you work hard and smart, you will progress as far as you want. If you work for an employer who you feel does not treat you fairly based on the positive and evident results you generate, and you feel that the employer is biased, go get another job with another employer. In our industry changing employers is almost the norm so do not hesitate to do this if your results warrant better treatment. I feel I have been extremely fortunate to have worked with some awesome ladies and minorities and would not have enjoyed many of my successes had it not been for them.”

A man stumbles up to the only other patron in a bar and asks if he could buy him a drink. “Why of course,” comes the reply.

The first man then asks: “Where are you from?”

“I’m from Ireland,” replies the second man.

The first man responds: “You don’t say, I’m from Ireland too! Let’s have another round to Ireland.”

“Of course,” replies the second man.

Curious, the first man then asks: “Where in Ireland are you from?”

“Dublin,” comes the reply.

“I can’t believe it,” says the first man.

“I’m from Dublin too! Let’s have another drink to Dublin.”

“Of course,” replies the second man.

Curiosity again strikes, and the first man asks: “What school did you go to?”

“Saint Mary’s,” replies the second man.

“I graduated in ’62.”

“This is unbelievable!” the first man says.

“I went to Saint Mary’s and I graduated in ’62, too!”

About that time, in comes one of the regulars and sits down at the bar. “What’s been going on?” he asks the bartender.

“Nothing much,” replies the bartender. “The O’Malley twins are drunk again…”

Visit for more information on our industry partners, access archived commentaries, or to subscribe to the Daily Mortgage News and Commentary. If you’re interested, visit my periodic blog at the STRATMOR Group web site. The current blog is, “Servicing: All It’s Cracked Up to Be?” If you have both the time and inclination, make a comment on what I have written, or on other comments so that folks can learn what’s going on out there from the other readers.


(Market data provided in partnership with MBS Live. For free job postings and to view candidate resumes visit LenderNews. Currently there are over 300 mortgage professionals looking for operations, secondary and management roles. For up-to-date mortgage news visit Mortgage News Daily. For archived commentaries, or to subscribe, go to Copyright 2018 Chrisman LLC. All rights reserved. Occasional paid job listings do appear. This report or any portion hereof may not be reprinted, sold or redistributed without the written consent of Rob Chrisman.)

Rob Chrisman