There is not a “best” mortgage company out there. There is however a “best” fit for you. Find out my thoughts and how I would approach making sure that you are at the best company for you.
Making Sure Your Career And Your Company Are Aligned
There is not a “best” mortgage company to work for, it all comes down to ensuring that you are at the best company for you. Every loan officer or branch manager has their own goals and are at different stages in their careers. You want to ensure that your company’s platform aligns with your plans and how you envision growing or maintaining your career.
I do however think there is a maturation process or life cycle of an originator since I’ve been through it myself and I’ve seen everyone I know in the industry go through this same maturation process.
When you start in the industry you will need different things than when you are a veteran. However I see too many originators get held back because of their set up. They are trying to do 3 times as many loans as when they started but they are using the same platform.
The Life Cycle Of An Originator
24 loans to 36 loans per year:
If you fall in this category regardless of how long you’ve been in the business or what goals you have I think you need the following:
You should be in a branch office with a shared processor, shared assistant and a great support team around you as part of the branch. You should have a manager or a mentor that can help you as you grow and start to do more units.
In this category the biggest challenge is typically lead flow. Originators doing 2 to 3 loans per month typically don’t have enough referrals and in most cases it’s because they are doing almost the entire loan on their own, they don’t’ have guidance from someone that is trying to help them grow and in turn they spend most of their day on their couple deals and don’t have time to fix the lead flow/referral problem.
Yes, you need to have the right products for your area and good pricing but the big challenge is time and not enough opportunities. Many times originators in this category end up doing any deal they can find no matter how off the wall it is because that is all they have. This is a huge mistake!
Put yourself in the right setup where you can focus on the lead flow and referrals, this is what will take you to the next level in your career.
2nd Stage Of An Originator
36 to 60 units per year:
At this point you should still be part of a branch that offers the great support, a shared assistant, a shared processor and someone helping you build your book of business such as a manager or mentor. The great news is that when you get to doing 5 units per month you’re just about to break through but too often people hit a sticking point at 5 units per month and here are some things to help you get past that.
The question becomes of the 60 units a year are you doing exactly 5 per month? Are you doing 10 then 0 and then 10 again? The other thing to look at is are you doing 60 units and working 60 hour weeks and just forcing the production through with effort?
If you are a 5 every month person: Then it’s back to lead flow, you need to ensure that the platform you are in with the shared operations staff is efficient enough for you to have the time to get more referrals. Put a plan in place to get more referrals and then go out and execute it.
If you are a 10 then 0 and 10: this means you have the lead flow to grow and your process and shared operations staff is the issue. You have lead flow to do 10 a month but once you get those 10 you spend so much of your own time closing them you go 3 or 4 weeks without selling. You need to be in a better operations platform that frees up your time.
If you’re doing it out of pure effort: If you’re doing 5 units per month and are way over worked, doing 50 – 60 hour weeks then the entire platform your in is wrong. You do too much on each loan so you need a new platform from an operations side, you have deal flow but not the right kind of deal flow so you need to re-target on better referral partners. The good news is you have the drive it takes to get to the next level, now you just need to find the right place to work that will allow you to get there.
Stage 3 Of An Originator
60 to 85 units per year:
When you are close to the 7 loans per month average you are on the right track and you have most of it figured out. You just need a few minor tweaks and improvements to expand your business. You should have a dedicated processor at this point and a shared assistant. 7 loans doesn’t warrant your own assistant but you do need some help besides just your processor. Believe me I had this set up for a few years where it was me and a processor and we could never get over the hump. To do more you need to have a 3rd person even if it’s shared to help out.
Depending on your product mix i.e. lots of govt deals or lots of down payment assistance loans at this level you could even warrant having your own small branch and run off a P and L model. Govt deals are the most profitable loans and you can price them better which is what makes a P and L work. If you do lots of DPA loans that are not as profitable the P and L wouldn’t work since there is no way to be profitable and still be competitive.
Running a branch and being on a P and L is the best way to operate your business and should be the goal because it gives you the opportunity to grow and build a business. At 7 units per month its possible and you need to ensure your company will allow you to do that. If not you’ll be stuck at this level forever.
You need the dedicated processor and you need to build to a dedicated assistant or you’ll do 80 loans for eternity. Trust me, I spent 2 years doing this until it all finally clicked.
Stage 4 Of An Originator
85 units to 150 units:
At this point you should be running a branch on a P and L model. You should have your own dedicated processor, a dedicated assistant and if you’re on the higher end of this even a dedicated operations manager. Running a branch, being on a P and L is what will allow you to have the tools you need to run a business not just do transactions.
At this level you should be able to run a profitable P and L so there is no reason to work under someone anymore. You’ll need your own branch if you want to grow or if you don’t care about growth you’ll need the branch to do the same and work less hours. Either way this is the next progression to having “your own career” not just a job.
At this level you also have enough of the game plan right that you can start being the mentor and manager for other originators that are where you were a few years ago. You can’t do this when you work in a branch but when you have your own it opens up these doors.
You need to focus on having the right operations team in place, the right process in place for doing loans and once that is set is where the fun begins. You’ll have time to sell more loans, get more referrals, hire new originators and do all the fun stuff we dream about.
Final Stage Of An Originator
150 units or more:
At this point you have almost everything figured out. You have a branch, you have operations, you have a great process, you might even have some originators to mentor. Life is good. However the biggest pitfall or originators that get to this level is that they fall backwards. They still view themselves as a “branch manager” and running a “branch” but at this point when you are on a P and L model you should be looking at it as “I’m running my own company.”
At this point it’s not about re-building the fundamentals since if you’ve gotten to this point you already have those. At this stage it is about refining what is in place, expanding on what you have, leveraging your P and L while making sure what you have is scalable.
Once you have a scalable model at your branch now the only thing to do is scale it up. Add new originators, add new operations people, add marketing coordinators, add business development managers, grow your social media platform the list goes on and on.
You’ve made it and the only question is have you made it for this year and next year, or have you made it for the next 15 to 20 years? Build a wildly successful long term mortgage practice because by this point you have all the tools needed, don’t fall backwards or be the person who 6 years from now is just getting back to this level.
Putting a bow on everything:
as i said in the beginning there is not 1 right mortgage company for everyone. look at the stage you are in, look where you want to go and make sure you are in the right place for that.
I’ll give you 2 examples of originators that I recently spoke to so you can see the contrast.
I spoke to a long time veteran who is in an area where 90% of his business is Jumbo business. We all know that the big bank with private banking relationships and discounts dominate that market. He is at a point where he isn’t looking to build a business, he doesn’t desire to make 1m per year, he’s cool with 250K and working 9 to 5. He is at a mortgage bank and is going to transition to a big bank. To me that is perfect. He can sit at the office, get his leads or walk ins, do 4 or 5 loans a month that don’t rate shop and make his 20K per month, take 2 weeks vacation, have good benefits etc… He’s a perfect fit for a big bank.
I also spoke to an originator who does 55mm per year, is working under a branch as just an LO, has a shared processor and no assistant. He’s working 55 hours a week and going in on Saturdays twice a month and wants to build his business. He wants to do more loans, make more money and work less hours so he can actually see his family. He’s not in the right set up. He needs to be running a branch, be at a company that allows him to do this and start having a sustainable model.
Long story short, being at the right company, in the right position for where you are at and where you want to go is one of, if not the most important things in an originators success.