MReport November 2021

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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18 | M R EP O RT FEATURE Regardless of your role on the sales side and the operations side, there's a real opportunity to make a great living in this industry." Hiring for Operations W hile loan officers might be top-of-mind when it comes to mortgage company employees, for the business to be successful, it also needs good underwriters, compliance people, and others who support the mortgage operations. "In the last three to five years we've seen rapid market swings up and down, putting lenders in a position where they are not only struggling to acquire, but also to retain underwriters, which is probably the most significant role in the whole process," said Eric Torigian, Chief Human Resource Officer for SitusAMC. The company also handles other post- application fulfillment work. While the skills for each of those jobs are different, there are some commonalities among char- acteristics of what makes for good employees in those areas. Technical acumen is essential, said Hardwick, adding that the company has trained the right people on occasion to fill certain support roles. Inlanta's Buege said he wants his operations staff to be good with not just the routine work, but also with the "Ripley's Believe It or Not" exceptions that will occur from time to time. "The most important attribute is a customer service orientation," Russo said. "You can hear it in someone's voice, you can see it in a Zoom meeting … Some have said while we are in this remote environment, it's more difficult to gauge that. I don't think so. I can tell in the first five minutes if I'm talking to someone my customers would want to talk to. If I'm not talking to someone our customers would want to talk to, then we're not a fit for each other." Though some employees, like underwriters, don't talk to customers, they do interact with others in the organization, so the need for a customer service orientation still exists, Russo said. "They have to have a solid rela- tionship with the people whose needs they're serving." Hardwick agreed, "You can have a rock star underwriter, but if they're poor when interacting with your sales teams or other parts of your processes, then that's going to be destructive and create speed bumps for everybody." The relationship building is a two-way street, Buege added. "You have to create an environ- ment so that they don't feel like a bunch of 'peg pounders.' They have to feel as valued and respected as the sales professional on the front end of the business." "With the back-office compo- nent of mortgage, it's uber-impor- tant that they can communicate and articulate challenges that they need help with," Allgood added. Martina Shubert, CTO for LenderClose, concurred, citing collaboration as the chief charac- teristic she looks for among new hires. An entrepreneurial spirit is also essential. "We really like employees who challenge the status quo," Schubert said. "That means chal- lenging everything. All of our team members have free rein to challenge anything that we're working on and what we are trying to accomplish for what we put in place." Schubert relies on LinkedIn as well as the company's industry connections to find new hires. "Seventy-five to 80% of our re- cruiting is driven from LinkedIn," Schubert said. "If you're trying to manage your career and you're not managing LinkedIn, you're missing a gigantic opportunity. Schubert sees the LenderClose's West Des Moines, Iowa, location as a draw. "It's the Silicon Valley of the Prairie," Schubert said. "One of the things that we can offer is a better cost of living than other areas." Schubert also cited an excellent education system, "Midwestern values" and opportunity for growth. "The benefits of being part of this organization are fan- tastic," said Schubert, adding that she took a pay cut to join LenderClose because she thought that the benefits outweighed the reduction in pay. Though the pandemic forced employees to be remote for an extended period, since the headquarters reopened, Schubert and other LenderClose execu- tives prefer to have workers in the office. The company follows guidelines to ensure the safety of all the employees. "As a growing, small, start-up initiative, we build the best prod- ucts because we talk to each other every day and we're face-to-face," Schubert explained. The dynamic could change with a change to remote work—a development Schubert saw when the office was closed—though a hybrid work situation is being discussed. "People being around people is important," Schubert added. "Our environment here is fun; our employees want to come into the office because it's a rejuvenat- ing experience just to be around others." Jon Gerretsen, Situs AMC's Managing Director of Residential New Originations and Fulfillment Services, added that his company looks for new hires who have long-term career objectives. That and thousands of potential jobs within the organization helps the company be able to shift employees from one type of job to another if the worker's career objectives change. Automation will continue to play a growing part for mortgage businesses, but the hiring and re- tention of the best employees will help ensure that these companies get the most out of their invest- ment in technological and human resources. PHIL BRITT started covering mortgages and other financial services matters for a suburban Chicago newspaper in the mid-1980s before joining Savings Institutions magazine in 1992. When the publication moved its offices to Washington, D.C., in 1993, he started his own editorial services room and continued to cover mortgages, other financial services subjects, and technology for a variety of websites and publications. "We really like employees who challenge the status quo. ... All of our team members have free rein to challenge anything that we're working on and what we are trying to accomplish for what we put in place." —Martina Shubert, CTO, LenderClose

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