February 2014

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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28 | Th e M Rep o RT I f a market maelstrom of unprecedented scale wreaks havoc on the stock market, imagine what it can do to an HR department. The mortgage industry has seen a great deal of movement in the past few years due to forced downsizing and restructuring, as well as natural attrition. The "new normal" has required a new approach to hiring for most mortgage companies. "Recruiting talent for a mortgage operation starts with defining the right competency models and link- ing them to specific job profiles," said Kelly M. Adkisson, an execu- tive at Accenture Credit Services. "Developing the right competency models is like developing a recipe for high performance, enabling the organization to clone behaviors of its top performers and replicate them throughout the enterprise." This is no small task consider- ing the microscope and pressures that the mortgage industry has been under. Teresa Blake, practice director, lending solutions, at Wipro Gallagher Solutions, points to all the major external factors and mar- ket forces impacting the industry's recovery and thus how it manages its workforce: unemployment, rising interest rates, regulations (including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) new rules for ser- vicers that took effect in January), and the government's tapering of its bond-buying program. "Speed and power are great things to have in your organization, but they can work against a mortgage operation if it is unable to react to adverse conditions," said Kipp Gillian, president of Gillian Executive Search Inc. "As we all know, Titanic made the wrong type of splash." To stay successful, mortgage companies must constantly adapt. Top organizations in the industry are always evaluating and adjust- ing their competency standards and professional profiles based on changing market and regulatory conditions. And then, of course, there are the different roles within a mortgage company that require their own competency-to-profile arrangement. For instance, an underwriter focused exclusively on Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) volume may ad- here to a relatively straightforward checklist process, while an under- writer managing a more elaborate purchase transaction will have to rely on more complex skills. Mortgagee Lifeblood W GS has developed a systemic approach to recruiting talented mortgage professionals with knowledge, experience, and promise. Indus- try experience combined with a technical or project management educational background makes for a good personal platform on which to build. "A base foundation of industry knowledge paired with required technical skills significantly speeds knowledge acquisition," said Blake, whose Franklin, Tennessee- based firm will target individu- als with two years of mortgage business experience all the way to industry veterans who "will use their past experiences to innovate. When you combine experience with enthusiasm, there are endless possibilities." Individuals with experience in consumer lending and other related industries are a top choice as well. "We look for people who are curious, educated, and exhibit a go-getter attitude," Blake added. "As mortgage companies continue to adopt more technology-centric business models, there will be a lot of opportunity to embrace best practices from industries that have thrived on the application of emerging technologies. Ultimately, a healthy organization will have some combination of the above talent to drive innovation while ensuring productivity." Read and React E arly in fourth-quarter 2013, Bank of America announced that it was laying off 1,200 people working on mortgage refinancing. That came on top of another 3,000 job cuts from its problem loan restructuring business by end of the year. At that time, Citigroup had also announced 1,200 mortgage-relat- ed layoffs, and Wells Fargo had decided on 6,400 mortgage job cuts since the summer alone. "As we have seen over the last decade, mortgage volumes can Chutes & Ladders and Labor Acquiring the right people and navigating the constant workforce ebb and flow is a delicate balancing act in the mortgage marketplace. By Brian A. Lee Feature

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