It takes a lot more than just book smarts to thrive as a mortgage loan officer.
It’s a bold statement, but its’s a truth I’ve learned time after time in my nearly 20 years in the mortgage industry.
I started my career as a processor for a large retail lender. I then transitioned to a closer and then graduated into management in servicing and now back into mortgage. I’ve been a regional and national recruiter for about eight years.
I’ve seen loan officers who pass their licensing exams with flying colors, only to struggle on the phone with their borrowers. I’ve seen loan officers who are great at customer service but who struggle to find loan products that will work because they just haven’t learned their guidelines or how to fill out a URLA properly.
But it’s not all bad. I’ve also seen folks from a variety of non-finance industries who come in with the right temperament, put in the work, and hit the ground running! These producers combine passion with purpose and smarts with service to create great loan experiences for every borrower, every time. This leads to better network connections, more return clients, more referrals, and ultimately the outstanding financial rewards that come with helping so many borrowers find their way to their first home, or their next dream home.
When I interview potential Loan Officers for a career at Castle & Cooke Mortgage, I’m looking for a few specific things.
History of success
Whether you come from the finance industry, other sales positions, or even hospitality, one of the first things we look at is whether you’ve been successful in your past ventures. If you exceeded sales goals quarter after quarter, we want to hear about it. If you’ve won the confidence of your coworkers, we want to know about it. If you’ve implemented a new initiative that brought in new revenue and grew the bottom line, tell us!
But what if you’re just out of college, or perhaps aren’t thriving in your current industry? We understand a lack of experience and maybe even some mistakes along the way, but we still want to hear about all the ways you’ve done well. We know that you are putting your best foot forward, and we want you to!
I can’t stress this one enough—a huge part of being a successful Loan Officer is having a strong professional network (or at least the ability to build one). If you’ve been in the loan industry for a while, we’ll be looking at past reviews from customers and professional recommendations on popular review sites and social media sites such as LinkedIn. And yes, we do look at Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram—so keep things positive and professional, and be genuine in your work.
If you’re early on in your career, we’ll look at a variety of things to learn about your abilities. We want to learn about your ability to connect with people. If you’re in this category, it’s a good idea to make your name known throughout the industry: don’t be shy about networking, joining professional groups if possible to start learning all you can, and growing your connections in any way you can.
It’s also a great idea to find a mentor or network of mentors to kickstart your career.
You have to be good with details as a loan officer, but you also have to be good with people—and I mean really, REALLY good. Think about it this way: as a loan officer, getting borrowers to fill out an application is only the first step. Next, you’ll have to learn about their goals and get them hyped—but your work isn’t nearly done. Next, you’ll have to earn your borrowers’ trust (as well as their real estate agent’s trust) so they feel comfortable sharing all kinds of personal and financial information with you.
In some ways, originating loans is kind of like being a therapist.
Throughout the process, you’ll field a million questions, help borrowers understand the whys behind all the info you collect, and stay in close contact with real estate agents and your team of processors, underwriters, and closers. You’ll need to be reachable all hours of the day and night for your borrowers, and you’ll need to be the kind of person who keeps your smartphone by your side even on weekends.
After you get your borrowers and agents across the finish line, you’ll want to breathe a sigh of relief! But wait … there’s more! To grow your business, you’ll need to keep in contact with your past borrowers, work your industry connections constantly, and ask for referrals early and often.
If all this sounds like an introvert’s nightmare, you’re not wrong. You have to love people to be a great LO, plain and simple.
Problem-solving under stress
If you’re great with people and have a history of success, there’s a good chance you’ll do well as a loan officer. You’ll also need to love solving problems and helping people achieve their goals.
There are a million scenarios that borrowers face, ranging from missing documents to unfavorable credit scores, bidding wars, and appraisals that come in under value. And the always fun reminder “Don’t obtain new credit cards...wait to buy the furniture for the new house until after you have the key!” Other times, you’ll need to be there for last-minute changes.
Remember the therapist comment? The best loan officers love people, and they love jumping in the trenches with them to solve any problems that come their way.
Our SVP of Production, Jim Modrycki, likes to say that being a loan officer with Castle & Cooke Mortgage means you can be as successful as you want to be. He’s right. If you work hard as a Loan Officer, chase down leads, know your guidelines, and put in the grunt work to solve big problems every day, your business will grow.
But if you don’t take initiative and put in the work, you won’t be able to close your loans on time, won’t grow your referral network, and simply won’t succeed. We love giving people opportunities around here, but as I always say: you can’t teach drive.
Do you have what it takes?
I often compare recruiting to dating—we get to know one another, start out with a quick coffee, do a little sleuthing on both sides, and decide together whether Team Castle is going to be a good fit. In some ways, it just comes down to a gut feeling.
If you have great people skills, a passion for solving problems and that DRIVE to succeed, there’s a good chance you’ll do well in origination. But the only way to find out is to take a risk and give me a call!