by David Lykken
From the outside, the mortgage industry does not tend to be viewed as the most creative line of work. We tend to seek out people who are more logical, people who are good at math or finance. And the regulatory environment in the industry has only made us focus more strongly on those characteristics. Also, it doesn't seem like creative people are really attracted to the industry; the “artsy” types tend to seek out careers in theater, music, literature, and so on. But can the mortgage industry hold any appeal for them?
In reality, our creative types can be our most valuable assets. Being creative means thinking outside the box. Just as much as in any other industry, we need people in the mortgage business who can find creative solutions to problems. In fact, creativity may just be the most important skill for a loan originator to have. In trying to get a customer into a loan, the LO will inevitably encounter roadblocks. Giving up at the first sign of a challenge will certainly lead to a failed career in loan origination. It takes creativity to persevere and find ways around obstacles. Although we may not always think of it this way, there certainly is an art to working in the mortgage business.
As leaders in the mortgage industry, it's very important that we don't squelch the creativity of our people. At the end of the day, it may be the only thing that gives us a competitive edge. We've got to work toward attracting more creative people into the industry, and we've got to foster the creativity that is already here. Growth comes from new ways of thinking about old problems—are we giving our people the freedom to think creatively?