From Sympathy to Success

by 09 Nov 2012

As you are reading this, I am rejoicing in the fact that I am now at the end of a very painful short sale purchase – a six month ordeal which led me through two lenders, two escrow companies, a slew of appraisals and inspections, signing loan docs on vacation in another state, relocating to an interim apartment for six weeks, and all the other fun things that come along with purchasing a home.


My purchase was the textbook example of Murphy’s Law!  And here I was, a seasoned professional who could not control the destiny of her own loan.  I was about half way through this process when I saw the situation heading south for no particular reason.  I began to ask that stupid question we all ask in times of turmoil: Why me?  As soon as my pity party was over, I realized that, if nothing else, I had gained a deep sympathy for my clients.  Having never bought a home before and only having experienced the process from the lending side, I did not fully understand the emotions and stress that accompany it.  I am now able to honestly tell my clients that in almost any lending situation they are facing, I understand. 


But after several weeks of sympathizing with my clients I realized sympathy, in and of itself, is not sufficient.  I had to find a way to turn my sympathy into success.  As mortgage professionals, you too have had unique life experiences with which you need to do the same.


We need to be successful for our client’s sake.  At the beginning of a transaction, a client will likely measure success by whether he is able to obtain the lowest interest rate and closing costs.  In reality, success is closing on time with as little stress as possible.  Sure we want our clients to be happy and get a fair price, but ultimately, we want them to be impressed by our knowledge, responsiveness, and maybe even our kindness.  We should be shielding them from everything that could have gone wrong.


We also need to be successful for our own sake.  I measure success by whether I excel at my job.  I have never measured success by my units.  While I enjoy the income of a record-breaking month, if I am not proud of my work it means nothing.  Just like the loan originators I serve, my business is based purely on my performance.  So it is for me as it is for you that if one loan goes poorly it may be written off (hey, it happens).  However, if file after file has problems, it is indicative of something deeper. 


Your clients are keenly aware of this too.  Put yourself in your clients’ shoes.  Would you be happy with the service received, if you were in their shoes?  If you have to go back one extra time to ask for additional documentation, they will probably be forgiving.  But, if you have to go back an extra time at application, then again at submission, then with approval, and then again at funding, they will know you are either sloppy or very bad at your job.  We have convinced ourselves that the industry we are working in is difficult.  That it is!  However, we must choose to rise up or we will allow ourselves to sink away.


As I mulled these thoughts I had visions of the movie Jerry Maguire and his memo (The Things We Think and Do Not Say).  If you recall, after a painful experience with one of his clients, he put into words his mission statement which included the observation, “There is a cruel wind blowing through our business. We all feel it, and if we don't, perhaps we've forgotten how to feel. But here is the truth. We are less ourselves than we were when we started this organization…. We are losing our battle with all that is personal and real about our business. Every day I can look at a list of phone calls only partially returned. Driving home, I think of what was not accomplished, instead of what was accomplished. The gnawing feeling continues. That families are sitting waiting for a call from us, waiting to hear the word on a contract….  We are pushing numbers around, doing our best, but is there any real satisfaction in success without pride? Is there any real satisfaction in a success that exists only when we push the messiness of real human contact from our lives and minds? When we learn not to care enough about the very guy we promised the world to, just to get him to sign?”


There is a growing chasm in our business – you are either wildly successful, or you are not.  You are either growing, or you are dying.  For those originators who are thriving, I say keep it up!  You have tapped into something that works, you are on the right track – keep finding new ways to improve yourself.  If you are the other type of originator, the one who wakes up with that gnawing feeling that you have to deal with these people AGAIN!  The one who reluctantly sends off an email because you can’t bare the idea of having to call that one client who is waiting for an answer you don’t have.  The one who finds himself frequently apologizing to clients.  To you, I say stop.  Stop telling yourself that what you are giving your clients is good enough.  Stop telling your clients this is just the way it is.


Instead, start over.  I remember reading about a woman who, when encountered with a day gone awry, would literally start over.  She would lie back down in her bed, get up again, take a shower, and redo her entire morning routine.  This allowed her to put behind her all the things that had gone wrong, and start fresh.  You need the lending equivalent of this.  The next potential client you talk to should be treated as if he were your one and only client.  Speak to him with excitement, and passion, and confidence – because your clients don’t want your sympathy.  They want your success.


[caption id="attachment_5304" align="alignleft" width="150"]Aime Wills Aime Wills[/caption]

By Amie Wills.  Wills is a fully licensed independent loan processor in Torrance, CA, who works with both wholesale brokers & retail branches.  To contact Amie Wills, email her at .



Is TILA-RESPA a good or bad thing long term?