BMO Harris Bank is terminating mortgage loan officers who meet with customers face to face in its branches, according to a report by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The Chicago-based bank did not disclose the number of officers it cut. However, a document received by a terminated employee showed almost 170 employees were let go across BMO Harris’ market of eight states.
BMO Harris now wants customers seeking to purchase a home or refinance to inquire through a centralized mortgage call center.
“Things evolve, and we have to change with the times and with our customers’ wants and needs,” BMO Harris spokesman Patrick O’Herlihy said.
While a shift to a call center may appear uninviting to consumers, O’Herlihy said the change isn't less accommodating.
“From our perspective, there’s some benefits for the consumer,” he said. “You’re going to get immediate availability of a mortgage banker, and that wasn’t always the case in the past. You might go in, and a mortgage banker might be traveling, and you might not get them right away. Now you’re going to get them immediately.”
O’Herlihy also said that the call center setup would bring underwriting, processing, and mortgage-related expertise together. Customers who visit a BMO Harris branch to apply for a mortgage will be directed to call the center, right at the branch.
As the bank continues to move away from in-person applications, O'Herlihy said that an online offering is under development.
"We have plans to launch a new online mortgage platform to allow customers to apply for a mortgage from any device," he said. "I don’t have the exact timing, but it’s soon."