Loan officer shares why he switched firms without a signing bonus

by David Kitai06 Apr 2021

Jesse Stroup (pictured) has been a loan officer for 10 years and, over the course of a chaotic 2020, closed around 40 loans. After steadily growing his volume and customer service levels as an LO with Geneva Financial in Idaho, he decided to embark on a new journey with a new company. Like so many LOs across the country right now, he signed up with a bigger player in the form of Premier Mortgage Resources LLC.

However, he didn’t join Premier because of a signing bonus or a sleek marketing package. Stroup told MPA that he joined Premier because it offered a process that he saw as more beneficial for his clients and his volume.

“The difference with Premier is that they go into underwriting first,” Stroup said. “Only after the underwriter has done their job is the file passed to the processor. Most mortgage companies talk about that and promise underwriting in seven days, but when you talk to the loan officer it doesn’t work like that… it’s only the most vanilla loans that get underwritten first. With Premier there’s no way around it, you hit some buttons and it goes into the fast-track underwriting queue.

“That was the biggest unique factor that I could bring to borrowers, especially going into a purchase environment.”

Stroup explained that while his relationship with Premier came through a recruiter, he wasn’t looking for a huge signing bonus when he joined. Rather, he saw a different process that emphasizes speed and quality of client experience as key to retaining happy clients and growing his volume and commissions. He interviewed with two other companies, one a true brokerage and the other a large nationwide retail lender. In both companies he found sleek packaging, nice marketing, but little marked difference in the way loans were processed.

That focus on process was key to Stroup’s decision because he’d set himself the goal of getting into the highest echelons of producing LOs in his state. In his previous role, he said, he kept hitting ‘brick walls.’ He admitted that overcoming those challenges will take work on his part, but systems play a big role in success and he wanted to go somewhere where the system would benefit him and his customers.

Stroup’s focus on upfront underwriting is driven, in part, by some of the tough experiences every mortgage pro had last year. Companies doing their underwriting in the last week of the process invariably faced catastrophes and chaos as new information came to light that turned done deals upside-down. Doing the process upfront, Stroup said, would make the client happier and would make both real estate agents involved in the process far more comfortable and confident.

As larger mortgage players look to attract loan officer talent now Stroup believes they should take note of his outlook, as it’s one they may find more common among loan officers than they might think. As for LOs looking to make a change who might be tempted by a nice signing bonus or slick marketing materials, it’s Stroup’s view that they should look a little bit deeper at the processes behind the offer.

“Get rid of the distraction,” Stroup said. “Sure, a $50,000 signing bonus is cool, but that doesn’t really do anything that’s going to change your life. What will change your life is to be able to go from two loans a month to four, from four to eight, from eight to 16. That’s where the money is at long-term. You need to see this as a chess game, not checkers. So, my advice is to find a place where you can bring that service and speed to the equation for your clients.”