Seven Habits of Highly Successful Loan Officers

by 21 Mar 2013

This is the first article in a series written by Ralph Lovuolo and Kabir Mahadeva, inspired by Steven Covey’s book The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People.  We believe that highly successful loan officers have the self-discipline to repeat certain behaviors until they become habits.  If you learn these and follow them on a daily basis, you will achieve success beyond your expectations.  This series deals with fundamentals, requiring only your self-discipline, a pen and paper, and your desire to become a highly successful loan officer.

  1. Write out and constantly refer to and update goals
  2. Make and follow a marketing plan with at least 4 initiatives
  3. Focus on the actions not on the results
  4. Learn everything you can about your business
  5. Never compromise your integrity
  6. Create win-win solutions for your referral sources
  7. Don’t believe you are the only person who knows

I’d like to change your mind and the mind of the salesperson sitting next to you. I’d like you to help me change the world of sales in the mortgage business. To make this happen, I want you to spend some time thinking about your daily habits and behavior: how you expend your energy, what you think about, and how you allocate your most valuable resource, your time. 

This is the first in a series of articles to help you transform yourself into a Highly Successful Loan Officer.  Stephen Covey’s book, The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, inspired this article, and I highly recommend it. 

To achieve success and rise above your current level, you must be willing to change the way you behave every day. Because of the complexity of this subject, we must decide that we want to become more engaged, more active and less reactive, more willing to partner and more focused on someone other than ourselves. 

The first habit we will discuss is “Write out and constantly refer to and update goals.” 

I first learned about this habit early in my career when I wanted to take the next step in my budding mortgage career.   Bill Schor, the president of the small mortgage company I was working for, told me that there was only one way for me to earn more than I was earning as his assistant: I needed to become a mortgage loan officer. 

That seemed like such a cool idea, I jumped at the chance. I thought the men who represented our company were the sharpest, best dressed, fun loving guys I had ever met. Every one of them made and spent money hand over fist. They absolutely trusted Bill and his sister Nancy, our head of processing. 

Bill Schor was probably the best salesman, best teacher and most difficult person I ever met. He was organized, intuitive, focused, intelligent, demanding and wily to a fault. It was not his intent, but it turned out that he became a fabulous manager of people. It was his management strengths that we all fed on.

As salespeople, though, we had a simple value proposition to offer our referral sources. We had to offer outstanding service and couple that with the most debased annual party known to grown men. I have only cloudy recall of my participation in those times. 

Bill didn’t require us to write down a set of goals. His sales training was limited, but focused and specific. Every Monday morning at 8AM we had a sales meeting.  Right then, we were required to state specifically how many applications we were going to write that week, the referral source, the size of the mortgage expected and what date we expected to take the application. And then he asked us to review what we had committed to the previous week.  God help you if you fell short! 

We were required to call the office every day at 9AM, Noon and 4:30 PM. The purpose of the call was so that Bill, on a whim, could call back the number from where you called. If it was not a business related location, the tongue-lashing was beyond description. 

Bill taught discipline, more than anything, he taught discipline, something we need to discuss at length, but beyond the scope of this article.  But if you follow this series of articles, you will learn the art of discipline and make it a habit. 

Working for Bill, I began to understand the benefit of a disciplined life calendar, followed by a disciplined series of actions. But, believe me, none of this is possible without a defined set of goals that will spur you to real, productive action.  And once you make this a habit, you will have taken the first step to becoming a Highly Productive Loan Officer. 

STEP ONE: Determine your goals, make them realistic, have them be a bit of a stretch to achieve and give yourself the determination of specificity as to when they need to be achieved.  WRITE THEM DOWN. 

Ask yourself: 

  • Do you believe in goal setting?
  • Have you studied the subject?
  • What do you want to achieve?
  • What do you want for yourself?
  • What do you want for your family? 

By the way, there’s no need to ask why: you just need the desire to achieve something. 

There should be a five year and one year plan listing what you want to achieve.  If you break it down into bite size chunks, you will bring the discipline to your life that you need to achieve the predetermined goals. 

Many people have debated how to target and measure the results of taking this first step in the 7 Habits of Highly Successful Loan Officers: is it money, love, desire, family, places? Tangible things like cars, houses and comfort?  Yes! All of those things are measures.  But I would suggest a single, simpler measurement. 

Putting aside the debate and psychology, and cutting to the chase: it boils down to money. Cold hard cash, Moola, Cabbage, Dough. Bread, Capital, Coin.  We can argue this, but I would argue that it is possible to buy anything with enough money.  Loyalty, health plus all the tangibles you can mention are all possible with enough money, even love.  I don’t agree with the Beatles on this one. 

Start by visualizing the fruits of your success.  WRITE THE ANSWERS DOWN: 

  • Where do you want to be living 5 years from now?
  • What kind of house do you want to live in? What colors do you want the various rooms to be?
  • How many pairs of shoes do you want in your closet?  How many suits?
  • What do you want to be driving? What is the color of the car?
  • How many vacations do you want to have that year? Where do you wan to visit?
  • If you’re a family man or woman, how many people will be in your family?
  • If you’re single but want a partner, who will be that lucky person? 

The more questions and answers you write down, the more clarity you gain about your desired future.  If you want a good clean well-defined life, you have to set and achieve goals. To have what you want you must have a clear picture of what all those “wants” are.  Of course, as part of the process of achieving those goals, you’ll need to manage your time effectively, but you knew that, didn’t you? 

The five year plan can then be divided into sets of priorities to establish what comes first, second, third and so on. But as you will see, without determining how much things will cost, it is almost impossible to set and achieve goals. 

It is also, without fail, essential that you break your five year plan into yearly steps to attain. This is a bit more difficult. Writing for yourself what you want to earn during the next 12 months and how much of that will be set aside for your goals and how much will be spent becomes a challenge that most people find so daunting that they give up. 

If you’re serious, you can do it with someone you trust who can guide you and push you to do what you say you want to do.  A friend, spouse, or coach can hold you accountable until you learn to hold yourself accountable. 

Changing habits is hard.  Don’t feel as though you have to do it all in one sitting.  Take baby steps, and eventually you’ll have the task done.  Starting today, I challenge you to take a single sheet of paper, write “5 year goals” on the top and just write down one thing.  Tomorrow, write down another, and so on until you can’t think of any more.  Wow, what a list you’ll have!  

Then start at the top of the list, and each day, put down what you think it would cost to achieve each item.  Now it’s taking shape.  You’ll probably want to cross some of them out as too costly or unrealistic, but DON’T.  These are your dreams, why kill them before they hatch?  You must have goals that stretch beyond what you currently think you can achieve.  Now you have your list, and can start prioritizing and breaking them down into yearly goals.  Was that so hard? 

Yes, it was.  All of this takes a certain discipline that few possess. Do you want to be one of them? I encourage you to do what is written above. You’ll have a fun filled focused foundation of life.  And if you need help, let me know.


Kabir Mahadeva Mortgage Professional AmericaKabir Mahadeva has worked in mortgage banking since 2001.  He has been coached to excellence by Ralph LoVuolo, Sr.  He is a Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist®.  Prior to the mortgage industry, Kabir worked as a computer engineer, software developer, and executive recruiter.  His professional sales career spans almost 20 years.  Kabir is a charter subscriber to TNR.  He has a BSE from Princeton University and an MSCS from Boston University.


Should CFPB have more supervision over credit agencies?