“We’re running out of loan officers,” says JoAnna Bignell, who leads Open Mortgage’s recruiting efforts in the retail and reverse mortgage
space. “I think that is the biggest crisis. Even though there have been so many changes in the reverse mortgage market, with the product itself, I think the serious part is running out of candidates to represent the loan.”
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From Bignell’s perspective, having recruited for many years on the reverse mortgage side, the typical recruit has been an older person, who already has a wealth of knowledge in the product. And that lack of fresh blood can be attributed to the demise of some valuable training programs, she says.
“When the large companies like Wells Fargo and the Bank of America left, those training programs left too. And that is where most of our difficulty lies right now for those lenders who do reverse, is that we are circulating this list of loan officers in the industry – and because of all of the changes that have taken place in the industry, with companies closing, those loan officers are very nervous.”
Open Mortgage recently hired JoAnna Bignell to lead their recruiting efforts in the retail and reverse mortgage space – a woman who brings more than two decades of expertise in recruiting, and is currently looking at people who are in the forward mortgage side to transition into the reverse market.
“I think the industry has a lot of growth ahead of it, as far as bringing in the right recruits, and we are training some ‘young guns’ right now,” she says. “But I have found that seniors who are interested in reverse mortgages have a better relationship with those who have experience in doing them – and those people are starting to retire.”
Considering the current tight job market, and millennials who are looking for well-paying, secure jobs, loan officers present an excellent opportunity, says Bignell.
But what should these ‘young guns’ bring to the table?
“I’ve been a loan officer and have been in recruiting for a long time, and I find that my best feature is the trust that I’ve built up in the industry,” says Bignell. “To me, when you have someone who can say, ‘this is what I can do and this is what I have done,’ to me, being a trusted loan officer with you client is huge.”
It is happening in every industry, but for those in the mortgage field, the large numbers of baby boomers who are loan officers are retiring – and that is leaving a large hole that needs to be filled right now.