"People remember if you were there for them when times got tough"

by David Kitai19 Nov 2020

Most of us don’t want to relive March or April of this year. They were some of the most uncertain, challenging, days of the COVID-19 pandemic and were a nightmare for mortgage brokers to navigate personally and professionally.

Austin Niemiec (pictured) isn’t most people though. The executive vice president of Rocket Pro TPO recently told MPA how he and his team managed to navigate the onset of the pandemic with great success.

With a digitally enabled team, and a platform that could assist mortgage brokers as they took their work virtual, Niemiec said he and his team were positioned to continue to help the broker community grow regardless of how difficult the pandemic was for other lenders. They managed to scale significantly by providing enhanced support to the broker community. Niemiec said they succeeded thanks to their strong company culture, which helped them stay focused on their partners during such a challenging time.

“I remember a broker called us in March who was not yet a partner of ours,” Niemiec said. “Many of their lenders had shut their doors and slowed production down. This broker needed a strong partner. Add to that, the fact that they had traditionally done all their business face-to-face.

“Not only were we able to help them with great rates and consistent turn times, we were able to coach them through virtual operations. We built a company that operates in all 50 states virtually, with just a few physical locations. We leaned on our past and the way we structure business with technology to help our partners not only provide them a great rate and process, but also advise them on how to switch from a face-to-face setting to a virtual model. We connected them with our training and technology teams to talk through process. It was awesome to be able to share our experience and support them through such a challenging time for all.”

By offering dedicated assistance like that, Rocket Pro TPO added more than 1,000 new partners just in March and April alone. Niemiec said his team was able to do that because, when the news out of China and Europe started ringing alarm bells, they prepared for a remote work environment.

Read more: Rocket Pro TPO is live!

Additionally, Rocket Mortgage and Rocket Pro TPO had the liquidity and the capacity when other lenders struggled. His partners, Niemiec found, needed a lender to rely on. With billions of government dollars being pumped into the economy, and rates slashed to the bone, brokers were getting flooded with calls from clients while many lending partners were shutting their doors. The Rocket Pro TPO team stepped up to be that support system.

As America started to reopen and the country entered a ‘new normal,’ Niemiec and his team went back to their partners, asking them what they’ve learned and what the brokers needed to keep assisting clients. Rocket Pro TPO conducted surveys and roundtables and found that the next level of support brokers needed was access to brand, leads and their industry-leading technology.

Read more: Rocket Pro TPO is opening new doors for brokers

When the lender rebranded from QLMS to Rocket Pro TPO, that feedback was top of mind. Niemiec and team expanded their technology offerings (including PathFinder which leverages Google AI to answer underwriting questions in seconds), provided new white-labeled, broker-branded marketing opportunities and handed out 10,000 fresh purchase leads to brokers across America.

“The biggest lesson that we learned is your partners will remember whether you were there for them or not,” Niemiec said. “I’ll tell you a lot of the large lenders in our space weren’t there for the broker community. They took their rates way up, added restrictive overlays and basically closed their doors for a considerable amount of time.

“We took a risk and we put our neck out on the line in a time of uncertainty because we knew our partners needed support. We hired, grew and kept our doors wide open. We’re proud of that and our partners have told us they appreciate that. We believe that is a core reason we are continuing to see tremendous growth. People remember if you were there for them when times got tough, and we’re proud of the way we supported the broker community.”