The Association of Independent Mortgage Experts (AIME) has had a jam-packed year, and they’re eager to capitalize on the current momentum behind the mortgage broker movement.
That doesn’t mean that the future is going to look like the past.
“AIME is going to look like a very different organization moving forward, and the reason why is because of all the feedback from our members. It's been extremely helpful in our evolution into an organization that is not just the best for our members, but that really is helping them in a way that they clearly demand help,” said AIME Chairman Anthony Casa.
Where broker members want help is with access to tools that allow small shops to flourish in much the same way as larger operations.
To that end, AIME has established a “Brokers are Better” network of vendors, including Homebot, FinLocker, Strategic Compliance Partners, 20/20 Vision for Success, Get Healthy Credit, Social Survey, and others—all of which have “plug and play, easy to use” products that allow a broker to get up and running without needing to spend a lot of time on customization. Between this and building a network of broker-owners and bankers-turned-brokers who are available to help other originators with the switch to the broker channel, AIME hopes the broker channel will become even more attractive than ever to those people who are considering making the switch.
Starting in November and running through the end of 2020, AIME is hosting on-site training events at their office in Philadelphia. Every other week, 150 brokers will enter the city of Brotherly Love to focus on the topics that matter the most to them on a daily basis. No sponsors, no advertisers, only brokers and AIME trainers and instructors offering unfiltered content. A lot of it isn’t Mortgage 101, Casa said; instead, brokers want to learn ways that they can become a better entrepreneur and run a more efficient and effective business, and apply that information directly to the mortgage industry. For those who did not receive a business-focused education, this information is invaluable.
While AIME still plans on hosting one national event and two regional events in 2020, everything else will take place in smaller venues across the country. They’re going to focus on markets that don’t get a lot of attention, such as Atlanta, Portland, Seattle, Cleveland, Detroit, and Chicago.
“We have to have more touch points with our members, and they want to be hearing about what AIME is doing to help protect them against what they view as the evolution of the industry and some of the things that are scary like Zillow Home Loans and the Amazons of the world,” Casa said. “We're doing a lot with them in that respect,” Casa said.
The main objective is to get more brokers in a room with other brokers and talk about their successes and pain points. Between the trainings and events, AIME has 52 of these touchpoints on the calendar.
Mortgage brokers are riding a wave of momentum, but Casa stresses that this is not a time to coast on autopilot. As an organization, AIME has more than doubled the size of their team to be able to support training events, brand-building and broker marketing. They’ve already finalized their strategy for 2020, and brokers need to have that same forward-thinking outlook.
Even though mortgage business tends to slow down as one year flips over to the next, there are some ways that brokers and lenders alike can capitalize on both the momentum of the broker channel as well as the boost in business caused by favorable interest rates. It’s a process, and Casa said that the key is to be brutally honest, consistent with messaging, and open to sharing success stories. As more tools become available, those tools need to continue to be passed along to brokers to make it as easy as possible for them to stay in front of their customers.
“Everybody's having a record year this year. Rates made that happen and that's great, so everybody feels great about themselves. But what are we going to do next year to make sure that regardless of where rates are, we're using the momentum from this year to build a better business next year?” Casa said. “It doesn't start January 1 of 2020; it starts right now . . . these are small business operators, they're very busy. They're writing a lot of business. But to me, it's telling them that you have to prioritize planning and goals for next year ahead of today's paycheck. And that's a hard conversation to have, but that's how you grow a business.”