Are you an experienced mortgage originator looking to dramatically increase your income? Consider taking a professional leap and becoming a branch manager.
“This will more than double your business,” said Frank Kuri, SVP branch development for Residential Home Funding. “LOs making $200,000 will make $400,000. If you make $300,000 now, you’ll make $600,000.”
Residential Home Funding, a correspondent mortgage company with headquarters in New Jersey, is an established expert in branching, with new locations recently opened in Florida and Maryland. As a direct-endorsed FHA/VA Lender, Residential Home Funding offers branches a full mortgage product portfolio. The branch affiliate program features secondary market functions, accounting, compliance, human resources, professional marketing support, 48-hour in-house underwriting turn-time, post-closing, quality control and IT.
“We are branching experts,” Kuri said. “We are the innovators. Our niche is branching.”
Residential Home Funding is known for its rigorous new-branch orientation program, which covers every aspect of the business over two days. Kuri said the orientations have consistently received rave reviews.
“Coming from financial services, there was no formal onboarding. It was, ‘Go listen to Jeff on the phone.’” Kuri said. “People have said, ‘I’ve been in this industry for 13 years and I’ve never gone to anything like that.’”
So, if you’ve decided to open a branch, how do you ensure it’s a success?
Kenny Hodges, founder and managing partner of Assurance Financial in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, offered these tips.
Qualities of an effective leader
To be effective as a leader, you have to genuinely care about your team and be a resource to help them maximize their individual potential, Hodges told Power Originator.
“Effective leaders gain loyalty from their team by being compassionate, good listeners, creative, sincere and always erring on the side of fairness to the employee,” says Hodges. “Lastly, an effective leader is going to know that people have different ceilings, and motivating and managing to those ceilings is a balancing act.”
Additionally, successful branch managers must utilize the same sales skills that enabled them to become high-producing MLOs in the first place.
“The branch manager must first and foremost be a business developer,” says Hodges. “Exceptional business developers need to be competitive, financially driven and not afraid to hear the word ‘no.’ This can be said for high-producing salespeople in any industry, but for a start-up mortgage branch, it’s even more imperative to possess these qualities.”
Why? In most new branch setups, there may only be one or just a few loan officers there, so for the branch to excel and become profitable quickly, someone has to start generating revenue from day one. Thus it typically falls to the new manager to lead the branch early in personal production and set the pace for the new team.
Recruiting sales talent
Hodges says the same business development skills that help one succeed at originating new mortgages also help the manager attract and develop sales talent. But that can be challenging, he says, as there are many branch models and individual branches that are structured differently.
“From our experience, a common structure is to have a branch manager and maybe one or two mortgage loan officers,” says Hodges, “and that setup can be very profitable.”
Based on his experience, Hodges prefers that the branch manager start off growing the office and being a leader in terms of production, then go out and recruit, train and develop new talent so that the branch can grow and become a bigger part of the community it serves.
But once assembled, how do you hang on to those employees? It’s not necessarily what you think.
“In our experience of recruiting and establishing new offices, MLOs and branch managers don’t leave their current company solely to make more money. They leave because they are not getting the necessary support to deliver an exceptional customer experience,” says Hodges. “The best in our industry are more concerned about their reputation and delivering a great experience than making a few extra basis points.”
They understand legendary sales guru Zig Ziegler’s philosophy that you can have everything in life you want if you just help enough other people get what they want.
“MLOs get the success they want when they help borrowers and referral partners obtain what they want, and that requires exceptional experiences that customers will rave about,” Hodges says. The successful branch manager will want to personally exemplify these lofty service levels in order to attract the best sales team. For MLOs looking to start a branch, one thing is certain: With the right mix of motivation, skills and company support, long-term success will follow.”
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