Jean Machado has a philosophy that has seem him through all phases of his career, and to be honest, it’s not all that earth-shattering.
“If you focus on helping the client . . . regardless of the size of the loan or how much you’re going to make on the deal, you’re just going to help another client or another family, if you really focus on this and if you can master this, you will be able to convey this feeling and people will trust you. With this trust will come referrals, will come more business,” Machado said.
It’s what he tells himself, it’s what he tells new loan officers, and it’s what he likes to remind other industry veterans.
“The human brain is much more powerful than we realize. If you are dealing with someone just because they represent a dollar sign to you, people can sense that,” Machado said. “I know it may sound way too mystical, but I really believe this is how one can be successful in pretty much any business, including ours,” Machado said.
Machado is the co-founder and co-owner of Tower Home Loans. Tower Home Loans was founded in Massachusetts in 2015, and it was really just another step in a career that has come full circle.
Back in the early aughts, Machado owned a restaurant and purchased investment properties on the side. Over time, he got curious about mortgages and started working part-time as a mortgage broker to learn the ropes. There was a lot of money to be made at the time, Machado said, and he came to it easily enough that he left the restaurant business to jump all-into mortgages (followed by his brother and his wife). After the housing crash, they focused on construction for a while but ultimately Machado returned to school and became a CPA, then went to work for PricewaterhouseCoopers as an auditor.
Public accounting was fine, but it wasn’t long before Machado felt as if he was being pulled in a different direction. He missed dealing with people, some of whom had little knowledge about what their options and weren’t very technology-savvy. He told his wife to hold down the fort while he dove into the commission-only fray once again.
“It wasn’t that I was not satisfied with the money or the job, but I liked the idea of how we feel when we actually help someone to buy their home, to get financed, the whole process of approving people, helping them, getting the loan, it’s really gratifying,” Machado said. “I know it sounds cliché, but for us it’s not. We really get a lot of gratification from it.”
He returned to mortgage brokering, landing a job at PowderHouse Mortgage Company. There he met Arnold Baer, who took Machado under his wing and helped him revive his mortgage business. Machado was there for a little over a year, during which he realized that he wanted to a build a company of his own.
His goal was to create a company that offered more transparency than any other mortgage company. His vision was for everyone at his company to know what everyone else got paid, what needed to happen in order to get a promotion, and to eliminate politics and closed-door deals. He hoped it would change the industry—and still does.
Machado is building a larger headquarters in Massachusetts, and once that’s completed, he will have the space to bring on more loan officers. He’s hoping his transparent approach to business will attract the right kind of people, and he will be able to help them grow their business quicker than they would in other environments.
Machado mostly does purchases, having strong relationships with 10-15 realtors who bring in about 90% of his business. There are two people on his team that help with calculations and preapprovals, and two processors. Machado doesn’t typically do much marketing since so much of his business comes from referrals, but he has recently fallen down the rabbithole of online lead generation tools, and is learning that side of the business.
“This is not a business that is static at all, so we’re always changing,” Machado said. “There’s a lot that we’re still learning.”
Even though Machado has 15 years’ experience in the industry, he’s still finding ways to improve. In addition to exploring the lead generation side of the business, they’re exploring refinances, which they hadn’t done much of in the past. Because they’ve focused so much on purchase business, Machado acknowledges that they missed a lot of opportunity to refinance a lot of their existing clients over the course of the past year. Even tools such as a CRM aren’t fixed pieces; he’s still looking for the right one to suit his company best.
“We’re babies with the whole thing, to be honest. If you compare us to other companies and other loan officers, we are doing these more on instinct than anything else,” Machado said.
And yet, some things are working really well. He closed more than $80 million in loan volume last year, and the next step for the business will be to bring in new loan officers and turn them into top producers who can close 10-15 loans a month. It’s a challenge to hire right, and Machado wants to get better at reading people and creating all the right incentives and the right business environment so people don’t need to look for greener pastures elsewhere.
“You don’t find talent, you create talent. You find people who are dedicated, who are smart, and you train them, invest in them in the hopes that they will stay with you for the long run. I don’t wan to buy talent; I think some companies go out there and offer signing bonuses and things like that. We create talent in the hopes that they will say. That is one of the biggest challenges, and something I can’t claim I’ve figured out.”