"People think it's easy, but it's not"

How a top 1% loan officer keeps her team on track

"People think it's easy, but it's not"

For any loan officer worth their salt, the importance of educating clients through the complex process is of absolute prominence. Something that is much more difficult than it may initially seem.

“People think it’s easy, but it’s not,” said Sherry Riano, national sales director and top 1% loan officer at Clear Mortgage. “It’s my job to be the client’s translator and advocate, especially in this challenging market. I’ve seen the industry transform from boom cycles to bust cycles. The biggest challenge remains empowering all of our borrowers to have access.”

Best approach to leadership

For Riano, her leadership approach is underpinned by a combination of excellence, innovation and, overall, inclusion in her diverse team.

“I lead by example,” she told MPA. “My team sees me on the front lines, equally involved in the highs and the lows. Whether it’s a straightforward deal or one that needs extra elbow grease, we tackle it together. My team’s loyalty varies from fresh faces who’ve been with me for two years to veterans who’ve stood by me for over a decade.”

Best approach to clients

And this diversity is also mirrored in Riano’s client base – serving everyone from first-time buyers to those seeking VA loans.

“Homeownership is a universal right,” she said. “Whether it’s a modest starter home or a multimillion-dollar estate, I deliver the same VIP service. First-time homebuyers might need extra guidance, while seasoned buyers get a more educational approach.”

And her approach is both client-centric and long-term, emphasizing the importance of building lasting relationships that go the distance. 

“Some relationships have spanned over two decades,” she explained. “I’ve served not just individuals, but their families through generations. They stick with me because they know I’m committed for the long run, and I make sure to personalize their experience beyond just crunching numbers.”

Operating across state lines from Virginia to Florida, and also in Louisiana, Alabama, and Tennessee, Riano is well versed in adapting and aligning to the diverse needs of her clients.

“Each area has its uniqueness, and my goal is always to facilitate a smooth, enjoyable home buying process, no matter your situation,” she said. “And yes, I’m always ready with local tips - even the best spots for barbecue!”

Looking to the future, Riano is optimistic about the potential of digital technology and AI in the mortgage industry.

“The advancements in technology are exciting,” she said. “They’re making processes quicker and more efficient, like companies that can underwrite a loan in about 15 minutes. That’s revolutionary, but no matter how far tech goes, balancing it with a personal touch will always be my priority.”

However, despite the rapid technological advancements, Riano remains focused on the human element of her work.

“Technology is a powerful tool, but it’s the personal touch that makes the difference,” she said. “It reassures our real estate partners that behind every loan, there’s a solid, reliable borrower.”