"The biggest threat is resisting the rapid change occurring in our industry"
In his 24 years in the mortgage industry, Henry Brandt (pictured) has had his fair share of wins and losses. Some years have been full of remarkable achievements, while others have been periods of turmoil. Though difficult, he has learned to adapt to the ups and downs of the mortgage industry.
Brandt, senior vice president of branch development and strategic initiatives at Planet Home Lending, joined Mortgage Professional America to share the most important lessons he wished he had learned early on and tips on how to break bad habits that can derail an originator’s career.
Mortgage Professional America: Can you tell us about your mortgage journey? How did you come into the industry?
Henry Brandt: I got into the mortgage industry by accident. When I graduated from college in Illinois, I moved to California, where my older brother lived. I had a job lined up that suited my business degree in organizational management, but the position was eliminated before I could start. I scrambled – I didn’t know what to do. I began searching for jobs and answered an ad that got me into the mortgage business as a loan officer in 1992. The ad initially attracted me because it mentioned that loan officers could make six figures.
My career really took off when I became a wholesale rep. It clicked, and I really liked it. I realized that in this business if you work hard, have good communication and provide excellent service, your business grows. I still follow those values today.
MPA: What are the threats to your business, your success, and how are you handling them? Have you ever been so discouraged you wanted to quit?
HB: The biggest threat is resisting the rapid change occurring in our industry. I benefit from change because I’m at a company that embraces it. Whether it’s consumer-facing technology, delivering self-service options to customers, or gaining efficiency improvements from automated underwriting, embracing change provides a competitive advantage. Embracing technology and providing better service can be the difference between closing a loan or not.
I can’t say I’ve ever been discouraged – I have been fortunate in my career.
MPA: What’s the most dangerous behavior/trait you have seen derail originators’ careers?
HB: Complacency is a behavior that can derail originators’ careers. The best MLOs are excited to learn about and share new products, like Planet Home Lending’s Cash 4 Homes closing guarantee or bridge loans for home sellers. They anticipate what’s ahead and proactively shift their business strategy to suit market changes.
MPA: How do you encourage mortgage professionals not to give up?
HB: I believe hard work will always pay off eventually. You may not feel like it will initially, but it will. I’ve always been a hard worker and attribute much of my success to that. Working hard is always an option you can choose, and it will set you apart from the rest.
MPA: How have you built confidence and/or resiliency over the course of your career?
HB: It takes time. It takes listening to people around you who have experience in the industry. Early in my career, I was fortunate to have a mentor who showed me what it takes to succeed in this business. Every one should find a mentor to ask for advice and guidance, whether it’s your branch manager or a fellow loan officer. They give you the confidence to realize that you do know what you’re doing.
In the beginning, I was afraid to have hard conversations with clients, like many loan officers new to the business. What I’ve learned is that confidence doesn’t happen overnight. It is built and grown. By having those conversations with clients, you learn that at the end of the day, the client will respect and trust you more. That type of confidence will get you more business because clients trust you, you took control of the process, and you told them what could and couldn’t be done.
MPA: What are the ways you stay grounded and take care of yourself?
HB: I think everyone needs two things to stay grounded and take care of themselves: some activity outside of work that you enjoy and someone you can talk to who understands the business. I am a runner, and I have a twin brother (who I am extremely close to) who also works at Planet Home Lending. You’re a healthier person when you have something else that you genuinely enjoy and that can take away the stress in your life.
MPA: What advice do you have for originators looking to grow either their own business or within the company they work for?
HB: It is essential to have good communication as a part of your services. If a client or real estate agent ever has to reach out to you for status, you’ve already failed. You should always be one step ahead. One way that I do this is what I call “Update Tuesday,” where I update clients every Tuesday and when every major milestone occurs. Though technology can automatically provide updates, the best practice is to constantly communicate with your clients in the manner they prefer, whether it’s texting, calling or emailing.
MPA: What advice would you give your 25-year-old self?
HB: My advice would be to trust and believe in yourself. I had a lot of self-doubt at the beginning of my career, even when I was doing well. I began my career in 1992, but it wasn’t until the early 2000s that I truly believed in my abilities and started trusting my own talent.