Top Originator: David Jaffe and his $3 billion career

For this originator, it's all about the balancing act

Top Originator: David Jaffe and his $3 billion career

David Jaffe had two big interests: financial planning and real estate. By merging the two, he found a home in the mortgage industry.

Jaffe has closed more than $3 billion in residential mortgages over the course of his career, more than $108 million in 2017 alone. The goal of Jaffe and the Jaffe Team at On Q Financial is to help clients integrate their mortgage into their complete financial picture. Everyone’s happy when the loan closes, but then what?

“It’s our industry’s fault that people tend to compartmentalize mortgage, and look at a mortgage by itself, but they don’t look at a mortgage as part of the whole, overall financial plan. We can’t just look at debt, we have to look at their assets and make sure that they match.”

Because of this, Jaffe and his team have taken it upon themselves to ensure that the loans of their clients are constantly meeting their long- and short-term financial objectives. This means advising them on whether or not they can handle bigger payments or managing home improvements or making whatever changes needed to meet their target date of payoff. Jaffe tells customers that he doesn’t just want to close their loans; he wants to effectively manage their mortgage the same way a financial planner manages their assets. This active management includes the Jaffe Team’s “Rate Watch” program, which scans the market on a daily basis after the loan has closed, looking for opportunities to secure a lower interest rate for the loan. It also includes and annual mortgage survey, and annual consultations.

Their clients are 100$ referral based, so their goal isn’t just to have happy borrowers; it’s to have borrowers who are fanatical about Jaffe and the services that his team provides. Without that enthusiasm, he said, his business model doesn’t work as well.

“We’re 100% referral based, so the better job we do, the more likely that we will have a repeat customer as well as a strong referral to someone else. It keeps the marketing cost down. It keeps the marketing cost down and it keeps the ink level down when you’re dealing with a strong referral.”

Most originators pride themselves on working so hard, on being reachable 24/7/365, on being approachable and available—not only to provide stellar customer service, but also to distinguish themselves from the banks, larger lenders, and other brokers who don’t do the same. Jaffe was no different, working crazy hours and missing out on life with his two small children, and eventually finding his life incredibly out of balance.

And then 17 years ago, he hired a business coach, and it marked a turning point in his career. It is the one thing in his career that he regrets: not that he hired a coach, but that he didn’t hire one sooner.

“That enabled me to structure my business to be able to have some balance. When anybody asks, ‘what’s the number one best thing you ever did in your business?’, it’s hiring a business coach,” he said. “It took probably about six months to find that balance. But balance is very hard.  Even to this day, I don’t work nearly as hard as I used to, but it’s hard to separate sometimes.”

Jaffe finds his balance by running, traveling, spending time with his wife and two children, but in the current environment, it’s tempting to work harder and more often.

Right now, Jaffe is taking stock of his almost 30-year-long career. He may no longer be the ferocious business beast of his “fire-breathing dragon” days, but he’s figuring out how to navigate yet another uncertain time in the mortgage industry.

“I’m really frustrated . . . I’m re-reviewing my business plan to ensure that I’m following the plan and I’m constantly reminding myself to keep doing things right and the business will follow. It’s a psychological game right now for anybody who’s been doing it a long time.”

If industry veterans are thrown by the current industry atmosphere, then originators who are newer to the game may have an even harder time figuring out where to focus their energies and efforts. Jaffe’s advice is to buckle down, develop a plan, and play the long game.

“This is not a get-rich quick business,” Jaffe said. “You have to be fully engaged all the time, and when you’re not at work, you always have to be thinking about ‘What can I do to do better?’ You should be going to conferences, you should be reading books on business and sales, and you have to be fully engaged to be super successful.”


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