Why mortgage professionals should participate in industry surveys

MPA sat down with Drew Waterhouse, CEO of Hammerhouse LLC, to discuss why surveys are vital to the mortgage industry and its recently launched fifth Annual Survey of Originator Opinions.

Mortgage Professional America had a chance to sit down with Drew Waterhouse, managing director and CEO of Hammerhouse LLC, a recruiting firm in the mortgage and financial services industries, to discuss why surveys are vital to the mortgage industry and their recently launched 5th Annual Survey of Originator Opinions.

Drew, thanks for speaking with us.  Why did Hammerhouse begin conducting surveys of mortgage originator opinions five years ago?
Waterhouse: From our interaction with hundreds of originators each year, we become aware of the general opinions that originators have regarding their jobs and their employers.  We wanted to find a way of sharing those opinions with the entire origination community--lenders and originators alike--as a way of improving the industry overall.  In our role representing lenders or candidates, we must uphold the highest level of confidentiality, so we were looking for a way to share candid, honest opinions that did not violate that trust. Conducting an anonymous survey allows us to do that.

How have the surveys been received by originators and lenders?
DW: We have had excellent response from originators, both in terms of their participation and their interest in the results.  Each year, we have had several hundred LO participants that have been fairly balanced geographically.  That has created what researchers call a “statistically significant sample” which creates high validity to our results.  From the feedback we get after the publication of each year’s results, we know LOs and lenders are eager to learn what the current hot button issues are, and what new issues are bubbling to the surface.  Everyone wants to know how their reality compares to that of others in the industry.

What result has most surprised you over the years you have been conducting the survey?
DW: Last year we found evidence of what we subsequently called the eternal optimism or delusional nature of LOs as it relates to their confidence in their ability to overcome market challenges and continue to reach production goals.  The majority of LOs surveyed admitted that they had not reached their production goals in 2013, yet a majority expected that their personal production would rise in 2014.  While surprising to see reflected across the entire block of LOs surveyed, the results were in line with what we observe working with top LO’s throughout the year.

Any expectations for this years survey?
DW: This coming year will be the first in the post-QE era.  As such, we expect LOs to be focused on how they will grow or maintain production in what is likely to be a long-term, increasing rate environment.  I expect more concerns over marketing, as well as how well their employers are positioned to compete in a more niche-oriented, higher production cost industry.
We are focusing more this year on exploring what happens at the local level--between LO and referral partners and LOs and their first-level manager. It is part of what we believe is the key ingredient to a successful LO/Lender relationship--vertical model matching.  

Are survey results confidential?
DW: Results are compiled in aggregate form only.  No individual response is ever shared.  LOs are not asked to identify their employer and only identify themselves in order to enable us to conduct the incentive drawing and to send a thank you email.
Why should LOs participate in your survey, or for that matter, any industry survey?
DW: It is their industry! Their opinions will unquestionably make a difference and improve conditions for LOs across the board.  There is simply nothing as important in this industry as the frontline, on-the-street LO. Their opinions matter a great deal. They do have the opportunity to shape the mortgage industry.

Where can LOs go to take the survey?
DW: The survey is located here on our website.