An asymmetrical approach to building loan officer teams

Talent is in high demand and one branch manager is thinking outside the box

An asymmetrical approach to building loan officer teams

Where last year companies fought for underwriting talent, this year they may be fighting for originators. With rising rates and lower volumes, turn times are less important than the kind of purchase pipeline a mortgage professional can bring to their company. The biggest firms are already working on acquiring the best originators, offering huge signing bonuses in a ‘brain drain’ away from smaller companies. While that competition is good news for loan officers, for brokers and branch managers it represents a challenge. How can you attract and retain the best when there are so many more sharks in the water?

Alvaro Moreira (pictured), has taken an asymmetrical approach. The branch manager at Moreira Team Mortgage in Atlanta, a subset of MortgageRight, explained that he finds his best loan officers outside the industry. His strategy is to recruit people with strong sales skills and good networks who don’t have any experience in the mortgage space. He gives them training and support, and they become his top producers. It’s an approach that widens his net and means he isn’t fighting over the few candidates out there who can offer real mortgage experience.

“I’m looking for people that are good network people, people that are very good on the phone, and people that have maybe just been in other types of sales positions, specifically not in the mortgage business,” Moreira said. “So, I take someone from another sales role that might not be earning as much as a loan officer and I run them through the proper training.”

Not only does this offer Moreira a wider net, it helps him bring younger blood into the industry. He noted that the average loan officer age sits above 50, and when mortgage pros have been in the game that long, in his experience, they can struggle with changes in regulation, client expectations, and market conditions. Attracting younger talent with no mortgage experience means hiring a loan officer for the next decade.

He trains up those new hires with a program called XINNIX, which offers online education to loan officers. In addition, he emphasizes that his loan officers should be spending the majority of their time making connections and selling. Moreira claims to run in a staffing-heavy model, which means his loan officers only have to do about 25% of what they might have to do in another company. His processing staff are trained to liaise with clients and support them through the life of their loan, meaning his loan officers are free to keep selling.

By hiring from outside the industry, Moreira has been able to benefit as the pandemic decimated industries across the countries. Two of his current top performers, he said, were recruited just this past year. One was selling cars and the other was selling education supplies. They lost their jobs as people stopped buying cars or sending kids to school, and Moreira was able to move them into a booming mortgage business.

Read more: Quontic boosts non-QM operations

The end result is a younger sales team with more of a focus on relationship building and networking than the processing side of the mortgage business. Moreira believes that will set his company up for greater success. That youth and hunger will drive a competitive edge as refi volumes drop. The focus on relationships will help drive purchase business his way, too, as it relies far more on local connections. Moreira sees competition coming from more tech-driven firms and he believes that by recruiting young, hardworking salespeople with local roots, he can stay ahead of that curve.

“This is a huge opportunity, but you need to think differently,” Moreira said, when asked if he had advice for other branch managers and brokers. “If you look outside the industry, you’re going to have a much bigger pool of candidates. People are hungry and, with so much changing, there’s a lot of talented salespeople out there just dreaming of a position like this.”