The VA lender is using several staffing strategies to pre-empt any potential capacity constraints
With the COVID-19 housing boom raging on, news about lenders posting record origination volumes in 2020 has become almost blasé. 2021, which will likely either see either a new administration steering the ship or the continuation of the country’s humiliating coronavirus catastrophe, could be a different story.
VA lender NewDay USA, however, is expecting 2021 to be another colossal year. The company is already projecting exponential growth in the range of $5 billion in originations and $300 million in revenue for 2020. According to New Day head of human resources and corporate communication Pooja Bansal, 2021 should see the company originating $9 billion worth of loans and generating $500 million in revenue.
The rosy predictions are the product of three relatively safe assumptions: That interest rates will remain low until 2022, that NewDay’s cash-out refinance product will be popular with the company’s clients, and that its data-driven and highly targeted approach to direct marketing, which the company continues to invest in and improve, will pay further dividends.
Even if interest rates rebound, Bansal is confident in the company’s revenue projections.
“It doesn’t matter how interest rates look,” she says. “We know that we will be able to sell our core product, which our veterans need.”
Serving a potential 40,000 clients next year will require some serious scaling up. The company’s workforce, now totalling about 700 employees, has already grown by 50 percent during the pandemic. NewDay expects to employ more than 1,200 people by the end of 2021.
That’s a tall order. For a company not prepared for such explosive growth, finding that many warm bodies over a short period of time could be a recipe for disaster. Unprepared staff providing questionable advice. Asymmetrical expansion that leaves certain areas humming with productivity while others fall behind. Bansal says the company is focused on scaling up the right way: proportionately and with an eye to ensuring their new loan officers, underwriters, and processors get thoroughly trained.
The company has developed two training programs, one for loan officers and one for underwriters.
The Account Executive program is the course for originators, most of whom are new to the industry and whose previous experience has primarily been in customer service. After putting in three weeks at NewDay University, where Bansal says they will be “exposed to various industry leaders and guest sessions from our senior leadership”, trainees must then pass the SAFE MLO exam before they’re allowed to start producing.
“We’re not sticking them to only refinancing products or streamlined products,” Bansal says. “We are training them on our core products.”
The Accelerated Underwriting Program, despite the moniker, is a comprehensive, two-year endeavor in which employees first learn the processing and closing processes before moving on to learning the ins and outs of underwriting.
One of NewDay’s staffing priorities is ensuring that every arm of the company is growing proportionally. Bansal says the company’s sophisticated staffing model ensures that they don’t load up on staff in certain areas while leaving others undermanned and scrambling. In addition to LOs and underwriters, NewDay is also actively hiring for its IT, compliance, and human resources departments. The lender is planning for a 50 percent increase in staff at its NewDay India operations as well.
“When we are planning to grow one side of the company, everything grows along with it,” she says. “We have to expand all of our shared services.”
With so many new people joining the NewDay team, one might wonder where exactly they’re all supposed to fit. Bansal says NewDay’s current facility can accommodate roughly 1,000 staff. The rest may be working remotely.
“We’re not bringing everybody to the office with this pandemic situation. Like anybody else, we are also exploring other options for how we can reduce our footprint and still be growing,” she says.
Whatever 2021 has in store for the country, Bansal says 2020 has been a year the company can be proud of.
“For NewDay, this is definitely a great time because we are able to serve way more veteran families than we were expecting.”