Branding, partnership and beyond: Angel Oak’s Tom Hutchens sets out the right strategies
As the world finally seems to be emerging from the shadow of the pandemic, almost everyone in the mortgage industry is wondering exactly how to progress – and remain successful – over the coming months.
Loan officers are no different. While the pandemic may have held more of a silver lining for them than other industry colleagues, they’re still eager for actionable steps on how to handle the rest of 2021 … and beyond.
“Most loan officers would tell you they had a record year in 2020,” reflected Tom Hutchens (pictured), EVP, Production at Angel Oak Mortgage Solutions. “We saw record all-time low interest rates, so loan officers’ pipelines filled up quicker probably than ever.”
“The purpose of that reduction in interest rates was, of course, to keep the economy going as best we could. Right now, rates are still low by historic standards … but there’s not going to be any repeat from last year’s big increase in business.”
And that’s where the potential of the non-QM sector can be most keenly felt.
“With rates no longer at historic lows, loan officers need to be more creative in their marketing efforts,” Hutchens said. “They need to look for new borrower and referral sources. The best way to do that is to differentiate yourself … and being a non-QM expert is a great way to do that.
“It’s not just an all-or-nothing proposition, but non-QM helps them be different than an ‘average’ loan officer down the street. It allows loan officers to not only get the non-QM loans, but they can still originate agency loans as well.”
This level of personal branding is a vital step for future success – yet Hutchens also explains that good partnership strategy is just as important as marketing your image.
“A critical element to one’s success is that we believe you must partner with a high quality, experienced non-QM lender. There are lots of people getting back into the non-QM space in 2021. To be an expert, you must filter through the noise and work with the best in the industry. That’s the only way that you’re really going to succeed in non-QM and come up with a good experience - to find and partner with solid, accomplished non-QM lenders.”
So how feasible is this for someone who is relatively new to the non-QM sector? Do they risk being left behind as more experienced counterparts flourish – or is there a way to avoid this?
“It’s unavoidable that loan officers who have been doing non-QM for years are going to be a little bit ahead of the game, rather than somebody who’s trying to do their first non-QM loan,” Hutchens said. “But it’s really not difficult for them to embrace non-QM. Once you do that, then you can start marketing yourself as something different from the usual Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans expert.”
For more invaluable advice – covering not only branding and partnership, but tips on networking, social media and more – Angel Oak’s new infographic ‘Six Key Steps to Success’ is an essential read. Take a look here.