I am being interviewed for a podcast that will be on iTunes this coming week and the subject is "What Makes a Loan Officer a Success". Having pondered this, I have concluded that two traits are needed: knowledge and involvement.
While trying not to appear demeaning, all of us can market, learn to market, or hire someone to do our marketing for us. However, unless and until we know what it is that we are marketing, even the best marketer will be scrambling to make their car payment or keep their cell phone on!
In these days of ever-changing guidelines, it is imperative that we, as loan officers, learn those guidelines, relearn those guidelines, study them and commit as much of them as possible to memory and then keep up on the changes as they happen. Several months ago, I took a Friday, Saturday and Sunday and spent them holed up in a hotel room going over and over my investor's guidelines and the mortgage insurance guidelines (I'm in Florida, which is a market that has different rules than other states in many cases.) Doing this, while somewhat boring at first, showed me so much more that we CAN do as opposed to what we can't do. My object wasn't to find out anything other than what limitations the different investors we work with and the MI companies were placing on us but I found ways to get loans done that I didn't realize even existed! It's amazing how many people will say that they are "loan officers" or "mortgage consultants, advisors, or experts" only to find out that they really don't know how to get a loan closed from beginning to end. They may not know all of the correct documents that are needed for the underwriter and have to keep going to the client and asking for more, which is extremely unprofessional and frustrating to the client, they may not know the maximum loan to value or debt to income ratio or minimum credit score needed, and they may just throw answers out to appear knowledgeable that, in the end, makes them look as unknowledgeable as they really are. It is better to respond to a question with either (a) the right answer that you know because you study your guidelines continuously or (b) an "I am not 100% sure but I will check on it and get right back to you" than it is to every try to appear that you "know your stuff" and throw out an incorrect answer!
The second trait needed is INVOLVEMENT. All the knowledge in the world won't help unless and until you have someone to share it with. As a loan officer, the best place to start spreading that knowledge is with Realtors®. I have found that being involved in my local association through committees and sponsorships, being an active member of the local chapter of Women's Council of Realtors, and being involved in community and/or charitable organizations allows me to share my knowledge when questions are asked that tell the other party that I know what I am talking about. If a Realtor® asks me a question and I just give an answer to "appear" knowledgeable and then it turns out that my answer is wrong, I wouldn't expect to do business with that Realtor® again, and rightfully so. Even worse, they will probably tell other Realtors® and then your reputation will be sullied going forward. When you are at functions for your Board or other organization functions, DO NOT MAKE IT ALL ABOUT YOU OR YOUR COMPANY! Being involved means doing the task that is required of that committee or group and it isn't about self-promotion! It is through these efforts, however, that you establish relationships and some of the other people in these groups may ask you questions and if you give the right answers, they may then refer you business. Nobody "owes" any of us their business; it is up to us to "earn" it.
My creed is and always has been: "If I help you to grow your business, it will then, in turn, help me to grow mine". The key to doing this is patience and making sure that in any and all answers in conversations you have with the Realtor, borrower, title company, etc. is one that you don't just make up to look like you're smart. In my head, the "smart" person I picture is Einstein........if you prove you're no Einstein, you will also find you're no Trump or Gates, either!