The mortgage industry has reached a crossroads. Loan costs continue to rise, with production expenses hitting $9,470 in Q4 of 2021. Meanwhile, net gains dropped to just $1,099 per loan during that same span. These shifts mark a change in the mortgage market, with uncertainty around what this new cycle will bring. Meanwhile, in what’s been termed the “Great Resignation,” workers shuffle from opportunity to opportunity in search of new interests and alternate career paths. And throughout it all, employees and employers continue to define the future of work.
Today, many lenders find themselves cutting staff amidst rising rates and declining volume—a familiar scenario for tenured industry veterans that comes with familiar challenges. With a smaller staff, efficiency and productivity take center stage to combat tighter margins. However, even with cuts, retaining your top lending talent becomes paramount to reduce the money, knowledge, and productivity lost to turnover and maintain a profitable lending business.
Why talent retention matters
The adage that it costs more to acquire a new customer than to keep a current customer is also applicable to your talent retention. The average cost to hire a new employee is $4,425. Additionally, that new hire will not be at full operating capacity for upwards of 12 weeks. Add in a month-long vacancy during your recruitment process, and your business is missing out on four months of production to fill a position. With slim margins in the current market, such a drop in productivity from your loan origination team, especially if it’s a top producer, can be detrimental to your bottom line. Given the hiring challenges the mortgage industry faced in 2020, keeping key talent on your team is pivotal to your production, even in a market that faces declining volume.
Recognizing the business case for retaining your top talent is fairly easy. Actually keeping them is another story. Spoiler alert: It’s not easy. In a recent survey of sales professionals, 56% report actively seeking a new job. They are sending resumes, applying, and talking to recruiters. The study found these job-seeking behaviors even among high-performers (57%) and those reporting job satisfaction (41%).
That same study found giving out raises and promotions may not be enough to keep your top lending talent. Setting your LOs on a path for success is often more impactful to your team and your bottom line than money and titles. Investing in the right people, technology, and products is critical to your employee retention and sets up your team and your business for success in the short and long term.
Invest in sales support
Having great technology is important. Equally as important is having a team who knows how to use it. A sales support team that is well-versed in your tech stack turns that technology investment into an asset for your LOs instead of a nuisance. This support staff can help your LOs by navigating technology and systems, managing your CRM, and running and tracking sales campaigns. They can even work with local real estate agents on co-branding initiatives to increase visibility for both parties.
“A great sales support staff acts as a safety net for your LOs,” notes Bryan Traeger, VP of Customer Success at Maxwell. “Any pressure they can take off your top producers is key to free up time for focus on the money hours.”
Sales support can empower your lenders to do what they do best: build relationships and bring borrowers into the sales funnel. When they are freed from the pressures of technology, they can then leverage that technology as an asset as they book appointments, host clients, meet with local Realtors, and perform other activities designed to generate revenue and applications.
Deliver products to your lenders
Your loan officers will have more success, and in turn will want to stay with your lending business, if you give them a better product to sell.
“Arming your sales staff with more diverse product offerings and showing them how to apply those options to suit borrower needs allows your LOs to say ‘yes’ more often to more qualified borrowers,” Bryan says. “And offering these products at a good price point can keep your LOs competitive, productive, and happy.”
Give meaningful (and useful) recognition
The platinum rule—treat others how they want to be treated—can be applied to celebrating your lenders. Giving your team meaningful recognition, both internally and publicly, means giving them something they can put to use.
“Maybe it’s a plaque they can display in their office. Maybe it’s a designation they can share on LinkedIn,” says Bryan. “Whatever the praise, giving a lender something they can advertise, something public, can lend to their credibility and help them build success down the line.”
Get creative with this. Perhaps you offer professional headshots that your team can use on business cards and advertisements or the opportunity to seek further training and professional development. As long as the recognition is meaningful to the individual, it can be a powerful retention tool.
Get the right tech
If you haven’t already, investing in technology can help to streamline your lending process from application through closing. Automating certain processes and communications, such as contacting applicants for documentation and information, can speed up this information gathering and remove it from your team’s plate.
“Information gathering takes up your LOs’ time,” Bryan added. “Automating some of those smaller tasks can allow your LOs to carry a bigger pipeline.”
Maxwell Point of Sale, for example, automates much of the operational tasks, increasing loan officer capacity by 15%. Maxwell also makes it easier for the borrower with its easy application, pre-filling certain fields for a simplified application, raising the loan app submission rate to 90%. Supplying your LOs with a tool that empowers them to outproduce their peers will attract and retain top talent across the industry. Maxwell gives LOs a solution they want to use, with 50% using the point of sale everyday and with an average NPS of 61.
Ultimately, the best way to retain your top lending talent is by consistent action and a persistent show of support. Whether in the form of praise, useful technology or process support, keeping your top talent comes down to proving they have a path to success and a leadership team dedicated to guiding the way.