It’s good to know what’s happening daily in your industry. That’s the only way you can learn and improve. Find out what’s happening in the mortgage industry with Covid and all that’s happening. Join your host Jen Du Plessis as she sits down with the Correspondent Mortgage Channel Manager for West Gate Bank, Dana Brashear. Listen to what Dana has to say about the mortgage industry, specifically about loan officers. Discover her journey into operations and why she chose to go into mortgages. Learn more about your industry today!
Looking for some help? Jen is seeking individuals who would like to be featured as a panelist on the show for her Mortgage Lending Mastery Mastermind Series.Email Support@KineticSparkConsulting.com to get scheduled!
Watch the episode here:
Listen to the podcast here:
A Mortgage Industry Forecast With Dana Brashear
I have a great correspondent lender by the name of Dana Brashear. The reason why I brought on a correspondent lender is they hear things that we don’t hear on the street. They hear it from a multitude of people. I thought, “How perfect would this be to bring someone on and speak from her perspective what’s happening in the industry now? What are some of the future forecasting might be?” Also, she’ll share her story on how she got where she is. Dana, welcome to the show.
Thank you so much for having me, Jen. I appreciate the opportunity.
I’m happy to have you. Let me introduce you to everybody. She has almost twenty years in the mortgage business and has extensive background in managing operations, overseeing product, policy development, building high-performing sales teams as well as delivering expert project management. She has had all the jobs you could possibly have in the industry including origination.
She is the Correspondent Channel Manager for Westgate Bank, which is based out of Lincoln, Nebraska. She holds an MBA in Project Management. She is Six Sigma Certified. She has been recognized as one of the ten most empowering women in the mortgage industry in 2021 by Insight Success magazine and Woman of the Year 2021 in the Enterprising World magazine. I do need to know what six Sigma is because I have no idea what that is.
Six Sigma is a Lean-Agile process for project management. You have Six Sigma, Agile, Scrum Master. They are different styles of running projects.
We talked in the green room a little bit about your history and as women we take that traditional path. Most of us have been in for 20, 25, 30, 40 years. For me, I started off as a receptionist/setup clerk in 1983. Here you are, this Channel Manager. That is something to be very proud of as a woman in our industry.
Before we talk about what you’re doing and your insight on what’s happening in today’s market and some forecasting, set us back into when you were an originator and a tipping point that you said, “I have finally arrived in this industry.” Whether it was through origination or it was in the ops side. Give us a little bit of a take on your journey as a loan officer.
I had some background processing before I jumped into the originator role, which helped me greatly because I understood the process and the pain that the staff felt behind the scenes. I was able to look at several different paths that a loan could take and get mentored from one of the best ladies in the business, in my opinion, who knew how to work a multitude of products through various channels and investors.Really figure out why you're doing what you're doing. Click To Tweet
It was nice to get that exposure as a processor and to have that opportunity. When I went into originating my own loans, it was terrifying because I was used to sitting behind a desk and dealing with borrowers and hearing their life stories to I’ve got to beat the streets and talk to these realtors about things. I need to know my stuff. I can’t have just one little part of the conventional processing world or FHA process world. I need to know how it all fits together in order to make this cohesive process. That was a little challenging for me to step outside my comfort zone there. I was very introverted.
Now, I’m not that way. I forced myself out there but having that fear of rejection was the biggest thing for me to overcome. The turning point in my career where I felt that, “I can do this. I want to take this somewhere,” is the minute that I figured out why I wanted to do what I’m doing. I had a preconceived notion when I first got in. It’s the standard answer for any young person in mortgages, “I do this because I want to help people get into a home.”
While it sounds great and is exactly what you’re doing, there is a lot more thought behind it. We’re building communities and helping people through massive financial decisions in their life that are building them up. I had to sit down and think about what aspect of that I liked. Did I like going out there and getting the business? Did I like helping people build themselves, their families and communities up? That turning point where I found out that I like to build things and make it work to give people the opportunities that they don’t have then I was able to go, “I’ve arrived,” because I know my purpose behind this. I can take it anywhere. It’s what drove me to my Project Management degree.
I wasn’t scared of rejection and not getting enough business because I know that’s a fear especially in today’s market but I had found my drive. It was motivated by other things than just getting customers in the door and getting those numbers up. I was making a lot of friends, networks and connections. I’ve built a wonderful family of a multitude of lenders and folks that have been in the business for a long time and mentorship networks. That opened the door for me to seek that out is to figure out why I was doing what I was doing.
We hear this often, “What’s your why?” There is a book called What’s Your What that a colleague of mine wrote. It falls on deaf ears often, “I get it. I needed to have a why thing.” Many years ago, someone was teaching mortgage to people. I was the only woman in the room of loan officers at the time and said, “You have to have a business plan and goals.” I was like, “Goals schmoals.” They had said, “If you write it down, you’ll achieve it.” I wrote down, “I want to make $100,000.” I didn’t get it. “You’re supposed to tell somebody.” I told my husband, “I want to make $100,000.” I wrote it down and it didn’t happen. I realized the importance of goals.
Years later, I realized the importance of knowing your why or what your purpose is. You bring up a good point. This is a great time of the year for us to be thinking about this. It’s a great time for us to be thinking about what that purpose is, like, “Why am I doing this?” I know a lot of people in a lot of different businesses are going through this because of COVID. They’re saying, “Do I want to go back to my job? Do I want to go back to sitting behind a desk and doing what I’m doing? There is no reason why we shouldn’t be doing that as well as loan officers and realtors because we are both reading.”
What happens when you do that is you have clarity because that’s what you have. You had that clarity. It’s not even motivation, it’s inspiration because inspiration comes from the inside. It’s like, “Tell me no, I don’t care because I have a mission. I’m building people up.” What made you go back into operations? What was the catalyst there?
I am one of those people that I have to know how everything works because I want to make sure that’s working in the most efficient way according to the team. I found that niche in operations because there are many aspects. You’ve got processing, closing and the whole manufacturing of the loan, the fulfillment.
There were so many pieces that as a loan officer that I wanted. I was selfish and said, “I want to build it this way because it would make me more efficient as a loan officer.” I want to get back there and retool the process and see what I could do to make it easier on the sales team which wasn’t always welcomed. When I got back there, I said, “Let’s look at this and how we can be more efficient and make this a little bit leaner of a process.”
It opened my eyes to how many organizations do things because that’s the way it’s always been done still. They still do it that way. There is a knowledge base that left and they don’t know where to pick it up. There are some gaps in the knowledge. They are not aware of the technology or new ways of doing things as we were talking about project, styles, Scrum Master, Agile or Lean, no one knew that from the operation standpoint.
Getting in there and showing, “We can do it this way. What’s the best way? Everyone works together. What are the big items that you want to change on your big wish list? How can we make this convenient for everyone?” Once I started seeing people light up instead of, “We have to do this. This is ridiculous.” They were like, “I can craft this myself. I have input and how this is going to work.” They’ve got ownership in that.
Seeing that excitement and them have those a-ha moments pulls me into operations all the time because you don’t always see that in sales especially as loan officers. You’re trying to get a deal done. You have you’re a-ha moment when you’re with the client and you figure out, “This is going to be awesome. It’s going to save you this much money and we’re going to get to this.”
In operations, you don’t see that. You often see the struggle. It was nice to see the wins and them appreciating those wins and learning that they can learn new things, they can build new things on their own and that they had input. It was real team-oriented. I liked that a lot where loan officers are in a hunt degree type of situation.
Can you give us one of your secret sauces? One little secret that you did. What’s something that you did to create that agility and leanness? Maybe someone reading this is saying, “I’ve been looking for something.” Can you give us one idea?
I have a system and I got this from a fellow coworker, if they complain about a process then I want you to bring me at least two solutions. Don’t just come and complain. I want to hear your thoughts on it. If you think it should be done a certain way or better, we can utilize or leverage technology to do it. I was very open. I made them accountable. That’s the secret.
Saying, “You have a say in this and I will completely try it. We can see if it works. If it doesn’t, we’ll move on and do the next thing.” Making them accountable for, “If it’s not a good process and you keep doing it over and over and you’re not telling me, we can’t figure out something then I can’t help you.” You’re getting them to open up.If you have a problem, come up with at least two solutions. Don't just come in and complain. Click To Tweet
There’s a book called The No Complaining Rule. I suggested that to some of my clients because I coach people. I hear someone saying, “This person, they come in and all they do is complain.” “Give them the book, The No Complaining Rule.” One of my clients makes that part of the reading that someone has to have when they’re getting onboarded with her.
We had the book in our office and there’s a cute little story to it. You have to read the book in order to understand it but you’ll be putting a piece of paper on the wall. It was about that you can’t complain, you have to come and you have to provide solutions. It’s a difference between enabling and empowering people. That’s more philosophical. I get that. It’s not like a tangible thing. Is there something in your process versus standardized process? What is something in your process that’s unique and different that someone would say, “I’ve never heard of that before?”
Everything is pretty much a standard flow. You can’t change the flow. It’s all the same. It’s the organization of job duties, who does what, where it’s done in the process and what tools you use to get that accomplished. Something that helped us tremendously, especially with COVID, we implemented a mobile point of sale platform. It has driven our production up amazingly because everything was done through the app. The customer signed onto the app, sends us the documents or pictures and uploads it.
It’s freed up our loan officers to go out there and make those key relationships with their network, title companies, realtors so on. There are 4 or 5 platforms out there that you can utilize. The realtor gets to brand through it and they also get notifications on, “The loan is approved. Closing has been approved.” It keeps them in the loop, whichever realtor loves. They want to know what’s going on.
That’s for efficiency so that people aren’t chasing documents, downloading documents, printing documents, looking at documents all the time.
We couldn’t have folks come in and sit down for 1 or 2 hours and do a loan application in the middle of a pandemic. We had to come up with a new way. Consumers are a lot more computer and tech-savvy these days that they get credit for.
At least a lion’s share of them. I love bringing people on and sharing different loan officers’ stories, people that are successful, people that aren’t in it anymore like you and me and people that are starting in it. What do you see as some of the challenges that you’re experiencing? On the correspondence side, you’re hearing from your account executives and that type of thing. You’re hearing these challenges that loan officers are experiencing either from a marketing perspective or in being able to get loans through. What are some of the challenges that loan officers are experiencing now from your perspective?
What we’ve been hearing is inventory is low. There are some hot spots across the US that they’re very lucky. We’re struggling to come up with some affordability products. That initiative has been driven by our administration. There are a lot of loan officers that are feeling like they have nothing to offer, institution does not have products.
There is a struggle and huge gap there and a disparity for minority home ownership as well. Every loan officer is pushing their institutions to get those products and sign up with investors that have those products. That’s something that I see as a big challenge. Being extremely competitive, price-wise, we have a lot of larger banks that are acquiring smaller banks or there have been a lot of mergers going on.
That puts a squeeze on the guys that can’t do a lot of business. It makes it even more competitive. Every loan officer in any environment is going to say, “We want better rates,” but that’s going to be a continuous thing. It’s just going to be in our margins because of it. Businesses are going to gradually decrease a little bit with the loss of refinances.
The other major thing that COVID came into play is recruiting loan officers has been an extreme challenge. We’ve seen them poached away from numerous institutions and with a promise of a bonus, the ability to work from home instead of coming in the office, same thing with operations underwriting. It’s hitting us in all of our areas. The competitive pay has been a huge challenge. We see institutions relooking at their basis points in comp percentage that they offer to loan officers because it’s higher than it has been in a while.
With all the business that we had over the past couple of years, that’s going to slow down but it’s extremely competitive. That’s been the number one complaint. How do we recruit? How do we keep those guys and make them happy? How do we do a hybrid workplace? That has been the number one topic besides affordability products.
For loan officers, that’s an easy fix but for operations, it’s different. It’s another cycle. It’s a cycle where we’ve seen sign-on bonuses, higher comp plans but over time, you’re going to see that change a little bit. To a certain extent, there are some loan officers that we’d be better suited being salaried than they are trying to make a living, closing 2 or 3 loans a month with 50 basis points in a competitive market.
There is some type of a saturation level like if someone’s not doing that volume and they work for a certain institution and in the best situation. If they had the best rates, if this was a great loan officer and all this stuff, the person could hopefully make $75,000 to $100,000 or 150,000 wherever your market is, it might be better to give them a salary. Let them go out and kick it with the salary and they bring in however many loans and then take the pressure off of them so they stay in the industry.
Another item that’s coming down as regulatory guidelines are starting to take a hard look at MSAs. Those folks that are in different shops have struggled and went to those that may not be something that is an opportunity for them anymore. As their opportunities get squeezed, we’re going to have a lot of loan officers that are either going to age out or take those opportunities that they can work from home. It’s going to be a very competitive workplace and hopefully we can get enough benefits and basis points shot their way that we can make a difference but that’s going to continue for a while.
There’s nothing written in stone, but I have so much empathy for loan officers that are struggling. They don’t want to leave the industry. That’s why I was suggesting it. I’m not trying to make that happen to everybody but if the sky is the limit and there’s also a floor, I’d rather have a salary if I’m not going to get to the sky.Learn as much as you can about what's happening in your industry. Get a mentor or a coach if you have to. Click To Tweet
You have to have these other factors as we talked about marketing. You want to have a great marketing platform if you’re going to attract that talent. You’ve got to have a presence. You’ve got to be on LinkedIn. You have to have social media. You have to be sending out marketing materials, birthday cards, whatever you choose to because that’s the only differentiator because everything’s being regulated heavily. It’s the touches, your service and the products that you can offer.
It’s interesting that you say service. Anytime someone says customer service, I have to chirp in about this because I feel that the customer services the conveyor belt. Everyone gets customer service. If you get a loan through Quicken, through you, a broker or a lender, it doesn’t matter. You’re all going to get service because everyone does it.
What’s transpired is the experience for the clients. It will be the experience they get having gone through your conveyor belt. I had mentioned the conveyor belt and said, “What is it about your conveyor belt that makes it neat?” You said, “It’s the people and where they’re placed in that conveyor belt that creates that experience and efficiency for clients.”
I’ve always said, “Your whole practice has to not only be effective but it needs to be efficient.” You can’t have an effective system that kills everybody and doesn’t give someone a great experience. I believe that’s what you’re speaking to as well. As we finish up, what words of wisdom would you like to leave for a loan officer or a real estate agent who is reading this and needs to go tell their loan officers something? What are some words of wisdom that you would like to embark on for those people for 2022?
It is to learn as much as you can about what’s happening in the industry and get you a mentor. I don’t care who it is, if it’s a realtor or a loan officer, find someone that you can connect with in this industry. Maybe it was something that you are familiar with. I’m not a secondary guru so I partner up with those folks to help round out my knowledge base. Find those folks because this new generation that are very tech-savvy are doing their research and they want a competent individual.
You need to learn as much as you can and take that opportunity to shore up those missing pieces because that’s going to set you apart. That’s going to have you getting business and those borrowers trusting you and building that deep level of competence that they need in this huge transaction. I would tell anybody that.
I’ve been out for three years of origination and I still ask all these questions. I still want to learn and want to know. I’m going to leave everybody with a couple of things. I love what you said about being well-rounded and you said secondary and it immediately took me to a couple of places. If you can’t answer why is the interest rate on a jumbo loan higher than on a conforming loan, you need to go speak to someone.
Why is it when the bond prices go down, rates go up and vice versa? How do you get rid of PMI? I bet most people don’t know the real answer. Call your MI person and make sure you know the exact answer. If you answered two years, I gave you the answer but two years is wrong. It could be right but what are the odds? It’s things like that that will make you an expert in the industry and differentiate you as an originator and as a professional in this industry.
Take those three questions. If you don’t truly know the answer, ask someone else the question and ask and see if it’s the same answer as yours. If it’s not someone’s wrong, figure it out and increase your knowledge in this industry. We always say knowledge is power and it is. There are people who say, “Yeah,” but it’s not good unless you put it in action. I get it. Please, for God’s sakes, do that.
Dana, thank you so much for sharing all this information. Congratulations on the accolades that you got in 2020. I love seeing women continue to grow in our industry. I love seeing men continue to grow too, but it’s great to see women in this industry and enter the industry as originators instead of having to take an opposite path if that’s not what they want to do, it’s their choice. I appreciate your time. Thank you so much.
Thank you, Jen. I appreciate it.
Thank you for reading. We appreciate it so much. I encourage you to scroll down on your phone if you can and give us a five-star rating and put in a review. Tell us what you loved about what Dana had to say or what you love about what the show says. You can even say, “Jen, could you talk about X, Y and Z?” because we would love to bring other topics on here. I have over 800 of my own topics that I could talk about but I like bringing other people because they have much more value to give. Don’t forget to subscribe to us on YouTube. We’ll catch you on our next episode.
- Dana Brashear
- Westgate Bank
- The No Complaining Rule
- What’s Your What
- YouTube – Jen Du Plessis
- Become a Member MLMMembership
- Book your Business Breakthrough Session with Jen
- Find and Share your Favorite Podcasts on GoodPods