Residential Magazine

Develop a New Skill Set and Perspective

As client behavior evolves, originators must work to remain relevant

By Alec Hanson

The mortgage industry faces constant change as borrower behaviors evolve. The disruption being experienced today is a significant concern for many mortgage companies and originators.

This transformation is not only making the mortgage space more competitive, but renders traditional ways of generating business stagnate and, in many cases, irrelevant. The result? Oftentimes, today’s originator is portrayed as outdated and unnecessary.

Is that really true? No. Technology will never stop disrupting the business, but homeownership will always be a physical and an emotional experience. It’s where our families are raised, where our children take their first steps and where people one day plan to retire. As long as owning a home retains its emotional element and purchasing a home is a human decision, then the guidance that originators provide remains relevant.

It is essential that originators adopt a new perspective, and a change in mindset and skill set, so they can not only survive but thrive in this new era of modern lending. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Personal brand

If originators don’t build the infrastructure of a solid brand, they’re going to find themselves in the past and, possibly, without a career. Ten years ago, this wasn’t an issue, but the digital age has enabled today’s consumer to not only expect loan originators to have a solid brand, they demand it.

So, how do you brand yourself as a highly rated, five-star mortgage professional, subject-matter expert and trusted adviser? It’s not something that happens overnight. It takes dedication and effort. You have to start by enlisting people you trust to help you perform an audit on yourself. If you’re not properly managing your online reputation, then you are actively missing out on business opportunities.

Assessing how the world sees you and cleaning up any content that does not fit your desired image is a solid first step. Just remember that building a personal brand is not as simple as adding a tagline to your e-mail signature line. It’s a process that requires constant effort and execution.

Digital strategy

A strategy is defined as a plan of action or a policy designed to achieve an overall goal. In this case, a loan originator’s mission should be to develop opportunities (i.e., leads and loans) by implementing a digital-marketing strategy.

The world has gone digital. A Pew Research Center study conducted in 2018 found that roughly three-quarters of Facebook users visit the site daily, with about half doing so several times a day. The majority of Snapchat and Instagram users also visit those sites daily.

Given this powerful and growing avenue of human connection, developing and executing a strategy that will help you grow your digital influence and relationships is of paramount importance. Originators have to become experts in reaching the digital client first. This allows them to earn a seat at the table well before that same client starts pushing buttons online to try to see what they can qualify for.

Local marketing

In the past, originators were taught to partner with real estate agents as a means to be introduced to clients. Although referrals remain an integral and crucial part of the business, it’s time to present ourselves in our community as local lending experts.

There are countless ways to engage with your local community and increase your influence as a mortgage professional. One simple approach is leveraging your “third place.”

American urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg introduced the concept that everyone has three places where they go in life: home, work and our third place. That third place could be anywhere — your church, a coffee shop or the gym — as long as it’s a place where you have the opportunity to engage with others around you.

Work this to your advantage. Local marketing has evolved beyond billboards and bus-stop benches. It’s crucial to discover how to leverage contemporary local marketing efforts to grow your local reputation and brand. One advantage the local mortgage pro will always have over a purely internet-based lender is the simple fact that they are local.

Crucial influence

Although the marketing and origination landscape is changing, one thing that is not changing is the crucial role influence will play in determining the future success of the modern originator. Clients demand a five-star, industry-leading professional when choosing the person they prefer to do business with.

It’s wonderful to get that warm referral from our best agents. But mortgage professionals still need to establish a powerful and professional personal brand with clients. Originators need to leverage social media to showcase their talents and successes, and build influence. And they need to get out, market to and serve our local communities.

If you don’t do these things, the future is clear: Your years of experience will not be visible to potential clients. Your professionalism, talent and experience will not be heard. Your value as a community-driven industry veteran and successful professional will be passed over by the modern consumer and reduced to a decimal point. In short, you will be bypassed.

That doesn’t have to be the end of your story. Nowadays, there’s one constant: change. The industry’s collective success will be based on the ability of originators to anticipate and respond to rapid change brought on by digital transformation and evolving consumer demands.


  • Alec Hanson

    Alec Hanson is senior vice president of production at loanDepot and oversees the retail channel’s Pacific Southwest Division. He has been recognized over the years as a top 1% loan originator, team builder and industry thought leader. Hanson was instrumental in the development and execution of loanDepot’s Modern Lending Playbook, which aims to help originators thrive in today’s industry. Learn more about the playbook at Reach Hanson at (714) 464-1157 or

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