Residential Magazine

Education Can Replenish the Talent Pool

Technology is a stopgap fix to meet demand

By Paul Gigliotti

Over the past year, mortgage originators and lenders across the country have used every measure at their disposal to keep up with soaring demand. Pipelines are bursting at the seams, stress is at an all-time high, and a lack of professionally trained people and inferior processes are only making things worse.

While rising rates have cooled the demand for refinancing, business leaders remain in desperate need of outside-of-the-box solutions to meet their staffing challenges. This is especially true as a strong purchase market promises to keep them busy throughout the coming year.

How did it get this way? Obviously, lenders, brokers and loan officers are powerless over the forces that shape the current market. But there are steps the industry can take to be better prepared for future market shifts that inevitably will occur. This begins with changing the approach for how businesses educate mortgage professionals, and how technology can be leveraged to not only work smarter but to bring everyone closer together. 

Broader horizons

The shortage of experienced mortgage professionals has led to an all-out battle for talent, with many large lenders offering sizable bonuses to entice loan officers, underwriters and operations staff to join their companies. The talent shortage, however, is symbolic of a larger problem. The industry as a whole is not providing its employees with education-based training that covers all aspects of the mortgage process. 

Too often, mortgage companies train individuals to perform specific functions throughout the flow of the loan process, from application to closing to the post-close details. Many mortgage professionals — especially those who work in operations — are “lifers.” Usually, a processor starts in a company and performs the same function throughout their career. They may perform the task effectively, but with little to no cross-training, the workload becomes theirs alone and offers little to no upward mobility.

The solution is simple, although it takes some groundwork and a substantial shift in thinking about how things are done. Mortgage companies first need to create new educational models that better support their people, organizations and the industry. The key is a broader foundation of training that empowers individual team members to see the bigger picture and prepare for new job opportunities. 

In the short term, incorporating technology solutions and new innovations to power the loan process from application to closing can be an effective solution to keep pipelines moving. In the long term, however, decisionmakers must think beyond what’s been done in the past and penetrate the bubble that has been created. By doing so, mortgage companies will make the industry more attractive to younger candidates from more diverse backgrounds while creating career opportunities rather than job opportunities. 

Holistic approach

It’s important to develop programs that educate across all aspects of the industry’s functions. This creates a foundation upon which mortgage professionals can build a career. By receiving deeper training and instruction, they not only become proficient in their current roles but grow into new ones. 

It’s vital to see the individual as an asset to the team and education as a tool of empowerment. With cross-training, the individual becomes a key performer, shaping the team and the company’s culture. This also allows lenders and originators to gain a competitive advantage and ensure sustainable success.

New education models empower lenders and originators to diversify the pool of potential job candidates, thereby diversifying the industry. This also can break through some of the self-constructed barriers and attract candidates who are highly cross-educated, and who better understand the flow of a loan and the overall industry beyond their core function. Similar to what the conveyor belt did for the Industrial Revolution by automating work flow and increasing production, new educational models can be used to increase productivity and give people greater opportunities to build a career. 

There are plenty of examples of this in other employment sectors. For example, in the restaurant industry, some companies are taking a full-spectrum approach to training waiters by giving them a more comprehensive understanding of their function. Rather than just knowing how to take an order, waiters know where the food they are serving is sourced, which empowers them to provide better service to the customer. With a broader knowledge of the business, waiters also are better prepared to move up to management positions. 

Ultimately, education has the power to elevate mortgage professionals, the industry and the consumer. Nothing changes someone’s life more than access to education.

Deeper relationships

Lenders and the originators who work with them also need to make a concerted and successful effort to incorporate technology and innovation. This not only helps with their process flow but how they work together. In an ever-increasing digital world, mortgage professionals and clients will rely more on technology to optimize their experience and streamline the process. 

For the typical mortgage company, technology already powers the loan process, beginning with the application and eventually guiding the loan through the post-closing process. But technology also can enhance the role of the mortgage professional as well as the consumer’s experience. 

Lenders and originators are learning to embrace technology to expedite and streamline the closing process, and to create better and more efficient loan flow. But technology also can enable teams to be proactive and more collaborative. Integrating technology in the right way offers the ability to look at the functions in the loan process as three-dimensional. It’s not just about dotting i’s and crossing t’s — it’s about using technology to deepen relationships, and to communicate internally across teams and externally to the consumer. 

For instance, incorporating a marketing operating system that cross-integrates with point-of-sale and loan origination software systems gives a team a competitive advantage, not only in how the business functions but in developing deeper connections. Mortgage professionals who are educated and empowered will understand and welcome the opportunity to use technology in this way.

The mortgage industry is at a pivotal point. In the decades to come, as team members are aging into retirement and as technology continues to evolve to power the loan process, the industry is increasingly faced with the challenge to replenish talent and connect with clients in new 

ways. There’s no better time than now to utilize technological innovations to establish more authentic communications. More importantly, tech tools can leverage education to deepen relationships with consumers and industry peers. 

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Ultimately, education has the power to elevate mortgage professionals, the industry and the consumer. Nothing changes someone’s life more than access to education. 

As Irish poet Thomas Moore said, “Education is not the piling on of learning, information, data, facts, skills or abilities — that’s training or instruction — but is rather making visible what is hidden as a seed.” These seeds are already present within your company. It’s time to let them grow. ●


  • Paul Gigliotti

    Paul Gigliotti is the chief operating officer at Pinnacle Home Loans, a full-service direct lender and mortgage broker based in California. He is a veteran mortgage leader with more than 20 years of experience in the financial-services and technology industries. He has held executive roles for multiple mortgage lenders, and he has a distinguished track record of growing lending platforms while streamlining internal and external operational processes. Gigliotti also serves on the board of directors for the California Mortgage Bankers Association.

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