Michael Ziccarelli wants his name to be synonymous with the financial product that he specializes in — home equity lines of credit, commonly referred to as HELOCs. To do that, Ziccarelli relies heavily on his referral network.
So, he aims to make those partners shine. When they send him a client, Ziccarelli makes sure he’s available, responsive and diligent in following up.
“If they say, ‘Mike, thank you so much. You came to my house and you made this painless,’” Ziccarelli said. “That’s the key. I love to hear that I made it painless and seamless. So, I say, ‘You know what? Just do me a favor and go back to so-and-so and tell them that I did a great job for you. Do me that favor.’ Obviously, they’re more than happy to.”
This approach has worked well. Ziccarelli, who works for Marquette Bank in Chicago, has zoomed up the ranks of mortgage originators for HELOC volume over the past three years.
In 2018, Ziccarelli, working at The Huntington National Bank at the time, ranked No. 1 in the nation on Scotsman Guide’s 2018 Top HELOC Volume list. He originated 420 loans for $62.7 million. He also was No. 1 on the same list in 2017 with $41.5 million in loan volume. In 2016, he made his first appearance on the Scotsman Guide list, ranking No. 2 with $26.1 million in HELOCs.
Ziccarelli grew up in Libertyville, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. After high school, Ziccarelli attended Illinois State University and started studying engineering at his father’s urging. He rebelled against it and soon found himself back at home on the couch. Then, his mom told him that he was going to First American Bank, now PNC, where his sister had worked, to apply for a job.
“I got up off the couch, I got dressed with a tie and went down there,” Ziccarelli said. “They hired me right away and I really got kind of turned on to the whole wearing a tie and looking professional bit.”
He moved up the ranks at First American and then chose to head back to college, this time to Northern Illinois University, to earn a finance degree. After graduating, he started working as a branch supervisor at U.S. Bank. Branch managers are kind of like the quarterbacks of a bank. When someone comes in the door and asks for a residential mortgage, the manager sends them to one loan officer. For a commercial loan, the manager sends them to another loan officer.
As the bank supervisor, Ziccarelli handled most of the HELOCs, which are an anchor product for many banks. HELOCs offer flexibility, convenience and security, he said. The lines of credit can help out homeowners in an emergency or it can help pay for an improvement that creates additional value for a home.
“I think everybody should have one if they own their home,” Ziccarelli said.
Originators who want to sell the product should know the guidelines and ratios well enough that they don’t need to look up the details on every call. “Obviously, you can’t know everything, but do your homework,” Ziccarelli said. “Be very knowledgeable.”
Another key is to build a referral network, he said, because that’s what’s going to bring in the business. Lastly, simplify and streamline the process for the borrower.
“Make it easy for the customer to say yes and make it easy for the customer to close,” Ziccarelli said.