As a mortgage loan agent and branch manager, I’ve worked with all kinds. But all loan agents, whether they work for a bank or are the last standing brokers, fit into the three categories below. So to borrowers and loan agents: here’s your quick reference guide on who will perform and who to avoid.
THE TRADER: This is the loan agent who doesn’t get too heady. The Trader just barrels through quoting/locking rates, underwriting files and all the chaos in between. The Trader refers to most men as “buddy,” partly because he might not remember your name, and partly because he’s generally friendly and sees the world as a buddy-buddy type place. At their worst, Traders put leisure time first and make all they can off as few clients as possible. At their best, they’re closing $50-75m in loans even in down years, and make no mistake: running big volume is a trading exercise at the core. The best Traders squash competitors on rate because they know every tick of MBS markets and the timing of every client’s transaction cold.
Traders don’t waste time because there’s one endgame: closing. They don’t debate markets or regulatory red tape with clients, and aren’t slowed by rate shoppers. The deal is the deal, and let me know if you’d like to proceed. Clients can feel this is off-putting, but the Trader knows what many experienced borrowers want: short emails, shorter conversations, best terms, no surprises.
THE ADVISOR: But many borrowers want hand holding and education. That’s why lending industry marketers like to convince every loan agent they’re The Advisor. Doing so sells lots of software, subscriptions, and workshops. At her worst, The Advisor is a seminar junkie with a seven paragraph bio and a ubiquitous tagline that reads: “Your Customized Real Estate Financial Solutions Provider For Life.” At her best, The Advisor makes no show of being smarter than most of her clients and colleagues. She just manages her pipeline with her team every morning, and does 30-60 minute client consultations every afternoon. Her desk is clean despite closing the same as top Traders.
The Advisor goes deep on markets with bigwig clients and explains Truth In Lending statements to first time buyers so well, those buyers know more than most loan agents. This all takes tons of time, so The Advisor has a formula to manage clients and transactions: fixed consultation times, template emails for each step in loan process and for every common question. Young Advisors work late every night building this formula. Experienced Advisors leave at 5:30 but they’re on seven days. The Advisor is the true working class finance role.
THE VICTIM: And what is ‘working class’ without The Victim who’s always bogged in drama that’s someone else’s fault. These new appraisal regulations are destroying all their refis. Those new disclosure requirements are annihilating all their purchases. This underwriter calculated income too conservatively and now client is going to sue. That rep just cost me my most important Realtor because this condo building is only 65% owner occupied … oh, 70% is standard for mortgage insurance? Well someone should have told me. Now my entire pipeline is ruined. For the year.
Victims are often smart, qualified loan agents who manage to close a few loans in spite of themselves, but rarely gain momentum since their attitude is consistent through full market cycles. Credit crunch: this industry is dead. Low rate boom: too much reputation risk to sell when turn times are sh!t. Perhaps the most common Victim refrain over the years is how they’re always working for free, and they wouldn’t have to if the company would run lock desk and underwriting how they’ve been saying. The Victims who love to rage against the machine need to wake up and think about how to become The Advisor, because they will never become The Trader, they’re too heady. (Note to those who don’t know: image here is Gil from The Simpsons, the man who can never close a deal)