Are You Ready For A New Challenge?

BLOG VIEW: Two weeks ago, I began taking a course on how to become an emergency medical technician (EMT). The course runs through December, and with luck, I will be able to achieve EMT certification after my studies are over.Â

When the course began, the instructor polled the students about why they were taking this course. My response was fairly simple: I needed a new challenge. The logic to my answer will be evident to anyone who is even vaguely familiar with EMT responsibilities – a combination of medical and diplomatic skills performed under a variety of difficult situations ranging from a trauma victim at a crime scene to an expectant mother going into labor. In anyone's book, that's pretty challenging work.

I believe that taking on new challenges is an important aspect of life – not only for your free-time activities, but also for your business operations. Whenever a person or a company gets stuck in a rut, nothing good can come from it. And the best way to escape a rut is to grab hold of a new challenge and run with it.

In the past two to three years, this industry has faced more than its fair share of challenges. Some of these challenges were based on extraordinary circumstances beyond the industry's control, but many came as the result of recklessly self-inflicted injuries. Many experts insist that the worst is behind us, but that kind of hopefulness often seems too optimistic in the face of a still-fragile economy and a housing finance market that is severely dominated by the federal government.

Nonetheless, the industry is still in a rough place. But perhaps this can also be seen as a starting point for mortgage bankers to take on some new challenges and to push themselves further. There is certainly no shortage of opportunities to pursue.

In terms of the big picture, this could be the right time for mortgage bankers to become more actively involved in the political aspects of the industry. The Mortgage Bankers Association has been putting out calls for increased participation in MORPAC, the organization's political action committee. Likewise, state-based trade groups are always on the lookout for extra voices and hands to get their messages across.

Involvement in this area can be seen as both a short-term endeavor – Election Day is less than two months away – and in determining the national and regional courses of action in 2011 and beyond. The biggest issues facing our industry will be the fate of the government-sponsored enterprises and the future of the Community Reinvestment Act – and everyone certainly has something to say about those topics. But why let other people shape the debate? If you have opinions and the willingness to share them out loud, this could be a great avenue for helping to steer the industry in the direction where you believe it should be heading.

Closer to home, there is also the challenge of expanding your customer base and reinforcing your bottom line. Take time to review your marketing strategies and determine if some new challenges are in order for next year.

For example, are you involved in the ubiquitous social media environment? (Yes, there is more to Facebook than advocating Betty White as a guest host on ‘Saturday Night Live’!) If you haven't ventured there yet, perhaps this is the right time to study how this still-evolving marketing field can benefit your corporate outreach. If you're more comfortable with traditional media outreach, step back and see where your advertising and/or public relations efforts can be ratcheted up a bit more.

Internally, this might be a good time to consider your product and services offerings, measuring where your success is based and where there could be room for improvement. Despite the suffocating nature of many new regulations, there are a number of approved loan products that you may wish to consider or revisit. For example, could energy-efficient mortgages, reverse mortgages, biweekly mortgages or even sharia loans be brought into your company's mix?

I am sure that everyone has their own unique challenges that need to be addressed, and we obviously cannot list all of them here. But whether the challenge is great or relatively small, it is crucial to address the issues at hand and work to achieve new goals. General George S. Patton was spot-on when he said, ‘Accept the challenges so that you may feel the exhilaration of victory.’

– Phil Hall, editor, Secondary Marketing Executive

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