Building Relationship Currency: A Loan Officer’s Guide to Becoming a Mentor, Counselor and Strategist

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BLOG VIEW: Fear and uncertainty – these are the buzzwords defining the mortgage industry and the world at large right now. As mortgage and housing markets continue to shift rapidly to deal with the changes brought on by COVID-19, consumers find themselves looking to sources they trust and rely upon for answers. Loan officers who have spent their careers building the commodity of relationship currency are prepared to be this source, while those who have not prioritized it are struggling to figure out how they fit in. 

For years, every sales training event and conference I have attended has stressed the need for loan officers to build a business founded on trust and connection. One of the mottos that has strongly influenced my career as a loan officer is: “There is no such thing as wasted time when it comes to developing a relationship.” 

This has never been truer than it is right now.  

All loan officers can facilitate the origination and closing of a mortgage with varying degrees of aptitude and efficiency. Some loan officers do an amazing job of making the experience quick and easy; others offer aggressive rates and fees and compete to be the lowest cost. Some may do both and throw in a healthy dose of product knowledge.

However, what will continue to define our current and future job security is our ability to be mentors, counselors and strategists. 

The Currency to Success

Six months ago, I took on the role of branch manager for Churchill Mortgage in Hudsonville, Mich., while maintaining my personal production. It has been challenging taking on the additional responsibility of directly managing a team while continuing to originate mortgages. 

Without a doubt, the one thing that I can attribute my success to is putting in countless hours to build the relationship currency that I have today. Without it, I would be unable to lead my team and my clients through challenges like COVID-19. Let me be clear – this currency is not a disingenuous sales tool designed to reel people in. Instead, building relationship currency is an authentic attempt to connect with clients, Realtors and teammates in a meaningful way. 

When you take time to get to know the people you are working with, it gives you the ability to craft a loan strategy that is best for them and guide them through challenging scenarios. Client conversations should be filled with questions such as “What are your three to five-year financial goals?” and “How long do you see yourself living in this home?” and “What is most important to you about the homebuying process?”

The Benefits to Investing Time

Even as mortgage companies change guidelines daily and rates shift up and down dramatically, relationship currency continues to provide ever-increasing benefits. It makes it possible to make tough phone calls to those who are being negatively impacted by new updates to government loans, interest rate shifts, or job losses and pay reduction. Relationship currency creates the opportunity for a team that previously worked in an office together to consistently produce at record levels despite now working remotely and for relationships with referral sources to remain strong despite the absence of happy hours and coffee meetings.

One of the greatest gifts we can give our clients and colleagues is peace of mind – especially in today’s environment. Relationship currency provides a client experience that not only has a person’s best interests at heart, but also gives them peace of mind that their goals and dreams of homeownership are understood by their loan officer and that the mortgage they choose will help turn those goals and dreams into reality. 

Stronger Together

However, relationship currency is not just about the customer; it has many tangible benefits for loan officers, as well. It positions us to create more referrals because as trust goes up, so does a customer or referral source’s willingness to refer a friend or family member. This results in a business that can withstand ebbs and flows in the market and remain strong. 

This currency also offers clarity that results in a powerful alignment as we work together toward a common goal. It attaches our work to something more meaningful than just facilitating a mortgage – relationship currency allows us to leave the families we are blessed to work with better for the encounter.

As we continue to navigate the “new normal,” investments in relationship currency will continue to yield high levels of confidence and trust – the antithesis to fear and uncertainty.

Seth Bellas is a branch manager for Churchill Mortgage, offering conventional, FHA, VA and USDA residential mortgages across 46 states.

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