PERSON OF THE WEEK: Now that pandemic-related foreclosure protections are coming to an end – and with the U.S. economy sputtering due to massive inflation – it appears likely that mortgage delinquencies and defaults will increase in the months to come. This, in turn, will translate into increased business for real estate services firms dealing in REO disposition and default valuations.
To gain perspective on the recent changes impacting the mortgage services side of the business, MortgageOrb recently interviewed Gene Shibata, business analyst for US RES.
Q: The mortgage industry has changed over the last couple of years with new processes/solutions in AMC licensing and regulations. How can you help your clients prepare for continued success?
Shibata: AMC license requirements have greatly expanded over the past decade. With 50 states and the District of Columbia, that entails a lot of regulations and requirements to manage as they are constantly evolving as each state has its own set of regulations. And depending on how many states you are conducting business in – that is an incredible amount of information to maintain for individual state appraiser board licensing, etc.
For me, it is essential to keep a pulse of the market. Participating in relevant forums and seminars is helpful but coupling that with good old-fashioned research makes the real difference. I spend time contacting the delegated departments at state levels for the most up-to-date changes so that our clients are provided with accurate information – as they often do not have the time to be proficient in every little detail.
Clients rely on us for this sort of detail and knowledge. They anticipate it. And because of this, we are proactively sending them regular correspondence with any new guidance we received or recommendation we have for them. Being a trusted advisor on industry issues is important and we take that role seriously. The more assistance we can provide them with their internal requirements or processes, the more successful they can be for their own customers.
Q: You are an industry boomerang – you left the company and then returned. During your time away, while in the other position, what did you learn that has been instrumental in shaping the way you work today?
Shibata: In my initial position as an REO asset manager managing the REO department, I had a clear understanding of that segment of the servicing business very well. Being attentive to clients’ needs and listening to their concerns helped me understand and identify where any real challenges may have existed. The new position I took was at a servicing provider, immediately allowing me to shift the perspective from service provider to client.
At this new company, I gained a holistic view of the entire servicing process: foreclosure, REO, post-REO, and all the components in between. My skill set was broadened; I could see things from a different perspective that I wasn’t aware of in the past. On my return, it enabled me to take a proactive approach to clients. Basically, I was able to anticipate the clients’ questions (having been on that side of the desk), and I could prepare the answers in advance. Additionally, I found that clients appreciated that I had been in their shoes. I also found that I can put things into a better perspective, which often makes them easier to comprehend. Having broader insight made things easier for everyone.
After having experienced the “boomerang” effect, I have a completely new and different perspective on all aspects of the business. It has provided a tremendous area of growth – not just for me personally, but for how today, I interact with clients, vendor networks and my co-workers. Having that perspective changes the outcome on nearly every scenario in how I think of solutions and provide support. It has served me well as I have transitioned to a reliable liaison between the business and the servicing side of the business.
Q: What are some of the key performance indicators (KPIs) that are very important in business but are often overlooked?
Shibata: First let’s talk about KPIs. While they are subjective, and unique to each customer’s business needs, they are the critical indicators of progress toward an intended result. KPIs can provide the focus for strategic and operational improvement, create an analytical basis for decision making and help emphasize what matters most within an organization. Managing KPIs requires setting targets, or the desired performance level, and then tracking the progress against that target. It can often lead to improving leading indicators that will later drive overall benefits. Leading indicators can:
- –Help predict future success
–Demonstrate progress toward achieving a desired results
–Measure what needs to be measured to make more informed decisions
–Compare result changes over a period of time
–Track effectiveness, efficiency, quality and behaviors
If any one area might be overlooked, I believe it could be internal operations. While companies are juggling multiple clients’ needs, internal operational KPIs may fall behind. Operations own internal KPIs, and they should not only support or supplement the clients, but they should also exceed them. So essentially, those standards should be set high for all clients. For example, if we meet our internal standards, which have been set extremely high, I know our clients and their needs are well taken care of today and into the future.
Q: What was the best career advice that you received that helped you shape the way you approach working in the mortgage industry?
Shibata: I have been in this industry for almost 20 years. After college, my first job was as an entry-level customer service representative for a title insurance company. I had no prior knowledge of what title insurance was up to that point but decided to give it my all. That is how I was brought up – hard work will pay off in the long run.
So, I began my career; I answered phones, stuffed envelopes, completed data entry, filed documents (nothing was paperless back then), and did anything asked of me. We had a small office, perhaps five or six staff in-house, and three or four sales reps in the field. A new role for a title assistant opened up about a year into the position. I remember thinking, “I want that job, but I’m definitely not qualified. I’ve only known what title insurance is for a year, and here I want to be and think I could be a title assistant.” It seemed like such a giant leap at the time.
Since the office was small, I could see the comings and goings from where I sat. As I watched, I didn’t see anyone coming in for interviews, and I was perplexed. I approached my supervisor and asked, “What’s happening with that position?” And his answer to me was transformative as it stuck with me.
He replied, “I’m waiting for you to ask me for that job!” Then he shared the most encouraging words with me that provided confidence and a reminder that I was already equipped. I vividly remember he said, “I can teach you all you need to know about the title; it is not that difficult. You can handle this position because you have the right mindset; your work ethic is impeccable, you are reliable, you don’t call in sick, you’re on time, you’re always focused, you’re driven, and you’re motivated. The mindset and foundation you already have is what you need to be successful.”
Today, this applies to everything; it doesn’t apply just to a position. It applies in life, in relationships and in everything you do. This was a best advice anyone ever gave me, and it has been my guiding principles throughout my career.