How to Retain and Engage Valuable Mortgage Staff

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BLOG VIEW: As with any organization, lenders understand that managing and retaining talented employees is important for their long-term success. Mortgage lenders are facing a shrinking talent pool, as many young professionals seek jobs in more “modern” fields, such as technology.

In turn, loan officers are in higher demand than ever before. The demand for these employees has been increasing year over year by 11%. By comparison, the Bureau of Labor’s estimate of overall growth rate for the demand for employees in all occupations is only 7%.

Earlier this year, BAI, a nonprofit organization, surveyed financial services leaders through its BAI Banking Outlook research program on various topics to uncover important talent management trends. With higher competition for trained loan officers and other mortgage professionals, mortgage leaders have an opportunity to shine among their peers if they evaluate their employee retention and talent management strategy with an eye for improvement.

Competitive Compensation?

Mortgage professionals are more likely to change employers if offered a better compensation package. As per the Banking Outlook, more than 65% of industry professionals say a higher salary would be the primary reason for changing jobs.

Mortgage leaders looking to boost their employee retention should consider how their employee compensation compares to other lenders. Besides flat salary figures, or commission rates in the case of loan officers, mortgage leaders can evaluate their entire benefits packages, including vacation policy, healthcare benefits and other perks.

For example, loan officers may appreciate an organizational policy that allows the possibility to take commission advances. Other employees may appreciate flexible work hours or work from home time, if they do not impact productivity.

Employees may have important feedback about the benefits they value the most, or which benefits could be improved, so leaders may consider issuing anonymous surveys annually to gather this information.

Furthermore, these leaders can also conduct or commission benchmarking research to determine how their competitors compensate certain roles in particular states or regions. If the information reflects positively on the lender’s benefits packages and compensation, the organization’s leaders may want to conduct internal communications initiatives to inform employees about their competitive wages.

If not, leaders within the organization looking to reduce turnover may use this data to adjust compensation rates to make the mortgage lender more attractive to current and potential employees.

What Does Upward Mobility Look Like?

Aside from better pay, benefits or commission rates, the most common reason employees leave organizations is in search of better upward mobility. Oddly enough, many employees are unaware of leadership development opportunities within their organizations.

When asked if their organization has a leadership development program, 54% of Banking Outlook survey respondents said “no,” even though the majority of human resource professionals indicated that the organization does in fact have one.

This disconnect in communication could be setting lenders back significantly, since training and on-boarding new employees drain time and resources, compared with the positive effects of employee retention. Lenders should communicate with employees about leadership training and career advancement opportunities regularly. This is an important benefit in the overall compensation package.

Access and participation in development opportunities will not only improve retention, but will lead to more highly engaged employees that improve productivity and the quality of their work in an effort to qualify for new opportunities.

Aligning with Ethics and Values

Besides pay and the opportunity for advancement, employees in all industries value working for an organization that aligns with their personal values. When an organization engages in charitable giving, social change or community service, the organization’s leaders should communicate with employees about these activities and invite them to participate.

As another example, if a lender offers Veteran Affairs loans or has historically been able to offer more loans to underserved groups, communicating with employees will help them feel more connected with the organization as a whole.

Employees, especially millennials, value the experience of working for organizations that are about more than the bottom-line and are actively involved with social change and community initiatives.

Mortgage leaders have an opportunity to open communication with their employees about the many reasons to stay with their organization. Lenders looking to improve employee retention should let employees know about their competitive compensation packages, commission rates and benefits.

In addition to compensation, ambitious employees are most successful when presented with career advancement opportunities, which improve retention and help challenge employees to enhance the quality of work.

Finally, aligning with employees’ ethical values can improve workplace satisfaction.

Trained lending staff can be challenging to find, but fortunately mortgage lenders have many tools at their disposal in order to attract potential employees and retain valued staff.

Ed Marcheselli is managing director of learning and development for BAI, a nonprofit independent organization that delivers actionable insights to the mortgage industry.

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