Josh Lehr, senior director of partnerships and industry technology at Total Expert, was recently the featured guest on the Lykken on Lending podcast, with host David Lykken. In this episode, Josh shared insights into the challenges loan officers face today – from rising interest rates and lack of inventory to retaining and recruiting the best talent. Here are a few of Josh’s key points:
What are some of the broader challenges loan officers face right now?
Even with rising interest rates, there are still plenty of challenges when it comes to inventory. One of our top producers on the East Coast recently remarked that the number of pre-approved borrowers remains high. When you talk about consumers ready to transact, you wouldn’t think that would be a problem. But with borrowers competing against each other over offers – even in this rising rate environment – the purchase cycles are getting longer. And with the rising interest rates, that means ever-changing pre-approvals over time. This makes staying engaged with borrowers even more important for loan officers.
Automation can help loan officers stay on top of this. By automating the process from the point of ingesting a lead or getting a referral all the way through to the close period, the system can supplement the loan officer’s messages on their behalf. They don’t need to check in with the loan processor or see if underwriting was completed; the platform can grab that information from the system and send a personalized message to the borrower based on recent activity. It’s almost like providing the loan officer a digital assistant that can personalize the message based on where the borrower is in his or her journey.
What are some of the challenges when it comes to retention and recruitment of loan officers?
During the pandemic, loan officers realized that they could be recruited to other organizations, often with huge bonuses attached. The downside to some of these opportunities, however, was a lack of technology enablement. The margins might be larger, but if it’s a painful process to close a loan, is the move worthwhile? Loan officers and originators want support from their organization and the technology to make their work as seamless and painless as possible. From a recruiting and retention standpoint, that’s an important factor.
Some lenders have been using Total Expert’s platform for both the origination process and as a recruiting tool, as well. Lenders are essentially advertising how they engage with consumers through the recruiting process. Lenders can use the same processes with a new recruit as their officers would for a new borrower.
Imagine for a moment – an SMS message is sent to schedule a meeting when a new recruit expresses interest. Then, once a candidate is in the pipeline, the hiring manager or HR lead can schedule additional touchpoints through automated emails, or trigger additional communication based on future actions or outcomes. It demonstrates to the candidate that they’ll have the tools and automation in place to drive conversions.
In addition to making sure they’re recruiting the right people, another important consideration for loan officers is to pay attention to the employees who are leaving. What do outside opportunities look like to current employees? Are new hires bringing in better talent than the departing employees are taking with them? If they’re not, lenders need to look at the technology solutions they are using to determine how to recruit – and retain – the loan officers who they want to keep.
What could the industry as a whole do better?
Communication has never been more important across the industry. When you talk about trust-building between a consumer and a loan officer, a lot of value is placed on that first-touch phone call or meeting, which typically only lasts 15 to 30 minutes. After that, it can be challenging for loan officers to get more insight into what the borrower is looking for in a loan to make sure the right product is offered that will get the borrower the keys to that new property.
Solutions like Total Expert’s Consumer Direct enable lenders to create a better direct-to-consumer experience, combining lead management, marketing automation, dialing and CRM into one platform. This helps ensure that lenders can develop a 360-degree understanding of each consumer based on their financial needs and deliver a personalized digital loan experience.
For more of Josh’s conversation with David Lykken, listen to the full Lykken on Lending episode.