How to Get Hired as a Loan Officer

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It’s Not Easy, But You Can Make Big Bucks in the Mortgage Industry

Each year, the news offers conflicting reports about the economy. It’s bad. It’s picking up. It’s crashing over the fiscal cliff. It’s enough to make one’s head spin! But for qualified sales people seeking new opportunities in 2013, prospects are looking up. The mortgage industry is recovering from the downturn and companies are looking to recruit top candidates as loan officers. But how do you get your foot in the door?

Tim Padavic knows a thing or two about getting hired in the mortgage industry. He’s the VP of Business Development for Providential Bancorp. His path to working in the mortgage business was anything but traditional. He worked his way from founding an apparel company while still in college to transforming a tanning salon franchise. Today he’s in charge of sales and marketing at Providential.

His message to aspiring loan officers is that in the digital age, location is no longer important, since salespeople can work from home. What companies like Providential do put a high premium on is worker productivity and loan volume.

Padavic explained how the industry has changed in recent years. Providential was established in 1999 and like its rivals, suffered the pain of the real estate downturn in 2007. But, they survived the “great shakeout” and are currently employing an innovative strategy in hiring in an industry not known for innovation.

“Management focused our efforts on a new business model,” Padavic explains. “We’ve made amazing improvements in recruiting and operations through innovations in technology.”

The breakthrough the company has made is to connect its loan officers to customers exclusively online. This means that people aspiring to work in the mortgage business should develop a skillset for the digital age. “Since most people shop for mortgages online anyway, this new approach is consistent with customers’ expectations,” said Padavic.

So, while federal regulations in the mortgage industry require that loan officer candidates be licensed, the best and most qualified employees may not live within close proximity to the corporate office. Providential’s solution, as Padavic explains, is simple: hire the best and set them up in a home office. Now, employees can be anywhere in any state, as long as they are licensed.

Once hired, new salespeople undergo training via online webinars, while never coming face-to-face with management or even visiting the corporate office in Chicago.

It sounds like an easy gig, but don’t be fooled. Working as a loan officer online is hardly for slackers. Padavic describes how by using proprietary software, managers track and scrutinize all activity of each salesperson to ensure the desired level of productivity.

“Providential provides all leads and tools required for each salesperson to be successful,” notes Padavic. Loan officers can do very well if they follow the sales systems and embrace the culture. As with their competitors in the mortgage industry, salaries are commission-based, with 20% of the sales force generating 80% of the loan volume. An aggressive loan officer who puts forth the required effort and services her customers well can earn income upwards of $350,000 per year. For those performers interested in advancing their careers, management opportunities are also available.

And, while up-selling higher interest rates used to be an accepted industry practice to pad a loan officer’s income, the focus today has shifted to satisfying the consumer’s needs and providing a more consultative approach, Padavic explains. If a salesperson wants to earn more income, they need to generate more revenue by increasing loan volume.

Providential plans to increase loan volume based on the sheer size of the market. They are currently adding 20 sales people each month and plan to increase that to 30 per month by the second quarter of 2013.

“We have our sights set on growth,” promises Padavic. “And we offer excellent opportunities for ambitious people to join our organization.”

Becoming a loan officer in the current market is not for everyone. But for professionals with the grit to work independently from home and a passion for sales, there has never been a better time to jump into the mortgage industry.

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