Most loan originators know the value of having an assistant, that critical team member who can handle a wide variety of important tasks.
“If I did not have a seasoned team of mortgage professionals assisting me, I would not have the ability to serve the needs of my clients at the level they deserve,” said Al Hensling, United American Mortgage Corporation, Irvine, Calif.
Added Sam Rosenblatt, Academy Mortgage, Glen Burnie, Md., “Having an assistant is essential. It has certainly helped me expand my production. You need support to be a top producer, especially with today’s additional compliance requirements.”
Of course, the critical factors are knowing when to hire an assistant and the most effective ways to find one.
Making the Decision
Some originators hesitate to acquire an assistant because they want sole control of the loan transaction. “I would have hired an assistant earlier but in the past I wanted to be involved in every aspect of the loan, which made it difficult to turn the file over to someone other than our processor,” said Aaron Jernigan, Oak Star Bank in Springfield, Mo. “Plus, I wanted to find just the right person. Of course, I saw the great benefit of other originators having an assistant.”
Chris Hutchens, Guaranteed Rate Mortgage, Wilmington, N.C., also waited to hire his first assistant. “Very few loan originators in my market have had assistants,” he said. “I went quite a while without support and adding an assistant was the best thing I have done. Then I got another one. It has enabled me to focus on developing more business and ensure that we can close on very tight schedules.”
Unlike other originators who delay in getting an assistant, Brooks Grasso made the decision after just a year. “I was to the point that I could only do so much,” explained Grasso, Fulton Mortgage Company, Timonium, Md. “Many of the things I spent time on didn’t directly generate revenue. For example, I wanted to concentrate on getting new applications and less time on pipeline management.”
Certainly there is no one formula for determining the best time to acquire an assistant. It’s often based on the number of loans an originator is regularly closing. Hutchens emphasized that the time to insist on support is “When you get to the point that you’re bogged down with things you don’t want to be doing—that aren’t income producing. You don’t want to be babysitting your files.”
Of course, some originators benefit from their company’s support. “Most companies are willing to contribute to the cost (of an assistant), for originators who are doing good production,” said Hutchens.
Often one of the easiest ways to acquire an assistant is finding a receptionist or other staff member within the company who is interested in some additional responsibility—as your assistant. “My first assistant had been a receptionist at the company (previous firm),” Hutchens noted.
Having a family member assist is another option. Mike Dunsky’s current assistant is his wife Joanne who has worked with him for several years in his Guaranteed Rate office in Franklin, Mass. While working with family members can be challenging, Dunsky stressed that “We have a great working relationship. We discuss the marketing strategies, but Joanne does most of the actual implementation. Her assistance has been invaluable.”
“An alternative is sharing an assistant with another originator,” said Rosenblatt. “That way you share the cost and the responsibility until you are able to have your own fulltime assistant.”
“It can also be an intern or a recent college grad who wants the chance to learn the business,” said Hutchens. “They may not make a huge salary in the beginning, but they’ll benefit as your production expands and they grow with you.”
This may be the ideal time to begin the process of adding a new assistant. Start the New Year with more support to help reach your 2016 production goals.