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When to Hire a Loan Assistant and How to Find the Right One

Everybody knows that a loan officer needs an assistant (partner) if they’re going to close more loans. But there are two questions that always come up. 1.) How do you know when to get one? and 2.) How do you find that person?

At my mortgage branch, we have a loan officer assistant program that has worked wonders for us. I recently sat down with Kevin Broughton to chat about it. Kevin is my friend, my boss, and he owns the mortgage branch I manage. 

We wanted to share what we’re doing, so you can swipe some of our ideas and take them over to your own branch.

The Triad of Awesomeness

Ten years ago, Kevin and I sat down, and I introduced him to something called the Triad of Awesomeness. It was a foreign concept to the company back then. They had no loan partners/assistants (we use these words interchangeably). We asked the question: when is a loan officer at their happiest?

A loan officer is happiest when: 

  1. They’re doing things they love.
  2. They’re doing things they’re good at.
  3. They’re making money.

The Triad of Awesomeness. Why wouldn’t we design a system where loan officers can spend all their time doing only those things they love, they’re good at, and they’re making money doing? It’s just a better way all around. So, Kevin hired the first loan partners a decade ago, and now they have 100+ loan partners at the company. Every loan officer gets one. 

How Do You Know When It’s Time to Hire an Assistant?

I’ve talked about this a lot. A loan officer asks their branch manager for an assistant, and the branch manager says, “As soon as you close x amount of loans in a month.” But the loan officer needs an assistant to actually get to that many loans. Otherwise, they’re so busy chasing conditions and putting out fires (something an assistant would do for them) that they can’t close more loans.

Why are branch managers hesitant to get their loan officer an assistant? Because it increases overhead. What if, now that the loan officer has someone to chase conditions for them, they just take off work early and chill at the beach instead of bringing in more loans? Now the branch manager has increased overhead and no increase in revenue.

Here’s what you can say to your branch manager to set their mind at ease. “I really appreciate you. And I’d love to make you more money. Right now I’m closing three loans a month. If you got me a loan assistant to help take care of bank statements and chasing conditions, I could spend more time getting loans. If you give me an assistant, would you trust me for 90 days that I could go from 3 to 6 closed loans? If I don’t, you can give my assistant to someone else.”

If you’re a trustworthy person, your branch manager should be on board. It’s low risk for them. You just told them you want to make them more money, and you laid out a plan to do it, and you’re telling them to hold you accountable. And you’ve got a quota to meet. You can’t just go to the beach. You’ve got to get more loans in your new free time. It’s all about the branch manager and the loan originator being in alignment. You both want the same thing. 

It all comes down to trust, transparency, and accountability. Is there some risk to the branch manager when they give a loan officer an assistant at three loans a month? Sure. But we believe most loan originators will be motivated to grow their business exponentially and achieve all their loan officer goals once they’re given the time and opportunity to do so. It’s a win all the way around.

Changing the Mindset that More Loans Equals More Work

Once your branch gets in the right mindset—that loan officers should spend their time on revenue-producing activities—it solves a lot of problems. And brings in a lot more money. At our company, we want to minimize the hours loan officers spend on chasing conditions, etc., so their minds are freed up for loan-getting activities. You can’t sit fully engaged with the realtor for two hours if your phone’s blowing up every 15 minutes about all these different files. We want to create an environment where they can trust the process and the people that are helping them. 

It’s hard to pick up that phone. That phone can get heavy. You need to be fresh, ready, and in a healthy, refreshed state of mind. All this chasing makes you tired, and when you go to prospect, even if your wallet says, “I want another deal,” your brain says, “”God knows I don’t need any more headaches. And you do a mediocre job. 

It takes a little gas out of our fuel tank, puts us in a negative frame of mind, and becomes a vicious cycle. If you’re sitting there from 11:00am to 1:30pm figuring out a stressful situation about the Smith file, are you ready to prospect at 1:30? No, you’re not. You have to be mentally prepared to do all that loan-getting activity.

Each organization is different, but we’re trying to be as efficient as we can. Imperfectly efficient. We know how many units a loan partner can help with and still be providing good service and closing on time. One loan assistant can help more than one loan officer, unless that one loan officer is doing 10-12 loans a month.

It’s a function of a combination of revenue and units and volume and efficiencies. Sharing is a mandate based on volume. I don’t need a full-time assistant when I’m doing three loans. As I ramp up, they can do more. But, even at three loans, having an assistant on the backside is super helpful. If I do all of that processing myself, it’s costing me a fortune, because I don’t have time to go get more loans. 

Kevin says he’s been hanging around The Freedom Club for 10 years now, and he doesn’t know one single person who has implemented these loan officer tips, tools, and strategies I teach and hasn’t done better in their career. The proof is in the pudding. It’s just making a commitment and having a vision and alignment with your team around what the mission is, what the goals are, and how we’re going to achieve them together. 

Why the Loan Officer Shouldn’t Do the Hiring

Some branches have their loan officers hire their own assistants. But that’s easier said than done. What is the loan officer going to do? Go look online at recruiter places and get 106 resumes and spend hours and hours interviewing people and reading resumes and conducting disc assessments? 

Then, when they hire someone, maybe it turns out it’s the wrong hire. But this loan officer isn’t the best at firing, training, mentoring, or holding people accountable. They’re too nice. So they say, “I’m gonna let this person stay on board. Maybe they’ll change.” Even if they know they’re not the right fit. Sales people aren’t typically great HR people. It’s not their gift.

We decided to take a different route. We created an internal format where we do the hiring and firing and training and holding accountable. The loan originator does not have to do those jobs. 

It’s time-consuming to find the right person and go through the hiring process. You need them bringing in loans, not finding employees. Some of our people at our company do hire and fire and train and mentor their own loan partner, because that’s their choice. But for those that don’t want that, we’ll provide those services for them. They might sit in on the final interview to make sure they’re a good match.

Do the Loan Officer and Loan Assistant Need to Work Under the Same Roof?

Kevin said he used to think it was incredibly important for the loan officer and the loan assistant to be in the same office. But that was before March 13, 2020 when their office shut down and went remote because of Covid. Coming up on two years now, they’ve doubled their production while working remotely. They found that their team could produce quality results working from home. 

They have some people back in the office now, but nowhere near the whole group. So it can definitely be done remotely. Even Kevin and I meet on Zoom at least once a week. It’s not as good as sitting around a fire pit at my house, but it’s a close second. Working remotely also gives us a better talent pool to choose from—the whole U.S., not just one small area.

So location isn’t important. What’s important is that each person is laser-focused at staying in their own lane. For loan officers, that’s doing revenue-producing activities for a set number of hours each day. Not doing six jobs at once or wearing hats that don’t fit.

Remember that Triad of Awesomeness. If you don’t like something, you’re not great at it, and it doesn’t drive your economic engine, why are you doing it? You should be doing things you love, that you’re great at, and that bring in money. Period.

If you need help with hiring more people, building your team, or figuring out who does what and how, we’d love to help you put together a roadmap. Click here to schedule a FREE strategy session TODAY.