"Oh, you're just too funny! Just bring donuts to Realtors[R] and go get apps!" [paragraph] These words haunt me every time I sit down to think about the role of education in the mortgage business and what changes need to be made. [paragraph] It was June 1994, my first day in a brand-new career. Before I got into the mortgage business, I owned an accounting business. One of my accounting clients owned a mortgage broker business. I knew nothing about mortgages at that time. My client was a small mortgage broker company owned by a husband-and-wife team that rented space in the same building my office was in. The couple only had about four originators at the time. I had been doing accounting for 10 years, and one day I realized that my business was based on me having to tell my clients things they didn't want to hear, that they had to pay money they didn't have and that I had to be paid for the pleasure of telling them so. I knew I did not want to be a certified public accountant (CPA)--I wanted to do something different that would allow me to utilize my financial skills.
One day my mortgage broker client invited me to lunch and offered me a job as an originator. I didn't think sales was for me, but after two glasses of wine, I thought: Why not? And it made sense because I already had a lot of clients to build my origination business with, as well as the right skills. On my first day as an originator, I brought in my first application--from one of my accounting clients. I knew from that day on that taking the job was the right move.
I was anxious, excited and feeling like a sponge, ready to soak up every morsel of industry jargon, concepts, practices and any other information they could throw at me about how to be a mortgage originator.
"Just go get apps!" Imagine my surprise when receiving that response to my first question of, "OK, so where will I go to learn?" My new boss never even told me what an app was.
I realize that 1994 and 2015 are two very different worlds, but it was precisely those words that were the catalyst for where I am today. It is also indicative of why we are all where we are today.
Shortly after beginning my new career, I realized there were very limited resources available for new originators. I learned the business myself, by trial and error and by sitting down with one wholesale account executive at a time to learn his or her products, pricing and procedures. Unless an employer was a member of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) or another association, there did not appear to be any "source" that provided all the necessary education to learn the day-to-day business. With no requirements for a course or testing or continuing education, there was--and still is--some lack of uniformity about what originators need to know. Just "go get apps!"
I remember the insecurity I felt then. Talk about call reluctance. What should I say? What shouldn't I say? How do I even fill out the famous app? Even my background interviewing tax clients and dealing with financial information did not come close to preparing me for what originators do or should do.
Had I known then about the MBA, Connecticut Mortgage Bankers Association (CMBA), National Association of Mortgage Brokers (NAMB) or many other associations, I would have immediately joined and connected with those in the know. For example: MBA offered a School of Mortgage Banking (SOMB) back then, and it offered some introductory classes that included the origination side of the business. However, what new originators need is basic originating practices. While it is helpful to understand the secondary market, warehousing and servicing functions, originator training must put the consumer at the center of the content. For this reason, the School of Loan Origination (SOLO) was developed.
To state the obvious, a loan application in 1994 was much different than an app is today in 2015. Production managers weren't talking about technology, cellphones, laptops, tablets or any other such device to take a loan app on. They were talking about the form 1003 Uniform Residential Loan Application (URLA).
Thirteen years later, I just had to finally sit down and write an exhaustive list of all the potential training that could be offered just for mortgage originators.
It started in 2007, when two events changed my perspective. The first came in February 2007, when I testified on behalf of the Connecticut Mortgage Bankers Association at a Connecticut General Assembly Banking Committee hearing in Hartford, Connecticut. I was shocked at the process and response I got when testifying. I went to the floor pretty much begging legislators to pass education and licensing laws, which ended up falling on deaf ears. The committee really didn't get it. One of the state representatives commented: "[T]he 24 hours of classroom study--what would prevent them from doing some unscrupulous things like all these different packages you were saying right now? That could make that individual [originator] just more educated to fool the consumer." He was worried we would teach originators too much?