Several months ago a colleague and I were discussing our testing strategies for mortgage exams. We did not talk about studying or actual testing strategies, but instead focused on the best place to leave your keys before heading into the testing center so you don't need to empty your pockets or get a pesky locker. We also compared best times (seven minutes for 50 questions, no big deal) for passing our exams. At the tail end of the conversation I came to a revelation: I am a nerd, and younger Aaron would mock me relentlessly.
If you've ever met me, or have seen this website before it should be pretty evident that I am passionate about mortgages. As it turns out the mortgage business has been a great fit for me, but there's no question that it's a very odd business to find oneself in. Today I'm going to talk to you a bit about how I ended up being a mortgage nerd and why after nearly seven years in the business I still love it.
My original plan following graduation from college was to attend law school. I was so singularly focused on this path that I hadn't spoken to career services, hadn't written a resume, hadn't looked for job openings and really had no back up plan at all... law school was just what was next for me. I randomly was introduced to a friend of a friend who had just started with a (major) mortgage company in Cleveland and he was eager to talk about his experience, how great the company was, etc. He eventually persuaded me to apply and after sitting down with a recruiter and reviewing their income expectations for "good bankers" I signed up and started as a Junior Loan Officer 45 days after receiving my diploma.
What I hadn't realized in the interview process is just how much of a challenge I was going to be faced with. Turns out during all of my conversations with the fellow who referred me, the recruiters, as well as a couple of the managers there I hadn't really figured out that this was primarily a sales job. Turns out talking to people was a natural talent, however talking someone into saying "yes" required some work. After about a year of trying, falling on my face, and trying again I finally got to the point where I started to feel proficient in advising a client on loan options as well as asking for their business.
About two years ago I started interviewing new candidates to become Loan Officers and so came up with what I felt were the best parts about the mortgage business. This is of course only my opinion and I'm sure 100 different mortgage folks would give you 100 different answers, but for better a worse, here's why I've remained a mortgage nerd for my entire professional career.
1. You get to talk to different kinds of people
I really enjoy getting to know people and this industry has afforded me the opportunity to speak with all different types of people from every part of the country. Last summer we had both a world-class surgeon and a literal coal miner in the pipeline at the same time. It's been a great way to be become familiar with people that I simply never would have had the opportunity to speak with.
2. You get to help people
As long as I can remember a big part of my life has always revolved around helping other people... this all started for me when my dad was seriously injured at work. I realized at a very young age that helping people get what they want is very rewarding. The reason, then, that the mortgage business has been such a great fit for me is because I get to speak to many different types of people (see bullet point one) and my intention is always to help them, whether that means buying a new home or saving money on an existing mortgage.
3. There's always more to learn
I literally learn something new in this business every day. As I mentioned briefly above it took me about a year to become comfortable "selling." Next I learned lending guidelines, then I learned how to process a loan, then I learned how to underwrite a loan, then I learned more guidelines, then I learned the secondary market, then I learned how to recruit, then I learned.... well, you get the idea.
In summary, while it certainly was not my boyhood dream to become a mortgage professional, it turns out that mortgages are not cool and neither am I.