Growth has exploded at a Carmel, Ind.-based mortgage-training and consulting firm as states have expanded licensing and education requirements for loan originators.
Financial Strategies Inc. founder Aaron Wilson told MortgageDaily.com what began as a consulting service for mortgage education grew into a training firm as well in 2000, delivering 328 educational courses. Fast-forward to 2005, the company employs a staff of 50 that help deliver 51,018 courses in 26 states, Wilson said, and reportedly generated revenue of $5 million.
Wilson said he began in the mortgage industry "fresh out of the army" in 1989 as a loan originator for Household Finance. Four years later, he had what he called an "entrepreneurial seizure" and began his own mortgage company only to sell it in 1998.
He then created Financial Strategies as a consulting firm, he said, and crafted various training programs for the mortgage industry. It was then he said he realized the industry was in need of better educational facilitation.
"The state of Indiana passed a new law that required 24 hours of mortgage education," he said. "I inquired as to where someone would get that education ... but they had no courses available.
"So I told the commissioner that I had programs available, that I had been training and asked if I could submit a course for approval," Wilson recounted to MortgageDaily.com.
In a week's time, Wilson said, the training program was accepted and he was approved as the first educational provider in the state.
The company offers a full range of mortgage industry courses fit for independent mortgage brokers or large clients such as Countrywide Home Loans, he said. Topics covered include basic procedures, state and federal laws and fraud detection and prevention.
"We want to stamp out fraud and improve this industry anyway we can and build people up one loan officer at a time," Wilson said.
Wilson said they not only offer business courses but personal development courses as well.
"We've been working on a coaching program for about three years now called 'Virtual Coach' and it forces loan officers to be successful," he said of the online program. "It's been tested and we have a laundry list of clients that are waiting for it to launch.
"People continue to come back to us because they know what to expect," he said. "Most of our clients leave the course and say 'that was good, I thought it would be boring but it was fun.'"
Wilson said all the instructors have a loan origination background and are chosen for not only their mortgage experience, but also their charismatic ability to keep the instructional material engaging and interesting.
The online courses, developed by their own software firm, also engages the client with interactive games like car racing and word and trivia games to keep the clients from getting bored.
"Most states have accepted online (courses) as a resource for continuing education," he explained. "The initial training is typically done in a live format."
Wilson said the outlook for the company is good; they just bought a new 18,000 sq. ft building and expect $10 15 million in revenue for 2006.
"I have some of the greatest people working with me," he said. "I might be the CEO, Chief Energy Officer, but they are the good implementers of my ideas. Our staff, who most have been here from the beginning, are the reason we are as wildly successful as we are."