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Hirings in the Offing

Survey indicates shortage

Nov. 24, 2010

By staff

A majority of recently surveyed hiring executives expect to add employees. Among sought-after recruits are big-producing originators, mortgage production personnel and mortgage compliance employees. Many of the surveyed executives noted a shortage of hiring prospects in underwriting.

The survey was reported by mortgage recruiter Angott Search Group.

More than 40 respondents included executive-level hiring managers in the mortgage or consumer finance departments of mortgage companies, banks and credit unions.

As interest rates have fallen and loan originations have picked up, the residential lending industry has stabilized, according to the report. The strong setting had 90 percent of the respondents predicting growth at their companies.

A little more than half of the respondents said that growth will take the form of increased staffing levels. Angott said it has seen a 45-percent increase this year in executive searches by financial services firms compared to last year.

More than a third of the managers said hirings will occur in production and sales. But hiring has become far more selective than in the past, and only experienced originators with existing books of business are being hired. Proven loan originators are in high demand.

While the report didn't mention it, new minimum wage and overtime requirements for originators make it economically impractical to hire non-producing loan officers.

As loan originators are added, support staff will also be recruited. Nearly a quarter of the group expected to hire operations and underwriting personnel. The survey indicated that there is a shortage of underwriters for leadership roles.

"Some executives expressed concern about the limited pool of qualified talent over the past 12 months," the report stated. "Others were cautiously optimistic and were trying to hold off on hiring support for originations given that the volume is primarily from refinancing and not purchase activity."

But a good share said that they have been able to hire people with "excellent talent" who were forced to take a position at a lower salary.

Increased regulatory requirements will fuel hirings in mortgage compliance. Around 13 percent of the respondents indicated an increase in compliance employees is expected.

Angott noted that loss mitigation staffing was expected to increase by 6 percent of the executives, while 10 percent expected to boost their lending management recruiting.

"Only 7 percent felt that the foreclosure and housing crisis has caused their regulators to take a step back, and 3 percent said although they weren't struggling, they were stabilized and not moving forward," the report said. "In some organizations, hiring freezes are in place for all roles other than mortgage, so the hiring must be well supported."

Among the most important factors in recruiting employees are better opportunities, a healthy organization and long-term retention components, the report said.

Some firms reportedly plan on revising incentive compensation plans.

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