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Secrets of Mega-Producing Loan Originators

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A survey of the nation’s top-producing loan originators found that three elements of customer satisfaction are most important. The male-dominated group manages to maintain high levels of production despite frustration with growing regulatory requirements.

The survey findings were reported in the 2011 Loan Originator Survey from

The report was based on a survey of 80 loan originators who fall within the top 1 percent of all U.S. originators. Respondents were each asked 50 questions during July.

The average loan volume for this group was more than $70 million in annual production.

According to the survey, 71 percent of the respondents have more than a decade of experience originating mortgages. Another quarter had at least five years’ experience.

Annual income in excess of $350,000 was reported by 63 percent of those surveyed. Another quarter earned between $251,000 and $350,000.

Three-quarters of the loan originators were between the ages of 36 and 55.

Most of the respondents –– 91 percent –– were male. Two-thirds had a four-year college degree.

Among this elite group of mortgage salespeople, 60 percent indicated that tending to existing referral sources was a “very effective” way to generate new business. Database marketing was considered “very effective” by 58 percent. Another 39 percent ranked the development of new referral sources “very effective.”

Niche marketing was considered “somewhat effective” by 42 percent of the originators.

Telemarketing didn’t rank high, and a quarter of the respondents said telemarketing was “very ineffective.”

The biggest share of loan originators, 38 percent, was employed by companies that originate between $0.5 billion and $2.5 billion a year. A quarter of the respondents said their employers originated more than $2.5 billion annually.

Just over half of the originators worked at non-depository mortgage bankers, while 14 percent each were employed by mortgage brokers and bank mortgages subsidiaries. The rest of the group was employed directly by financial institutions.

More than half of those surveyed worked at firms with between 16 and 250 employees. Another 19 percent were originated for firms with a staff size in excess of 500.

The report said that nearly half of the participants had other loan officers working for them. But most didn’t include the other loan originators’ production in their own numbers.

The study indicated that 86 percent of these players had an assistant reporting directly to them, including 69 percent who had a full-time assistant. About half of this group had their assistants paid for by their employers.

Nearly 38 percent of the loan officers indicated that they had an exclusive, full-time processor reporting to them.

Approximately three-quarters of top-producing originators work between 40 and 59 hours each week. A small share, 18 percent, said they worked at least 60 hours a week.

Employers provide Web pages or Web sites for 79 percent of the participants. Another 63 percent had their own personal Web sites.

Smart phones were used almost universally. Most smart phone users utilize the devices to check e-mails, while 86 percent use them to text customers, 79 percent monitor financial news and markets and 61 percent obtain rate quotes.

Just over a third of the loan originators use an iPad or tablet device, with 96 percent saying they use the devices to surf the Internet and 89 percent indicating e-mail that they monitor e-mails.

Facebook is used by a little more than half of the super-producers in customer acquisition activities, while 60 percent use Linkedin. Just over a quarter utilize Twitter, and the proportion was the same for blog users.

But half of the respondents consider social media only “somewhat effective” and feel that traditional activities yield more results for the time spent.

More than a third consider social media a waste of time.

Ellie Mae’s Encompass loan origination system is used by 37 percent of the loan officers, while another 29 percent used Calyx Point software.

A quarter of the group uses the ACT! customer relationship management system.

One interesting finding is that more than nine-out-of-10 of those surveyed don’t purchase mortgage leads.

Scotsman Guide is the most-used trade publication used by the group surveyed.

More than 60 percent of the respondents said that they search for service providers through associates, colleagues and referrals. Internet search engines are used by 43 percent. In either case, service was considered the most-important factor in the selection of a service provider.

Half of those surveyed said that they select appraisers through a company-approved appraisal management company. More than a quarter use a company-managed appraisal panel.

Almost all of the respondents — 97 percent — indicated that customer satisfaction is “very important” in their overall success.

Among the most important influences on customer satisfaction are closing on time, the initial discussion about the loan process and personal attention from the loan originator.

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