Deeper Thoughts
‘Tis the Season for Earnest Introspection

It’s that time of year again!

We here at LodeStar are in the midst of our year-end employee reviews right now, as I’d imagine is true for many of you as well. It’s a great opportunity not only to identify areas where we can get even better, but also to reflect on what has gone well. It’s also, not coincidentally, yet another of many little paths to clarity and transparency!

As we work through that process, I’m also realizing that the current market conditions, although certainly not preferred, do bring a few opportunities. One of those is the chance to reflect and reexamine how we do things and ask “how can we do this better?”

We have the time now…

After all, it can be said that the battle cry of the mortgage industry throughout the recent refinance boom was “I don’t have time for that! I’m too busy.”

It’s true that, when times are good, this is an all-hands-on-deck type of business. But I also believe that, far too often, when market conditions deteriorate, not enough time is spent on introspection and critical review. We’ve come a long way as an industry on many fronts. But we have a long way to go, too. 

Taking automation and digitalization even further

I’m not just talking about operational efficiencies, although you’ve likely seen and heard my call for increased and better use of technology to not only support LOs and front line sales professionals to spend more time truly discovering client needs and less time managing the administrative end of things. We also need to implement more and better technological tools at the “back end” of the process. The vast majority of chaos found in the typical closing is the result of poor or inefficient communication and far too much reliance on manual processes to get the transaction to the doc prep and closing phase. It’s an element of the mortgage pipeline that requires multiple different professionals, businesses and people to collaborate, but it remains cobbled together with duct tape and string. We can do better if we address the issues directly, and they should start with an emphasis on clarity.

Strengthening the industry by way of community

Now is a great time to rethink how well we pool resources and collaborate for mutual benefit. Especially in markets like this, our tendency is to cut expenses and then cut some more. While that’s a cry for even better use of technology, it’s also a great reason to explore strategic partnerships and scaled resources.

We can also, as a community, dedicate more time and resources to truly engaging the underserved markets and committing to comprehensive DEI strategies and programs. It’s great to see more effort being put toward these initiatives, but unfortunately, some of them occasionally turn out to be more about lip service and appearance and less about effecting true change. We can still do much better, and now would be a great time—especially since we’re looking at a sea change in a number of areas of our industry.

There’s no getting around the likelihood that early 2023 will be tough for most if not all mortgage-related businesses. But we’ve been through worse, and we’ve done this before. This time, instead of simply doing what we’ve always done, though, why not take the available time and revisit our weaknesses. How can we do this better?

We at LodeStar are grateful to all of our clients, friends and colleagues who take the time to view Deeper Thoughts. Please consider having a look as well at some of our other great content, including our podcast, “LodeStar’s Lending Leaders,” and A Tale of Two Mortgages: an original webcomic for the mortgage industry, presented by LodeStar.”

As always, your feedback is welcomed and appreciated!