MPA recognizes the mortgage firms that put their employees first by providing comprehensive benefits and ensuring work-life balance
Feature article ................................................................... 2 Methodology ....................................................................
Top Mortgage Employers 2021 ...................................... 5 Profiles ................................................................................ 6
TOP MORTGAGE EMPLOYERS 2021
WHAT MAKES EMPLOYEES HAPPY JUST WHEN people thought the pandemic was nearly over at the end of 2020, case numbers continued to rise across the country. As a result, this year, employers in the mortgage sector have faced workplace challenges similar to those highlighted in last year’s Top Mortgage Employers’ survey. Chief among these challenges were striving for work-life balance, adapting to a remote workforce, the continued need for a compre-
“We believe in the entrepreneurial spirit. We value giving the necessary support to create a great work atmosphere and build relationships with the community” Cassidy O’Sullivan, Mann Mortgage
TOP-RATED EMPLOYERS My coworkers and I have a good working relationship LenderHomePage.com (4.89) Sales Boomerang (4.86) Planet Home Lending (4.82)
My organization is dedicated to my professional development LBA WareLBA (4.84) Ware (4.84) Atlantic Home Mortgage (4.83) Sales Boomerang (4.67)
My management/supervisor is helpful with my career development Atlantic Home Mortgage (4.90) Atlantic Home Mortgage Sales Boomerang (4.90) (4.76) LBA Ware (4.71)
I am satisfied with the culture of my workplace Sales Boomerang (4.90) Sales Boomerang LBA Ware (4.84) (4.90) Atlantic Home Mortgage (4.83)
Communication between senior leaders and employees is good in my organization Atlantic Home Mortgage (4.72) GO Mortgage (4.71) Peoples Mortgage Company (4.70)
hensive benefit package and the desire for a two-way dialogue between mortgage employers and their employees. Most hardworking mortgage professionals were forced to work at home or, at the very least, adapt to a hybrid working model. This required dividing work time between a remote location and within the walls of their employer’s office. Not all employers saw this as a bad thing, however. Cassidy O’Sullivan, chief operating officer at Mann Mortgage’s branch office in Arizona, feels that the effects of the pandemic forced an increased dialogue between employees and upper management, and further highlighted the continued “need for recognizing employees’ efforts and compensating them for their work.” Ironically, the second year of a drawn-out pandemic proved to be one of the busiest years in recent memory. Mortgage rates remained at all-time low levels, while inventory remained tight across most real estate markets in the country.
The increased workload placed considerably more business on loan officers’ desks, raising a question: How would employers recognize the increased work stresses and compensate for the heightened demands on their employees? Across the board, employees in this year’s survey expressed the desire for incentive packages to be prioritized by their employers. These incentive programs have taken various forms. Mann Mortgage, one of the Top Mortgage Employers, has always thought carefully about its employees’ needs. COVID-19 amplified the company’s approach to put its employees first by offering innovative incentive packages. “We believe in the entrepreneurial spirit.
What mortgage employees value most It should come as no surprise that company culture popped up repeatedly as an important trend in this year’s survey answers. One Atlantic Home Mortgage employee highlighted the family day that the company organizes yearly. Likewise, a Family First Funding employee emphasized the benefits of a family fun day organized by the company, as well as an annual “kick off summer” party. Ongoing training and development also scored high on the list of employees’ must-haves. One respondent mentioned MC Mortgage Group’s “Yearn to Learn” initiative, an in-house training program that focuses on personal and
“We found the key is having a culture that puts our employees first, providing an engaging, high-performing and fun environment, which allows our employees to succeed” Tony Weick, Bell Bank Mortgage We value giving the necessary support to create a great work atmosphere and build relationships with the community,” says O’Sullivan. Justin Flake, chief operating officer at the Montana head office of Mann Mortgage, described the company’s outside-the-box approach to an employee incentive during the COVID-19 turmoil. “We have been very generous and realized that what our employees needed most was more time off – they were worn out,” he says. “So, we paid for a dinner to go out with family and to take a day off approved by their direct managers.”
professional development designed for employees to achieve a 1% improvement level every day. Weighing in on work culture, FormFree Mortgage noted that it focuses on a collaborative working approach, along with the idea of working as a team. Most mortgage employees rated ongoing training and educational development among the top five priorities that mortgage employers should be directing their efforts toward. Also included in the top five was a focus on diversity in the workforce, benefit packages covering essentials such as medical insurance and dental care, work-life balance, and an open
METHODOLOGY The process of finding and recognizing the best employers in the US mortgage industry took place over two phases. First, MPA invited organizations to submit their details through a survey, where they were able to describe their offerings and business practices. Then, employees from the nominated companies were asked to fill out their own anonymous survey to rate their satisfaction with a number of key factors such as compensation, employee development, culture, and work environment. Each company was required to meet a minimum number of employee responses based on overall size. Companies that achieved a satisfaction rating of 80% or greater were included in the Top Mortgage Employers list.
38% of employees are happy with their company’s healthcare benefits
56% of employees are satisfied with their overall compensation
93% of employees are satisfied with the workplace culture
TOP MORTGAGE EMPLOYERS 2021
TOP 10 MOST IMPORTANT FACTORS FOR EMPLOYEES
1. Retirement plan
6. Employee recognition programs
2. Bonus/incentive programs
7. Vision coverage
3. Flexible work options
8. Company supporting community/charitable organizations
4. Healthcare benefits
9. Family-friendly benefits
technology to meet their business objectives. As employees worked from home, their employers had to work hard to ensure the adaptation process ran smoothly. Bell Bank Mortgage embraced this reality. “We believe the mortgage business is built on relationships. It just might not always be face-to-face,” says a company spokesperson. Go Mortgage took an innovative approach. Not only did the company make a concerted effort to provide continuous contact between management and employees, but it also arranged a virtual board-game event to help employees feel connected while working remotely. Most respondents geared their answers to reflect the appreciation they had for the many and varied initiatives their employers took during a time of great upheaval and potential isolation at the height of the pandemic.
Keys to workplace satisfaction 5. Dental coverage
10. Disability benefits
and inclusive management approach. “With the heavy burden of healthcare costs, the wide-ranging challenges which present themselves daily and, of course, helping people prepare for their retirement, having a strong and extensive benefits package is an important factor in employee satisfaction,” says Tony Weick, president of Bell Bank Mortgage, a Top Mortgage Employer.
Handling the remote workforce Along with COVID-19 came the realization that most employees would have to work remotely, and therefore be required to use
For mortgage employers to come out on top in this year’s survey, employees needed several prerequisites in place. Employees needed to feel protected by a provision of comprehensive benefit packages. Diversity in the workplace was valued, and staying connected and utilizing technology were also paramount. Employees also indicated that an attempt by mortgage employers to encourage an open dialogue was high on their list. A happy and inclusive work culture, whether physically in the office or in a work-from-home arrangement, was also rated highly. “We found the key is having a culture that puts our employees first, providing an engaging, high-performing and fun environment, which allows our employees to succeed,” says Weick. “Happy employees, happy customers.”
Bell Bank Mortgage
Phone: 952-905-5000 Email: email@example.com Website: bellbankmortgage.com
Phone: 406-890-6070 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: mannmortgage.com
American Financial Network
Bay Equity Home Loans Fairway Independent Mortgage First Guaranty Mortgage New American Funding Paramount Residential Mortgage Peoples Mortgage Company
Family First Funding GO Mortgage Inlanta Mortgage Kwik Mortgage Mortgage Network
Planet Home Lending Premier Nationwide Lending
Atlantic Home Mortgage FormFree
Taylor Morrison Home Funding
LBA Ware LenderHomePage.com Sales Boomerang
10–25 employees MC Mortgage Group
TOP MORTGAGE EMPLOYERS 2021
BELL BANK MORTGAGE Phone: 952-905-5000 Email: email@example.com Website: bellbankmortgage.com
he mortgage business is nothing less than complex. With many moving parts in play at any given time, having the ability to coordinate and pull these parts into place is the goal of every mortgage lender. Bell Bank is no exception. Bell Bank’s glowing results in this year’s Top Mortgage Employers survey demonstrate the benefits of including the needs of mortgage employees in all aspects of the business. With employee satisfaction top of mind, Tony Weick, president of Bell Bank Mortgage, says: “The results are of course fantastic to see, especially when you consider the events over the past year – not just in our company, but in the industry. Since the survey is all feedback from our staff, it is terrific and humbling seeing our combined efforts, communications and direction making a positive impact in their eyes.” Knowing what the client wants and directly addressing each client’s needs were also key. “We provide professional services to our clients, no matter what type of support they need,” Weick says. In order to provide client support, “we have found that the key is having a culture which puts our employees
first, providing an engaging, high-performing and fun environment, which allows our employees to succeed.” Bell Bank believes in its team. This strong internal support system provides the framework to succeed externally. “Happy employees, happy customers,” is Bell Bank’s bottom-line statement, Weick explains. The demands on mortgage professionals can be very difficult to balance, but by being engaged and respected for what they do, employees have the ideal mindset to draw out what the client needs and work to ensure clientdriven results. Another key to success? Transparency, says Weick. Building trust is central to the willingness of staff to stay committed and engaged in their work and provide consistently high levels of client service. The common thread tying all the successful elements together is the ability “to create strong relationships.” Bell Bank’s team believes that mortgage lending is a business built on relationships, and even with remote work becoming a new reality, client interactions are still at the heart of its mortgage business model. It just may not be face-to-face the way it used to be. One of the recurring themes in this year’s
Top Mortgage Employers survey results was the importance employees put on the need for an attractive benefit package. Bell Bank has been aware of this for quite some time and has acted accordingly. “With the heavy burden of healthcare costs, the wide-ranging challenges which present themselves daily and, of course, helping people prepare for their retirement, having a strong and extensive benefits package is an important factor in employee satisfaction,” Weick explains. Bell Bank’s Employee Stock Ownership Plan enables staff to be owners as well. A company incentive based on this model provides an economic boost, which is indicative of the employee-centered approach Bell Bank works hard to achieve. The three keys to success as a mortgage lender, says Weick, are “culture, professionalism and execution.” “Walk the walk when it comes to providing an environment for your teammates to be appreciated and excited, do what is right no matter if anyone is watching, and provide the tools and training to ensure employees can be successful and have fun in completing their goals,” he says.
Justin Flake (left) and Cassidy O’Sullivan (right)
MANN MORTGAGE Phone: 406-890-6070 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: mannmortgage.com
ecome global but think locally,” said Cassidy O’Sullivan, chief strategy officer at Mann Mortgage’s branch office in Chandler, Arizona. This simple yet powerful operating principle has guided the working philosophy of Mann Mortgage’s many branch offices. The mantra also helped to propel the network of brokerages into a winning spot on this year’s Top Mortgage Employers 2021. O’Sullivan comes from a recruitment background and has always kept the needs of employees central in his working approach. Reflecting on the survey results, he knows how important employee incentive programs are. He is also keenly aware of the work-life balance that employees need to deliver their best performance on the job. If anything, the COVID-19 pandemic during the last 18 months has amplified O’Sullivan’s recognition of rewarding employees and compensating them for their hard work. Justin Flake, chief operations officer at Mann Mortgage’s Kalispell, Montana head office, feels the same. “We have been very generous and realized that what our
employees needed most was more time off – they were worn out,” he says. “So we paid for a dinner to go out with family and to take a day off approved by their direct managers.” The sheer competitive nature of the mortgage sector routinely forces many brokerages to think outside the box. Mann Mortgage believes that this applies to both the work that goes into attracting a large client base as well as the tireless efforts to ensure that its many clients remain well taken care of and loyal. O’Sullivan says that the same truth can be applied to the continuous efforts to keep Mann Mortgage’s loan officers happy while encouraging their talented staff and sales team to stay committed to the firm. “It all comes down to the work culture,” he says. “Instead of a top-down approach of talking down to employees, we foster an open dialogue.” This open conversation with loan officers allows upper management to benefit from the loan officers’ unique advantages. They all have “a pulse on what is going on in their local markets and what is going on at the street level,” he adds. A collaborative spirit and a work-together approach among the different departments at Mann Mortgage, as well as between the other
branch offices, stems directly from the pioneering cooperative spirit on which the founding principles of the firm rest. From the grassroots of the initial Montana brokerage to the many offices spread over the Pacific Northwest and as far away as Hawaii, Mann Mortgage has always motivated its employees with a cooperative, local and hands-on approach to dealing with client files. “The end result is to get these folks into their homes and hand over their keys,” O’Sullivan states. However, to put the client first, the many departments working on each mortgage file must also feel a sense of purpose and accomplishment. When asked what the three keys to success may be for Mann Mortgage, both O’Sullivan and Flake did not take long to reply. “Folks have to be local, which circles back to our guiding philosophy. Leaders need to be transparent. Retention of employees is key too,” O’Sullivan says. Flake echoes his colleague’s views. “Open dialogue, an entrepreneurial spirit and an emphasis on face-to-face dealings with the client,” were traits Flake felt best described Mann Mortgage’s winning approach.
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