“In most cases, tomorrow’s branch managers will be today’s loan officers looking for new opportunities to grow.”
Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Branch Manager? By Terry LeBlanc
JANUARY 2016 n National Mortgage Professional Magazine n
With purchase mortgage originations expected to jump more than 20 percent this year to nearly $1 trillion, we can expect a comparable spike in hiring of branch managers and loan officers to handle the increased volume. Demand for branch managers will be most prominent in companies looking to expand their operations beyond
their current geographical footprint. In most cases, tomorrow’s branch managers will be today’s loan officers looking for new opportunities to grow. For many top producing loan officers, the move to branch manager seems like the next logical step in their careers. Perhaps they feel they have proven themselves as loan officers and
achieved their goals, and now need a new challenge. Maybe they are excited about the idea of building and coaching their own team of originators. After all, many top loan officers have already developed their own team of assistants or become leaders in the office or mentors to other loan officers. Or perhaps they simply want the additional responsibility and extra compensation that goes with the branch manager title. Maybe you fall into one or more of these categories, and are thinking about becoming a branch manager yourself. But you may also be wondering—do you really have what it takes to succeed?
Being a leader
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Many in our industry believe that a loan officer with a great production track record automatically translates to being an effective branch manager. While great loan officers often do make great branch managers, the reality is that these two roles require some different skills. Just as we often see in sports, the best players don’t necessarily make the best coaches. Making sure that one is a good fit for branch management is key, and that means being a leader. After all, it’s not just your career on the line, but the careers of everyone you will be responsible for leading in your new role. A successful branch manager is a leader—a self-starter with initiative, vision and desire to succeed, a great communicator who understands the details but does not lose sight of the big picture. If you are someone who waits for direction or cannot make time to take on the additional responsibility of branch management, the job most definitely is not for you. Branch managers must be leaders outside the office, too. In fact, the importance of community involvement is probably one of the most overlooked functions of branch management. While participating in neighborhood events and community fundraisers may be inherently rewarding, it enables branch managers to reach out to potential borrowers as well as referral partners like Realtors and home builders. Community involvement also helps branch man-
agers fully comprehend the unique needs and desires of the neighborhoods they serve. As a branch manager, it will also be your job to evoke community spirit in the branch and get others in the office involved, leading by example.
Critical personality traits For branch managers to earn the trust of their colleagues and the community, they must have integrity, reliability, drive and professionalism. Have you developed a professional reputation for your integrity? If so, you know this does not happen overnight. Yet a track record of integrity is essential for any branch manager who hopes to build a successful office—especially if it is a newly opened branch in a new area for the company. Choosing what company to join in order to start a new branch requires due diligence. Regardless of the circumstance, an important question new branch managers must ask is whether their company will support their professional and financial growth or not. Most professionals are more interested in how much support they get from the company than compensation, which is a smart move when becoming a branch manager. Branch managers should align themselves with a growing company that is dedicated to empowering them and their teams with the products, service and support they need to excel. For example, successful branch managers need the backing of a production team committed to always closing loans on time, as well as management that has the mindset of helping branch managers and loan officers do the very same. In today’s highly regulated marketplace, branch managers also need a company that provides up-to-date-compliance resources, as well as companypaid training and excellent marketing support. In order to successfully recruit great loan officers, new branch managers also need to have a comfortable and professional office environment with the products necessary for their sales teams to compete and be successful themselves. Today’s loan officers are looking