For community banks looking to mortgage lending as an avenue for growth, staffing must be a key consideration. It’s easy to assume your mortgage-lending staff should mirror those of your consumer lending channel — relying on one or two individuals to become “jacks of all trades.” However, mortgage lending is considerably more complex than other forms of lending due to more rigid and ever-changing compliance requirements and a wider variety of loan products — each with their own underwriting and investor requirements. Adequately staffing your mortgage division helps avoid the compliance and reputational risks associated with understaffing and enables you to operate an efficient and profitable mortgage division.
The minimum staff required to support residential lending operations includes a loan originator, processor, underwriter, closer and, in some cases, a compliance officer. For secondary market operations, these could also include quality control staff and specialized and approved underwriters, such as those required for FHA loan programs. Keeping these positions separate ensures the appropriate audit controls are in place, lessens the risk of errors and burnout and decreases application turn time. Depending on mortgage volume, you may need to hire additional staff to accommodate increased applications.
Having the right staff in place is only a piece of the puzzle. Your mortgage staff will also need adequate training as they are onboarded and on an ongoing basis to comply with federal- and state-level continuing education requirements and as technology advances, regulations change, new loan products are added and existing programs change. Additionally, you will need to train employees equally to ensure consistency within your mortgage operations, thus reducing the risk of loss.
An understaffed and undertrained mortgage department poses significant risks to your financial institution. Employees who are overworked or lack the expertise required for their position could easily overlook a crucial detail in a loan application. Errors of this nature can have serious consequences, the most severe of which is the inability to fund or sell the loan. Even if the loan can be saved, you may still incur financial loss or reputational damage. Errors can also result in regulatory and additional monetary risk (e.g., fines). Additionally, the negative impact on the borrower’s experience, including a potential delay inclosing, may result in the loss of current/future business and/or referrals to competitors.
Financial institutions need the proper support to successfully navigate the complexities of mortgage lending. Not only can it be difficult for community-based institutions to find sufficient talent locally, but some community-based institutions staff such small mortgage departments that a single vacation or extended sick-leave can bring the entire operation to a halt. However, adding staff doesn’t necessarily mean adding fixed costs, and geography isn’t as much of a constraint on your ability to source top talent as it once was.
Community banks around the country have partnered with Promontory MortgagePath to staff their mortgage divisions and position themselves for growth. Promontory MortgagePath’s comprehensive end-to-end mortgage solutions seasoned operations professionals function as extensions of your team, giving you the benefit of full-time mortgage and fulfillment staff without the added fixed costs. Plus, Promontory MortgagePath’ solutions are backed by an in-house team of the most highly experienced compliance professionals within the industry, who collaborate directly with your team to create a customized compliant solution rooted in your organizational values.
Learn more about Promontory MortgagePath’s suite of digital mortgage and fulfillment solutions here. For a more in-depth guide on mortgage operations, download our free eBook: The Complete Guide to Entering the Residential Mortgage Business.