The Last Word

The Last Word - The Importance of Partnership

by Jim Mahoney


This year our industry has been keenly focused on improving customers’ experience.

Even the theme for our upcoming Annual Meeting in Chicago is centered on improving the entire experience.

In keeping with that theme, industry experts have written several excellent articles pointing out the numerous traits and characteristics of successful loan offcers and other RM personnel.

When The Reverse Review asked me to write the “The Last Word” again, I focused on the use of “Word” in the title and thought of the movie The Graduate with Dustin Ho man. You probably remember the scene where one of Hoffman’s neighbors comes to him with career advice and says, “I just want to say one word to you ... plastics.” I asked myself if I could actually summarize what we have learned into one word. I decided to take a shot at it.

I selected the word “partner” and its derivative “partnership.” (OK, maybe that makes it two words instead of one!) The dictionary defines “partner” as “one who shares in an endeavor” with an associate, and “partnership” as the state of being in “joint interest.”

I think the meaningful aspect of these definitions is that it is a “shared” experience with shared goals. It is not, “I sell, you buy” or “I win, you lose.” When we think of successful teams in sports, it is not individual talents alone that win championships but teamwork, which means shared goals and experiences. Certainly a quarterback cannot be successful without a good line, good receivers and running backs. My guess is if you look back at your life and think of all your successes, they have been a result of partnerships rather than detached relationships. Success in school was assisted by committed teachers; success in sports came because of the one-on-one efforts of a coach, etc. Similarly, a successful loan officer cannot be successful without a good team of processors, underwriters, closers and servicers. In order for the process to be successful, everyone in the chain must share the same goals and work together.

At the customer level, we must always be thinking about their goals in this transaction, not just ours. The shared experience (i.e., partnering) is one where we understand their issues, concerns and obstacles and work jointly to solve them. Being empathetic rather than just sympathetic is the true characteristic of a partner. In my experience, our most satisfied customers spoke of the comfort they took in the fact that they felt their loan officer (and processors) was working with them and shared the customer’s success in meeting their goals. In turn, our customers were quite happy that our loan o cer made a commission and had a successful career.

It may start at the customer level between clients and their LO, but that is just the start. The LO needs to listen to the processor about issues and problems and work jointly to solve them. Too many times, LOs distance themselves from the internal processes for closing a loan and propagate the field versus office mentality. I have no doubt that a partnering mentality at all levels and viewing the process start to nish as a shared responsibility and shared experience, including servicing the loan until it matures and is repaid, yields a much more pleasant experience for everyone involved. And yes, we then close more loans, have more happy customers and have greater nancial success, too.

I believe “partner/partnership” can work for all of us, and as “The Last Word” maybe we ought to change the title of “reverse mortgage specialist” and “reverse mortgage officer/processor/underwriter/ servicer” to “reverse mortgage partner!”

- November 2016

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