George Shkutov is director of business strategies for First
Centennial Mortgage Co. He is a highly-respected industry veteran and has been a member of the Chicagoland
mortgage community for more than 14 years. Prior to First
Centennial Mortgage, Shkutov held positions in sales,
accounting, finance and business strategy and development
with some of the most recognizable names in the industry.
Reach Shkutov at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Star Originators Are Born That Way
Top performers also blossom with excellent management and support
By George Shkutov
There are more than 400,000 licenses issued for mortgage loan originators nationwide, according to the most recent NMLS Mort- gage Industry Report. Only a fraction of
those licensed originators, however, could be considered
stars in their chosen field.
Are those highly successful originators self-made,
or do they work for companies that actively manage
them to achieve excellence? That is an age-old question that faces branch managers.
An outgoing personality is a must for an originator
hoping to make it in the business. Also necessary is an
ability to connect with people in any social setting.
Successful originators, however, also benefit from
being part of a strong team that has top-notch leadership. And so, the combination of personality traits
and excellent management foster an environment for
producing great results.
Why do so few originators exhibit outstanding performance compared to the rest? In part, it’s because they
are self-motivated go-getters. They don’t wait for a
manager to give them instructions, quotas, models to
follow, etc. The desire to excel is within them.
Many originators are offered the same benefits,
support and training as the best performers; however,
they don’t execute like the best. The drive and desire
to excel — like personality traits — aren’t teachable or
developed through management. Top originators are
born that way, and they are provided with a platform
that fits their drive and desire to excel.
Connecting with people in a way that makes them
feel valued and heard is probably the most important
tool a great originator possesses. Being a successful
originator, then, requires people skills. That entails listening more than talking and tailoring the conversation
toward a client’s needs, versus trying to push an agenda.
Personal drive and a desire to excel are personality
traits of great performers. The drive to be the best at
work, to do the most loans at the office, to be recognized by the industry as one of the best are all characteristics common to top originators.
Personality is one factor that makes a great performer,
but it is not the whole picture. In the mortgage industry, factors such as compensation structure, product
mix, marketing, and operational support and technology play vital roles in building a sustainable business
model. Most mortgage companies and banks nowadays offer some or all of these elements. They have to
because it is the only way to make sure that they can
compete for talent.
Good originators normally make the best sales managers. To help others improve their job performance,
it helps if the manager has done the same job first.
Replication in sales is achievable when there is mutual
respect and a common goal among the parties.
Many professionals, early in their careers, are looking for a mentor, someone who can share insights and
a framework to become successful. The mortgage
industry is not an exception to that norm. In addition,
each year many good producers choose the path of
management. Companies that welcome and nurture
this trend will succeed in the long run.
Supporting a new manager with the tools needed to
create and manage a successful sales team can be a
win-win for all. What do managers do to bring up sales
performance? A few techniques are common within
■ ■ Surround originators with top performers;
■ ■ Create referral networks for the originators; and
■ ■ Provide operational support when needed.
Surrounding originators with top talent creates a
competitive atmosphere, one that brings out the best
in a competitor. An originator who cares about doing
well on a team can flourish in an environment that
blends green originators with top performers.
Another technique for increasing an originator’s
performance is to help the individual create a referral
network. Established managers with wide professional
networks can provide a competitive advantage for
their company by leveraging relationships to create
such networks for originators. Among the ways of
accomplishing that, beyond hosting or attending periodic events, is to utilize technology and support systems
that create and cultivate referral partners.
Finally, providing operational support for originators goes a long way toward creating and maintaining
productive, sustainable teams. Managers can form alliances with operations managers to support their sales
teams. In the current market, getting answers quickly
for clients, Realtors and other partners is key to closing deals. Experienced sales managers understand the
importance of all of these dynamics.
There is merit to encouraging both approaches —
personal initiative and excellent management — in the
effort to cultivate top performers. Sales-management
techniques are effective when the team works for a
common goal. Thus, the performance of even highly
self-motivated originators goes up because everyone strives to exceed expectations. No one wants to
Good sales managers know how to motivate originators using a number of skills, depending on the
individual originator’s style and personality. They
bring good value to the company because their teams
are effective, efficient and profitable. In addition, self-motivated top performers help tremendously with a
company’s branding strategy and its esprit de corps. ■
For more articles on
cultivating top performers
View these articles and more at
“How to Reach Your Goals,”
“Top Performers Make Smart Job Choices,”
“The Road to Success,”