Michael Cooksey is founder of The Cooksey Team in Dallas,
one of the top-performing branches of Mid America
Mortgage Inc. Having put his personal philosophy of
“earning your first million in production and your second
through management” into practice at The Cooksey Team,
Cooksey has used The CORE Training methodology to coach
top-producing loan officers, brokers and real estate agents
across the country. Reach him at (972) 767-5701 or
Career Growth Coaching
Rising to branch management requires learning new skills
By Michael Cooksey
Despite predictions of an overall decline in volume this year, the outlook for the mortgage industry is still positive. In its May 2017 Economic Developments
report, Fannie Mae’s Economic & Strategic Research
Group revised its previous 2017 purchase originations
forecast upward to reflect stronger-than-expected
home sales and overall industry momentum.
With the overall mood trending positive, it’s natural
that loan originators’ thoughts should turn to career
advancement. For many originators, the ultimate
career goal is to one day run their own branch, which
is unsurprising. After all, it is far more profitable to
manage your own production than someone else’s.
There is more that goes into launching and managing a successful branch than simply having a talent for
producing, however. Without a proper foundation and
mentoring, many originators will fail to set themselves
up for success once they are ready to branch out on
Expand or expound
The assumed next step in the career path for top
producers is branch manager, and what typically
motivates loan originators to make this leap is the
assumption that they will increase their profitability by
doing so. Not only is this a fallacy, but it also is an inadequate incentive to move from producer to manager.
Management is all about people — motivating
them, mentoring them and ultimately enabling them
to succeed. Without a passion or desire to help people, the branch manager role may prove unfulfilling
for some top producers, which can lead to a failure
to thrive. A better alternative for these producers is
to continue growing their own teams and increasing
On the other hand, those top producers who not
only want to build on their own success, but are interested in helping others grow as well, are ideally suited
for the branch manager role. Of course it is not always
easy to handle the added responsibilities of managing
a branch. Coaching can play a significant role in helping top-producing loan originators make the transition to being a branch manager.
To be clear, having a substantial production volume
is absolutely a prerequisite for building a successful
branch, because it is very difficult to convince promising producers to follow you if you do not have a
demonstrable track record of success. An established
and impressive level of production makes it much
easier to build your brand and attract top talent. A
mortgage coach can help originators build the necessary skills to optimize their personal performance
while also providing a roadmap for developing successful originators as a branch manager.
Learn to lead
Effective mortgage coaching should focus on three
areas: structure, tactics and accountability. The structure aspect should establish basic branch management principles and provide direction on not only
how to structure the business, but also how to do so
in a way that is practical, scalable and replicable, and
that reinforces discipline.
The second coaching area is tactics. This is what most
loan originators who seek a coach are really after.
They’re looking for tips and tricks to increase their
pipeline, close more deals, etc. And, to be fair, tactics
play a large role in the mortgage coaching process.
Tactics, however, should be tailored to the strengths
and goals of the originator being coached. What
Details are important when it comes to tactics.
Missing information and elements can pose serious
roadblocks that prevent follow-through and success.
This is especially true when teaching the management and leadership skills necessary for becoming a
successful branch manager. Loan originators can be
fantastic technicians, especially when it comes to business development. Most originators, however, work
alone, or with an assistant or two, and so success is
defined less by efficiency and more by sheer volume.
Thus, most originators are unaccustomed to work-
ing with a large team — much less managing or lead-
ing them. They also can be unfamiliar with managing
their own time effectively to accommodate multiple,
and often competing, demands. Both of these skills
are essential for a branch manager to possess.
Furthermore, the concepts of management and
leadership are often fuzzily defined. This can result in
erroneous assumptions about what those concepts
look like in action, which can lead to management
mistakes. Effective mortgage coaching should clearly
define these concepts to ensure they are successfully
applied, while also teaching the finer points of productive time management.
The last piece of the coaching trifecta is accountability. Without accountability, the structure and tactics elements are simply theoretical and lack potency,
meaning it can be hard to feel their impact if they
aren’t put into practice.
In addition, these two elements represent a change
in habits for many originators, and as anyone who has
ever tried to change their habits can attest, being held
accountable increases the likelihood of those changes
becoming permanent. If coaching lacks accountability, it can be far too easy for originators to take away
only a few items that resonated with them and ignore
the rest. This not only defeats the purpose of coaching but also inhibits the level of success the originator
might otherwise achieve.
n n n
When all three of these aspects — structure, tactics,
and accountability — come together, that’s really
when coaching is truly effective and transformative.
And for those loan originators who have a true passion for mentorship, the branch manager role can
prove to be both a fulfilling and lucrative step forward in their career. By engaging a mortgage coach
at the outset, top-performing originators can gain the
necessary skills to maximize their own performance,
attract promising talent and guide the originators they
manage down their own paths to success. n
Three elements of effective
n Structure — basic branch-management
principles and business structure
n Tactics — effective team leadership and
n Accountability — cements lessons and
prevents slipping back into old habits