Thursday, June 07, 2012

Getting Creative with LO Compensation

You may have noticed that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau held a conference call today with 17 small lender participants to talk about its controversial Loan Officer Compensation rules. I read about it in Paul Muolo's blog at National Mortgage News.

It's not yet clear what the CFPB will do about how the industry pays loan officers, but what is clear is that the old days of making more money for closing more lucrative loans are over. So how will the nation's originators hold on to their top loan officers? Well, you're going to have to get more creative. Perhaps you could send them out to dig ditches.

Seriously. At least Salt Lake City-based Academy Mortgage seems to be serious about it. The company recently sent its top twenty-five performing loan officers from around the country out to do that, as a reward. The lender admitted that when the LOs were told about the reward they would receive for their outstanding service, "digging trenches in jungle roots, laying concrete, moving boulders, fighting off mosquitoes and pulling teeth were not the immediate images that came to mind for them. However, this is exactly the reward that they were given."

“The goal of this program is to give our employees a more fulfilling experience that they probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do otherwise," said Mike Jensen, CMO, Academy Mortgage, who conceived the trip. "Before participating on a trip like this, people really don’t know what to expect and at times are even a little surprised that this would be their 'reward.' However, after completing this trip, every single one of the attendees will tell you that the experience absolutely changed their lives. They come back with a new outlook and fulfillment on life and even a new perspective on how they see themselves as loan officers and the work that they do helping people achieve their dream of owning a home.”

The company's top 25 loan officers traveled to the remote village of Secanquin, Guatemala – an isolated poverty-stricken community located in the Cloud Forest Region that is home to an indigenous population of just 200. They stayed in the village for seven days, constructing the village’s first running water system, laying the foundation for new infrastructures and assisting in medical and dental care for the villagers.
Academy's top performing Loan Officers and their
guests in Secanquin, Guatemala.

"Loan officers were digging trenches, moving boulders, literally pulling teeth, after undergoing training, to help accomplish these goals during their stay," according to a company release. "They slept in tents located in a field within the village and spent their free-time bonding with locals by playing soccer, coloring with the kids and even partaking in their sacred Mayan rituals."

So how do you qualify for such a "reward?"

"Academy's incentive trips are awarded based on Loan Officer production - total and purchase volume," I was told by Libba Cox, a spokesperson for the company. "Academy's top producing loan officers (President's Club) were invited to attend the service Expedition in Guatemala this May. Each loan officer selected to go was allowed to bring one guest to accompany them."

Academy has committed to future trips to Secanquin in its overall effort to help this village become a self-sustaining community and will continue organizing bi-annual service-based trips as the foundation for its rewards and recognition programs. More information on Academy’s innovative rewards program can be found here: Get Rewarded!

While doing good in a third-world country may not be your LOs' idea of a good time, lenders who want to hold on to their top talent will follow Academy's example and begin thinking well outside of the box when it comes to rewarding their employees.

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