No Experience Necessary? Some Think it's Best

The mortgage market became a very different animal when U.S. subprime's woes crunched the availability of credit.

But Dale Vermillion, president and chief executive officer of Vermillion Consulting Inc. here, believes certain recruiting and training strategies that he has long recommended remain applicable. That is because the somewhat contrarian strategies Mr. Vermillion recommends for the cyclical mortgage market position those who use them for change, something the industry is going through now, he told this publication in a phone interview.

One of his recommendations is to hire employees with no experience.

"Things have changed so much, [you] want those [who can] start from scratch," he said.

Even when the market was booming, Mr. Vermillion said he considered this wise, given the lack of questioning of policies and loyalty hiring inexperienced staff builds.

The strategy does require some training and some clients question this, he said. But he said that he often has helped them understand the strategy by explaining that training actually is the key to getting full value out of one's marketing expenditures. Without training, marketing efforts that lead customers to contact the business fall short as they leave potential customers talking "to people who don't know what they're doing," Mr. Vermillion said.

"This is not a hard business to learn," he added.

Mr. Vermillion said it takes about 90-120 days for a new employee to learn the "products, approach and methodologies" needed for their work and that there is "a lot of training available today" that should make the process a relatively easy one.

When asked whether he saw any value in recruiting employees with industry experience, Mr. Vermillion indicated that he did but that it is contingent on the prospect having what he termed a "changeable spirit" in terms of being open to learning a new company's ways.

Recruiters also should be open to possibly changing their ways, Mr. Vermillion said, noting that company's discontent with their past efforts should realize, "If you do what you've always done, you're going to get what you've always gotten."

When asked specifically about what the job market has been like in the wake of the subprime meltdown and reports that underwriters, closers and operations professionals on the origination side of the business have been facing some of the greatest employment challenges, Mr. Vermillion agreed that these are among the areas hardest hit as they tend to be the positions that struggling firms tend to lay off first.

But even for these individuals there may remain opportunities in the mortgage market, he said.

"There is always opportunity in any industry for good individuals," Mr. Vermillion said.

However, personalities of the applicant should match the available position, he said.

Generally, a switch from the origination side, where jobs have been dwindling, to the servicing side, where positions have been increasing, may prove to be challenging given that the two types of jobs generally are best done by different types of personalities, Mr. Vermillion said. "The general dynamics don't typically match up."

However, those who worked with customers as originators may, for example, find their personalities mesh with customer service-focused positions on the servicing side, Mr. Vermillion said.

"If you're not in it for the customers, don't get in the business."

When asked whether there were any particular recruiting and training mistakes that he believes contributed to the subprime mortgage-related credit crunch, Mr. Vermillion said he believes the movement of staff from one company to another and the rush to recruit and train quickly to keep up with high loan volumes were part of what led to the concern.

Mr. Vermillion believes companies can avoid such problems by putting more effort into recruiting and training. He advises multiple interviews and reference checks to determine if the prospects have integrity, to make sure they "really want to learn and do [the job] the right way" and are more interested in helping customers than making money.

When asked whether he believes current market challenges will change the nature of the commission-based origination, tying it more closely to future performance rather than upfront sales, Mr. Vermillion said he agrees to some extent with others who say there is an ingrained compensation culture there that will be difficult to change but he also thinks that change may nevertheless occur.

"I think you'll see that ... resistance changing," he said.

"It has to change. That's another reason why I recommend hiring inexperienced people. People [have been] paid beyond abilities [and beyond] what probably they should have [been paid.]" (c) 2007 Mortgage Servicing News and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved. http://www.mortgageservicingnews.com http://www.sourcemedia.com/