Benefits of Training Originators As Loss Mitigators

Jacksonville, FL-In a narrowly specialized industry in crisis where loss mitigation experts are scarce, at least one industry veteran finds hiring staff with mortgage originations background more worthy of a servicer's money in the long run.

Layoffs and company relocations due to the mortgage crisis have created a large pool of loss mitigation specialists available for hire. Then again, former loan originators make for the largest number of people with mortgage experience looking for a job, are being retrained in loan default servicing and expected to hit the ground running.

The challenge for these new hires trying to reinvent themselves to get into like job markets, says Jim Satterwhite, executive vice president and COO of Infusion Technologies, is to retain what one knows about originations, plus take time to understand the loss mitigation process and how previous experience relates to the present.

"Now absolutely everyone is interested in loss mitigation: servicers, component servicers and technology providers like ourselves. We need the folks that are informed, those who know where the documents are, know how to read a note or a credit instrument, and know how to deal with financial packages. The old school originators who were doing very well when originations were up, those are the kinds of people we look to hire in loss mitigation and train to make a transition because they are used to talking with customers, they're used to gathering that type of information. It's just a different decision that is being made with the loan."

When expanding short sale staff the company looks for prior real estate experience. "Some folks sort of evolve from this broader loss mitigation range to a very specialized function," he said. Over the last few years the industry as a whole has become very specialized adding "a degree of challenge, recruiting wise." He argues however that it also helps people build a career path in some regards because you are not coming into the job having not only a broader range of knowledge, but a very specific set of knowledge as well. Anyone working on a modification needs skills that are a little different compared to someone who is specialized in short sales who has to be comfortable dealing with a HUD warrant, real estate brokers, investors, and the mortgagor, he says.

Technology can also help to make up for a lack of skill in very specialized areas.

"Anytime you take the human presence out of the equation, meaning mistakes, failure to follow up issues, or lack of ability to bring in a specific set of skills, technology speeds up loan processing and helps compensate for those shortages to some extent ensuring users achieve at least a certain degree of success."

The company employs workflow control oriented technology with a prescribed workflow and business rules. In addition to online education for borrowers, a staff training application uses a computer-generated trainer that answers all their questions. "We are in the process of building up a question and answer database for the actual loan servicer," Mr. Satterwhite said. "Internally we have an automated engine that outlines specific servicer requirements, such as maybe a different document they need, or other demand that distinguishes them and their processes compared to the basic services that we provide.

The first thing we do with someone new is have them sit down with the application and then they are driven through the business rules, get acquainted with the work they are assigned and steps they need to take. Technology will walk them through the requirements of the individual investor or servicer educating them what servicer A vs. servicer B may need … so they don't have to memorize everything." He recalls how years ago he personally designed note charts, notebooks "and all of the stuff that you had to have on your desk." Today, all that information about a short sale and a deed-and-lieu is build into an application that recognizes the user (employee, servicer, other) and then drives the business rules and workflow required based on state assignments, circumstance, servicer, loan type, or other acting as a tutorial every time they use the application.

At Infusion Technologies the training process consists of about two weeks of formalized training, thanks to the training technology available. "It's oriented towards what we do, general customer service training skills, some live role playing in a separate room, and live chats within the application that can be used by any user.

Mortgage servicing providers should think long term, the executive says.

"It is very important to establish sound mentoring and developmental programs so the same way you have invested in training you continue to invest in that employee and their future, because if you do they're likely to stay. The return on that investment can be many fold, for instance, you don't have to do that front-end training over and over again."

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