Nonprime Growth Requires Leaders with the Right Stuff

Mr. Glass is managing partner, R.T. Glass & Associates, Sacramento, Calif. Mr. Glass has served the mortgage banking industry since 1983. Before opening his own firm, specializing in nonprime executive search, his previous practice led the nation's largest executive search firm.

Participating in the tremendous growth of nonprime lending will require companies in this sector to develop a deeper bench of high-caliber leadership. Nonprime companies need the right human capital to maximize their company's unique culture; to motivate and mentor employees who will enhance and optimize their employer's platforms. These skills can bring the higher performance results necessary to remain competitive in this changing market.

Although well intending, many companies introduce significant risk into their selection of executive talent.

Some companies rely on leaders still deeply rooted in the old finance company mentality, but finance companies no longer dominate nonprime lending. That leadership style no longer applies. Other companies short-circuit their talent acquisition through the selection path of least resistance; hiring individuals "they have known in the past," who are most likely not the high caliber performers in today's market. Still others are focused on function over performance.

This landscape, while firmly rooted in credit basics, has dramatically expanded over the past few years requiring broader resources and sophistication. With nonprime sales roaring, human capital issues are particularly important. Final tallies for 2004 show a whopping 55% increase in nonprime lending production, to some $608 billion - a nearly one-quarter share of the total residential market.

In this fast-growth and highly competitive environment, nonprime lenders require aggressive, targeted approaches to talent acquisition with well-oiled succession plans, in order to raise the performance bar. The industry leaders recognize high performance talent, those individuals who have made a practice of going "the extra mile," providing the stimulating challenges to attract and retain these individuals. Senior leadership inspires these individuals to drive greater performance and participate in the future success of the organization.

Notice this platform is not constricted with bureaucratic bottlenecks that delay critical decisions. (This by the way is the quickest method to derail the "extra-mile" spirit.) These successful firms are nimble, clear on core values and purpose, operate with high levels of integrity and have a strong sense of coaching success.

So, what makes for superior performance? As the industry becomes more commoditized, it's those high-performance athletes, and coaches that differentiate, whose results speak volumes. Like a pitcher on a baseball team, we look not only at the resume, but also specific performance criteria, such as fastball speed and earned-run average. We fit those criteria into the client's matrix, matching candidate performance aga-inst company needs.

Developmental issues such as employee migration and integration are especially crucial for companies responding to cultural changes prompted by ongoing growth or temporary contractions. Right fit leadership drives the success of these strategic maneuvers.

Today, companies' want leaders who can enhance the employees' inner drive and give them a "dashboard" that provides direction and ways to improve both themselves and the company.

In this environment, the "Employee Leadership 101" skill set is more important than ever and the best company leaders are multidimensional. Our clients prefer professionals who will enhance the work environment and mentor future leaders.

Because each company is unique, the right match of executive talent to enhance and leverage their platforms is critical to their future.

To effectively identify, target and deliver that talent requires a thorough diagnosis of the client's platform and needs as well as their structure, core values, and purpose to develop the concise target and effectively address selection.

Just as importantly we need to drill down with the client to understand superior performance, expectations, objectives, obstacles, priorities, impact and resources.

While no one can predict future performance, past performance is the closest probable indicator.

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