Fire in the Belly Makes for a Fierce Competitor

Competing for loans against other sales people in the mortgage business gives Ben Anderson the same rush he was getting during his athletic career.

He was pursuing a livelihood as a professional baseball player, but in 2004 he came to a crossroads. Anderson realized that it would be a long road playing in the minor leagues before reaching the pinnacle, playing in the majors.

He had been drafted but signed for a minimal amount of money. Then there is the minor league life, which includes spending a lot of time on buses. Anderson realized he could spend many years in the minors, just to get “a cup of coffee” (a baseball term for spending a short time in the major leagues) at the big league level.

However, he knew someone very well who back then was making a lot of money originating mortgage loans. “So I switched from sports to mortgages. What really attracted me was the competitive environment that I could still get from sales that I couldn’t get from another field of work outside of athletics,” Anderson says.

He found that in sales he was vying against others looking to do the same thing. Anderson was not into finance but “I get that same kind of rush and energy from doing loans that I got from competing on the field.”

Currently he works as a producing sales manager at Mount Olympus Mortgage, Irvine, Calif., where he started working for in 2009.

On the Origination News 2012 Top 200 list published in April, Anderson was ranked 21st with volume of $180 million.

Virtually all of his production comes from California. Taking some initiative as rates have started to rise, Anderson has become licensed to do loans in 30 states. However, right now, refinancings remain the main portion of his production.

The San Francisco Bay Area, where he is originally from, has been great for his business. He knows the area well, property values are very high and borrowers are easier to qualify because the market has more W-2 workers than self-employed people. Still, “the whole state’s been good to me,” he adds.

Given California’s size, Anderson said most of his business is from “in-office sales. I can’t maximize my time in any other way.”

Anderson runs the gamut in what loan products he offers to his clients. When a client comes in for a mortgage, he does not see it as just the opportunity to take a single application.

“I treat each borrower as a business,” he says. For example he looks at what other properties they might own, and seeing if it’s possible to refinance them. Or even asking them if they are looking to purchase a property in the future; he will set them up with a Realtor that he knows.

Anderson is proactive in asking borrowers for referrals. “I’ve got to take every opportunity and completely maximize it and try and turn one loan into 10 if I can,” he declares.

Besides the word of mouth marketing and keeping the customer for life philosophy, Anderson also does direct mail every week as well.

“So I have got to constantly keep the water flowing, so to speak, so that we can fill the cup up every month. Even if rates go up, we are still going to market because if I can close one deal off of that marketing, it pays for itself. And I always close more than one deal off of a round of mail,” he says.

Mount Olympus is able to change its marketing strategy and emphasize appropriate offerings to match what the market is doing.

“When rates go up, I like to market more because my competition markets less because they want to cut their expenses. I don’t look at it that way,” Anderson continued.

The next phase of marketing for him and Mount Olympus is in the social media area; toes have been dipped into this water, but as he puts it, they have yet to try and drive a truck through it.

That is a part of the marketing plan for the fourth quarter of this year. As the market slows down, he realizes there had to be other means to find customers. And social media is where the customers are.

Anderson works with one processor and one assistant. His volume is down 10% so far in 2013, but he plans a push to make it up in the fourth quarter.

He is not satisfied that he is down even a single percentage point. His mentality to go forward and stay ahead ever year, and so he working on finding other ways to get deals done.

That goes back to his competitive nature. While not driven by having to earn a particular dollar amount, he adds that he knows that by closing loans the money is going to be there. He looks to outdo what he did the day before.

He arrives at his office at early as 3 a.m. Pacific time. The markets start to open on the East Coast and he is looking at the bond market and speaking to people to help make a decision on whether to lock loans or continue to float.

He has a pipeline of 500 active files, some of which have been on hold for as long as three months because of how rates have been moving.

Another reason for the early start is do those clerical tasks needed as part of originating a loan. The highest and best use of his time is being on the phone during the day speaking to his clients when they are awake, he says

And he does not make it an early day, because typically he leaves at around 7 or 8 p.m.

“My motto is originate, originate, originate. Even when rates go up, and I don’t have a rate that is going to help that client, I am not turning down that business.

“I am telling the client, very straight forward, 'at this point in time I can’t help you. Let’s get the application in the system and float the rate because rates come as a thief in the night. If they drop and I contract you, by the time we move forward we may miss that rate,’” he says.

So he has the application ready in the pipeline because when rates do come down again the client is ready for him to go forward. “If I don’t help them when rates go down, somebody is going to” and having the application ready to go forward helps him to keep those borrowers.

His advice to other originators is “to continue to originate and work through adversity because those that do will be very, very, very well compensated for it.”

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