Attracting millennials and preparing for the rising rate environment are issues on the minds of mortgage executives where staffing is concerned.

Sixty percent of executives said that millennial talent acquisition was among their top priorities, representing the most common trend found in a survey mortgage industry leadership conducted by mortgage hiring firm Rick Glass Executive Search. But hiring within this demographic can pose some challenges.

"This young group has a somewhat different set of priorities and a global view that differs from previous generations," the hiring firm's founder Rick Glass said in a news release Friday. "To recruit them effectively, C-level executives need leaders who can identify the top millennial prospects and relate to them in a way that brings out their best."

The survey also asked executives to share their strategies for hiring at a time when interest rates are the rise, making the market more purchase-friendly. Talent acquisition was the top strategy, cited by 60% of respondents, followed by leadership development, employee retention and leadership experience with mergers and acquisitions.

M&A talent, in particular, will become attractive as more small- and mid-sized lenders find themselves with little cash on hand to fund purchase originations, making them a desirable target for acquisitions.

"Companies will be competing for the best origination talent and that means they must be able to merchandise and deliver a meaningful value proposition while finding the right leadership to attract, manage and retain those high performers,” Glass said.

One challenge executives cited that Glass called surprising was that 78% of respondents expressed concerns regarding how their staff took responsibility for performance results. This indicates "a cultural resistance from using traditional business metrics to identify performance success,” Glass said.

As such, it's unsurprising that cultural alignment tied for second among the most critical recruitment challenges the survey identified. Along with the ability to be innovative, these two challenges were mentioned by 56% of survey-takers. The top challenge named was assessing a candidate's potential, with 67% of executives. Past performance and scale rounded out the top five.

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