Garth Graham is a partner with Stratmor Group and has more than 25 years of mortgage experience.
Garth Graham is a partner with Stratmor Group and has more than 25 years of mortgage experience.

I've been working the spring conference circuit over the last several weeks and enjoying some great conversations with some of the industry's top executives. Our industry seems to get the fact that getting together and sharing information and experiences with each other enables us to be more well-rounded executives. We also like cocktail hour, and sharing our frustrations and challenges. After all, misery loves company, and liquid anesthesia dulls all pain.

However, we need to make this culture of constant learning part of every employee's experience, not just top executives and front-line salespeople. In fact, as I write this blog, we have clients whose head sales executives are at Mastermind in Vegas, while the Mortgage Bankers Association's Chairman's conference is only days away, all while our secondary executives are still talking about this year's shindig in NYC at MBA Secondary. But we don't always do a very good job of sharing the love with the operations folks, and that's a shame.

We owe it to our companies to make sure that the ops people also get the chance to get out to events and workshops that will keep them informed and updated on new industry requirements. In fact, it's about to become more important than ever.

By now, you've probably read all of the TRID-related news you can stomach. But let us pretend for a minute that we have a couple hundred lenders together to compare notes about TRID readiness. In fact, Stratmor recently completed a survey of over 100 lenders about the Integrated Disclosures. What we found was somewhat troubling and you can bet that the fine folks in operations are going to have to deal with it.

While most lenders appear to be on track to meet the Aug. 1 deadline, many requirements have not even been considered by an alarmingly high proportion of lenders. In fact, less than 20% of lenders knew exactly who was going to generate the disclosure documents. Roughly 1 in 4 lenders knew exactly when the closing disclosure was going to be issued, or who was handling the post-closing review. Only a third of lenders had document post-closing repair procedures, and less than half of the lenders have scripting for loan originators and fulfillment personnel.

Guess who is going to be responsible for either providing the answers to these questions or implementing the decisions that the company's top executives or outside consultants make? Operations folks. And they are going to be scrambling to get it done.

The operations people are in a tough spot here. At the same time, they are handed a pile of loan files and instructed to get them underwritten, approved and closed by month's end, they are also responsible for post-close quality assurance procedures aimed at identifying anything that went wrong so they can come up with solutions to those problems so they don't happen again. And now, they are being asked to simultaneously figure out how to deal with TRID changes.

I'm not saying they can't do it. I've known plenty of ops folks over the years and they know how to work under pressure -— because they're pretty much always under pressure. All I'm saying is that we need to show them some love once in a while and get them out where they can network with other operations managers and learn from each other's experiences. This is one great way to do that.

So over the next couple of columns, I want to talk about operations. I'll talk about the latest thinking on how they are managing their businesses. This is how they manage to get the document out on-time, hit the month end closings, and figure out when to hire another government underwriter. Then I'll talk about what we're learning in regard to new ways to change their businesses. You see, the challenge for operations managers is that they are asked to do both — to manage the business, and change the business at the same time. And there seems to be more and more changes that are needed, with TRID being just the latest example.

In the meantime, reach out to me if you have a great story or just want to share some love with your operations department. You might provide the example I'm looking for to work into the next post.

Now, I'm off to another cocktail reception, er, industry networking opportunity.

Garth Graham is a partner with Stratmor Group and has over 25 years of mortgage experience.