Support staff do everything a mortgage broker does … except sell.
As a broker support manager, I believe support staff are our number one resource, and upgrading their expertise is paramount to our success as a business. Young people, in particular, crave training and it’s a critical part of employee retention as well.
Training and professional development has made a huge difference to our efficiency and enhanced the ability of our support staff to handle more client files. The support team is also trained to overcome challenges without much involvement from brokers. In short, support staff can handle everything so brokers can reach more leads.
We believe in providing the right training from the induction – that’s where you create a foundation for the learning to come. In particular, we set expectations with our staff about what is expected behavior.
Our support staff in Nepal undergo two months of initial training where they attend lectures on the loan origination process, basic credit and legislation. Running through scenarios, having regular tests and undertaking research work on the Australian mortgage industry go hand in hand with this initial training.
As they gain more experience, our support team even has the opportunity to enrol in a Certificate IV in mortgage broking which we will fund.
You never stop learning because life never stops teaching, and being in the mortgage industry, support staff – like brokers – should never stop developing. There are always crucial updates to lending policies, procedures and systems that need to be understood and implemented in their daily routine.
We always want to be a step ahead on this, so we regularly organise webinars from different banks as well as our aggregator. In the past, we have undergone webinars on NextGen.Net’s ApplyOnline, document submission, construction loans, self-employed borrowers, compliance and spotting fraud, and identifying potential credit issues.
Our next plan is to have our support team attend broker training. This will make them engaged in the business and, when they are ready, we’ll be able to help them become brokers.
Training an offshore team is a big challenge, but it’s not an impossible one. Businesses that have taken on a similar model will face different roadblocks including cultural, technological and communication barriers. The best way to overcome this is to fly them to Australia and have them visit our lenders, paralegal teams and other associated parties. This is what Home Loan Experts has been doing.
Several members of our Nepalese support team have been exposed to the Australian mortgage industry first-hand and gotten to know our Australian team very well. Our Nepal team did a sweepstake for the Melbourne Cup last year and they loved it, even though they still don’t understand why Australia shuts down for a horse race!
Senior members of our broking team and two ex-bank credit officers recently visited Nepal to train our support team, helping them understand a file from the perspective of a credit assessor.
A brokerage that offshores its support function cannot ignore technology. We’ve trained our Nepal team to use Skype and Google Hangouts and we’ve even implemented technological improvements to ensure real-time collaboration.
It goes without saying that providing effective training to your support staff is by far the highest payoff activity for a brokerage to achieve long-term success.
Urika Shrestha is a broker support manager at Home Loan Experts.
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