Everyone knows about mortgage lenders from their ads and websites, but what about their classrooms and courses? Do educational differences impact borrowers, loan officers and even other lenders?
"You bet," said Lori Grigg, executive vice president of human resources with Carrington Mortgage Holdings, LLC. "The lending system today is completely different from the system we had in place just a few years ago. There are now thousands of pages of new rules and regulations -- and more keep coming. In the same way that you want a doctor or lawyer with the best possible background, borrowers also want lending professionals who are well-trained and knowledgeable with regards to current regulations."
In fact, Carrington is investing in education. In a one-year period, Carrington professionals completed more than 12,000 compliance classes in their Learning Management System, which is named the Carrington Education Portal. According to Elearning! Magazine, the Carrington group of real estate and mortgage companies is a Learning!100 award winner, meaning it is among the top 100 organizations worldwide in terms of "learning culture, innovation or collaboration that drives performance." This is the third national education award won by Carrington.
The company's Education Portal is so advanced that in 2012 Carrington became the first mortgage company to win recognition during the prestigious SkillSoft Perspectives Awards. The Educational Portal delivers targeted courses and classes to individual associates. Carrington’s breadth of classes are kept up-to-date as standards change and are delivered to associates through the Education Portal.
Carrington Mortgage is one of 19 related residential real estate and mortgage companies that operate under the Carrington banner. This means that a full-time staff is available to maintain education systems under the direction of Alysia Vrolyk, the vice president of Learning and Development with Carrington Mortgage Holdings, LLC.
"We have an interactive educational system in place that responds to the needs of individual users," said Vrolyk. "We use email, surveys and performance prizes to maximize system activity. We actually have 'L&D Gurus' on hand to answer questions and provide high-touch service and improve the user experience.”
Vrolyk continued, "Carrington Mortgage Services Mortgage Lending Division likes the Education Portal because it allows them to track the educational activities of their loan officers and use such data for compliance and annual performance reviews."
Better Lenders, More Loan Options
At first, it might seem as though professional training is far removed from loan applications and mortgage closings, but that's not the case.
"In any profession you can do the bare minimum to enter a field and maintain your license," said Grigg. "However, we think borrowers do better when working with loan professionals who have access to advanced training. The benefit shows up when a borrower can be qualified for financing within a new rule or standard that another lender might not understand. In effect, better training means loan officers, underwriters and others in the lending process can be more productive.”
"For instance, many individuals with good credit have been unable to re-enter the housing market because they ran into hard times and faced a foreclosure or short sale. Many loan programs exclude such borrowers from new financing for as long as seven years. Now, however, there's a new program introduced by HUD that can help qualified individuals, that experienced a foreclosure, short sale or bankruptcy, get a new mortgage in as little as 12 months. If you're a borrower you want to be sure your lender knows about such programs, is educated on the qualifications required for the borrower and can introduce them to you."
Gen Y and the Google Generation
So how does professional education work for lenders?
Carrington Mortgage Services is active in more than 40 states and each jurisdiction has its own way to license mortgage professionals; generally this means a set number of hours to first obtain a license and then additional training in the form of continuing education classes and seminars. The classes themselves can include traditional classroom instruction, webinars, online courses with an instructor and online self-study courses.
"A choice of classroom options and scheduling flexibility is very important in today's workplace," said Vrolyk. "It's all part of the social transition we are seeing with Gen Y (those born after 1980 and into the 1990s) and Generation C (people born after 1993, digital natives who are exceptionally tech-savvy). Individuals in these age groups tend to regard computer learning as natural and normal, something as common as email and Twitter. Our Education Portal provides “just-in-time” learning 24 hours a day. When our associates need information, it is easily accessible from anywhere there is internet access. Flexibility is important because it allows associates to mix work, personal time and educational needs in the way that best meets their schedules and interests."
Wall Street Reform
Under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, mortgage lenders must meet a large number of compliance standards, regulations designed to assure that borrowers have access to a wide range of financing options and that mortgage investors can buy loans from U.S. lenders that meet required benchmarks.
"Many of the new lending standards are overseen by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau," said Grigg. "As part of its compliance system, the CFPB requires lenders to maintain extensive and ongoing educational programs. We're happy to do this because we think borrowers and investors will have more confidence in the mortgage origination as a result. With better training we can work to reduce investor risk while helping borrowers get the financing they want."
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