What Does Today’s Mortgage Professional Look Like?


Mirror, mirror, on the wall, show us a reflection of who we are.

American homebuyers are getting older. The typical first-time homebuyer is now 36, while the repeat buyer’s age climbed to 59 last year.

So what about the mortgage professionals that cater to these consumers? Are they older, industry veterans, or are they young and eager businessmen and women inspired to get into their career paths by the pandemic housing boom?

Based on information from Zippia, a career planning site, the average mortgage broker is 44 years old, and 67.5% of brokers are male.

The average mortgage originator is also 44 years old. Zippia estimates that 56.2% are men.

Beth Rosenbaum, principal of WOSG, a mortgage recruitment firm, sees people with more experience having success in today’s market.

“On the sales side, I think the current mortgage professional is very much a veteran of the industry; as most salespeople aren’t used to the ebbs and flows of the industry — especially being straight commission — nor do newer industry folks likely have the savings to withstand the current drought,” Rosenbaum told The Mortgage Note.

Flipping the script, on the operations side, she continued, “I think you either have a veteran who’s wearing a lot of hats; or folks who are new to the industry and aren’t commanding much money.”

Jeffrey Schummer, vice president of education business development at the Mortgage Bankers Association, agrees professionals are relatively older, which he attributes to current industry conditions.

“Generally speaking, given the market environment and higher interest rate environment, we’re going through a transition, which is slowing down hiring,” Schummer said.

Those currently in the market are tenured, with proven track records in their respective areas, he explained. “They just want to sharpen their capabilities.”

The industry has shifted in the past two decades, according to Stefan Risko, managing consultant for Korn Ferry.

Prior to joining Korn Ferry, Risko worked at Rocket Mortgage. There he grew the organization from about 5,000 team members to over 22,000 before his exit, according to his bio.

Risko told The Mortgage Note that the terrain’s “changed quite a bit over the last 20 years. I think if you went back to the 90s, your mortgage professional had the four-year degree, and probably studied finance or accounting. They wrote your mortgages.”

But by the mid-2000s, that changed considerably, he continued.

“People were able to get into the field and didn’t really need a degree. There were companies offering training and licensing. And once Dodd-Frank took hold after the financial crisis, these bigger companies continued to build out training programs because rates were so low and there was such a demand for mortgages and refinances,” Risko said.

Over the course of the pandemic – “and even right before,” he continued, “I think we saw a lot of people starting to leave the larger institutions. They learned from them, so they understood how to do and generate business, and get leads.”

Those professionals started opening smaller broker shops, Risko said.

Are certain personality types more likely to join the industry?

“It depends upon the segment of the business,” Schummer said. “If you’re a production person; an origination person, you’re going to be much more the sales kind of individual; more of an extroverted person who’s had maybe background in, in some other industries when it relates to business development and sales.”

Regardless of personal traits, Schummer and Risko said most people don’t grow up dreaming of becoming a mortgage professional.

“I don’t think they ever planned to be in the mortgage business,” Schummer said. “You kind of fall into it through people that you know, or circumstances and then begin to build your career.”

Risko said, “From my decade of recruiting in that space, I couldn’t really tell you of a single person that I’ve ever met — and I’ve met thousands of loan originators — who grew up and said, ‘I want to be a mortgage loan officer.’”

Risko thinks anyone who wants to get into the field needs to be dedicated and doing it for the right reasons.

“There’s still a lot of people in the industry who are doing quite well, but they’re in the business for the right reasons: to provide a good service and experience,” he said.

Who will be part of the next generation of industry leaders?

Rosenbaum thinks all organizations see a need for younger people to enter the field.

“A lot of people in mortgage banking are retiring or will be in the next 10 to 15 years. The trick is to find a company willing to train and mentor. It can be a really rewarding, lucrative career if you find the right fit,” Rosenbaum said.

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