The star power at our first-ever engage.talent summit was off the charts

HousingWire’s inaugural engage.talent event in Dallas last week gathered experts from across the country to share tactical insights on recruiting and hiring in the mortgage space.

The packed agenda featured 27 speakers representing a diverse group of lenders and servicers covering today’s most important talent topics.

The star power of the speakers is hard to overstate.

One of the highlights of the day was the panel on Recruiting and Retaining Top Originators, which featured some of the most successful originators in the country: Shant Banosian of Guaranteed Rate, Sean Johnson of loanDepot, and Jen Micklos of Movement Mortgage.

The session, moderated by Joel Epstein, host of the The bigJoel Show podcast, focused on what initially attracted them to their respective companies — where they each have long tenure — and what keeps them there.

The top producers related stories of what they appreciate about recruiters, and what kinds of approaches aren’t successful. All three related how they were cold-called several times every day by recruiters who hadn’t taken the time to know anything about them.

Banosian, for example, who closed 1,906 units and funded $914 million in 2019, regularly gets approached by recruiters promising to “double his income.”

“I ask them, ‘How are you going to do that?’” he laughed.

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The importance of understanding what’s important to candidates, making a personal connection and relationship-building were consistent themes throughout the day.

In a session on how company culture can impact recruiting and retention, the speakers — Haley Parker, area business development manager at Fairway Independent Mortgage, Arthur Matuszewski, vice president of talent at Better.com, and James Hecht, executive vice president, head of retail at Caliber Home Loans — explained which parts of their companies’ culture was most attractive to potential hires, and what perks made the most difference in keeping employees happy long-term.

For each company, providing cutting-edge technologies that support work-life balance was a key factor, even above salary and compensation.

Building bench strength was another theme of the event, as experts explained how to plan for long-term growth by building paths for leadership. A.R. Smith, cofounder and managing director of Adams and Smith Elite Consulting, outlined a strategy for identifying potential leaders early in their career and nurturing them so that you retain that hard-won experience.

The keynote address, delivered by Amy Volas, the founder and CEO of Avenue Talent Partners and Sales Hacker’s Most Dynamic Woman in Sales in 2019, stressed that while most companies focus their time, money and effort on the front end of recruiting, it’s retention that affects a company’s bottom line. Especially amid record-low unemployment, companies need to crack the code of what makes employees stay.  

“When you look at sales churn, you have to wonder why we work so hard to hire them but we’re OK with losing them,” Volas said. “It can kill your business.”

Low unemployment exacerbates one of the biggest challenges for mortgage companies looking to hire digital talent — how to successfully compete against giant brands like Apple, Google, and Facebook, especially in tech hubs like the Bay area, Denver and Austin.

Talent leaders Matt Turner, executive talent acquisition specialist at United Wholesale Mortgage, Ashley Burnstad, head of people at Roostify, and Randy Wheeler, managing director of talent acquisition at Charles Schwab shared insights into what works — and what doesn’t — when you’re competing against some of the best-known tech companies in the world. A streamlined hiring process is key for digital talent, who are usually juggling multiple options, and same-day offers are ideal.

A lively session on What Lenders Need Recruiters to Understand gave attendees the opportunity to hear directly from top mortgage leaders, who gave honest feedback on successful lender-recruiter communications. The session featured John Palmiotto, chief retail production officer at Guaranteed Rate, Steve Barker, market leader at Movement Mortgage, and Brian Covey, vice president of regional production at loanDepot.

The content-rich event also tackled issues such as, attracting top operations and fulfillment talent, hiring Millennials and how to structure LO Comp.

Marcus Cole, director of the Future Housing Leaders program at Fannie Mae, gave attendees actionable information about creating a path for a more diverse workforce, and Kristina Pool, partner and COO of The Middleton Advisory Group, discussed what it takes to retain women in top leadership.  

In the session on the Battle for Talent, Anthony Casa, chairman of AIME, Phil Treadwell, vice president of development and regional manager with Mason-McDuffie Mortgage, and Tom Middleton, managing partner at The Middleton Advisory Group, discussed their approach to recruiting and shared stories on how they landed especially important candidates.

During networking breaks throughout the day, as well during lunch and the cocktail hour, attendees were able to connect with peers and get face time with powerhouse speakers.

The combination of content and connection made HousingWire’s inaugural engage.talent summit an overwhelming success, and a can’t-miss event for the future.

If you missed out on the event live, HW+ members will get access to full session videos coming soon to our virtual summit! Sign up here.

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