Retention LOs deserve extra R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Retention mortgage loan originators are the Rodney Dangerfields of the mortgage ecosystem: they work hard but they “get no respect.” As an industry, we often fail to recognize RMLOs for their unique skill sets, flexible attitudes, ability to close loans with minimal support staff and their value to investors seeking to monetize assets.

Some servicers use RMLOs solely to retain existing borrowers and protect the portfolios from runoff. But RMLOs also benefit investors seeking to monetize distressed real estate assets. For example, we have RMLOs who specialize in executing specialized asset monetization strategies, such as getting delinquent second mortgages to re-perform through refinancing. 

Here are five things to know about RMLOs:

RMLOs are typically located in a national call center. Central New Jersey is the Silicon Valley of retention call centers, but they can be located anywhere. A call center typically has at least 20 RMLOs. 

Like many consumer-direct operations, RMLOs quickly respond to inbound leads generated by AI, analytics, digital marketing and outbound telemarketing teams. Great RMLOs are multitaskers who jump from customer-to-customer instantaneously. 

Our typical RMLOs can talk to borrowers from around the country because they licensed in 40 or more states. 

Customer Base
RMLOs focus on existing borrowers, usually those identified by the marketing analytics team as being in a good position to cash out, remove mortgage insurance or benefit from a rate and term refinance. While that can include homebuyers ready to move up, right size or purchase a second home; it’s predominately borrowers in the market for a refinance. 

RMLOs need to be social chameleons to work with the variety of borrowers they talk to on an hourly basis. They communicate with borrowers from all over the country. They must transition smoothly and quickly from speaking to a teacher in Iowa to a farmer in California to a data analyst in Manhattan. 

The ability to establish confidence quickly with any borrower makes the difference between a successful interaction — one that results in a borrower continuing to do business with a lender — and one that prompts the borrower to look elsewhere for their loan needs. 

Because their clients are always contacted virtually (most often via phone), RMLOs are sometimes subjected to verbal aggression that an in-person originator might not be. Great RMLOs give clarity and understanding to unhappy borrowers. When they cannot please the borrower due to factors outside their control (like a credit turn-down), they don’t take the borrower’s reaction personally and are able to move on to the next call. 

All originators must know their company’s loan programs, regulatory compliance and how to use originations technology. RMLO training includes additional skills related to telesales — they manage between 15 to 50 incoming borrower calls a day — on top of staying in touch with customers in the pipeline.

RMLOs are trained to efficiently manage a large pipeline without a dedicated processor and turn a “no” into a “yes” during a phone conversation.

We also train RMLOs to handle specific portfolios that we sub-service for asset investors. That might require understanding complex qualification scenarios, for example, buying a home or refinancing after emerging from bankruptcy.

Processing queue 
RMLOs have a large queue of processors who will work on their loans. Many retention shops also assign underwriters to either branch or retention groups. 

They Deserve Respect
RMLOs deserve respect and recognition as a separate specialty in the mortgage process. Their unique abilities, resilient attitudes, and capacity to multitask are why they deliver outstanding results to servicers and investors who place portfolios with subservicers. 

These differences are not to take away from the importance and strength each type of originator brings. As an industry, we should appreciate all originators and recognize the value they bring to a company.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views, policy, or position of Planet Home Lending, LLC.

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