Four Tips For Communicating More Effectively with Your Branches

It’s no secret that most branch managers were (and may still be) high performing loan officers and because of this, the vast majority naturally tend to be hyper-focused on production goals when it comes to performance review time. However, despite its undoubted importance production is not the be-all, end-all performance measurement metric. Working and speaking with retail lenders from the very big, to the very small, the sentiment is unanimous: the longevity and true success of a branch are reliant on the management of both production and expenses. Although it is indeed part of the larger lender, a branch is a business and it operates as its own entity; the fact is a healthy business does not operate and make decisions based solely on production revenue alone. The best branch managers frequently delve into expenses in particular as they understand that some things can’t be fixed with more originations alone. They are constantly looking at things such as credit report fees, marketing costs, and concessions which can all have a big impact on a branch’s bottom line and ultimately their income. In fact, some of the biggest areas that affect a branch’s profitability are the costs of fee leakage and concessions associated with the loans, meaning expenses will continue to rise with the origination numbers.

A mortgage lender’s finance team must be cognizant of the fact that branch managers don’t necessarily have a deep knowledge of accounting or know how to interpret intricate financial documents. Sending them complex reports each month may not necessarily get the job done. So how do you communicate financials effectively with your branch managers?

  1. Make the information easy to access and easy to digest.
    • With so many working from home these days and email being the primary form of communication, there’s an absolutely real chance that your emails are getting lost in the shuffle. Should they be looking out and making sure they receive it? Of course! But as my grandfather says “shoulda, woulda, coulda.” Having the information easily accessible is the first step to having branch managers pay attention. If they don’t have to go searching for it, they’re more likely to look at it.
    • Furthermore, that information needs to be easily digestible as well. Clean reports that point out the most pertinent information will go much further than a big jumble of numbers. The use of graphs where appropriate will help catch the eye, but also providing the ability to easily drill into the numbers and answer more detailed questions is essential. Whether it’s a full P&L to your non-producing branch managers or a condensed financial report for the producing branch managers, having succinct, clean paths of information is indispensable.
  2. Supply branch managers with up to date information
    • If you are using some kind of tool, be it the Loan Vision Branch Portal or another, this is something that should be relatively easy. In many cases, soon after your month-end close is completed, branch financials are available. This means that branch managers are able to make decisions on numbers that are still relevant to them and not over a month old.
  3. Go through the information with them
    • While I understand this may be time-consuming, taking the time to go through the information with your branch managers will help them understand the data better and why it’s relevant to them. It’s not an activity that needs to be done every month; they should be able to grasp it after a few times, as they’ll know what to look for, and your finance team should only have to check in every so often once the branch manager has that understanding.
  4. Use financials as a success measuring tool.
    • This seems like both a no-brainer and something that many do already, whether it’s in the form of a monthly ranking system or a “business health check-in”. However, it’s still something worth noting. So much emphasis is put on production numbers and origination revenue that they are considered true measures of success, yet, as I mentioned above, they really aren’t.
    • Leveraging your branches’ financials as success measuring tools is important to not only give managers a look at the health of their business but to also show them the actual areas that need improvement and gives them a jumping-off point to achieve better profitability. On the reverse side, it can help highlight the areas that some branches are excelling, giving the opportunity to call out their specific successes.

All in all, just as your finance department watches the company’s bottom line, the branches’ bottom lines are just as important to a mortgage bank’s success. If you’d like to see how other Loan Vision users are leveraging the Branch Portal to communicate effectively with their branches, join Carl and me on November 3 for a discussion with Tricia Sobon of American Pacific Mortgage and Janet McClusky of Gold Star Mortgage Financial Group.

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