So we have talked alot about the concept of raising the level of professionalism in our channel. So the obvious question is “What exactly does professionalism look like?” This is an important question and one that I think we really need to take a hard look at. Professionalism means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. How we define professionalism will ultimately effect how we go about becoming ‘more’ professional.
Businessdictionary.com defines the word professional as:
1. Person formally certified by a professional body of belonging to a specific profession by virtue of having completed a required course of studies and/or practice. And whose competence can usually be measured against an established set of standards.
2. Person who has achieved an acclaimed level of proficiency in a calling or trade.
I found another definition that I think I like better:
“Meticulous adherence to undeviating courtesy, honesty and responsibility in one’s dealings with customers and associates, plus a level of excellence that goes over and above the commercial considerations and legal requirements”
What traits, characteristics and skills make up a professional mortgage broker? Below is a list of some of the characteristics that I believe are required to be a Professional in our field.
1) Expertise: You have to be good at what you do. (Book Smarts)
2) Practical Skill: Knowledge is only part of the equation, you need also to know how to utilize that knowledge. (Street Smarts)
3) Commitment: In order to gain the knowledge and skill required in our profession you need to be committed. Full-time.
4) A high standard of professional ethics, honesty, integrity, behavior and work activities while carrying out our profession
5) Respectful interaction with colleagues and peers
6) The ability to walk away. Knowing when a deal can’t/shouldn’t be done
7) Giving back: Either to the industry, your community or both
Part of the problem we have is how do we measure professionalism? It is one thing to be able to define it with words such as Integrity, Honesty, Ethics, etc. but how do we actually measure how professional one is? Assuming we can agree on the definition, we also need to agree on the measurement. What are the metrics around measuring professionalism. This one is a tougher question and one I am not sure I have the answer for. Here are a few of the tangible things that I believe can help us measure professionalism.
3) Origination Volume
4) Industry reputation / professional references
5) Consumer reputation / customer references
Things like Integrity and Ethics are much more difficult to quantify. I sat through a CAAMP ethics course where one of the participants openly conceded in a case study that they would knowingly omit information from an application because in their view it was a ‘Strong application’. Obviously their interpretation of ethics and integrity was substantially different from mine.
So here is my thought. Let’s define professionalism, put some real metrics or measurements behind it, agree to it as an industry and not employ anyone that does not meet those standards. It seems fairly simple. The top 10 Brokerage companies make up 80-90% of the total origination volume. If those 10 agreed on a professional standard and held each other accountable to maintaining that standard, then we would remove a large part of the problem we are seeing in our channel.
I realize that this is a bit of an oversimplification but I believe it can be done. It all starts with defining professionalism and then setting the measure. I would love to hear your thoughts on both the definition and the measurement. On Tuesday October 11, 2011 you can join us for a tweetchat discussing this topic. For details visit Scott Dawson’s post here.
Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.