A headline caught my eye recently: “25 Dying Professions You Should Avoid.”
Was it click bait? Maybe, but I have three daughters, which keeps me highly focused on what the future will look like for them. So, I clicked.
On that list of dying professions? Mortgage broker. Now the article really had my attention.
As someone who has devoted his entire career to lending, I’m the first to admit disruptive technology is having a major impact on all aspects of financial services, lending included. But is it really killing off the mortgage broker?
I thought for a minute about what I’d tell my own daughters if they asked about a career in lending. Would I steer them away from a profession on its way to extinction?
Ultimately, I decided I would not. And that’s because the mortgage broker profession is very much alive, and in fact, thriving. Here are four reasons why.
1. Technology is Driving Efficiency Like Never Before.
No doubt, the role of all loan officers, mortgage or otherwise, will look a lot different in the future than it has in the past – or even looks today. Those in the mortgage profession will find technology enabling them to be highly efficient and productive, significantly streamlining time-intensive and cumbersome origination and underwriting processes. As a result, the capacity of each officer’s loan volume will dramatically increase. New ways to synthesize and analyze data will reduce credit losses, fraud and overall risk, freeing up mortgage professionals for other, more borrower-centric, consultative work.
2. Humans Will Oversee, not Succumb to, Automation.
Many industries have been dramatically impacted by automation. Surgeons now operate alongside robots; restaurant servers work in tandem with tablets to take orders and payment; the LoweBot helps DIYers find materials in the home improvement giant’s brick-and-mortar stores. Coming soon, an entirely new generation of “white collar” robots will deliver automation to a wide swath of financial products and services, including mortgage lending. Compiling, entering and verifying data, ordering services, processing transactions and creating workflows are all tasks well-suited to robotic process automation. This is a good thing.
A recent report from PwC predicted that while 38% of jobs in the U.S. are susceptible to automation, those jobs will change, not disappear: “… similar to a manufacturer’s production line, there are many points along the process where robots and humans can and should work in tandem toward a common goal, with each focusing on the specific areas where they can provide the most value.”
The good news for humans is that labor-intensive manual processes will become a relic of the past. In turn, more resources will be dedicated to collecting and synthesizing data, receiving more qualified leads driven by analytics and developing a wider spectrum of more customized products.
3. Mortgage Officers Double as Financial Quarterbacks.
Versatility will be a skill that future mortgage officers will surely need on their resumes. The competition for borrower business will no longer hinge on rates alone. Speed, convenience and overall experience will attract new business. Mortgage officers will become central financial services hubs, offering tailored mixes of insurance, investment and deposit products that streamline the myriad contacts and conversations consumers need to make major financial decisions. To thrive in the industry, mortgage pros will need a range of expertise and training. Layered on top of data analytics and cognitive platforms, this expertise will be that “human in the loop” on which generations of borrowers (and regulators) will insist for decades.
Financial consumers are increasingly looking for ways to free up time in a complex and busy world. Mortgage officers will be well-served to harness their own time saved by automation and technology to find new ways to deliver the ultimate in convenient, borrower-centric experiences. This plays to the strengths of relationship-driven credit unions that read the trends and take these concepts to the next level.
4. Humanness is what makes great lenders.
Technology won’t replace humans; it will amplify what it means to be uniquely human. Mortgage brokers and others in the lending profession should welcome innovations that allow them to better automate data and process-intensive tasks. By focusing more on relationships, they will uncover the qualities that make them, and their borrowers, uniquely human. And, they’ll have the time to discover new possibilities to mobilize these qualities for the achievement of richer financial goals.
Robotics, artificial intelligence, quantum computing … these are simply tools allowing humans to do their jobs, follow their passions and live their lives better. Considering the vast changes they will bring can be unsettling. But if we’ve learned anything from history, it’s that you can’t stop progress. I’d tell my daughters not to fear it – but to embrace change, learn and adapt. If my wife and I are doing our job, they will always find a way to add value.
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