Some feel that Millennials are less interested in homeownership, while others believe that this market is slow to buy because of other factors, such as student debt. Either way, time marches on and Millennials will ultimately make up the majority among homebuyers, just as they will predominate in the lending workforce. This of course changes how mortgage lenders need to look at hiring practices and executive leadership, because the new generation differs significantly from those that came before.
Internet Savvy, But More
The Millennial generation has never known a time without complete Internet availability and immediate access to all the information it provides. They prefer to do most things via the Internet, including sharing ideas, looking for homes and shopping for loans. That said, they also want the hands-on presence of a live loan officer to explain details, requirements and everything else they need to know about owning a home. And they prefer dealing with people closer to their own age who are knowledgeable and completely trustworthy. Read: young, non-pushy, easygoing salespeople who are respectful, caring and who instill confidence among younger borrowers. An article about marketing to Millennials in Entrepreneur magazine put it well: “If you want to sell your product to a Millennial, you need to be part of the conversation that Millennials are having with each other. Providing content from creators that are Millennials themselves is a great way to be right there with the audience.”
The Mobile Device as an Appendage
Millennial mortgage loan officers (MLOs) are, like their peers, inexorably attached to their mobile devices. A recent survey noted that the overwhelming majority of Millennial respondents said that they were within arm’s reach of their mobile device more than 85 percent of the time, 24/7. They quite literally treat it as an appendage, and the Millennial MLOs are no different. They need an environment that is extremely mobile-friendly and that includes lending applications to attract borrowers, help them market effectively from anywhere, and that keep them non-surgically attached to their loan origination platform (and able to empower transactions) no matter where they are at any time of the day. The International Business Times noted that “One in five Millenials no longer uses a desktop computer to go online, relying exclusively on smartphones and tablets to get on the Internet,” citing a report from comScore. The same report noted that mobile Internet usage has skyrocketed over recent years among all Americans to surpass desktop computer access – so if you’re not mobile, you’re in real danger of becoming passé.
Money: Important But Not The Only Thing
Younger MLOs are of course interested in making money, but it’s not their sole (or even most dominant) career motivator or job satisfier. This group is far more idealistic than their parents’ generation in the sense that they tend to crave a more meaningful purpose and appreciate the opportunity to help make others’ lives better. Mortgage finance strikes some as the domain of the “1 Percenters,” but others view it as the means to make dreams come true. Companies that attract the best will create and sustain a culture with meaning and purpose that builds trust, that Millennials can identify with, embrace and take pride in advancing. Think of how this impacts leadership: a generation ago, MLOs jumped ship for a few basis points in compensation or a clever product or two that generated more business; with this new crop, that may not be the case. Similarly, Millennials embrace collaborative structures because they like contributing to the overall team’s success. As renowned business coach Tony Marbury said in his MSBCoach.com blog, “Millennials know that they are never alone in their endeavors and associate being a part of a team with winning. Leaders building highly effective teams would do well to learn from Millenials.”
Better Late Than Never
Millennials have been slower to arrive at homeownership than previous generations, but the reasons are not that hard to understand. The average student debt for graduating seniors today (a little over $35,000 for 2016 grads, per Money.com) would have bought a car in their parents’ day or a house for their grandparents. They have struggled with lower-paying entry level positions while dealing with higher prices for everything, especially rent. They came of age during a global recession, when prospects were pretty glum. Small wonder they have been slower to buy, but that is changing rapidly as they gather economic power. The lenders they deal with are more likely to be the ones that reflect their values, not the biggest institutions or the ones that advertise the most. The MLOs that succeed with Millennials will be people who are most like them rather than like their parents, so the profile for success in leading the new generation is evolving – rapidly.
Do You Have a Leadership Crisis in the Making?
You might if you aren’t thinking about leaders who can attract, manage and inspire the younger generation of MLOs. Does your culture support the new generation? These leaders require a support mechanism to attract and engage talent. In competitive markets, your culture and core ideology can significantly impact Millennial retention, performance and turnover.
Is there a gap in your succession planning? The selection process is different and the skillset, particularly in motivating, engaging and optimizing sales performance, has changed. Finding the best leaders requires extensive research, an ability to merchandise and accurately articulate your culture and core ideology to the right professionals, and tremendous amounts of time that most C-suite executives simply do not possess to identify and engage with those individuals.