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Trench Experience; Wartime In the Mortgage Industry


Prior to WWII, far too many Allied military leaders lacked combat experience or were simply way out of touch.

I am reading Goodbye Darkness about the war in the Pacific where the blunders were especially costly, and it’s what prompted this blog topic.

For example, the British and US military leaders knew the Japanese were going to attack both Singapore and Pearl Harbor.

But they not only did far too little, they actually left themselves in naively vulnerable formations that all but ensured brutal Japanese victories.

We all know how Pearl Harbor ended, and in Singapore a force of 30,000 Japanese soldiers forced the surrender of 80,000 British soldiers.

Allied leaders did not understand Japan’s fighting capacity or its ability to cross seemingly impenetrable terrain or vast distances over oceans.

Racism also played no small role (another defect that was quickly corrected by experience).


It is business wartime right now in the mortgage industry, as almost every major mortgage company is losing money by the millions and many will go belly up. People outside the industry have no idea how bad it is.

While many leaders believe the problem is simply too much capacity in a shrinking market, I am going to suggest that the problem also stems from too many managers lacking experience in the trenches.

I thought of this recently when I heard about a huge mortgage bank spending $80 million on new technology … that very few of its loan officers even use. That same company has lost tens of millions of dollars this year alone and is now an acquisition target.

Other companies are offering coaching, marketing, lead gen services and other “benefits” to their loan officers to help spur business, but these offerings too usually prove empty.

What loan officers need in this environment is: (1) low rates (now more than ever); (2) systems and technology that will help them close loans far more efficiently, and (3) something they can offer to agents that will truly help those agents (other than happy hours and boat rides).

The most effective managers in the industry are usually those who have recently originated or are still originating mortgages.

At JVM, we are entirely managed by people in the trenches. We don’t take any action without the complete understanding and express approval of our managers in the trenches, originating loans.

This is a primary reason why we remain lean, mean and far more efficient than our competitors.

Lastly – this is a reminder to every reader growing a business – as you get larger or more removed from your primary business activity, be sure your closest advisors are still engaged in that activity.

If you don’t, you will face your own Pearl Harbor like so many of our competitors are right now.

Jay Voorhees
Founder/Broker | JVM Lending
(925) 855-4491 | DRE# 01524255, NMLS# 335646