Everything is Practice

“Everything is practice.” ~ Pele

A great blog title idea turns out to be a quotation from Pele; it still works though. “Everything is practice” is another mantra to strengthen your mind-set with. And it will need to be strong, as brokering can be a lonely, thankless and rejection-laden business on occasion. And by “on occasion” I mean at some point in just about each and every day.

When you have challenging moments, please repeat the words “Everything is practice,” and you will find they act as a long, deep breath of fresh air for your psyche. Every human interaction is just practice for the next human interaction. And if you feel like you blew it, this is OK; the fact that you are aware that you blew it is fantastic. From this you can learn how to adjust your process, phrasing, attitude and/or whatever else needs to be done to have things go better next time.

And there is always a next time. Within minutes of dealing with a client or referral source rejection, you will find that a fresh opportunity enters your life. You just need to be paying attention and be ready to act—the new and improved you.

Each time you are asked a question about what you do for a living, you are presented with an opportunity to refine your answers, to hone that script.

Practice Your Policies

Seize every opportunity to take a mortgage application—seize it. You may not think it will go anywhere, but that is you making assumptions. Make no assumptions until you have every field in the software filled out and a credit report pulled up to review. Only then can you truly answer the question “How much do I qualify for?”

More importantly, what are you practicing?

Cutting the process off before it begins? Or taking clients, and just as importantly yourself, through the entire process?

Never try to take a shortcut and do a back-of-the-napkin calculation. Adopt a policy that only allows you to answer that question with a complete mortgage application in the system—one with every single blank filled in. This is true and complete practice.

Power Dynamics

As newer Brokers, we often feel beholden to the client. We think we should not bother the clients with questions, with requests for documents, and that we should try to get things done in a fashion that makes it as easy as possible for the clients. We sometimes feel as if “they are the boss of us.” This is false. Such a mind-set often results in problems, both minor and major in nature.

Minor Problems

Annoying an underwriter with a tedious question about approving income with just a T4 is one instance. That is not going to happen, and you are now inconveniencing the underwriter with your request.

And your client will be annoyed when you come back to them repeating your original request, which you effectively misled the client to believe you could somehow get around.

Stick to your policies.

You are the licensed professional.

The client is not a mortgage professional.

You are the expert.

The client is not the mortgage expert.

The client is the client, an expert in something for sure—but not in mortgages.

Major Problems

Issues can arise when you allow the power dynamic to shift completely to the client’s side of the equation, letting them drive the bus and tell you how things are going to get done.

This can often happen when you are taking an application from somebody who strikes you as more important or powerful in life than yourself. It can happen for any number of reasons, be it age, personality, net worth, income, job title, social status or a healthy mix of more than a few of these things at once.

It is dangerous to allow any client to give you the feeling that he or she is doing you the favor of bringing you business.

You would be well served never to buy into what a client like this is selling. The awesome people do not need to push their awesomeness on you. And once again, if you start deviating from your policies and failing to push for a complete appraisal and trying to get an exception for a drive-by, or requesting an exemption on confirmation of net worth due to “privacy concerns,” you are once again on a slippery slope.

Too often clients believe you are simply a conduit to a great rate. You are more than a rate. The client does not know this yet. The client believes all he or she needs is a great rate, not a great Broker.

But to be a great Broker you need to have a complete profile in order to best advise them. The reality is that the client is lucky to have you, an unbiased independent expert, advising them.

When a client pushes back on providing information or documentation, you must stand firm. Each challenge is an opportunity for you to practice professionalism.

Maintain control of your emotions. Stay calm, cool and collected.

Explain that “the one with the gold makes the rules.”

More importantly, the client should feel that they are now in your care, and because you are the expert on this topic, you know what you need to get the job done for them.

If you could make it easier on the client, you would, but the process is the process. And efforts to “make it easier” will all too often have the exact opposite effect.

Maintaining control of some relationship power dynamics can be difficult, and is not always worth the time or mental strain. Sometimes you are better off finding a way to extricate yourself from the file gracefully.

You can do this either by assisting the client with their own lender in an advisory role, or by referring the client to another Broker who may be better suited to working with them. No doubt in the early years you will (understandably) be driven to cling to every single file as you would a life-preserver in the North Sea. And to be fair, in the early years, working these challenging files to the end is—you guessed it—great practice!

Practice Makes Perfect

So long as you are evolving, practice will bring you closer to perfection—but only if you are practicing correctly, mind you. Repeatedly doing things incorrectly simply creates mastery of imperfection. Adjust your practice with each experience.

Always be refining.

Always be looking for ways to improve your process—for ways to hone your language so that clients better understand you. Every single interaction you have throughout your day is an opportunity to become better at communication.

It is a series of thousands of little adjustments that move us closer to perfection. None of us will ever arrive there, but too many will cease pursuit far too early.

It’s the little things like using the word “correct” rather than “right.” This is an important language adjustment if you are piloting or co-piloting a rally car, for instance.

Reduction of slang, elimination of expletives and attention to detail when you speak are vital when communicating about what is the single-largest transaction of most people’s lives. Be calm, be measured in your cadence and be cool.

Every conversation you have in life is an opportunity to practice clear, concise, respectful communication—conversation with friends, family, service-industry workers, the guy in the seat next to you on the plane, the lady asking for spare change.

Be learning.

Be mindful.

Be practicing.