I distinctly remember the day. It was Friday afternoon in December. I was still at work packing boxes for our upcoming move. That Monday, we were moving out of the small starter office I opened in Teaneck to a new space that was more than quadruple in size. Most employees already had their desk belongings packed and boxed, ready for the trucks. I got a call from one of my top producing loan officers whose desk I notice was entirely bare. His voice was low. His tone was weak.
He began, “I am not planning on moving with you guys on Monday.” I asked if everything was okay, not understanding the context of his words. After a few moments, it became clear – he wasn’t planning on moving offices because he was planning on moving mortgage companies. He had accepted a job with another company and was calling to break the news to me. I recall experiencing every emotion humanly possible on that call.
I was surprised, as this was a complete shock to me. People had left the company before, but I often had a good intuition about who had one foot out the door. I was nervous and worried about my expenses, as I was taking on a new massive office and lease, and he was one of my top producing loan officers. I was angry, remembering how I took him into the company when he had no job or career path and trained him from the ground level. I was mad at myself for being completely out of touch not seeing any signs about this.
He acknowledged that his decision to leave was a bit rash, but he was aggressively recruited by another company that offered a significantly higher commission than what he was getting from me. When I asked why he didn’t speak to me about it first, he admitted that he should have, but it was too late now. He was so enamored by the notion of being poached by a competitor that he didn’t realize their pressure tactics for him to make a quick decision was so that he didn’t have time to think about it or discuss it with me.
I was thinking about this incident in my life as I was manning the table at the recent Project Ezrah Career Fair. Executive Director Rachel Krich and Director of Employment Jeff Mendelson coordinated a tremendously successful Job Fair. Jeff has been a wonderful friend and resource to me over the years, as I have filled many open positions with his guidance and support. When the opportunity came up to participate in the fair, I didn’t hesitate at all. Even if I couldn’t find someone to suit our open positions, I would be able to give back to Project Ezrah and help job candidates in any way possible.
The doors opened, and potential candidates began making their rounds. The stories from those standing across the
table from me varied drastically. Some had been let go because of Covid; others terminated unrelated to the economy; many were looking for new opportunities, and some were simply not happy where they were. My dialogue changed with each person as I tried to better understand what was important - to them - in seeking new employment. To many, I emphasized that they should be looking for a career that will satisfy their short-term and long-term needs. I noted that by “needs,” I was talking about financial, emotional, personal, and professional. I hope a few of them took my advice to heart.
I wanted to finish the story about the loan officer who left me a day before my big move... I had heard from another employee that he wasn’t doing well at the new place. I communicated that he should always feel comfortable reaching out to me if he wanted to talk. He was grateful and appreciative that I did, and immediately called me. He told me that he wasn’t happy at all and wasn’t doing much business there. He said, “even at a higher commission split, 0x99% is still zero.” He realized that regardless of how much they were willing to pay him, if he wasn’t happy, and if the efforts to get loans closed were so traumatic – a higher commission wasn’t really more money. In the end, he came back to work for me and quickly ramped up his business for many successful years. That was just another experience that helped shape my approach to business. I personalize my guidance to the person in front of me and do not broadly put everyone in the same grouping.
I often feel the same way when a client chooses to work with someone else because they have the misconception that they are saving money there. It is usually not the case, but most don’t realize that until it’s too late. Indeed, most do not call me back, fearing I will say, “I told you so!” Nevertheless, I keep doing what I do, knowing that those who choose me will, in fact, get “the best deal.” The lesson is, the grass is always greener, where you water it and tend to it.
Shout out and happy birthday to Tzippy Dearson, Arthur Gutman, Yehuda Hyman, Micah Kaufman, Nurit Klayman, Robert Khoury, Eric Mark, Yoel Samuel, and Roniel Weinberg
Shmuel Shayowitz (NMLS#19871) is President and Chief Lending Officer at Approved Funding, a privately held local mortgage banker and direct lender. Approved funding is a mortgage company offering competitive interest rates as well as specialty niche programs on all types of Residential and Commercial properties. Shmuel has over 20 years of industry experience, including licenses and certifications as a certified mortgage underwriter, residential review appraiser, licensed real estate agent, and direct FHA specialized underwriter. He can be reached via email at [email protected]