Learning and Development is the Flywheel of Progress

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This blog is written by Dawn Elmore. Dawn has nearly 20 years in the mortgage industry and is accomplished in leading large scale, dynamic operations with a focus on driving enhanced performance and driving an engaged workforce.

In engineering, a flywheel creates kinetic energy that can amplify the power created by a motor.  For example, in an automobile, the flywheel provides energy for the compression stroke of the pistons while moderating fluctuations in engine speed. In other words, a flywheel keeps things humming.

At Sourcepoint, we believe that learning and development is the flywheel for business success. That is, continual investment in the development of employees is a major factor in growth and brand distinction. It provides momentum that drives a company forward. If you, as an employee or an enterprise, are not moving forward, you are stagnant and likely to be displaced in your industry. Careers in mortgage lending thrive when they are nourished with knowledge.

We believe that innovation requires inspiration, the kind you foster through learning and personal development, and through collaboration with peers and clients.  Inspiration provides us the nourishment to envision new ways to complete tasks, employ resources, and improve performance by looking beyond the status quo. Learning and development create virtual kinetic energy to power creativity. We develop a perspective that may otherwise be mired in the status quo.

It is easy—and all too common—to focus on the tasks at hand and not challenge traditional business practices, behavior that stymies careers in the mortgage industry. Learning and development opens our eyes and enables us to adopt new perspectives; for example, viewing a manufacturing process from a financial perspective, or with knowledge of new technology. We become inspired to ask ourselves “what if” instead of “or what.”

We are fortunate to operate in an industry as strong as mortgage finance, even in this uncertain global economy. Many companies in this space are starving for talent, people who can contribute to reformulating business processes to reduce risk, improve financial performance, or enable a better customer experience.  Industry professionals who can demonstrate a commitment to learning and development and speak to success stories they fostered or participated in are at a distinct advantage.

Domain knowledge is useful, but It is not enough to thrive in today’s mortgage industry. One must not only understand how the mortgage finance industry currently functions; you must also envision how people, processes, and technology can be improved to evolve “as is” practices. A perspective on how other industries, like healthcare, publishing, or transportation function adds value, as there are parallels that can inspire improvements.

Technology is an obvious enabler to industry and process transformation. We see Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning as important to process automation. Blockchain technology holds promise for its ability to enable inviolable transactions and lower fraud risk. Robotic Process Automation can eliminate production bottlenecks and engender confidence in accuracy and integrity.

Even more compelling are potential new business models that disintermediate rote tasks, lower selling costs, and optimize skilled and scarce labor.  The most transformative change in industries today is not a function of implementing new technology; rather, it is in reinventing the business model. Controlling demand for a service is much more valuable than controlling its supply. Companies such as Google, Expedia, and Zillow have commoditized long-standing brands by providing a point-of-discovery application that provides choice and convenience.

Mortgage finance is an industry rich with opportunities for improvement.  It is sufficiently complex and regulated that it promotes bottlenecks. Insightful professionals can imagine how to remove impediments and logjams that add time and cost to home financing. Re-inventing home financing is also a noble cause: buying and financing a home is one of life’s most important decisions—and can often be the most stressful one. Behind every mortgage loan is a consumer making a major financial decision.

People who are serious about pursuing mortgage careers are eager to embrace a challenge. They appreciate the sense of fulfillment that accompanies invention, and the sense of pride, however momentary, in having produced a breakthrough. They reinvent themselves by investing in learning and development, interacting with peers and associates, and staying current on business models and practices in other industries. They are curious and have fomented an appetite for discovery. They are restless and continuously challenge themselves to view their world using a new perspective. They have specific learning objectives, and they address skills gaps.

As you navigate your career path or change jobs in the mortgage industry, ask yourself if you want to work in an environment that is supercharged with imagination and encourages invention.  Look for evidence that your prospective employer has a learning strategy to advance the enterprise. Discover what employee training programs they provide as learning methods that are relevant to the business. Understand how they may support your pursuit of higher learning using online courses or in-classroom training.  And look for evidence that individuals who commit to talent development advance professionally.

These are the attributes of companies that advance by investing in their people and fostering growth through individual development. Certainly, Sourcepoint promotes that in its global workforce with ongoing training promoting new skills.

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