Brenda Colter: Branch Advocacy Beyond Onboarding is Just the First Step

Brenda Colter is Director of Branch Advocacy with Planet Home Lending, Meriden, Conn.

Brenda Colter

Joining a new company can be stressful and exciting all at the same time. After a mortgage loan originator gets their new equipment and completes training, the excitement might wear off, but the need for explanations, connections and support remains.

That’s why we need branch advocates who step in and support branches after onboarding concludes. A branch advocate is an expert on how the company works. They are a single point of contact who collaborates with every department to remove obstacles, provide quick resolutions to requests and help with future growth opportunities.

Here are six reasons why branch advocates are beneficial in employee retention:

  1. They build trust and rapport.

Branch advocates are connectors. And as they make connections, they ensure all the departments that come into contact with new originators deliver great internal customer service.

For example, a branch advocate can direct a new employee to a specific person to help with renewing a license. If the interaction between the two is favorable, the new employee gets what they need. They might go on to share that experience inside and outside the company. If they share their positive experience on social media that helps market and brand your company further.

2. Personal communication, not intense training, creates a deeper bond with the company.

It’s tough to remember all the information a new originator hears and sees during intense onboarding training. People (correctly) worry they might not retain all of the information presented.

While we all want new employees to understand systems and procedures, having a point of contact who can answer questions after training is crucial. It’s also calming to know help will be around for anyone who cannot remember or digest all the information presented during marathon training sessions.

3. Silence isn’t proof that everything is good.

When a new originator does not reach out for information after onboarding, that is not a sign that they received and understood all the information they needed. Busy people and quiet people may not reach out for the help they need. And a new employee may not even know how to find the person who can best answer a question or resolve an issue.

A branch advocate typically makes it a special point to reach out to all new originators regularly to ensure they have what they need to be successful. And no matter what the issue or question, they know the answer – or can tell you who does.

4. They build relationships.

Great communication is a two-way street. If a company only communicates by responding when employees reach out, it’s unlikely to engage employees.

When there is a branch advocate seeking feedback, relationships grow. The company finds out what the branch manager or originator needs to add value to their market. As they make connections and learn from other employees, new employees gain a better understanding of where the fit in the  ecosystem now and how they can contribute in the future

5. They build careers and companies.

A great branch advocate continues to mentor employees. They are the ones people come to when they have big questions like, “What is the next step in advancing my career here?” or “What steps should I take to open another office?”

It makes sense that the person who helps people take root and thrive at a company will also be the one they turn to for advice when they’re ready to branch out and advance their careers.

6. They create happiness.

You can measure how people feel by their level of success. If a person feels valued and appreciated, their production will show it. While a branch advocate is not solely responsible for everyone’s growth and happiness, the work they do support both those things.

The active participation of a branch advocate after employees are onboarded will make a world of difference to new employees and to companies who use them. Initial onboarding creates a great transition. Branch advocacy creates lasting connections, engagement and growth.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views, policy or position of Planet Home Lending LLC.

(Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect policy of the Mortgage Bankers Association, nor do they connote an MBA endorsement of a specific company, product or service. MBA NewsLink welcomes your submissions. Inquiries can be sent to Mike Sorohan, editor, at msorohan@mba.orgor Michael Tucker, editorial manager, at