Veronica Nguyen of BeSmartee: Crafting a Strategy After a Bloody Year
Veronica Nguyen is Co-Founder and Executive Vice President of BeWSmartee, Huntington Beach, Calif. She previously served as Co-Founder and Director of Inhouse Inc. before co-founding BeSmartee in 2012. She was a 2020 HousingWire Woman of Influence Awward winner and earned a 2021 Mortgage Star Award from Mortgage Women Magazine.
As the year comes to an end, we think about next year’s objectives and reflect on how we’ve been feeling about the market decline.
With the hike of interest rates, and the war in Ukraine, comes a lot of feelings of uncertainty in the mortgage industry. To be more specific, the layoffs across the entire mortgage ecosystem and the removal of mortgage products by lenders can feel a lot like the 2008 mortgage crisis.
But, it is not nearly as bad as it was in 2008. This time around borrowers are not losing their homes. Although, this could change overnight as more real estate companies start to feel the downturn and more mortgage companies go out of business or merge with other players.
How Do You Prepare for 2023?
The approach that worked in the past will not work today, and executives will need to come together to form a flexible approach that meets the demand of today and tomorrow.
While no one has a magic ball that can tell us when the market will pick up again, it’s a good idea for executives at financial institutions to rethink and consider what a realistic strategy looks like moving forward in a low market as well as a high market.
What does this mean exactly?
This means that the executive teams have to look internally and externally to see how they can continue to bring value to the consumer. Departments must learn to collaborate if they are not doing that today so that no department is better than one but rather all departments focus on the mission and vision of the company.
For example, FI’s who do more than just mortgages need to learn how to collaborate with other departments to learn what value they can bring to the customer and how they can both improve. By doing so customer satisfaction will increase making you stand out as a brand.
Trust, Inspire and Create Transparency
The secret sauce is not just in collaboration. Executives have to build trust, inspire their team and create transparency across the organization.
Executives have to trust each other and be on the same page when it comes to execution. If we look at the “Trust Triangle” developed by John Carter, the foundation of trust is the following:
1. Straight talk: Have honest conversations and share information. When executives are able to be real with each other and have honest conversation with one another, they grow and allow others to grow with them. Just think about the last time you held back on saying something because you were afraid of how others were going to react with your honest opinion. Next time be honest and create a place of openness.
2. Listen to understand: Listen to your team and seek to understand. This means that you listen and you seek to understand without making assumptions. Avoiding any judgements and responding in a respectful manner. Next time someone tells you something and your automatic reaction is to comment, challenge yourself by getting back to them later or instead ask questions to truly understand what they are saying.
At the end of the day, team members just want to be heard and know that their leader is there for them. Think about how you felt when someone did not listen to you on something that was important to you. The ability to listen without judgment will also require being humble and sympathetic.
3. Make commitments: Have your team make commitments and keep them. Keeping your commitment to complete what you say will gain trust among peers. As a leader, you should be crystal clear that everyone understands the responsibilities.
Inspire Your Team
Lead by example. This means that when you make a mistake it is OK to admit you were wrong. By doing so, you will show your team that you have humility — that you are not perfect and that we all learn from our mistakes. That is how we grow. Humility is also tied to authenticity. Being authentic lets others see who you are.
Create a Culture of Transparency
The outcome of being an inspiring leader and building trust among your team will lead to creating a transparent culture. Creating an open communication in the workplace to help break down barriers among departments.
Crafting a Plan for 2023
Every company can work on being transparent, but how do you break this down into actual items that will prepare you to succeed?
1. Review what is working and what is not.
It sounds simple but in order to figure out what worked in 2022, and what did not, you have to bring every department together and analyze your results. If your results were off from your plan, then it’s time to take responsibility and realign.
We are in a down market. Perhaps you already had to lay off team members, and now you have a very streamlined workforce. How do you make sure that everyone is now working toward the same goal?
2. Clearly define everyone’s goals and objectives.
Every member of your team needs to know their goals and objectives, and how this affects the bottom line. Executives need to have a clear understanding of where their teams are spending their time. If you have not used SMART goals or any other type of goal setting framework, then it is time to do it.
The ones that have been used by companies are:
- Managed by Objectives
- Smart Goals
To take this further into reality, goals need to address the following:
- The goal must be aligned with the company’s purpose, mission and vision.
- Leaders must be the champions of the goals and should lead by example to help their team achieve the goals.
- The goals need to be clearly defined and each member must understand how to get them done.
- Leaders must hold a regular meeting cadence to review the goals and make sure everyone is on track or make adjustments if needed.
- Progress should be documented across the organization.
The Bottom Line
I have seen over and over again how reactive we are in the mortgage market, and I truly believe we can help navigate this with better planning. Granted, you cannot plan for certain events, like COVID-19, but we can always work toward ‘what if’ scenarios.
(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 firstname.lastname@example.org; or Michael Tucker, editorial manager, at email@example.com.)