I've been reading some of the posts and I must say I am quite impressed at the level of professionalism and sincerity that I find here. I've been listening to M&M's podcasts for over a year and the knowledge that I've gained from them helped me completely transform my office. Unfortunately, in late Jan. I was forced to close my office and lay off all my staff (sales and operations). Manager Tools was extremely helpful in this regard. I was forced to take a demotion and relocate in order to maintain employment. I have a family so I really didn't have a choice. As some of you may have already guessed, I work for the Residential Lending division of a bank; in short, I'm a mortgage guy. I've tried and tried to exit the industry, but am finding that I, along with others in the industry, may be blacklisted for the time being. I was wondering if any of you had any comments or ideas on how to break the stigma that currently surrounds my industry?

tlhausmann's picture
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Don't try to be an apologist for the entire industry. Be professional and ethical in all you do. People catch on.

tcomeau's picture
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Wow. You're in a tough position. Being part of the Manager Tools community isn't a bad start. There are three things I think could help.

First, build your network. (Don't network!) Find people you can connect with and to whom you can provide value. If the people who know you know that you're honest, ethical and professional, they'll tell others the same thing. Eventually, you'll find somebody who believes somebody in your network, and who has a job where you can contribute.

Second, educate people about the real causes and effects of the subprime problem, and the knock-on effects for the market at large. Explain the role of loan brokers, of the regulatory changes that encouraged marginal loans, and no doubt a number of other factors I haven't even heard about. Don't try to excuse industry mistakes (or fraud) but explain what happened, and suggest the changes you think might improve overall market conditions. If you're good at public speaking, offer to give talks to community associations and business groups. Note that this will also help build your network if you do it well.

Third, do the best job you can at the job you have. Don't be that guy who complains that things aren't fair, and figures people are trying to cheat the bank, and the bank is trying to cheat me, and I did my 8 hours today and all this can just wait until I'm ready to do it. Be the Loan Guy who is the real straight shooter, who tells people who don't quite qualify for a loan exactly why, and what they can do to get a smaller loan now, or a better loan in six months or a year. Be the guy who explains what's going on, both to your boss and to your customers, so that people aren't wondering. You get the idea.

Three years ago subprime was a great innovation to get people with marginal credit to Own Their Own Home. Today subprime is the Evil Invention of banks riding a bubble and brokers trying to make a quick buck. What will be a good loan program three years from now? What can you do today to make things just a tiny bit better tomorrow?

Do the best you can today, so that you can be a better Loan Guy, a better leader, and a better manager in the future. Educate people, and build your network. Try to be positive.


jkakwkek's picture

Thanks for the encouraging words. I can honestly say that I have never done a subprime loan. I've been an A paper Wholesaler (not a broker) my entire career. However, the lending industry has become a slippery slope and we have all been bunched together as being immoral, unethical, and evil. That's not the case in all instances.

I'll keep my head up and keep working as hard as I can. I've noticed that there are many people in this community that are from an IT back ground. I know you guys had your bust back in the 90's. You guys made it through and so can I.

Thanks again; it's nice to hear words of encouragement rather than words of disdain and hate.

mwojtow's picture

Although I can identify, unfortunately I don't have a silver bullet answer to your employment nightmare. I have found that a person’s “way out” is a personal journey.

However, I wanted to share this article about a film producer who had to leave the industry. The thing about this that I find most intriguing is that his film industry experience, knowledge, skills, contacts and network formed the cornerstone of his transition into being a successful insurance broker to independent film makers.

How cool is that! 8)

If this the article does not come through on this post please see “Film Producer Turned Insurance Broker Stays Close to His Roots” By EILEEN GUNN Special to THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
May 15, 2008

Peter Marshall worked in film production for Showtime, Trimark Pictures and Lions Gate Films before starting a production company with a friend. Mr. Marshall says he gravitated toward independent films and got to orchestrate the behind-the-scenes work of moviemaking -- scouting locations, planning shoots, putting together the wardrobe, make-up and technical teams and seeing a finished film through the editing and other post-production work that got it ready for the big or small screen.
"I saw the creative and financial side come together and was out on the road making movies," he said. "I would be in Puerto Rico for a few months, and then Vancouver, having a lot of fun."

As often happens in the movies, Mr. Marshall's plotline took an unexpected twist when the right girl came along. Getting married and settling down shifted his priorities. "I was on the road when I found out my wife was pregnant, and I didn't want to be 'that guy'," he recalls. "I didn't want to come home after a long shoot and ask, 'how was soccer season?'"

In New York on a business trip around that time, he had dinner with Jolyon Stern, president of the Dewitt Stern Group, a family-owned insurance brokerage he had turned to in the past for hard-to-insure movie shoots.

He found himself relating his frustrations with his job and his pangs to raise his daughter in the Big Apple, where he had grown up. Mr. Stern seized on the moment and surmised that Mr. Marshall was ready for a career change -- a fact that hadn't actually dawned on Mr. Marshall yet -- and asked if he'd consider working for Dewitt Stern and help to expand its entertainment practice.

"My initial response was, 'What do I know about insurance?' " he recalls. But after a few more dinners with Mr. Stern in New York and Los Angeles, Mr. Marshall spent an afternoon sitting in his backyard, weighing his options. "I asked myself what I loved about what I was doing and what I would miss, and what I would welcome about a different pattern," he says. "And the change made a lot of sense."

The job would provide a smaller income overall, but he would escape the extreme financial ups and downs of the film business. Meanwhile predictable office hours and less travel would give him the family time he wanted.

Professionally, "I love seeing worthwhile cinema get created," he says. "As a producer you touch one or two movies a year and as a studio executive you might touch six or eight." But Mr. Marshall believed if he did his new job right he could touch on 60 or 80 films a year.
Before he made the switch, Mr. Marshall first began working toward his insurance broker's license to see if he would be comfortable with his new field. To his surprise, he found the world of property and casualty insurance "exhilarating."

Before he started, Mr. Marshall also spent plenty of time visiting and learning about Dewitt Stern, making sure the fit was right and that he liked the people. He met executives who he believed would be good mentors, including a woman who also left the entertainment industry. The due dilligence was crucial in his decision to change careers. "I felt comfortable making this move when I knew I had people who wouldn't let me fall down," he says.

He joined Dewitt Stern in June 2005, and was charged with attracting new business by offering a service that no one else offered—a service that was particularly valuable to the independent filmmakers he liked to support.

To get a movie made, filmmakers typically need three things. First, they need to take out a bank loan against the film's expected profits. They also have to secure a bond that guarantees the project will be completed. And, filmmakers need to get insurance, which varies in price and complexity according to the location and risks involved in a particular shoot. Though the trio of must-haves are interconnected, filmmakers are typically left to secure each of them separately, Mr. Marshall says. That's where Mr. Marshall says his work is different: He reaches out to moviemakers and connects them to the banks and surety companies they need to have on board round out their financing (in addition to selling them their insurance). Mr. Marshall says it's something he'd have benefited from when he was making movies.

Smaller filmmakers will ask me to introduce them around or they'll ask for help getting the bank or bond company to understand what they want to do," he says. "I know where the pressure points are to speed things up, so I can also help get these companies to talk to each other efficiently. I'm an outsourced nudge."

Having spent years buying policies and filing claims gave him some working knowledge, but despite getting his broker's license Mr. Marshall still had a steep learning curve, especially when it came to esoteric products like weather polices for exotic locations or so-called key-man coverage, a life insurance policy on a particularly essential director, actor or producer. "For the first few months it was like cramming for final exams," he says.

He still dabbles on the creative side of filmmaking -- writing a script or producing on the side when he can. But Mr. Marshall says has no regrets about the change. "Looking at a film for its risks is a specific and different viewpoint than I'd taken before, but I see this as an extension of what I had been doing," which is helping to get films made, he says. "And I get to go home at night."

bflynn's picture

One more suggestion - play your involvement in the mortgage industry as experience. You've seen the "irrational exuberance" play out and you're well qualified to recognize and avoid it in the future. History teaches us that what happens once will happen again when we have a new batch of managers. You have an experienced eye and will be able to recognize and negotiate future occurrences better than someone else. Effectively, you are a form of risk reduction to your next company, even if your next position isn't directly in the mortgage industry.

Otherwise, good advice here - stay positive, stay professional. And smile more, nobody in business smiles enough.


US41's picture

If you choose to feel shame over your industry, you will wear that emotional scarlet letter on your chest in every interview. Do not be ashamed of yourself because others misbehaved.

I work in IT. Should not I too be ashamed? LOL!

You are a manager tools manager. Management is a profession. You are a real, honest-to-heavens Manager with a capital M.

Hold your head up high, both for your own well-being, and because it is an excellent interviewing tactic.

MattJBeckwith's picture
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I'll spare you the repeat of the other great comments here and add just one thing. It seems as if half (maybe more) of the candidates that interview for positions in my department come from the mortgage industry. I've asked everyone that has interviewed with me the same question: What happened in the mortgage industry? There's no reason to be ashamed of what happened in the market, don't personalize it.