As seen in National Mortgage News' October Issue -
Today, managers are having a difficult enough time keeping themselves up to date on new regulations and investor requirements, much less preparing new workers to be effective. The industry needs a new model and that’s precisely what NTC has done with the new Basics of the Mortgage Industry seminar that can be brought to your shop.
For 25 years, Nationwide Title Clearing (NTC) has had a relentless fixation on extraordinary training measures.
We believe this directly correlates to the 99.9% compliance rate we adhere to for our clients, something previously unheard of in our industry. We’ve had people ask us for years what our secret is. Now, we’re sharing it with the industry.
• A 29% increase in staff since April 2015
Understanding what makes training work
Training is a core function of any effective company; our industry is no different in that respect.
However, what often happens in industries that experience rapid growth or sudden legislative change is that the training function begins to become decentralized by necessity. With workloads increasing, companies are hard pressed to pull together the employees that require additional training, instead using mentors on the line to impart the necessary education. There are many problems with this, especially in an industry where noncompliance carries such stiff penalties.
First, it is not possible to ensure that all aspects of a required training program will get across to a new worker when a mentor delivers the training. Furthermore, it’s quite possible that the more experienced worker will impart workarounds developed over time that run counter to approved company processes. Finally, the fear of losing their position to new, younger and lower paid workers may influence some mentors to impart less information than is required to succeed completely in the position.
Another tactic that some companies have fallen back on involves learner-paced, online teaching tools. Some of these are quite good and when the company has time to develop them they can provide information that delivers an acceptable educational experience. Unfortunately, when changes are required, the system must be updated, which can take time and money. Often, these programs become outdated but remain in use because they are all the company has available to meet the training need.
Industry trade groups will often provide educational opportunities that they make available to any company for a fee. Many companies will send their managers to these events, which are often of high quality and carry the sanction of government regulators who track continuing education. The problem is that these managers are then expected to return to the company and share this training with all of their reports in a form of mass mentorship. This is rarely effective.
All of these methods are useful and a complete internal training regimen is likely to include them. None of these methods is sufficient on its own. To be effective, these methods must be combined with classroom instruction, supervised on-the-job instruction and traditional continuing education opportunities. It’s a recipe that NTC has perfected over the past two decades.
How we make training work
Since our company was founded in 1991, NTC has always focused on intensive training, most recently under the direction of NTC’s Vice President of Quality, Shawn Sorensen.
“We have worked continuously to create a department capable of delivering extraordinary training measures. You cannot deliver quality without a serious commitment to training. When we start with the right education, we end up with expert staff, excellent products and satisfied customers,” Sorensen said.
The Quality Division within NTC is tasked with constantly reviewing changes to laws and regulations and developing appropriate training programs. The department is made up of 30 full-time employees led by Sorensen. Over the past year, the department has achieved:
• 40 new homegrown executives, advanced and promoted from within
• Added 1,000 new training courses, for a total of 5,000
• Compliance rate increase from 99.80% to 99.95%, with 25% increase in volume
• Trained staff graduating within 1-2%
• Training extended beyond NTC into client shops
Last year, NTC’s 300 employees completed over 2,300 different industry-related courses. Each of these courses was completed in a dedicated on-site training facility and led by trained instructors. Of the company’s staff, 210 engaged in cross or advanced training and were certified by NTC’s Quality Assurance Department. We maintain a list of over 100 different training courses that pertain to nearly 50 distinct positions within the company. At any given time, around two-thirds of NTC employees are actively engaged in some form of training related directly to their positions.
Our testing and training begins the moment a new employee is hired. This helps us ensure that the employee is a good fit, both for the company and the position, and helps us determine what additional training might be required to help the employee advance within the company. This sets them up for success from the very beginning and helps them understand that training and testing are essential parts of our work culture and can be expected to continue for as long as the person is employed at NTC. Finally, it sends a clear message to every new employee that their professional development -- and, by extension, their entire career -- is important to us. It never fails to create a more engaged employee.
At a more granular level, every NTC employee must complete 6 introductory training steps before beginning job specific training, which varies by position. For data entry and research, for instance, the company offers 20 different training courses. In addition, 10 live industry training seminar opportunities are made available to employees every day.
Once fully trained for a position, NTC provides the opportunity for any employee to continue to train in other areas of the company to improve their skill set and knowledge of the industry, thus making them more valuable and increasing their job security. Advancement is tied to training, with milestones set for each position.
Our training is designed in a modular fashion so that each step in the employee’s progress is self-contained. It includes the training material, any mentoring or tutoring required and the testing. Each course ends with a graded examination that includes a minimum threshold for success. This ensures our employees actually are understanding and actively participating in the material.
It works because training in this company isn’t considered an additional responsibility of any employee; training is a required component of every job. NTC offers its employees one hour each day to train on the job. The process has been so successful that NTC’s clients have taken note and requested the company offer similar training to their teams. A recent training event for seven client executives was so successful the client requested similar training for all 600 of its employees. After careful deliberation, NTC has launched a new Training-as-a-Service offering to meet this industry need.
Taking our method to our customers
NTC’s new service is designed to provide in-depth training on the foundations of residential mortgage finance. After years in development for our own staff, the Basics of the Mortgage Industry seminar provides a best practices based standard training package for lenders, investors and mortgage servicers. The two-day training program can be delivered at the client’s location or in an NTC Training Center in Palm Harbor, FL or Dallas, TX.
Dave LaRose is NTC’s Vice President of Technical Excellence. An industry veteran with 30 years of experience, he is NTC’s resident expert on quality and training. He was instrumental in the development of the new offering.
“Our reject rate on documents is well under 1%, which is far better than anyone that I have ever seen, and it’s because we expect perfection,” LaRose said. “Technical excellence means that we have a standard of actual perfection. This new training offering allows people to understand what they’re doing in their function no matter where they are in the lifecycle of the loan. When they understand what everything means, they are less likely to make mistakes.”
The training is designed to make the entire ecosystem of the residential mortgage lending industry clear and understandable to the student. Further, the program explains clearly why every process in our industry is critically important to maintaining the integrity of the US land records at the county level. The benefits of NTC’s training regimen are clear, given the company’s 99.9% compliance rate across its entire line of services. The new service is available to the industry now.
As our CEO, John Hillman, puts it, “Training isn’t something we engage in as an adjunct to our normal business; it’s a very real part of our daily operation. Our new training program was built to the same stringent requirements that we use to develop any of the offerings we bring to the market. The results we currently enjoy speak for themselves.”