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Mortgage Lending Designations

Written by Posted On Friday, 08 July 2005 00:00

In my years of mortgage lending, I've noticed somewhat of an identity crisis in certain individuals. This crisis usually happens when a loan officer asks, "Exactly who am I anyway?" Not from a Freudian perspective, mind you, but from a more professional sense. Am I a plain old Loan Officer or am I a Senior Loan Officer? Am I a Loan Originator? Production? Mortgage Planner? How about a Mortgage Banker? Better still, a Certified Mortgage Banker?

If you've looked at a few mortgage business cards, and I have, you might notice a variety of titles issued to Loan Officers. Some given, some earned. Way way back in the olden days, we loan people were simply Loan Officers. Where we got the term "officer" I have no clue, I mean we didn't get to wear a badge or anything. But it made us feel important. Still does, I guess.

I was a Vice President of Loan Production for a mortgage company in San Diego, CA, along about 1992 or 1993 when we started hiring additional loan personnel. This company, Morfacts Mortgage Center, was where I cut my eyeteeth in the lending business. Actually, they're not really in San Diego, but just north of there in a neat little town called Encinitas. In fact, some of my first hires still work there as loan officers. They're a good company, if you're in the area, by all means check them out and tell them I said "hello."

But there came a time in 1993 when a simple "Loan Officer" just wouldn't work anymore. No, we had to come up with another title worthy of distinction. So I figured we would have a "Senior" Loan Officer designation when a loan officer reached $20 Million in annual production.

Does that mean everyone who does $20 Million per year in mortgage loans is automatically a "Senior" Loan Officer? Nope. In fact, in other loan offices the word "Senior" can also mean "tenure" whereby someone has merely worked there a long time. In fact, there really is no official "Senior" designation; it's simply made up by the company that issues such a title.

There's another mortgage designation floating around called a "Mortgage Planner." What is a Mortgage Planner? According to the National Association of Mortgage Planners , Mortgage Planners are certified professionals whose primary goal is to provide the expertise, guidance and skills necessary to obtain the best mortgage to meet your needs.

Frankly, this is what Loan Officers are supposed to do anyway, but a Loan Officer can take some tests, pay some money and promise to uphold the bylaws of NAMP and be a card-carrying member.

Jack Guttentag, a.k.a. "The Mortgage Professor" has another designation he'd like you to know about, the Upfront Mortgage Broker, or UMB. According to his website , a UMB discloses to the borrower upon application not only what the loan broker will make but also shows the wholesale price sheet from where the rate is being quoted. This compares to another designation, simply called "MB," or Mortgage Broker where the full compensation isn't delivered to the consumer until after the application is received. The UMB gives full disclosure "upfront" where I guess the plain-vanilla MB gives it later and only when they're forced to. When I was a mortgage broker I was a UMB and didn't even know it.

The National Association of Mortgage Brokers also has some acronyms. NAMB issues the Certified Mortgage Consultant, or CMC along with the CRMS. CRMS stands for Certified Residential Mortgage Specialist. Both designations require education, experience, licensing and testing.

Probably the hardest club to join is the Certified Mortgage Banking designation, or CMB. A CMB is issued by the Mortgage Bankers Association of America and takes considerable time, effort and testing. To take it one step further, the Mortgage Bankers also issue a Master CMB.

What does all this mean to you? What it's supposed to mean is that a specific designation after a Loan Officer's name implies a higher level of education, dedication and compliance. If your Loan Officer has "NAMP" member on his card, but doesn't have the UMB tag should you move on? No. Does a CMB care more about their customer than a CRMS? Or a CMC? It could be the case but it's no guarantee. Take it for what it's worth, but I never had those initials on my business card and I ended up pretty good.

No, it's not the letters and yeah, you'll see a few of them. Just know that the Loan Officer has at least taken the time to get smarter and dedicate themselves just a little more than they otherwise would have by sitting around on the sofa cushions flipping mortgage channels.

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