• Keith Kemph

Three Steps to a Better 2022

In my last post, I told you about my recent keynote address at the ACUMA 2021 annual convention in Washington, D.C. It was a real honor getting to address their members as it is one of the best associations in the industry. I highly recommend it to any credit union executive who offers home financing to their members.


During my presentation, I shared with members some of my experiences with professionals who work in fields where they absolutely have to make the right call at the right time. It informed the way I’ve been building BlackFin Group.


Specifically, I shared my three step plan for taking my company to even greater success in 2022.


Step 1: Making the critical transition.

The first step is making the mind shift from volume to something that will be even more important in the coming mortgage market, productivity. You may recall that our own Dan Green recently wrote a very informative report on the importance of this key metric and offered a method for tracking it in your own business.


Back in my own retail loan production days when I served as a branch manager and later as a regional manager, I used to say volume cures all. Any bad business decision, bad technology acquisition, bad hire or otherwise bad call could always be cured with more volume. I know a lot of lenders who are still operating that way.


Over the years, with enough time and experience, I have matured my thinking to realize that’s not a real solution. It’s really all about productivity.


Productivity is the one metric that matters, because if you increase productivity, you will automatically lower your cost to produce and increase your overall revenue. That’s what a real solution looks like.


Learn more by visiting BlackFin Reports and reading about the One Key Metric that Matters. You can see for yourself the simple math and plug in your firms own numbers to the table. Productivity is the key to sustainable scalable growth.


Step 2: Do a full audit of your current business

It’s impossible to set a course to a new destination when you don’t know where you are. Lenders who are going to create stronger origination businesses in 2022 will commit now to a full, top-to-bottom business and technology review.


We take this very seriously at BlackFin because it’s the foundation for everything we do and everything we help our clients achieve. We’ve developed a checklist of over 1300 items that can be used to help ensure lenders are operating as efficiently and effectively as possible, from both a business and technology standpoint.


We urge every lender to find that person in your organization who is like my friend Mitch at NYSE or a professional umpire, who cares about making the right call, and empower them to do a full review of your business. Let them find out what’s working and what needs work.


The reason you need to find someone like Mitch is because most folks will look for a shortcut. I get asked all the time, “What are the 3 to 5 things that are most important, the things I need to focus on now?”


Wouldn’t it be nice if our business was that simple? It’s not. There are between 35 and 50 things that you have to get right, depending upon your business model, product mix and client base. That’s why a full review of your business is essential.


Step 3: Prioritize and execute

The third step is my favorite because it’s where we take the results of all of our hard work in the first two steps and turn the machine on. This is where the company will find out how well they recruited their management team. This is the step that will separate the wildly successful firms in 2022 from everyone else.


You can’t do everything, certainly not at once. That’s not so good because everyone will have a lot of work to do going into 2022. It’s important to prioritize and then execute on a few things at a time.


My advice to front line management is to take their top four priorities upstairs. Four items gives the top brass one thing they can so “no” to and will result in three initiatives the company can get started on.


Get the work done well and go back upstairs with four more items and repeat until done.


The result of all of this will be a continuous improvement methodology that will put you and your team on the path to sustainable and scalable growth, regardless of the market you’re competing in.


So, what’s your plan for the next two to three months? How will you be sure you are making the right calls at the right time? It’s going to matter in a market with volumes downshifting, margins compressing, business mix shifting from purchase to refi, and a flight to safety underway.


If you could use some help setting your priorities and executing on your plans, reach out to BlackFin. You’re the kind of lender we’re looking forward to helping.

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