How did you hear about Assurance Financial?
When I worked in New Orleans a lot of people in the business spoke about Kenny Hodges, who started Assurance. I had gone to high school with him, and he was friends with my brother. Time went by and when I moved to Birmingham, I was looking at opening my own company. That’s when Assurance reached out to me about needing a person in Alabama.
For me, the decision to join Assurance was a no-brainer, as I trusted Kenny and Steve [Ward, COO] and also knew a lot of the underwriters. I knew they were building something great and it just felt right to join up with them.
In the end, though I am working for Assurance Financial, my day-to-day is very much as if I am running my own company.
You’ve been here nearly 10 years. What do you think are the top three things Assurance does every day that gives them the advantage?
First, the process we have in place is the fastest process I’ve seen.
Second, I’ve noticed that the people who handle our customers – the LOs, BMs and underwriters – care deeply about each file. You see it permeate throughout the company. The customer becomes a part of the family at Assurance Financial and we work hard to keep our family happy.
Finally, it’s the dedication of everyone here. Most people work beyond 9 to 5; if stuff needs to get done people care enough to stay late to make it happen.
All of this produces happy customers and real estate agents on both sides of the transaction.
Do you think the amount of autonomy you have hurts or helps you?
As lenders, we service our own loans. If you know the guidelines, which are available to us online through our company intranet, you can answer any of the questions that come up. If there is an odd scenario that you encounter, we have staff members actively helping us solve issues and we have access to different divisions of Assurance Financial who all help throughout the process.
My job is to get business and not deal as much with the process. This ensures that my time isn’t tied down while the process is happening. Once I’ve done my part and have everything plugged in, the loan is then approved by the underwriters. Our disclosures department takes over at that point and makes sure we stay in compliance. Every step after that is explicitly and expertly handled by other departments.
So, once I have everything plugged in, I’m off looking for my next deal. It’s that easy.
You’ve been with the company for 11 years. Why have you stayed for so long?
Overall, it’s a great company, from bottom to top. It creates a family mentality, even though we’re a larger company. I speak with the owner, COO, and so many higher-ups on a daily basis, because Assurance focuses on working together, making sure everyone is involved.
At any larger company, you’d be lucky if you can get in contact with a regional vice president. You’ll be even more fortunate if they can answer your questions.
In this industry, you get recruited all the time, especially if you’ve been in it longer than five years. I’ve been offered positions at numerous places, but I haven’t found a company that is better than Assurance. Everyone here listens to how we can be better because they understand the mortgage industry is a changing environment and you have to change with it or you will fall behind. Assurance is always on top of that.