Bridge Insights

7 Soft Skills of Successful Underwriters

Apr 28, 2020

The timer starts the second a loan application is submitted. If you do not have a strong underwriting team working for your organization, your business will miss funding deadlines, and you will lose your best performing LO’s. You may also notice yourself questioning the risk level of your customers and if they are truly qualified for their loans.

To feel confident you are hiring an underwriter with the knowledge and experience needed to mitigate risk, it is important to conduct a situational interview with your underwriter candidates. During this interview, it is vital to assess their soft skills.

If your interviewee has all the underlying soft skills and work experience needed for your underwriter position, they will be a great addition to your team.

Screening for these 7 soft skills when interviewing candidates for your open underwriter position will ensure you are bringing a qualified and collaborative professional into your organization.

[blockquotes]If your interviewee has all the underlying soft skills and work experience needed for your underwriter position, they will be a great addition to your team. [/blockquotes]

1. Organization

At any given time, your underwriters will have multiple files in their pipeline –all at different stages in the underwriting process. It is vital to your business’ success that they can manage this ever-changing workflow.

In your interview, inquire about how your underwriter applicants organize and prioritize their day, how long they have been practicing their method, and how strictly they follow it (daily, weekly, etc.). An underwriter who is inconsistent in their organization and is unable to quickly tell you the status of a file in their pipeline will cause your customers’ files to fall through the cracks.

Keep in mind, everyone has their own organizational system, but if their proposed process does not fit in with current company procedures, be sure to gauge how open they are to adopting alternate organizational methods. If they cannot adapt, then they may not be a good fit for your team.

2. Interpersonal Skills

Having an underwriter who consistently communicates with everyone involved in the application process is imperative; there is no getting around this. Whether it is with the Loan Officer, Processor, Closer, Assistants or someone else on your team, communication is key. An underwriter who does not take the time to take notes or inform their colleagues about updates within their files will cause a major bottleneck in your organization’s efficiency.

3. Analytical

Simply put, underwriters who do not have an eye for detail are in the wrong line of work. Not only do underwriters need to assess risk on the line of credit itself, but also the homeowners’ risk. This process requires an eye for analyzing detailed data. Underwriters must be able to analyze several characteristics of borrowers including their credit, capacity, and collateral; an inability to do this well will open your business up to financial risk.

4. Problem Solver

Your underwriting team will regularly need to think outside of the box in order to move a loan through the pipeline. Someone who has demonstrated an unwillingness to work with other team members or think outside the box to overcome roadblocks will quickly be labeled as lazy, uncooperative, or worse, callous towards providing your customers with the means to obtain housing.
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5. Ethics

Any role in finance requires a strong sense of ethics –especially underwriters. They must be committed to being compliant with the rules, regulations and requirements of mortgage lending, no matter what. Successful underwriters need to be firm in their stance and comfortable pushing back against outside pressure to approve loans that do not meet the requirements of your organization’s carefully set standards and practices.

6. Goal-Oriented

Successful mortgage underwriters are motivated to surpass goals given to them by management and will often set smaller goals for themselves in order to exceed expectations. Someone who is not self-motivated will only be incentivized to achieve the bare minimum and will not put in the time needed to better themselves as a professional.

7. Collaborative

In order for a “smooth” loan application process to occur, your team members must all understand the need to work together toward achieving the same goal: quickly closing and funding loans. Having an underwriter who will take the time to speak with their colleagues, educate them, learn from them, and collaborate with them is a must for a positive, productive and cohesive working environment.
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Currently, the talent pool is full of many experienced underwriters looking for work. But just because they have experience, does not automatically make them the right person to hire. Hiring the right person for your team starts at the interview. Even in times of high demand, it is critical to be selective on who you move through your interview process, and, ultimately, hire.

Underwriters who possess the 7 soft skills mentioned above, in our experience, excel in underwriting roles. By asking questions that drill down into these soft skills, you will be able to weed out unqualified applicants and feel confident about the quality of underwriters who move on to the final round of your interview process, and, ultimately, the underwriting professional to whom you extend a job offer.