Magazine article Mortgage Banking

Inside the Mind of a Top Producer-Ashley McKenzie-Sharpe

Magazine article Mortgage Banking

Inside the Mind of a Top Producer-Ashley McKenzie-Sharpe

Article excerpt

ASHLEY MCKENZIE-SHARPE, SENIOR LOAN OFFICER at Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation in Winston Salem, North Carolina, is an energizing breath of fresh air. After starting out in the mortgage industry as a loan officer assistant, she was encouraged to become one herself within two short months.

Fast-forward a mere nine years later, and she has year-to-date production of more than $25 million with 199 units and yearly production in 2013 of more than $46 million with 365 units.

When I spoke with McKenzie-Sharpe in July, she had just closed the month of June at more than $7 million with 49 units. Passionate and upbeat, she shared her customer service philosophy and what she believes are the keys to success in our industry.

As a brand-new loan officer, McKenzie-Sharpe was given a small state credit union account that under her care blossomed into a huge opportunity. This credit union account still remains a great source for her business, as well as 20 to 30 regular builder and Realtor[R] referrals.

How does she maintain these relationships? She explained, "From the beginning, I really tried to pick my agent's brain--what is it that you're looking for in a lender, what could make me stand out from the rest?"

Their answer was simple and always the same, she says: "communication and availability."

Because of this, McKenzie-Sharpe markets herself as the 24/7 girl, always available for her clients and referral sources. Recognizing the hours that agents keep, she believes in sacrificing to accommodate customers.

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"You've got to work the hours that your agents are working," she says. "You can't work 9 to 5; you've got to work evenings and you have to be available weekends if you want to take it to the next level."

She would not be able to uphold such a high standard of service without the help of her team. She could not speak more highly of the people who help her get it all done, and she emphasized the importance of an incredible support system.

The team has been together for about three years and consists of two assistants, a junior loan officer, one full-time processor and a part-time processor. One of her assistants is her identical twin sister. Does she use this to her advantage when needing to be in two places at once? You will have to listen to Ashley's full interview with me on the XINNIX Member Resource Center to find out--it is hysterical!

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Her team assists her with the high volume of loans each month as well as updating clients and agents. They have a system in place that automatically updates everyone involved in the loan at five key points during the process. Specifically they are:

* when the loan moves into processing;

* when the appraisal comes in;

* when the loan enters underwriting;

* when the loan is approved; and

* when the loan is finally is clear to close.

This automated system keeps everyone up to date and cuts down on the frequent phone calls asking, "Where are we?" McKenzie-Sharpe also utilizes her time wisely by taking 90 percent of her applications online. This gives her the opportunity to collect clients' information and, if necessary, provide credit help and resources for them.

Online applications, as she says, "free up time so that immediately when I get on the phone with them, I can fill in the blanks in the application and really get down to the nitty-gritty of what it is that they are looking for, structure the loan, then talk options with them. …

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