To succeed as a loan servicing industry professional, you must have a great deal of patience, solid administrative skills, and a keen attention to detail. You must also have excellent customer service skills, because you are going to be the human voice of the lender to the borrower. This will help keep your accounts receivable at the top of the customer’s bill paying pile when times get tough, and will encourage referrals back to your company; which translates, albeit indirectly, into job security for you.
There are no specific, formal requirements to enter the field of loan servicing. However, some kinds of loans – particularly mortgage loans – are in a highly regulated industry. These kinds of loans receive substantial government oversight from both federal and state authorities. It is vital that servicing professionals who work with mortgage loans be extremely familiar with the various banking laws, state regulations and federal regulations that govern these products. Even non-mortgage related loan service professionals should understand the provisions of the Fair Credit Collections Act, however, which regulates collection practices for all creditors.
For this reason, many finance companies look for a college degree closely related to finance, real estate, or a related field. Coursework that provides an overview not just of the finance principles of real estate and credit, but also compliance and regulatory issues, are highly regarded by human services professionals who are in the business of recruiting loan servicers.
The financial services industry functions largely on PCs, rather than Macs. Your IT professionals will probably install sophisticated encryption software on your computer as well, though other than typing in a password. You will need to have a solid grasp of the Microsoft Office suite of software programs, including Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, Excel and Access.
In addition, you will need to learn how to operate one or more industry-specific software programs, such as LendingSuite. There is no substitute for experience with these programs, and it is very difficult to learn them without actually working for a company which uses them.
However, there are steps you can take now to maximize your marketability to hiring managers in the loan servicing field: Take coursework in the Microsoft Office Suite, and in computer science and networking applications. Build a portfolio of documents that you have created using these programs - particularly Powerpoint, Excel, and Access.
You should also become a master of using the scheduling and reminder functions in Outlook.
Organizational skills are paramount for loan servicers. You will likely be responsible for servicing hundreds or even thousands of accounts. There is no way you will be able to keep track of them in your head. Therefore you must have impeccable skills with organizing and documenting your files, whether your company does it digitally or manually, via a paper filing systems. Paper systems are rapidly disappearing, however, as regulators are becoming more and more accepting of digitally scanned documents. However, some jurisdictions and contexts still require the original signature on file, so it may be some time before paper filing systems disappear completely. You should be comfortable with both digital and paper filing systems.
You must also be a stickler for documentation. Be diligent about documenting every contact with a customer, every interaction, every conversation, and every attempt to contact the customer. Make notes of any conversations you have with the customer.
The lending industry can be an extremely cyclical industry – particularly in home mortgages, car loans, and luxury goods. When times are tough, customers often forgo these major purchases, or purchase them used rather than financing them. When this happens, loan volumes fall off, and loan servicing personnel can get laid off while managers consolidate accounts. Some kinds of lending thrive during tough times, however, such as low-end consumer credit, debt consolidation loans and mortgage modification programs. You may want to maintain a rolodex of contacts in each of these industries in order to stay in the work force if you get let go in your current job.
As you gain knowledge and experience and move up the ladder, you may have an opportunity to take on management responsibilities. These could include being responsible for your own team, your own branch office or district, and possibly lead to an opportunity for you to open your own company. The first step to preparing is to work diligently, because if you get promoted from the ranks, your team will remember your behavior when you were a rank and file worker. Meanwhile, take coursework in accounting, business administration, human resources and other vital business functions. That way, when you do get tapped to take on increased responsibility, you will be able to hit the ground running.